September 2014 ÂŁ4.50
OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS Pensioner Bob Fitzjohn reveals his invention aiming to change the travel industry
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British Olympic hopeful, Charlotte Roach reveals how she went from a terrible accident to founding a successful business
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INSIDE 13 Editor’s letter 14 Contributors 17 News & events 20 Question of the month Do you haggle? TALK SUCCESS
22 22 On death’s door How Charlotte Roach went from
the operating table to successful businesswoman
30 Take one company Easy Lock - pensioner, Bob
TALK MONEY 37 The funding expert Achieving crowdfunding success 39 Take the fear out of chasing debtors 40 Six ways to increase your profit legally 43 A day in the life Amy Barker of Monks and Co. clothing
45 Perils of rising interest rates Adam Aiken TALK STRATEGY 47 Ebola, Lego and drama queens Rich With 49 Self-service selling Adam Caplan 54 Don’t bank on it How a £3 million deal spelt trouble
When the going gets tough How to beat the recession
Discover your inner animal management style
65 Don’t let ‘no’ get you down Dealing with sales rejection TALK MARKETING 67 Eat, sleep, advertise Coca-Cola Kimberley Davis 69 What makes a great giveaway? 73 10 steps of Twitter Step 10: keep your enemies close 75 Gone in 60 seconds? Exterion discuss dwell time 79 South West Expo Join in on 18th September TALK PEOPLE 81 Lee McQueen Why you need a proper HR policy 83 Dealing with divorce 86 Secret diary Cause4 hits the Big Apple 89 Fired for being five minutes late Why you should set the tone of your
Fitzjohn proves age doesn’t matter
33 Up and coming Therapy Box 35 Book reviews
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90 93 95
WORTH £900 See page 112
112 Error: does not compute Why you should lease rather
115 I’ve got an app for that Our favourite business apps TALK FRANCHISE 117 Franchise news 120 Franchises versus start-ups The truth about success rates 123 Lustful co-habiting The odd marriage between
franchisor and franchisee
business early on
Five ways to online success Basepoint presents
Do you know your place? Dr Deborah Benson
The enemy within
Is there a saboteur in your midst?
TALK IMAGE 99 We love... Flexible working 100 Hotspots: Cardiff Locations for business stays,
TALK TECHNOLOGY 107 It’s an Android world Tech Stars’ Jon Bradford 108 No QWERTY talk Changing the way we type 111 A pain in the GlassTM? Can you trademark
eats and meets
103 What does your watch face say about you? Christopher Ward 104 Suits you Sir How to choose a suit
60 TALK ADVICE 127 Sales Doctor Your questions answered 128 SEO is dead. Long live SEO 131 Lights, camera, but what action? 135 Double your online profits 137 Caught in the spider’s web Who owns your website? 139 Cheap doesn’t have to mean tacky High class events on a budget 142 Sign up to change 144 Talk Business directory TALK OPINION 146 He said/she said
for Jane Lowther’s business
You have plenty of courage,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you’re afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.
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L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
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Charlotte Roach Cover Photography: Hamperium
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o matter what woes you are suffering, however much the world seems to be on top of you, there is almost always a story that humbles you. That is certainly the case in the story of Charlotte Roach. A promising tri-athlete preparing to excite home fans at the London Olympics in 2012, she was hit by a car whilst out training, leaving her fighting, not for gold, but for her life. The injuries she sustained were horrific, including smashed ribs, broken vertebrae and a shattered collarbone. At one point she was literally drowning in her own blood, suffering from a punctured lung. Her ember was dying out, with the promise of Olympic glory taking a back seat to her fight for survival. And yet, despite the trauma, her will of character and courage won through and she managed to recover. Today, that same strength of being has allowed her to venture out into the business world and set up a successful enterprise that has a six-figure funding offer. It is people like Charlotte that let us know that no matter how bad things get, there is always a path to glory if you choose to fight.
Her courage and determination are inspirational. Check out Charlotte’s unbelievable climb from off the operating table to the boardroom on page 22. Courage comes in many forms, and sometimes it is the courage not to just accept your lot and to take risks that matters most. At retirement age, rather than put his feet up and relax, pensioner Bob Fitzjohn came across a problem, saw a solution, and started a business from his kitchen table. The tale of this grandparent from Docklands is a testament to the ingenuity and bulldog spirit of the British public, no matter what age they are. Read about how he delved into 3D printing and e-commerce on page 30. Finally, take a break from the office and have a bit of fun by finding out which safari animal your management style best resembles. Are you the king of the pride, or the ruthless vulture? Turn to page 60 to find out.
Contact: luke.garner@ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Tweet us @talkbusinessmag
Cambridge Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning
enabling the best entrepreneurial minds to transform ideas into real action and new enterprises At Cambridge, we aim to nurture the best entrepreneurial brains, taking you on a journey of self-discovery and building the right business skills, knowledge and networks to enable you to transform your ideas into real ventures. Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship via our web site: www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/ diploma/index.html Contact us T: +44(0)1223 766900 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS Latest stories
ritain has been revealed as a nation of hidden business fleets, with onethird of British drivers who drive as part of their job being uninsured for business miles, according to research from telematics company, Masternaut. On average, these drivers clock up 4,708 uninsured business miles per year whilst driving for work. 70% of those surveyed said that their employers do not provide any driver training to ensure they drive safely and efficiently, despite legislation being in place that obliges them to do so. A fifth of respondents (19%)
One-third of business drivers not insured
Almost 5,000 miles are covered by each uninsured driver on average
said that they have had an accident whilst driving for work. When asked who would be liable for such an accident, 80% said it would be their responsibility, while 20% thought an accident would be their employer’s. Martin Hiscox, CEO and chairman of Masternaut, commented: “Driving for work is recognised as one of the most dangerous occupations, and these findings clearly demonstrate a vital need for employers to educate
staff on safe driving practises. The insurance industry is spending £2.2 billion on claims annually. This is the tip of the iceberg when you consider on-costs, downtime and the cost to businesses that self-insure.” The research results come from a survey of 2,000 UK employees that drive as part of their job – commissioned by Masternaut – to discover the true extent of Britain’s cloaked fleets.
SMEs missing out on up to £2,000 The Government’s Growth Vouchers Scheme can offer funding for strategic business advice
usinesses in England can take advantage of a scheme by the Government designed to offer business advice to SMEs and entrepreneurs. Those companies based in England with less than 49 employees, that have been actively selling goods or services for at least one year, and have not paid for
strategic business advice in the last three years are eligible for the vouchers. This Government programme helps small businesses get strategic business advice on finance and cash flow, recruiting and developing staff, improving leadership and management skills, marketing, attracting and keeping customers, and
making the most of digital technology. Some businesses will be randomly chosen to get a voucher of up to £2,000 to help finance strategic business advice. The voucher can pay for up to half of the cost of the advice. You must pay the supplier in full after receiving the advice and then submit your claim. To find out more visit www.gov.uk/ apply-growth-vouchers
NEWS Latest stories
The American dream The US tops the export destination list for UK SMEs
he United States is the number one export destination for UK SMEs, according to new research from Barclays Business, with more than half of SMEs (55%) selling goods and services overseas, targeting the US. France and Germany followed behind the US, with 53% and 51% of UK SMEs exporting to these countries respectively. While the top ten export countries are dominated by Britain’s European neighbours, Canada (7th) and Australia (10th) also feature on the UK’s top ten SME export map in the Barclays research. Overall, Europe is the most popular continent UK SMEs export to, followed by North America. Asia and the Middle
East are joint third placed, while Oceania, Africa and Latin America appear at the bottom of the export list. Steve Childs, head of international at Barclays Business commented: “Thinking about spreading your business’s wings to explore overseas trading opportunities can seem a daunting task on top of the usual day-to-day responsibilities involved with running a business, but the case for exporting is strong. It is important to remember that there are a lot of resources that SMEs can access in the early stages to help on their international journey.” One in five of the UK SMEs surveyed who do not currently export (22%), have plans to do so in the future, and one in seven (15%) are looking at doing so in the next two years.
DATES FOR THE DIARY Sterling Integrity 11th September The Future Inn Hotel Bristol, BS1 3EN 25th September Worcester Cricket Ground WR2 4QQ www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk Business Junction Networking Events 04 September 2014 The Casino at the Empire 5-6 Leicester Square London, WC2H 7NA 10 September 2014 Merchant Taylors’ Hall 30 Threadneedle Street London, EC2R 8JB
18 September 2014
18 September 2014 Henry’s Cafe Bar 5-6 Henrietta Street Covent Garden London, WC2E 8PS 24 September 2014 The University Women’s Club 2 Audley Square London, W1K 1DB 25 September 2014 Obika Charlotte Street 11-13 Charlotte Street London, W1T 1RH www.businessjunction.co.uk Online Retail conferences 16th September Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington www.orevents.com
eCommerce Expo 1-2 October Olympia, London www.ecommerceexpo.co.uk Successful Selling Expo 16th October RICOH, Coventry www.sales-expo.co.uk IP Expo 8-9 October Excel, London http://www.ipexpo.co.uk South West Business expo 18th September The Steam Museum, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon www.southwestexpo.co.uk
QUESTION OF THE MONTH Hot topics
Since the recession in 2008, has there been an increase in the incidence of ‘haggling’ over prices?
Each month we ask a selection of business leaders their views on an aspect of business. This month, we’re talking about price negotiation
Yes, people are more likely to drive a hard bargain in the lean years than in the years of plenty. There’s always another side to it though, and when times are harder you value your loyal customers even more than usual. This might mean that you don’t haggle with them as hard as you could, because you appreciate their custom and don’t want to alienate them. NICK LAHEY-BEAN, OWNER OF ABACUS REAL ESTATE
Yes. I have found that everyone I deal with wants to get the best price, and always asks if there is a discount. To be fair, I also ask the same of my suppliers so that I can pass on a cheaper price to my customers. MIKE CARTER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, TYN CAN LEARNING
THE NUMBERS GAME Here's what the rest of you thought:
44% No, there isn’t a noticeable difference
Yes, it is more prevalent
No. In my experience people have always haggled! The biggest trend we have found following the economic downturn is that people are more concerned with quality and value for money, which is what we’ve always offered anyway. BEN COOPER, DIRECTOR OF NUTSHELL CONSTRUCTION
Absolutely! Most need to shave expenses and we’re no different. The saying is “no margin – no mission”. If there’s no margin, you’ll have to stop now, or do whatever you can to achieve a margin. The obvious places to start are your suppliers. Let the haggling begin! KEVIN BYRNE, MD OF CHECKATRADE.COM
NEXT MONTH: 20 September 2014
We ask readers “If you had explored every other avenue and it was do-or-die, would you ever resort to a payday lender for a business loan?”
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SUCCESS Charlotte Roach
22 September 2014
SUCCESS Charlotte Roach
At deathâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s door A tragic accident in 2011 left promising athlete, Charlotte Roach desperately clinging to life. Today she is the successful co-owner of Join the Rabble, a fun and exciting way for adults to get into fitness and socialise at the same time. She shares with us the emotional story of her long road to recovery
Charlotte Roach: Hamperium Photography
any peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dreams end in a bleary-eyed haze, with alarms ringing. For Charlotte Roach, her dream also ended in a blearyeyed haze, with alarms ringing. Unfortunately for Charlotte though, she was bleary-eyed due to excessive pain and copious amounts of morphine and the alarms she could hear were the sound of hospital monitors. A promising cyclist who was on her way to the 2012 Olympics in London, a tragic accident effectively ended her dream of competing for her country. A swerve by another cyclist, a tumble, and a collision with an oncoming Land Rover left Charlotte with 12 broken vertebrae, a punctured lung, fractured ribs, a broken collarbone and minutes from the unthinkable. Rather than fight for gold in front of her home crowd, she was simply left fighting for her life. Whether she would ever even walk again, let alone cycle, suddenly enveloped her entire existence.
SUCCESS Charlotte Roach
Effectively, I was drowning in my own blood and I was running out of time to live
“When I went down, nobody on my team saw it, so they just assumed I’d taken a tumble, that I’d had the wind knocked out of me, and I’d be fine in a minute or two. Luckily, the car behind us was driven by a physio for Leicester Tigers’ rugby team and she took a look at me. Despite telling her I was fine (I had no recollection of the accident or any idea of its seriousness, even then), she could hear a gurgling sound when I spoke, which was the sound of blood seeping into my lungs. Effectively, I was drowning and I was running out of time to live. Thankfully, she was alert and had the proper training and insisted I was taken to hospital immediately. Her quick thinking probably saved my life,” explained the former triathlete. The outcome looked bleak for a while, but out of the ashes often rises something new. And it was as such with Charlotte. She made attempts to get back on her bike, even getting as far as finishing fourth in a European triathlon, but her injuries had taken too much of a physical and mental toll on her. Instead, she focussed her steely mind, the same one that had been instrumental in providing the discipline necessary for competing at such high levels in sport, and, with the help of her business partner, founded Join the Rabble, a company aimed at making fitness more fun for adults.
24 September 2014
“I had exceeded expectations at the triathlon even though I still had a broken collarbone. I wanted to be one of the best in the world, but because of my back I had to keep resting, and I couldn’t train at a consistent level, which affected my confidence. So, I went back to Cambridge and finished my degree, but I had a change of mindset and, though I thought I could compete, I realised I’d lost the drive to want to,” explained Charlotte. “After University and my accident, I kind of lost interest in exercising. It became more of a chore as life got in the way. The gym was boring and I was thinking that I had to exercise, rather than wanting to. It was at this point it dawned on me that if I felt this way, it was likely that much of the adult population did too. I realised that it wasn’t sport and exercise that was wrong, it was the products available to enable you to get fit that were falling short. So I decided that something needed to be done to bring the fun back into it, and that’s why our events focus more on the socialising aspect, whilst getting fit at the same time.” Today, Join The Rabble has events taking place across London, including Finsbury Park and Hampstead Heath, and is starting to see a steady growth in profits. It has also been offered a lucrative seed funding deal, which could help it to grow outside of the
SUCCESS Charlotte Roach
I realised that it wasn’t sport and exercise that was wrong, it was the products available to enable you to get fit that were falling short
I quit my job and decided to live off the fear of failure... and a lot of Tesco Value baked beans!
26 September 2014
Capital. As it says on the website, www.joinrabble. com - the Rabble runs fitness classes unlike any other. Every session is a game, a different one every time. Fitness can be fun! “This summer we held an event for Tesco, with loads of their staff, which was like a team building, incentive day for them. It was great fun and a big achievement for us, as a small company, as we’ve only been running for five months. Now we’ve been offered £150,000 in funding to help us to expand and to bring on additional support staff as, as you can imagine with most start-ups, it has been all hands to the pump so far,” she said. It is often said that everyone has an idea, just not everybody has the make up to go for it. For Charlotte, that certainly rings true, and she has a theory as to why that is. “I think, for most people the biggest obstacle is the fear of failure. Those who tell themselves “What have I got to lose?” are generally the ones who can take the next step. Others mire themselves in the what-ifs and buts and never get it off the ground,” she theorised, adding; “For me, I said, I’m alive, so it can’t get any worse than it was.” Still, it took a nudge in the right direction for her to get Join The Rabble from a
concept on paper to reality. “I was working in construction and got offered a great opportunity where I was to name my salary and hours, but I’d had a few ideas evolving in my head for a while and I figured if I took this job then they’d probably die forever. There just wouldn’t be an opportunity to pursue them and this would be my life from now on. It kind of struck a chord with me, so I quit my job and lived off the fear... and a lot of Tesco Value baked beans!” With the accident firmly in the rear-view mirror, Charlotte is now looking to push forward with her business venture. The progress they have made since inception, considering they only started with Charlotte’s £3,500 in savings, goes to show that you don’t need vast sums of money or crippling loans to make a business a success. “In five years time, it’d be great to be able to go into any major town in the UK and join a Rabble,” mused the British
star. “We’ve only been running for half a year, and the first few events were free so we could test the market. Now we’ve been offered funding and worked with big companies like Tesco, so who really knows where this could end up?” Charlotte’s story of going from major adversity to success is certainly inspiring, and she has some excellent words of wisdom for anyone who finds themselves struggling at the bottom in business too, founded from her own experiences. “Anyone can fight a battle, but it is totally about mindset. Everyone goes through difficult periods, but being a bit nicer to yourself, and surrounding yourself with good people helps. Believing you can do something is half the battle,” she smiled. Contact: To find a Rabble near you and get involved in the fun, visit www.joinrabble.comm
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SUCCESS Take one company
Despite having no experience running his own business, 66-year-old Bob Fitzjohn had an idea and ran with it. The creator and owner of Easy-Lock tells editor, Luke Garner why there’s life in the old dog yet
VITAL STATISTICS Date the company was founded? January 2014 Start-up capital? £10,000 Age of founder: 66 Described by family as: “a bit mad”
30 September 2014
t the grand old age of 66, rather than simply relax and enjoy his retirement like most of us would do, Bob Fitzjohn stumbled upon an idea for a product and jumped feet-first into a new business. Through crowdfunding, 3D printing and e-commerce - all things that are commonly associated with the emerging, tech-savvy “Generation-Y” - he has successfully launched an innovative solution to a problem that has plagued travellers worldwide for decades. The seeds were planted six and a half thousand miles from home, in Singapore to be precise. Whilst holidaying with his wife, Bob was inadvertently locked out of his hotel room. To gain access, he swiped the room’s key card between the door and the lock, which unlatched the deadbolt. Despite his joy at getting back into his room, it triggered a worrying worm of thought inside his head - “Why is it so easy to get into a room that should be secure, and how safe am I and my valuables really?” The thought nagged at Bob until the worm grew into a fully-fledged idea. By the time he got home, the concept of EasyLock - a device that fits to almost any door and secures it properly - had been born. “I actually invented it on my kitchen table, putting together the prototype there after some trial and error - and that was the easy part!” laughed Bob. “With
SUCCESS Take one company
NEW TRICKS no business-owning experience to speak of, I then had to look at how to get this product to market. It was somewhat of a learning curve to say the least.” As the project progressed, Bob found himself flung into realms that would leave even some of the most tech-savvy of younger generations feeling out of their depth. “The prototype worked well enough, but it wasn’t polished. We needed something that was closer to the final product, and we needed dyes and moulds, so I turned to a 3D printing company.” “The technology is amazing and I think it is the next big thing. I even read about NASA sending a 3D printer for astronauts to make and fix parts of the International Space Station, though I’d be concerned as an astronaut if parts were falling off!” he chuckled. Despite his advanced years, Bob has kept up with technology and firmly encourages others to make the most of the advantages we have today. “My background is in sales and marketing, but if I’d had this idea 20 years ago and wanted to get it to market, it would have been a different story. Today I can just go onto the internet, set up an e-commerce website and I’m away. Back then, I would have had to use contacts I knew, travel the country going to sales meetings, and pitching the idea to different executives and buyers, and attending trade show after trade show. Whilst those techniques still have a valid use today, the internet has made my product accessible to far more people in a short space
of time than would have been possible if I had another lifetime to spend on the road selling.” Prototype in hand, and with a manufacturer ready to go, the Easy Lock still needed a source of funding to get it out of the kitchen and into production. To raise funds for the product, Bob turned to a fairly new source that has gained a lot of traction lately, especially since the recession, when a lot of consumers lost their trust in the banking industry. “I’d encourage anyone with an idea to use crowdfunding as a source of raising revenue. I say that, not just because it means you don’t have to jump through the hoops of the banks, but because it gives you an invaluable product testing platform,” explains the now semi-retired grandfather, who says his family see him as “mad” but are very proud of him for his new venture. “We wanted to raise £10,000 to launch the product, and in the end we exceeded that target. That was great, but the real value was that it told us “Yes there is a market for what you want to do, and it is a good idea.” If the crowdfunding had been a failure and we’d not raised nearly enough money, then it would have been a clear indication that the product wasn’t a go-er and it would have been shelved. Thankfully the people of Indigogo were 100% behind it!” The Easy-Lock has an obvious market in the travel industry, especially in countries where security may not be of the high standards we expect in the UK. Ever since Madeline McCann’s
disappearance from Praia Da Luz in 2003, safety when on holiday has been at the forefront of many people’s minds. “The beauty of the device is that it will fit 99% of doors, it’s lightweight and it’s easy to take with you when you’re travelling. When it is fitted, you know you are safe and you control access to the room, yet it is simple enough for even a child to unlock in case of an emergency and a need to get out of the room.” Although the one-sizefits-all device fits inside the average handbag with ease, it is rigidly strong and prevents anyone from forcing the door open, no matter how much pressure is applied. Additionally, it allows the user to unlatch the door and open it slightly to see who is calling, whilst still providing security. With rave reviews, Bob is hoping he can lock in a bright future for the product, though money isn’t his main concern. “Whilst it would be great for it to be successful financially, after all that is why most people go into business, it is nice to know that my product is out there, keeping people safe and enhancing people’s lives. The experience of it all has also been of significant value to me as a person,” he smiled. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
The real value of crowdfunding was that it told us there is a market for what we wanted to do
Why is it so easy to get into a room that should be secure, and how safe am I and my valuables really?
Cambridge Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning
enabling the best entrepreneurial minds to transform ideas into real action and new enterprises At Cambridge, we aim to nurture the best entrepreneurial brains, taking you on a journey of self-discovery and building the right business skills, knowledge and networks to enable you to transform your ideas into real ventures. Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship via our web site: www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/ diploma/index.html Contact us T: +44(0)1223 766900 E: email@example.com
SUCCESS Up and coming
Easy as A, B, C ? This month we speak to Rebecca Bright, co-founder of Therapy Box, about its range of apps that help those with disabilities to communicate HOW DOES THE BUSINESS HELP THOSE WITH DISABILITIES?
ccording to Government statistics published by the Labour Force survey in 2012 (the latest figures available), there are more than 1.7 million people in the UK of working age considered to have a disability. But whilst 76.4% of non-disabled people are in employment, just 46.3% of those with a disability are in work. Therapy Box, co-founded by Rebecca Bright, is on a mission to make life easier for those with disabilities, and help them to prosper in the working world. She takes us behind the scenes at the business.
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM? I worked as a speech and language therapist when I noticed that the majority of tools available to help those with communication difficulties were old-fashioned, cumbersome, and expensive. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, I saw an opportunity to create products for the 21st Century - apps that allowed those with disabilities to communicate with other people simply and easily.
Most of us take for granted how lucky we are to be able to speak. There are many individuals who do not have this luxury. The apps Therapy Box produces are aimed at those people who have communication difficulties, including those with cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease, and autism, as well as brain injuries and neurological and developmental disorders. The apps allow individuals to correspond with their friends, families, and wider society with the slightest of movements, such as using a finger or puffing air. These include “Predictable”, a sophisticated communication aid with self-learning word prediction and switch access, which has been translated into seven different languages across 35 countries. We also create apps for children with autism, who rely on photos and symbols to support their language.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT TO DATE? We were recently chosen as recipients of the 2014 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. In July, my husband
and co-founder, Swapnil Gadgil, and I went to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, which was very exciting! Therapy Box is one of the smallest enterprises to be chosen for this award so it was an extremely special moment for us.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Disrupting the existing AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) market was a challenge. For many years, NHS services were purchasing traditional communication aids from a small group of manufacturers. Despite our apps being a fraction of the cost, there was initial hesitation from customers who wondered whether an app would deliver what they needed.
Whilst 76.4% of nondisabled people are in employment, just 46.3% of those with a disability are in work
DID YOU HAVE ANY TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE BEFORE DABBLING IN APPS? It’s been a challenge to start a tech company with no tech experience! However, we sought to set up a team who could help with the aspects we couldn’t do ourselves. Very quickly we’ve become familiar with the world of development and app design. I guess we are proper geeks now! Contact: www.therapy-box.co.uk
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BOOK reviews 100 Ways to Create a Great Ad by Tim Collins Our verdict: About the author: Tim Collins is a prolific author and copywriter. Following a successful advertising career, he has written numerous books for children, and on humour, including The Little Book of Twitter: Get Tweetwise! We say: 100 ways to Create a Great Ad will have you nodding, along with a knowing smile, as you flick through some of the excellent examples of great adverts from throughout the course of TV, radio and print history. With examples ranging from the seemingly ancient “Beanz Meanz Heinz” to the modern (and seemingly inescapable) “Aleksander Meerkat” adverts, this offering
The Customer-Funded Business Start, Finance, Or Grow Your Company With Your Customers’ Cash by John Mullins, PhD Our verdict: About the author: John Mullins is Associate Professor of Management Practice in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at London Business School. He is a frequent speaker to communities of entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors. We say: With the rise of crowdfunding and alternative methods of funding that eschew the use of traditional banks, John Mullins takes a look at five novel ways
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creates a fond glow of remembrance within the reader, and allows you to relive all of your favourites from throughout the years. The easy-to-digest sections detailing the styles and techniques used to create each masterpiece open doors to the thinking and reasoning behind the classics, adding new value to old favourites. However, for all of the delight and fondness Tim Collins’ book evokes, as a tool with which to create adverts, it sadly falls short. Whilst it may trigger the odd light bulb, in general there simply isn’t enough depth included with each example of advertising style for anything of note to be gleaned. As an interesting and familiar trip down memory lane though, it is well worth a read. 100 ways to Create a Great Ad is published by Laurence King, priced at £22.50 and is available in paperback.
successful companies have raised the capital necessary to embark towards their goals. Whether it’s AirBnB’s “matchmaker” model or Threadless’ “pay-in-advance” method, there are some wonderful insights into the different ways to raise funds, whilst creating legions of fans for your company. Drawing on in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and investors who have actually put these models to use, Mullins goes on to address the key implementation issues that characterise each of the models; including when to apply them and the pitfalls to watch out for. A truly different, but comprehensive way of looking at the issue of funding, this book will set the idea juices flowing. The Customer-Funded Business is published by Wiley, priced at £21.99, and is available as a hardcover. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 35
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MONEY The funding expert
Follow the crowd Our funding expert, Julian Smith, examines how to achieve crowdfunding success
lternative sources of finance are growing rapidly. Between 2011 and 2013, Nesta estimates that the market tripled in size, from £309 million to £939 million. The biggest segments of that market were donation-based crowdfunding, peer-to-peer (i.e. individual) lending, and peer-to-business lending. Equity-based crowdfunding (as opposed to rewardsbased) was a relatively small part of the overall market at £28 million in 2013, but it is growing fast and hitting some notable milestones. The overall UK angel investment market, which is the largest in Europe, was estimated by eban at €84.4 million in 2013, so equity crowdfunding already represents a big chunk of that market. For entrepreneurs thinking of raising capital from external sources to accelerate growth, crowdfunding should now be a serious consideration.
WHICH PLATFORM? The UK Crowdfunding Association currently has 26 listed members, covering a range of broad-based and niche platforms. Crowdcube and Seedrs are currently two of the most active equity-based platforms in
the UK. Crowdcube itself raised £3.8 million from renowned disruptive tech investor, Balderton Capital in July, following it up with a record-breaking £1.2 million crowdfund on its own platform. SyndicateRoom does equity crowdfunding with a twist; all deals have already been sponsored (and therefore validated to some extent) by an existing business angel, giving some additional comfort. When choosing a platform, FCA authorisation would be a pre-requisite, but I would also consider other factors: • What is the momentum of the platform in terms of deals, amounts raised and investors? • What is the success rate on listed deals? • How much guidance and support (including promotion) will you get?
THE SECRET SAUCE
So what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign? The fundamentals required are: 1 a business plan; 2 a financial model; 3 a summary of the investment case; and 4 a video. Crowd investors, like most online users, will scan the summary before clicking on the video, which provides an immediate opportunity to judge
the founder/CEO and other key team members audibly and visually. The hook needs to be strong enough here to make the investor want to spend more time on the detail (business plan, numbers and engagement), so it’s worth spending a bit of money to get a slick video produced, and thinking carefully about how you position your company to create that hunger. More than that though, you need to think of crowdfunding as a PR and marketing campaign, where you build interest throughout your network privately, and then publicly following launch in order to generate momentum. Like fundraisings of any size, momentum is critical in building confidence. Nowhere is it more transparent than crowdfunding, where a guide tells the world where you are relative to your target. If that needle is moving towards your goal, you’re more likely to bring in other money alongside. Crowdfunding is growing up fast and helping to develop democratised equity investment for a growing population. Capital hungry entrepreneurs take note!
For entrepreneurs thinking of raising capital to accelerate growth, crowdfunding should be a serious consideration
Contact: thefundingexpert.co.uk Twitter: @lefundingexpert
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MONEY Chasing debtors
Take the fear out of chasing debtors Collecting what is owed to you doesn’t have to be daunting, says Steven Renwick, CEO of Satago
f you give your business customers trade credit, you need to make sure you’re as effective as possible at getting paid. However, for many people, ensuring you get paid on time is one of the most daunting aspects of running a business. Satago’s own research found that a third of SMEs are reluctant to chase their customers. Of these, 81% found the process uncomfortable, whilst 19% were afraid of antagonising customers.
If payment is not forthcoming, don’t be shy to mention that you’ve the right to charge interest and compensation under the Late Payment Regulations
So how can you take the fear out of debt collection? Firstly, consider it an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your customer. If they see you are professional in all aspects of your business – from delivery to account management – you become more credible in their mind, and hence more likely to be towards the front of the queue for payments. Start by being disciplined about invoicing - be on time and be accurate. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite annoying for businesses to receive invoices late. Your customers need to plan their cashflow too, and you’re doing them a favour by invoicing them promptly. Make sure the details on the invoice are accurate, since disputed invoice details are one of the most common reasons for late payment. Contact your customer a few days after sending them the invoice to confirm it has been received and there are no queries. This is your opportunity to get to know whoever is responsible for making payments. Be friendly and courteous, and you’ll start to build a personal relationship. If they get to know you, then they are psychologically invested in you, and more likely to pay promptly. Contact your customer a few days before payment is due, to remind them and to
double-check there are no issues. Again, don’t feel you are annoying them – this is business. You might feel more comfortable emailing them for these confirmations rather than phoning. If payment is not forthcoming, don’t be shy to mention that you’ve the right to charge interest and compensation under the Late Payment regulations. If you use a service such as Satago, you will see the exact compensation and interest that you could charge. You don’t need to charge the fees, but it gives extra leverage if your customer knows that interest is accruing. If the thought of contacting your customer is too much for you to bear, or you have such a high number of outgoing invoices that it would be a burden to chase every single debt, then consider outsourcing. You can use an online system, such as Satago, that will automatically contact all your customers with customised, escalating emails and letter reminders, or you can use a credit management agency that will do this process manually. Experienced credit managers have no qualms about contacting troublesome customers, and they know the balance between being courteous, but firm. Most importantly they’ll know when to advise that it’s unlikely a certain invoice will be paid. Contact: www.satago.co.uk
MONEY Simplify the law
6 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR PROFIT: STEP SIX
Building on the success of the deal... Simon Hetherington of simplifythelaw.co.uk, a company that helps SMEs solve legal issues without lawyers, explains how to take the deal you’ve made and use it to grow your business
o, you negotiated your deal, delivered your end of the contract, and the other party did too. Any wrinkles that occurred were ironed out along the way and everyone’s happy. And now you think you can do more - not just repeat business, but taking it into new markets, expanding and diversifying, and scaling up. What are the options for you? Firstly, make sure you know what went right. In the same way that you should learn from what may have gone wrong, you can also build on what went right. What can you do to ensure good things happen again? This may be as simple as turning some of your correspondence into templates for future use, or using the strengths of particular team members that they (and you) didn’t previously know they
40 September 2014
had. It may be seeing that an improvement you made to your service or product for one customer could be rolled out to others. Then comes the question that all businesses like to ask themselves: how can we use this to grow?
DISTRIBUTION If you know there is a market for your products and the challenge is to break into that market – especially abroad – a distribution arrangement is worth considering. Under a distribution agreement, you would sell your goods to the distributor for them to sell on in the market for which they are responsible. A distribution agreement can be sole, exclusive or non-exclusive, and each has its advantages. A non-exclusive distribution agreement might work for high volume sales of consumer
goods, whilst sole or exclusive agreements are more effective in specialist markets, but you would want to build some sales targets into those agreements because your routes to market are restricted by them. An exclusive licence is one under which only the distributor (i.e. not even you as the original manufacturer or seller) can sell the goods in the territory covered by the agreement. If you want to retain the right to sell, a sole distributor agreement would be the one to choose. Whatever kind of distribution agreement you choose, it will need to cover a number of particular issues, notably: • The products sold; • Where and to whom the distributor will resell these products; • Sales targets and a mechanism for reporting sales; • Marketing responsibilities; • Any consent agreed that the distributor may employ subdistributors; • Intellectual property rights; • Termination.
If there is a market for your products and the challenge is to break into that market – especially abroad – consider a distribution rangement
MONEY Simplify the law
FRANCHISING Some kinds of business lend themselves to franchising arrangements. There are obvious examples of this in the retail and catering sectors, but many brands of all types are in fact franchise-based businesses. You can rapidly expand a brand by granting franchises, but bear in mind that you will be handing over some degree of control over your reputation too, so be careful. A franchise is a business for the franchisee too, so you will need to make it an attractive proposition for them. The initial franchise fee, and any turnover-based subsequent payments, should be proportionate. Most importantly, don’t make it difficult for the franchisee by granting competing franchises in the same area. If there is anything in the business which you will require to be done in a particular way it will be down to you to set the standards and rules. Therefore, you will probably be responsible for compiling and maintaining a franchise handbook. You may need to license trademarks etc. to the franchisee in order for them to be able to promote your brand effectively. At the same time, make sure you protect your intellectual property, and that your agreement does not enable the franchisee to set up a directly competing business during the franchise or too soon after termination.
OUTSOURCING AND SUB-CONTRACTING Some parts of a business may be of a general kind, such as financial management, payroll, HR and customer service. There are businesses that carry out these functions for other companies, and whatever the size of your business this may be a suitable option in order to free up your time. The cost of outsourcing functions of this kind need to be weighed against the cost of employing staff to perform them, or the value
of your own time if diverted from the main thrust of your business. Additionally you will need to make sure your business’ culture and ethos are adopted by the supplier. Offshore outsourcing arrangements often have the benefit of competitive rates, but you’d need to be certain that you understand the legal and practical issues of dealing with suppliers based elsewhere in the world, from local employment law to language and skills levels. In larger businesses, the outsourcing of certain functions involves restructuring the workforce. Make sure you’re aware of your responsibilities - it may be that you are transferring a function in a way that creates rights for employees to be transferred with it. To make sure that an outsourcing arrangement delivers the service you want, it is essential to describe the service exactly, including the standards you require and how they are to be measured. A service level agreement is strongly advised, which defines the success criteria and any leeway allowed, and what the consequences are of failing to achieve them. A financial penalty is common if failure is at a certain level; and provision for termination for a more fundamental breach is usual. Remember that the outsource provider will be supplying you with essential functions for your business, so it is for you to decide what standards you will accept. It is possible, of course, to outsource some core aspects of your business, but you might wish to consider whether you want to hand over to a third party responsibility for something which makes your business unique. So there you have it - step six is complete and you’re well on your way to success! Good luck!
You can rapidly expand a brand by granting franchises, but bear in mind that you will be handing over some degree of control over your reputation too
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MONEY Start-up loans
A day in the life 7:15 Up and out of bed and
the computer in my home office goes straight on. I like to check my emails first thing so I can prioritise the day ahead, and check the takings from online orders overnight. I’ll have my breakfast and cup of tea at my desk, then take my dog for a walk.
Amy Barker, founder of Monks & Co. Clothing, takes us through a typically hectic day in the world of men’s fashion
Official start time. I cycle to our first shop, which has a gorgeous converted barn at the back housing a studio and office space. Here I’ll quickly brief the shop staff on any orders we can expect that day.
11:00 Being a start-up means I’m currently the financial director, sales director and marketing manager, so I kick-start my day with the finances. I check everything is in order and pay any invoices outstanding.
11.30 We have a huge
delivery in as we are slowly starting to get our autumn/ winter lines. My photographer comes into the studio with our model and takes shots for our website. It’s always good fun and quite motivational. He’ll send me the images tomorrow
and it will be my priority to upload them onto the website.
I have a meeting with my business partner at 3pm so I am just preparing and printing off previous minutes. We try to hold meetings regularly to keep us focused. Our business plan was great when we started out,
In Profile Entrepreneur: Amy Barker Business: Monks & Co. Clothing Web: www.facebook.com/ MonksandCoClothing Concept: Menswear clothing shop in West Malling, Kent and online
but we ended up turning over 600% more than anticipated, and achieved our three-year goals within three months. With the business moving so fast, we constantly need to be evaluating where we are, where we want to be and how we are going to get there. I then take this focus to my meeting with my business mentor, who can
help me to develop it further; she is particularly great at mentally preparing me to achieve my goals.
15:00 Our meeting starts
over a coffee and a bite to eat. We discuss the last month and our strengths, weaknesses and what the future will bring. We are coming up to our first birthday in November, and along with Christmas, it will be a major event for us. We are focusing on scaling up at the moment and growing our online presence to propel the business forward.
17:00 I cycle home, but
as soon as I get in, the office computer goes on. I’m buzzing after our meeting and want to type up our ideas before I forget, then send them to my business mentor so we can discuss them next week. I also have an SEO meeting with an agency tomorrow, so want to remind myself of our organic traffic, keywords and current practice before I head to bed later this evening. Contact: www.startuploans.co.uk
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MONEY Adam Aiken
The perils of rising interest Are you ready for higher interest rates – and is there anything you can do to cushion the blow? Adam Aiken takes a look
nterest rates have been at a historical low of 0.5% for more than half a decade. There have been suggestions at various times during this period that rates are about to go back up, but these have all been false alarms - so far. However, there are whispers once again that a rise in base rate is imminent, and that means businesses with borrowings need to be prepared. Despite the woes that businesses have found when it comes to bank financing since the 2008 crash, many of those that have successfully borrowed money have done so at very cheap rates. According to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), there are 1.6 million businesses that have been established while interest
Even if you’re prepared for a base rate rise, you might have customers and suppliers who aren’t
rates have been at 0.5%, and, crucially, these businesses have no experience of operating in a world with higher rates. ICAEW has also found that nearly two thirds of businesses have not put any measures in place to deal with rising interest rates. Although you won’t be able to prevent a rise, there are a few basic things you can do to make life easier when it eventually happens - and it will. As with a domestic mortgage, consider shopping around for a new deal on your borrowings. You might be able to find a fixed rate deal that will charge you a little bit more than your current rate, but which will cushion you from the effects of any baserate rises. What if you don’t rely heavily on borrowings? This doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of the woods. A rise in rates will affect everyone, not just you. Research by Company Watch suggests that one in five businesses uses more than 90%
of its operating profits to meet interest commitments. So even if you’re prepared for a base rate rise, you might have customers and suppliers who aren’t. Keep an eye on them and look out for signs that they’re struggling. Meanwhile, consumer spending could also take a hit if base rate goes up. Personal and consumer debt is more than £1.4 trillion and many people will struggle when the cost of their borrowing rises. As a result, there are likely to be few, if any, businesses that will not be impacted at all when the Bank of England eventually makes its move. However, if you have been thinking about making further investment, now might be the time to act. Lenders themselves will be preparing for a rise, so you are unlikely to find finance deals as cheap as they once were, but looking to secure your funds now is likely to prove cheaper than waiting another year, if the expectations are correct.
STRATEGY Rich With
Ebola, Lego and drama queens Don’t panic, but don’t stick your head in the sand either, writes Rich With
his may very well be my last column for Talk Business. In fact, it may very well be the last issue of Talk Business magazine. Bit dramatic? Of course, but no more dramatic than the apparent high-stakes drama that’s unfolding in Africa, as we stand by and watch to see if the ebola virus is destined to consume the planet. Before people start accusing me of making light of a dreadful virus that’s claiming many lives, it’s not that ebola isn’t serious, it’s that our collective response to this disease is massively disproportionate. Fuelled by a diet of media analysis that reads like a cross between “Outbreak” and “World War Z”, panic levels have rocketed. Ebola is the new media panic; it’s exotic, it’s deadly and it stems from the mystery of the jungle. It’s also moving fast and, at this time, there’s nothing we can do to cure it. Compare this to global warming, which arguably will have (and is already having) a far more seismic impact on the planet, and the fatigue of being told to drive less, eat chicken rather than beef, and take fewer holidays by air becomes all too
apparent. Ebola is deadly and sexy, global warming is bloated and oh, so boring. Drawing parallels between this and marketing your own content are easy. Media outlets are keeping their content fresh, and everybody is hungry for more news nuggets about ebola. It’s not even without precedent, after all the Spanish flu outbreak killed 50 million people less than a hundred years ago, it’s just that the story around a deadly disease is repackaged and given a fresh spin. As small business owners, we can bear this in mind as we
to recycle its appeal. Witness the film recently made for Friends of the Earth to denounce Lego’s corporate partnership with Shell. This well-made short uses Lego figures to highlight the effect drilling for oil has on the environment and people living in those areas. It’s highlighted that a child-friendly business shouldn’t really endorse an oil company in the 21st century, and bought about a movement for change. Whatever the size of your business, content management is certainly an area that should be embraced. There are so
look to keep our content fresh, informative and appealing to our audience. We don’t have to give people something new (although obviously that’s good too), just put a different angle on it. We can highlight new methodologies or ways of working, customer testimonials, enhanced response times, or even opinions of industry news. By keeping the content fresh, we allow the bloated and boring
many rival businesses vying for your clients’ attention that it’s a constant battle be heard and seen. And therein lies not only the problem, but the solution. Only by publishing a stream of regular, interesting and informative content that inspires our audience, can we stay in both their eyes’ and minds.
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There are so many rival businesses vying for your clients’ attention that it’s a constant battle be heard and seen
STRATEGY Adam Caplan
Self-service selling Adam Caplan, author of Born to Sell - The Natural Sales Method, takes a look at the issue of why salespeople need to act like customer service agents
ost salespeople think that customer service agents are people who haven’t got the courage to sell, and most customer service agents think salespeople cause most of the customer service issues they have to deal with. I’d caution all salespeople against thinking negatively of customer service agents as there’s a huge amount all salespeople could learn from them. Let’s look at what customer service is all about. In essence it’s all about helping the customer, isn’t it? Great customer service is helping customers with their problems, providing support, and keeping the customer happy. Shouldn’t salespeople be thinking the same thing? I’d go so far as to say that if a salesperson is not thinking along these lines, they should consider either changing their attitude towards sales or ‘get out of Dodge’ and find another job.
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WHY IS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE SO IMPORTANT FOR SALESPEOPLE? Consider what damage poor customer service does in reducing trust, removing goodwill, destroying any future re-orders, and blackening your name so that you will never get any referrals. So why give good customer service? In essence, you’ll get more business, you will feel better about your job, yourself and your place in the world, it’s more fun to help people get what they want, and it has huge positive psychological benefits for your personal wellbeing. As a salesperson, your attitude should be one of customer service rather than salesperson service - help the customer to what they want and you’ll get what you want down the line, as opposed to help yourself to as many sales as you can do by whatever means possible.
STRATEGY Adam Caplan
If a salesperson is not thinking along these lines, they should either change their attitude or find another job
A CUSTOMER SERVICE PHILOSOPHY It’s an attitude of going the extra mile, of helping others to what’s right for them, of being ethical and responsible, of helping your customers get more than they expect - and it’s all about honesty and integrity. To do this you need to follow a simple threestep process; you need to understand who your customers are, you need to discover what they want, and you must help them understand how your product or service benefits them (as long as it really does). These are the three pillars of who, what, and how. Let’s investigate this in more detail:
WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS? Simply put, your customers are the people who will truly benefit from using your product or service. Anybody outside this important classification is not a customer. Do not try and sell your product or service to someone who wants whatever you offer when it doesn’t benefit them.
50 September 2014
WHAT DO THEY WANT? All customers want the same four things, broadly speaking; they want their needs to be understood (by others), they want to be made to feel welcome when they speak to you, they want to feel that they are important, or at least valued, and they want to feel comfortable that they can make a decision without being pressured or being a nuisance.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THEM UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE WILL BENEFIT THEM? Traditionally, sales people try and do this by telling customers that their product or service will benefit them because it has certain following features that deliver these advantages. The problem with this approach is that telling isn’t selling. Selling is finding out what the customer wants by asking the right questions, listening, acknowledging they’ve heard the customer, understanding the customer’s desires and asking the customer if they would benefit from the product or service. If the salesperson asks the right questions, it helps the
customer understand how the product or service would work for them. For example; “I understand you are looking for your staff to increase their sales results. How would your staff respond to high quality sales training that improved how they communicated with their customers? “ Listen to the response and reply: “OK, and if that training included a section on closing by helping customers make the right buying decisions, would that help them?” Can you see how that works better than saying, “Our high quality sales training will help your staff better communicate with customers and this will give you better results” Ultimately, helping the customer to understand how your product or service will benefit them is the best way to sell. It’s pro-active customer service and I think of it as a pre-emptive customer service approach. It works for all of my delegates and for my whole sales team as well. Try it out and see how you get on with it. Contact: www.www.usptraining.co.uk
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STRATEGY What to do when a deal falls through
When the credit crunch hit, it became clear how irresponsible some banks had become
54 September 2014
STRATEGY What to do when a deal falls through
t has taken Jane Lowther easier route of handing the though the experience she six years to finally tell her contract to another supplier. went through has left its mark. story. The small business The fall out of the experience When she asks herself what owner from Old Basing had further, unexpected she would do differently she watched almost helplessly consequences. Other potential says, “Now I never discuss as Royal Bank of Scotland customers that Jane was in contracts with anyone, and helped to drive her business negotiations with at the time I don’t accept work or sign to bankruptcy in 2008. Jane, incorrectly assumed that she any exclusivity clauses a concierge services expert, had lost the contract due to unless a client is prepared was asked by Royal Bank of failure to fulfil, which caused to pay upfront. My advice Scotland to work with it to them to lose confidence, and to other businesses in my create a new service to add she consequently lost her situation is to get everything to its Tesco Finest Home credibility in the marketplace. in writing, document all Insurance, which she formally Despite the catastrophic important conversations, accepted. Jane worked closely events, Jane started the long and email a copy to the other with RBS in the ensuing eight slog back to credibility. What company. Most importantly, months to develop the don’t count on any service for them. money until it is in your The £3 million bank account.” contract and project was The entrepreneur has due to launch in March some lessons to share 2008. It required Jane with others to help them When small business to recruit new staff and avoid ending up in a locate to new offices, similar situation too, owner, Jane Lowther which she was more than namely making sure struck a £3 million deal happy to do for such a that your don’t take on with RBS six years ago, lucrative deal. She took any unnecessary costs. out a small business “The biggest changes I she thought it would be the mortgage through RBS made after this traumatic start of something fantastic. to cover these costs, experience to my Little did she know it would and all was fine for a business model involved while. However, just two changing the structure leave her business on the weeks before launch, of the back office. All brink of disaster RBS unexpectedly my team are now home broke the contractual based, and I just keep agreement and a desk at my husband’s withdrew all funding. office so I have an Jane subsequently had official office address. to let the new staff go Everything is pared and was left with a down to the best possible second mortgage that cost. You don’t need she could no longer afford. To helped Jane the most to rebuild fancy offices, just enough to do her dismay, two weeks later her reputation was being the job at hand, “ she explained. Jane found the very training present at external events. Her story is a lesson to manuals that she had built for When Jane’s business went all entrepreneurs and small Tesco Finest insurance had bust, people had more trust business owners to be careful been launched. in banks to do the right thing, who you get into bed with, It wasn’t until 2013 that and so, to many people, what and to make sure that your she found out what had really they had done just didn’t seem business is set up correctly happened. During a networking to fit with their perception to deal with any possible event, Jane met the former of banks. However, when the disasters. As it is easy to get sales director of TenUK, who credit crunch hit, it became excited by promises of large said that the contract had clear how irresponsible some contracts, Jane leaves one final come to them out of the blue. banks had become, and the warning; “Don’t agree any It was Jane’s contract that he public perception changed. extra costs unless you totally was offered, without having People were much more sure that you can pay for them to tender for the business. understanding about what had and they are essential to the RBS would have apparently happened, which helped her business. If payment falls overlooked adding Jane to their shake off some of the negative through for any reason, it can supplier’s database, which perceptions about her business. be the death knell for your would have taken a lot of work. Today she can reflect on the company, whether it was your This is why they wanted the events with a little more ease, fault or not.”
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Other customers that Jane was in negotiations with, incorrectly assumed that she had lost the contract due to failure to fulfil, which caused them to lose confidence
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ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, Sheencroft House, 10-12 Church Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3SN
STRATEGY Beat the recession
When the going gets tough John Styring, CEO at Igloo Books, discusses how to get ahead during a slow-growth recovery and be ready to win when good times return
We were flexible enough to put it into action, and we played to our strengths. Finding a solution that ensures your business can make it through a recession is a bit like solving a Rubik’s cube; once the potential problems are assessed, the final stages can be relatively simple.
hat doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. A recession can be one of the toughest ways of discovering how true this saying can be. So how do you make sure your company succeeds when times are hard? Having the right strategy, remaining flexible and playing to your strengths can protect your business against a downturn and lead you to embrace the changes that it brings. By the late 2000s, IglooBooks was coming off a decade of unprecedented growth. The business has since grown from a turnover of £5 million in 2008 to £20 million in 2014. In that time, the UK economy experienced a double-dip recession that would send many of Britain’s big commercial publishers reeling. We did this by having a solid strategy to beat the multiple challenges of the recession.
THE STRATEGY In the publishing world, the credit crunch meant consumers still wanted to read, but were looking for ways to save money. Our great value titles were the solution for a public that had not lost the desire to read but needed to watch what they spent. Take a look from the consumer’s perspective at the areas likely to be affected by their reduced spending power. In my industry, some of the biggest hits in recent years were taken by maps and atlases because of the rising popularity of sat-nav systems, computer books because the information is now readily available online and as such became quickly obsolete, and textbook sales declined for the same reason. The business outlook in these areas was dire as consumers pulled back on unnecessary spending and went online.
So do you need a strategy for recession? The fundamental tactic you need during a recession is to have a unique proposition, one that is going to make customers still want to pay for your service even when money is tight. It’s never a bad idea to align yourselves with successful companies and retailers who will remain reliable and help you to ride the wave. During a recession, certain types of businesses succeed, and it’s important to couple your organisation with those companies and grow with them. In the last recession, different types of companies succeeded. You’ve got the likes of LIDL and Aldi, which offer value, and companies like John Lewis which is renowned for service. Our proposition – and my best tip to other businesses – is to offer the customer both. If you do that, they’ll always come back, and you will have loyal fans of your product or service when the recession ends.
Simplify the Law
Do without lawyers
Companies with clear organisational structures tend to be more flexible, so keep your business structure simple to stay nimble
STRATEGY Beat the recession
LEARN TO ADAPT A recession naturally brings change - some of these changes can be catalysts for growth. This is most likely to be true for your company if your organisation is flexible and ready to adapt. A recession makes everyone look at how they run their business – it is the leanest, most adaptable companies that come out the other side as success stories. Many organisations are not designed for change - they’re set up in silos with the left hand often oblivious to what the right hand is doing. A healthy organisation will break down those barriers to work as one unit. The world after a recession is unlikely to resemble the one before it. Your priority, when you get a moment’s respite, should be to make sure your organisation is fit to cope with the “new normal” of frequent change. Companies with clear organisational structures tend to be more flexible, so keep your business structure simple to stay nimble. It makes the flow of work between different parts of your business
smoother. Unencumbered by layers of managers and staff between the corner office and the shop floor, your business needs to be able to announce a new course of action and follow up to make sure it happens. Build co-operation into all the parts of your system – from sales to supply. The basic lesson is: bureaucracy is slow, simplicity is fast, and a business that is quicker to respond to the inevitable changes of the recession is less likely to come unstuck.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS In a recession, the temptation is to cut back. The question for many leaders is should you restrict expenditure? We didn’t cut our spending, we changed our spending, investing more in the parts of the business that brought growth. Over the last three years of the recession, we invested in our people and tripled our workforce, recruiting fresh talent from our larger competitors. We invested in the challenges of tomorrow, and that meant we got to where we are today.
In a recession, the temptation is to cut back. The question for many leaders is should you restrict expenditure?
58 September 2014
We made sure we used the most efficient distribution centres possible, and ones whose operations were less likely to be weakened by a slow economy. We streamlined the process of delivery so our customers were always happy, and we made sure we kept to our company’s core values. Unsurprisingly, not all companies follow the same strategies during a recession. To beat a recession, you need to master a delicate balance between looking after costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow. During difficult times, companies need to be founded on more than a promise - it’s about the ability to deliver. During a recession, the best results come from playing to your strengths. Out of all of this, there was one simple lesson we learnt from the recession do good business, please your customers, and look after your costs at the same time. The rest, as they say, will take care of itself. Contact: www.igloobooks.com
STRATEGY Safari management
ANIMAL INS – what’s your management style? To discover which animal best represents your management style, answer the following questions:
Sales are down in the first quarter of the year. Do you: A Arrange a team-building day centred around selling to improve both sales techniques and team morale - Go to Q2 B Call a company-wide meeting to discuss the poor performance and state that targets will be increased for the next quarter to cover previous losses - with no exceptions - Go to Q3
60 September 2014
Your employees invite you out for drinks after work on payday. Do you: A Agree to go and pay for the first round of drinks - Go to Q4 B Politely decline - an employer and his/her subordinates shouldn’t be too friendly and risk blurring the boss/employee lines - Go to Q5
An employee is giving a presentation to an important client, but they’re too shy and timid. Do you: A Take over. This is an important client and you can’t spare any feelings, but arrange for the employee to have public speaking training afterwards - You are a LION B Let them finish, but apologise to the client in private afterwards and re-arrange to present to them again properly - You are a VULTURE
STRATEGY Safari management
I am lion, hear me roar! Or maybe you’re not? We’ve evolved from animals, so it is no surprise that we share certain characteristics with them. The business environment is an intricate eco-system of personalities, just like the African plains. Editor, Luke Garner investigates which animal best represents your business management style
An employee comes to you saying that their beloved family pet has died and they’d like a day off to bury it. Do you: A Although it isn’t in the company’s bereavement policy, many pets are like family, so you grant the request this time, whilst offering an arm around their shoulder - You are an ELEPHANT B You refuse, stating the company bereavement policy. After all, if you allowed this one request,the rest of your employees might complain and/or start making up similar excuses to get a day off You are a FLAMINGO
A local media team want to interview you about a charitable event you held. An employee suggested the idea, but when they ask, you: A Give full credit to the employee. It was their idea after all, and the acknowledgement might inspire some of your other employees to work harder - You are a MEERKAT B Take the credit. You’re the face of the company and you put the team together, so everything that comes out of the company is a direct result of your activities and decisions - Go to Q6
You have a potential big client in China who wants to arrange a meeting, but you can’t afford to fly out there. Do you: A Take out a loan to cover the cost of the trip and speculate that a successful contract agreement will repay the costs. Business should be done face-to-face after all - You are a LEOPARD B Set up a meeting online through Skype or similar videoconferencing software instead - You are a CHAMELEON
Now turn over to discover what your chosen animal says about your management style. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 61
STRATEGY Safari managemnt
LION Your style: You’re loud, proud, and dominate the office landscape. There is no doubting exactly who is in charge. Why it’s good: Businesses often thrive with a strong hand at the helm and subsequently everyone falls in line behind you. You lead your pride into battle each day with a ferocious demeanour that both inspires your staff and makes your competitors tremble. Perhaps try: The problem with being such a dominant presence is that you run the risk of intimidating your employees and they will be reluctant to confront you. As such there is a high chance that important developments within your business, especially mistakes that require fixing before they snowball, won’t be brought to you out of fear of reprimand and the consequences. Take a lesson from the elephant who, whilst still showing a strong, bold presence, forms compassionate and close-knit relationships.
MEERKAT Your style: You don’t like to stand out from the crowd, you prefer to be a part of the team than the leader. As part of the team you can pull the strings whilst not lording it over anybody. Like a well-oiled machine, you believe that a business is at its best when everybody pitches in to complete their respective parts and no one person is bigger than the overall cause. Why it’s good: Your staff respect you as you get your hands dirty and appear to not be afraid to help out for the greater cause. It galvanises them together to push forward towards a shared goal. Perhaps try: Being more like the lion. Though your attributes as a meerkat are noble, sometimes your staff need an out-and-out leader in times of trouble, someone to look towards for strong leadership. In these instances, you should stand up proud and lead with authority.
62 September 2014
FLAMINGO Your style: As a flamingo you’re all about balance. You don’t like to rush into anything, taking your time and running at a slower, methodical pace to ensure that the decisions you make are the right ones, not the rash ones. Why it’s good: Everything you do is well thought out and you don’t make off-the-cuff decisions. This stops you from getting caught up in hype and means that when you do something, you’re confident that it is the right move. You’re also fair with your employees, letting them have some lee-way without being walked all over, and they respect you for it. Perhaps try: Often this approach can mean that you miss out on opportunities as you don’t pull the trigger quickly enough. This can be particularly frustrating to enthusiastic employees that passionately present you with a great idea, only to see your less-thanlukewarm response (though you may simply be considering all angles), and watch as the chance passes by due to inactivity and indecision. The meerkat on the other hand, reacts quickly and decisively to new threats and happenings, while still involving all members in decisions and keeping the group safe.
STRATEGY Safari management
ELEPHANT Your style: Wise and proud, you communicate with a commanding voice and are someone everyone looks to for guidance. Why it’s good: You get respect, not through being the loudest or fiercest, but through your years of experience of being the best. You’re placid and someone everyone feels they can turn to in times of need - business or personal. Perhaps try: Though the elephant is perhaps one of the kindest and most humane of personalities, sometimes the lines can become blurred and your employees can think of you more as a friend than a boss. You can learn a lot from the lion. Its fierce roar instils confidence and passion in everyone, and can often be the motivation that your employees need, whilst letting them know exactly who is in charge.
LEOPARD Your style: You know what works, it’s tried and tested and it has gotten you to where you are today. You’re smart and agile too. Why it’s good: Everybody knows exactly what to expect from you, giving them a comforting presence, and allowing them to feel part of what is going on and build towards the company’s aims. There is much to be said for having a steady hand on the tiller, especially in times of drought. Perhaps try: In times of hardship, when things aren’t going as you expected, it is common to fall back to what you know best and the old methods that saw previous success. But sometimes a leopard needs to learn to change its spots and, in a new technological, post-recession age, the old ways often won’t cut it with the emerging younger generation of customers. Learn to adapt like the chameleon and find a new path, even if you have to leave your comfort zone to do so.
VULTURE Your style: You bide your time, waiting and watching from afar, until the opportune moment when you swoop down and take your prey when it is at its weakest. You know exactly when the time is right to strike, and your results speak for themselves. Why it’s good: Business-wise, you make some great deals and always know just how to manipulate your adversary in order to further your business prospects. You’re sharp and smart and nobody dares to mess with your authority for fear of being taken down. Perhaps try: This approach may get great results, but you have little trust from your employees. They think you’d be willing to throw them under the bus to save yourself, and they’re probably right. Take heed of the flamingo who, whilst they still do their due diligence, are less ruthless and know how to balance results with keeping your employees happy.
CHAMELEON Your style: You’re always right on cue, technologically up-to-date, and constantly finding new ideas to tap into and pursue. Why it’s good: You’ll rarely miss out on the ‘next big thing’ and you give your business and your employees the chance to be at the forefront of everything, riding a number of waves to success and getting off before they fall flat or become overused. Perhaps try: Whilst you’re not afraid to change tact when it seems warranted, it can be very hard for your staff to understand what you want from them. Constantly changing approach leaves people unsure of the goals of the organisation, and as such, work can become muddled and without direction. Take a leaf out of the leopard’s book and give them some familiarity and understanding of the businesses values and goals.
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Don’t let “No” get you down
Rejection is, unfortunately, an inherent part of sales. Powwownow give us its top tips on staying positive to see you through to that all-important sale
Mix up your schedule by balancing your hot, warm and cold leads throughout the week
orking in sales can have amazing highs and incredible lows. Selling is a skill, which can sometimes have a very long investment game to reap the rewards. When those investments don’t come off, how do you stay positive? Jason Downes, sales director at Powwownow, shares his top tips for staying positive in the face of rejection when working in sales.
SUPPORT NETWORK It is vital to have a good support network, in work and at home, to pick you up when you have had a bad day. Being able to talk to colleagues or a partner about why you didn’t make that sale will enable you to understand where it went wrong, and how to rectify it for the future.
Not being able to share these frustrations may lead you to simmer on issues, resulting in continued poor sales.
IT’S NOT PERSONAL This might seem a simple one, but it is vital that you don’t take disappointments personally. If you didn’t make a sale, seek feedback to find out why. It could be your pricing or your product offering, but in most cases it is unlikely to be you. So dust yourself off, learn from your failures and don’t let them get you down.
TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY If you had a bad day with no sign of interest from prospects – remember it is just one day! Have a good night’s rest, talk it through with friends, and come in fighting the next day. Think about when you are at your best. If you are a morning person, then make your most difficult meetings or calls then, and schedule follow-ups for the afternoon.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE Selling can be a grind sometimes, especially after receiving a ‘not interested’ Simplify the Law
Do without lawyers
response on call after call. Make sure you mix up your schedule by balancing your hot, warm and cold leads throughout the week, mixed with follow-ups and meetings. If possible, go out and meet prospects or arrange a video call rather than a phone call. Adding this variety to your selling approach will keep you interested and excited to deliver the best results you can.
POSITIVITY This might sound corny, but think positive thoughts, surround yourself with positive people, and always try to see the bright side. Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint, so it is vital that you keep yourself in a good mood, even in the face of rejection. Brush it off, listen to some good music, and get back on it. Finally, remember that you are in control of your own success - so don’t allow for excuses! You can’t control everything, but by focusing on what you can, you’ll achieve great things. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk
Exhibitions • Portable Displays • Engagement • Live Events
with exhibition stands Skyline Whitespace are specialists in exhibitions and events, devoted to designing powerful experiences through exceptional stand design, great storytelling and innovative engagement tools that bring your brand to life, and deliver results for you and your audiences. If it’s something small and portable or a large full scale exhibition stand, anywhere in the World, rental or purchase, we have ideas and proven solutions here for you. We are dedicated to providing an incredible service and long lasting client relationships.
GAME Exhibition Stand at The Gadget Show 2014. Created in Skyline Envoy™ and Tube™ System.
From small and portable to full scale installations. Rental or purchase. Why not get in touch and arrange a visit to our London showroom? email: email@example.com look: www.skylinewhitespace.com
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ESPA self build backlit display created in Skyline Picturecube™
MARKETING Kimberly Davis
Eat, sleep, advertise
Coca Cola There are very few companies which have mastered the art of marketing, but there is one that stands out as a leader, says Kimberly Davis of Sarsaparilla Marketing
or a hundred years, Coca Cola has been the innovator and driving force in the world of marketing. It all started in 1886, when a pharmacist named Dr John S Pemberton created the world’s most popular drink. At first, he only sold nine servings a day. Now, there aremore than 1.9 billion cokes served globally every 24 hours. Coca Cola first promoted the product by giving out coupons offering free samples of the beverage. Whilst this seems common now, back in 1887, it was considered revolutionary. From there, the company started advertising campaigns featuring its logo with its unique script font. Of course, back at the turn of the twentieth century, advertising actually worked because people weren’t bombarded with so many forms of media. It allowed Coca Cola to leap forward and become the market leader, despite numerous imitators popping up. From day one, the company made sure to consistently
promote the message of taking a break from the busy world to relax with a Coca Cola. One of the most popular slogans -“The pause that refreshes” - first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929, and has stuck with the company to this day. In the 1970s, Coca Cola dominated the market and reinforced this message further with the famous advert and song “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” (now you have it in your head, don’t you?). This summer, Coca Cola launched a new campaign printing various names on the back of the labels, with the message “Share a Coke with (insert name)”. This could be one of the most amazing marketing campaigns of all time. It is a fact that the most powerful word, to any person, is their name. Whenever any of us hear or see our name, it evokes a powerful feeling of connection within us. By printing our names on its bottles, Coca Cola is boldly connecting us to its product. It’s
Even more astonishing, is the fact that if we don’t see our name on a bottle, we seek them out to fulfill our need to belong
making us feel special. Even more astonishing, is the fact that if we don’t see our name on a bottle, it’s making us seek them out to fulfill our need to belong. What happens if you can’t find your name? No problem. You can go to http://www.cocacola.co.uk/share-a-coke and actually type your name onto a bottle, have it custom made and delivered to your door! Needless to say, the campaign has gone viral. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are exploding with people taking pictures of their names, and their friend’s names, on the back of bottles and posting the pictures online. Coca Cola has ended this promotion by thanking its customers via advertising campaigns that read “Thanks for sharing a Coke with us this summer”, and rightly so. The campaign helped increase sales by 4.93%. It’s not just marketing, but an amazing use of consumer psychology that makes Coca Cola one of the world leader, and a company we can all learn from. Download Kimberly’s free e-book “7 Deadly Marketing Mistakes Destroying Your Business, Right Now (and you don’t even know it) now at www.sarsaparillamarketing.com
Do you have an idea that could tackle social problems in new and innovative ways? You may be a person with a brilliant idea or are part of an organisation or company looking to grow and increase the delivery potential of their social venture. The complex social problems our world now faces require an innovative and inspired approach to areas such as; criminal justice and crime prevention, safety and wellbeing, cultural change, job opportunities and community development. There are many organisations that are currently working to combat the problems in these areas, but may need access to investment, added support or additional skills in order to push for positive social change. The University of Northampton has been working in their unique capacity as the only Ashoka U Changemaker Campus in the UK to deliver socially innovative opportunities for all. Through multiple avenues of engagement with social enterprises and other organisations the university has supported previous candidates to attract new contracts in excess of £6m and investment in excess of £500k. The latest round of its Social Venture Builder (SVB) programme has incorporated the expertise and experience developed through years of engagement with social enterprise into an ‘incubator programme’ that works to build skills and competence, alongside developing investable and marketable social enterprising solutions. Using both an academic approach and work based learning, the SVB allows candidates to continue working and developing their organisation as they progress through the programme. Ideas and organisations from any sector are welcome to apply, and can target any area of social innovation whether local or global. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become a real game changer, here is your chance to develop your ideas further, and to develop something that will be innovative, ground breaking and financially sustainable. For more information go to: www.northampton.ac.uk/social-venture-builder Queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
MARKETING Great giveaways
Trade bait A
Are giveaways at exhibitions worth your time, effort and, most importantly, money? Richard Edwards of Quatreus investigates.
Offering cool freebies to encourage people to provide contact details can increase sign-ups, but ultimately provides low-quality leads at a high cost
re giveaways at exhibitions a great way to build your brand, attract footfall and generate new business? Or are they a waste of time and money that end up being ignored or simply thrown in the bin? The answer is some are, some aren’t. In other words, not all giveaways are useful. So how can we make sure that your giveaways and other freebies are useful in helping to convert business? The key is to align giveaways with your key objectives. Pinning down your key objectives should be your first step. Then it’s time to think about what type of giveaways will best help you achieve them. Here are some top tips:
OBJECTIVE 1: GAINING AWARENESS
If you’re hoping to gain more brand awareness from your exhibition then your giveaways should focus on visibility. Frequency of impressions is a key indicator as to how memorable your brand will be. As such, your giveaways need to be designed entirely around your brand name and logo and be the type of item that people would actually use, preferably in a working environment. Some ideas that Quatreus has seen work well include: • An environmentally-friendly tote bag – Everyone else’s giveaways go into yours; • Branded post-it notes - They are useful, visible by staff at the prospect’s office, and notes written on them will be passed
MARKETING Great giveaways
between colleagues; • Branded teabags – So that everyone in their office will know your brand; • Something for the kids – Keep your logo bouncing around a prospect’s home for years.
OBJECTIVE 2: ADVERTISING YOUR BRAND MESSAGING If you have certain brand messaging that you want to convey at a trade show, then your giveaways could provide useful visual reminders and/ or include extra detail beyond just your branding. For example, a print and fulfilment company might be able to demonstrate their personalised printing process on a small scale, printing visitors a personalised business card to take away with them. Many companies still choose to produce brochures. However these are often lost among the pile and may never be read. One way in which Quatreus has helped clients combat brochure overload is to send the information as a digital attachment, straight to the visitor’s inbox, while they are still on your stand. This technology, called qbit, allows you to form an instant and lasting connection with trade show visitors without loading them up with expensive and heavy printed brochures and pens. Some other creative ideas for you to try: • Witty t-shirts – Turning prospects into walking billboards; • Branded USB drive – Small USBs with lots of space will get used a lot, plus you can include some of your company info on the drive; • A clever gadget or app – Something that is useful to prospects and carries your branding.
70 September 2014
OBJECTIVE 3: MAKING CONTACTS Traditionally gathering contacts was done simply by exchanging business cards, but the sheer scale of modern trade shows makes finding the right business card afterwards an event in itself. Offering cool freebies as an incentive to encourage people to provide contact details can increase numbers of sign-ups, but ultimately it will probably provide low-quality leads at a high cost. Digital signup or contact exchange can be facilitated with an online data capture tool like qbit, possibly in conjunction with giveaways. There are also QR-codes printed onto signage that can be scanned with a smartphone to reach a sign-up form. Or a live-tweet screen can provide visitors with the perfect excuse to connect over social media, whilst contributing to your marketing effort. Some other interesting ideas include: • Demonstrate with their details – Use your product or service to demonstrate using a visitor’s details. (E.g. Quatreus might use qbit to help sell qbit, collecting contact details in the process); • Prize draws – Giving away one high-value item to the winner of a prize draw can often be more attractive than little giveaways; • Offer coffee – Good-quality free coffee or tea is the holy grail of trade show giveaways, and the advantage of offering it is that it keeps visitors at your stand while they drink it. Whatever objective you decide to pursue at your next trade show, the important thing is to think creatively. If you can come up with a creative item that is fun or useful, and which represents your brand and/ or USPs, then it will draw in visitors and you will remain in their consciousness long after the trade show has finished. Contact: www.quatreus.com
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Is cold calling dead?
bsolutely not according to CEO and Founder of the Sales, Marketing and Leadership consultancy Business Hands, Chris Mayfield. Poor preparation is at the top of the list as to why so many cold calls are unsuccessful. The truth is, nobody likes receiving cold calls and the trick to success is making the prospect feel like they are valuable and have been sought out by you rather than just being plucked off a random list
bought from a marketing / mailshot agency the day before. To do that, you need to do your research.
Here’s 6 things to think about which could make your cold calls more successful • Understand what problems your product or service solves – make a list of the problems and the business benefits of solving them. When you’re on the call you can ask open questions around these areas. • Understand what you realistically need to achieve in the call. If the product or service has a longer sales cycle than just one call, and the next stage is an online demo or meeting - rather than selling the product, you need to be selling the idea that the prospects time will be well spent if they agree to the demo / meeting. • Be realistic about the kind of person you need to target. Don’t call into the C-Level of a major international corporate if you’re trying to sell a £500 product. Similarly, there’s little point in targeting low level management for a £100k+ deal. They might show real interest and make lots of promises, but it’s unlikely your effort and time will get you where you want to be. • Research the prospect, the company and the industry. The age of the internet gives us plenty of useful information and sites like LinkedIn provide insights into employment history, skills, current role profiles and even current projects people are working on. This is excellent information to identify the exact person to speak to and build trust during a conversation by showing you have done your research on them.
• Don’t be afraid to target senior gatekeepers specifically. Rather than trying to get around them, do your research on them and call them specifically. Acknowledge their unique position in being able to advise you on finding the best person to open dialogue with, within their company. • If all else fails, ask for help. If you cannot identify the perfect person to speak to, phone people in the same department or in similar roles within the company and explain your predicament... “We’ve been working with company xyz on subject abc and we’re very keen to see if this is relevant to your company. I wondered whether you would know of someone that I can have an exploratory conversation with around this topic…” So the golden rule when it comes to cold calling is “less is most definitely more”. Less calls per day and more time preparing will lead to far more productive cold calls.
About Business Hands
Business Hands is a boutique consultancy focused on helping small and mid-sized organisations bring in more revenue and become more profitable through effective Sales, Marketing & Leadership. We help organisations understand themselves, their customers and their markets better so that the choices they make and the actions they take deliver better results. www.businesshands.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org +44(0)207 458 4788
MARKETING 10 steps of Twitter
TEN STEPS OF TWITTER
Step 10: Keep your followers close and your rivals closer Each month, Joel Windels of Brandwatch helps us to improve our Twitter feed with handy tips and advice. This month, we’re looking at how working with rivals can be mutually beneficial
here are an increasing amount of Twitter accounts that have huge swathes of followers, despite not posting particularly engaging or unique content. They post interesting tweets, but their posts are by no means especially brilliant - their content could easily be reproduced by any internet-savvy tweeter. You will have probably seen some of these accounts whilst scrolling through Twitter. They find their way on to millions of news feeds due to the enormous amount of retweets, favourites, and followers that they inspire, giving them an almost constant presence on the trending and discovery pages. Here are a few examples of these types of accounts: @HistoricalPics - 1.4 million followers @Earth_Pics - 1.8 million followers @FootballFunnys - 1.1 million followers @RelatableQuote - 2.6 million followers @EarthPix - 1.34 million followers @HistoryInPics - 1.74 million followers
These accounts are not brands, companies, famous or opinionated individuals. They are very broad fan groups, supplying content that can be understood and appreciated by the masses. How did these accounts become so popular? Simple by working with their rivals to promote their accounts. These accounts have agreed, probably informally, to share retweets amongst themselves. They will each retweet three of their competitors’ tweets in a row, in return for three retweets of their own content. It’s the fairly basic idea of a retweet for a retweet, but on a much greater, more effective scale. The accounts gain at least double the reach and engagement than they could manage by themselves. They will regularly swap retweets with one another, allowing them to access millions of new users without any direct financial cost. More significantly, they don’t lose many followers from doing this. Followers don’t react badly to new content being shared on their feed, and many end up interacting with these new accounts. Moreover, these accounts
communicate via direct messaging or by email, meaning their followers will never see a request for a retweet publically, as, for many eagle-eyed tweeters, this could appear desperate to both current and potential followers. Doubling or tripling reach in social media is becoming increasingly difficult, with more accounts vying for attention than ever before. So, as illogical as it may seem to stay connected with rivals and competitors, or even have contact with them, the importance of using them could be a potential gold mine for your brand on Twitter. Of course we’re not suggesting Coca Cola and Pepsi should start acting chummy on social media. But if your brand forged relationships with similar accounts in your market, you could reap benefits far greater than many paid or time-intensive campaigns. This truly emphasises the importance of keeping your rivals close on Twitter, because it’s their influence that can be your greatest asset.
We’re not suggesting Coca Cola and Pepsi should start acting chummy, but forging relationships with similar Twitter accounts could reap benefits greater than many paid campaigns
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Last month, Malcolm Stoodley of Exterion Media gave his guide on what to consider when looking at using outdoor advertising. This month, he explains one of the most important considerations of any advertising campaign dwell time
Gone in 60 seconds?
he amount of time a consumer will spend looking at your advertisement, is known in the advertising industry as ‘dwell time’, and can vary hugely depending on the format of your advert. It is one of the biggest keys for you to consider when assessing any advertising campaign - after all, it is no use having a detailed advert on
the side of a bus with lots of clever, witty text on it, if that bus is going to be gone in 60 seconds, leaving the audience with insufficient time to read it (and find out which company it is promoting). So how do you make it work in your business’s favour? First things first, if you know how to utilise dwell time properly, and match it to your marketing objectives,
it’ll become one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Yes, you want to grab your audience’s attention, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t maximise the impact and reach of your campaign. To get the best returns on your advert, you need to understand which dwell time will be the most effective for you and how to use it- you’ve got to be dwell time smart.
SHORT DWELL TIME Many people think that the longer a person sees an advertisement, the better. Whilst true in many cases, there are just as many when a short, sharp commercial or promotion will capture the attention of your audience even more effectively. Short dwell time formats, such as
To get the best returns on your advert, you need to understand which dwell time will be the most effective - you’ve got to be dwell time smart
the aforementioned side of a bus (known as streetliners in the business) act like a moving shop front. They’re a canvas that creates impact, grabs attention, and increases brand awareness in the best possible environment, an environment where large audiences are in an open mindset, engaged and receptive to communication - which is the exact situation they find themselves in on the high street. As such they’re a perfect format for businesses to ‘sponsor’ the high street that they are located on. Like shop fronts however, they shouldn’t be too busy, distracting, or copyheavy. To make the best use of the short dwell time format, ads need to be clear and targeted to their audience, as the message is put directly in front of shoppers as a prompt to purchase.
LONG DWELL TIME In contrast, long dwell time formats provide you with the opportunity to have a conversation with your audience. Because consumers are exposed to the ad for longer, they can absorb a greater amount of information than a pedestrian walking down a high street could, and thus they can truly engage
76 September 2014
with the message that you are trying to convey. For example, bus rears, a format popular with the motoring industry, have an average dwell time of around 48 seconds. That’s a long time to talk to consumers on a one-toone basis and convince them to visit the nearest showroom. Meanwhile, online businesses often use the space inside a bus or train (known as passenger panels) to encourage direct response by prompting travellers to visit a website, as consumers are in a time-rich environment where they are able to go online via their mobile phone. Because of the greater exposure and the opportunities for longer copy, the message of a long dwell time advert is as important as ever. It is vital that it is targeted with a clear and relevant call to action if it is to have any hope of succeeding, bearing in mind that the ultimate goal is usually (though not always) to prompt a purchase. Understanding which length of dwell time to utilise to match your core objectives, and how to shape the content to fit the choice you make, is the cornerstone of a successful campaign. Contact: www.exterionmedia.co.uk
C52205_EXTERION_DPS_297-x-420mm_TALK-BUSINESS-DPS AUG_AW.indd 1
Exterion Media works in partnership with companies everywhere to make sure that you select the dwell time time that is right for your business and advertising campaign. Exterion Media, in association with Campaign, is celebrating the Year of the Bus by launching The Big Bus Challenge. Your brand can be the centre of attention and be seen by 30 million people every week. It’s laying down a challenge to every advertiser, agency, and creative out there: show off your skills with some brilliant bus advertising designs – and you could win yourselves a national or regional campaign, along with personal prizes for the winning teams. It’s free to enter and you can submit as many entries as you like! Visit www.bigbuschallenge.com for more information.
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Full steam ahead for the South West Expo Following the huge success of its launch in 2013, The Thames Valley Expo has rebranded as South West Expo and is back for its second year in Swindon on 18 September 2014 at The Steam Museum, Swindon
hy Swindon? The answer is simple. This region has a strong infrastructure that is constantly improving. It boasts excellent transport connections within the area, as well as strong rail connections to the rest of the country, and is situated on the M4, M5 and M3 motorways with Bristol just 30 miles away. Additionally, superfast broadband will be available to 85% of the area’s business premises by 2015 after an investment of £20 million, and regeneration plans are gathering momentum and achieving results, including the £350m regeneration of Swindon town centre. Companies in the area are also benefitting from low commercial property rent - commercial property in Swindon costs 50% less on average than in Bristol or Reading. Property on average costs 75% less than in London, which all adds up to making Swindon a great hub of business activity. Attend this year’s expo and discover why some of the world’s top international brands
and most innovative, fastestgrowing companies are choosing Swindon as their European hub and headquarters. With so many ambitious business people in one place, the atmosphere is always electric. We try to ensure that all our visitors are looking to make incredible deals, connect with new suppliers, and make that initial contact in order to build long lasting business relationships that produce ROI. Highlights of the day include: • More than 70 exhibitors. • Networking opportunities with 800-plus regional businesses. • Inspiration from five excellent keynote speakers. • Information from seven unique industry leaders. • A chance to meet new contacts at our three speed-networking sessions. • Opportunities to gain new suppliers and advertise your services at our Business Connections Wall. • You can meet prospects or clients in our dedicated WORKZONE with free Wi-Fi. • Visit the Wonder Women Business Panel - smashing the glass ceiling.
With so many ambitious business people in one place the atmosphere is always electric
• Receive two free tickets to Newbury Racecourse - worth £48. • Receive a free ticket to Swindon FC. • Get a free subscription to Talk Business magazine - worth £40. • Pick up a delegate goody bag when you arrive, packed with more than £100 of business promotional offers. South West Expo understands the value and the impact the right speaker can have on our event. We have carefully selected Neil Clough from 2013’s The Apprentice, the UK’s number one motivational speaker, Brad Burton, Jackie Chappell, the first female CEO of British Rail, CEO of Excalibur Ltd, James Phipps, and Russell Cook, who is an expert on business continuity. Join hundreds of powerful, influential businesses and make incredible deals, engage with new suppliers, and get that initial contact in order to build long lasting business relationships. Contact: www.southwestexpo.co.uk or call 01793 862 510 to register
PEOPLE Lee McQueen
More than just red tape The Apprentice star, Lee McQueen explains why a properly structured HR policy benefits everyone
here are few phrases that send people to sleep quicker than “human resources”, but don’t let that stop you taking the issue seriously. In fact, not only is it good practice, a business that appreciates its HR responsibilities is likely to be a better-run company all round. After I handed in my notice to Lord Sugar, I worked on an idea that I’d had for some years. That idea is now my current business, but it all began in my spare room at home. As I began to recruit staff, I was able to sort out the contracts, thanks to my previous experience working at a recruitment agency. I knew a bit about drawing up contracts, so doing things that way worked well. All parties were happy with that arrangement – if there were any issues or holiday requests, it was all done through me. But eventually, as my business got bigger, I realised that I had to develop an HR policy. We needed inductions, for example, to help both myself and the staff I was recruiting. As we got more momentum, we developed a bigger backoffice structure – and that included HR. I changed the format of the contracts and made the whole
thing more professional. There are now 17 of us at Raw Talent Academy, and we couldn’t do without an established HR policy. It means that as well as there being a uniform way of sorting out holidays, and issues such as sickness, everyone who works for us has access to a structured grievance procedure. No one came in and told me how it should be done. It wasn’t done via a template. In fact, it was more like being a new parent – it was a case of learning on the job. But it was well worth doing because it has helped the whole thing become more professional. It is now part of our culture, and I’d recommend any small business that starts to grow to take its HR responsibilities seriously. It helps protect both you and your staff. A lot of people want to join family-run businesses or other small operations because they want to get out of the corporate rat-race, and they often prefer the more informal and friendly way of working. But there are certain processes they will be used to and will expect, and a proper HR set up is one of those. You never
know – if you look too amateurish, you might not get the right people in the first place. I’ve come a long way since I started my venture in my spare room. There are things I have to think about that never occurred to me back then. But embracing things such as an HR policy has been invaluable – and it hasn’t changed the culture of the business at all. Don’t believe the cliché that HR is just red tape!
If you look too amateurish, you might not get the right people in the first place
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Just because one party does not actively earn the wealth, this shouldn’t penalise their contribution towards the marriage
NUCLEAR family DISASTER
Justin Creed, a family and divorce solicitor with Wright Hassall, looks at how you can protect your business when the worst happens and divorce strikes
he financial fall-out from divorce can be devastating for many people, but what if you own your own business and the assets are counted as part of the final divorce settlement? If the business is the primary source of the family’s income, the main consideration for most business owners will be how to protect it.
DIVISION OF ASSETS As it currently stands, the law gives no clear guidance on what is considered to be an equitable financial outcome, making it difficult for solicitors to predict how a judge might determine a fair or reasonable division of assets. In all divorces, the starting point is equal division of those assets in which a husband and wife have a joint interest - which currently
includes those business assets built up over the course of a marriage. This approach was underlined by a number of headline grabbing ‘big money’ cases played out during the last decade. White vs White (2000) is seen by many as the turning point for divorce settlements, when Mrs White received a settlement of £1.5m from a farming business worth £4.6m. The principle of fairness was
established by the House of Lords on the basis that, just because one party did not actively earn the wealth within a relationship, this should not penalise their contribution towards the marriage and the family. In Charman vs Charman (2007), the court considered that all the assets built up during a 27year marriage had to be taken into consideration, including a £68 million dynastic trust. Starting from the principle of equality, Mrs Charman sought 45% of the marital assets (valued at £131m), arguing that her contribution to the marriage - including bringing up two children enabled Mr Charman to build his phenomenally lucrative career. The judge awarded her £48m, one of the largest awards ever made by an English court. Mr Charman appealed the decision, arguing that his special contribution to their assets and the fact that the dynastic trust should be excluded should result in his wife receiving no more than £20m. The Court of Appeal upheld the original decision, stating that equality had to be the court’s guiding principle. However, some judges believe that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, and are calling for pre-nuptial agreements to be legally enforceable. In a further development, two out of three judges in a case heard before the Court of Appeal last year (Prest vs Prest) declared that company assets should be protected by the ‘corporate veil’ and thus should be excluded from financial settlements in divorce proceedings. This judgment was reached on the basis that a company is a distinct legal entity, separate from its shareholders - even if all the shares are held by one shareholder. However,
84 September 2014
the Supreme Court has just handed down its judgment and has closed off this potential loophole by confirming that the principles of family law supersede company law, and that company assets can be taken into account when arriving at a financial settlement.
PRE-NUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS So, what can business owners do to protect the assets of the business? One option is certainly to give serious consideration to a pre-nuptial or, more rarely, post-nuptial agreement. These will detail what will happen financially if the marriage ends. These agreements provide greater certainty for the husband and wife, and for other shareholders involved in the business; indeed, it would be prudent for all business owners to treat pre-nuptial agreements as an active part of their wealth protection planning. Although pre- and post-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK, they have achieved a degree of traction
It is true to say that most people would not consider prenuptials to be romantic. However, as a means of protecting a business, they must be considered
following a case in 2010 (Radmacher vs Granatino), heard before the Supreme Court, when the judge upheld a pre-nuptial agreement when determining the financial settlement. Of course, these agreements will only have any relevance in court if they are entered into freely and willingly by both parties, and that the outcome would not result in an unfair settlement for either spouse. To ensure that these agreements do achieve the intended result in a fair and reasonable way, it is an important prerequisite that both spouses seek independent legal advice before signing them. This will significantly influence the court in the event of a divorce. It is true to say that most people would not consider such agreements to be romantic. However, as a means of protecting a business - and a family’s livelihood - they must be considered as a practical and pragmatic business tool for most business owners. Contact: www.wrighthassall.co.uk
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PEOPLE Secret diary
Secret diary of an entrepreneur Michelle Wright set up philanthropy and fundraising enterprise, Cause4 in 2009 to support charities and social enterprises to grow through its strategy guidance and hands-on fundraising support. Since inception, Cause4 has raised more than £27 million for its clients. Michelle lets us take a peek at a week in her diary DAY ONE KEEPING UP WITH THE YANKS
for shrinking violets, and as we heard stories from our hosts, Alexandra and Sam from Empire Global Ventures, it was clear that On Sunday 8th June, I arrived we were going to need to be able in New York with nine other to perfect our 10-second elevator entrepreneurs from the UK on the latest Santander Breakthrough pitch. Thank goodness then for trade mission, in partnership with jet lag and an easy(ish) 4am start The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small on Monday morning to help me prepare for the week ahead! Businesses programme. A variety of fast-growth DAY TWO businesses from consultancy to TERROR OF THE RED TAPE technology to retail, as well our We started the week at a UK own social business, Cause4, Trade and Investment (UKTI) were all looking to see whether a heightened presence in New York briefing, making sure that we had was both desirable and achievable. at least a working sense of the basic tax and legal implications of I’ve worked in New York working in New York. A one-tobefore, but it still took me a one with the NYC Mayor’s office while to adjust to the very fast pace of the city. This isn’t a place then helped me think through
86 September 2014
With fun, knowhow and a good business, it’s possible to change at least a little bit of the world
some of the essential connections that I would need to make, with a reminder that making friends with a lawyer was going to be essential. Business in America works across all 50 states, with the need to build legal resource in each one. To fundraise in a particular state you need to be registered. This all makes for a rather terrifying bureaucracy. The day then finished with an inspirational meeting with the Carbon War Room, an initiative founded by Richard Branson and other philanthropists to look at key issues in relation to sustainable energy. And, as we started to flag from a busy first day, an evening reception hosted by UKTI and Santander led to connections with the Clinton Global Initiative.
DAY THREE ONE MILLION DOLLARS My first meeting on Tuesday was with Serena Roosevelt at Nations Well, an initiative to showcase projects across the US that are changing the face of health, community and education. There
PEOPLE Secret diary
is much we could learn from here in the UK about how to encourage more people to take on life-changing projects across their communities. A further meeting followed with Doctors of the World, a European-based NGO, to learn about engaging donors, before I headed off to a branding meeting. When we met for dinner, most of the group were exhausted, but there had been many good meetings, including a potential million dollar investment for one of our group – not a bad start at all!
A great evening with IMG Artists and staff from the Met Opera followed, making other key links with organisations such as the Julliard School, before catching up with an old colleague, Stacy Margolis, who is now working at the League of American Orchestras. Stacy’s perception about the changing fundraising market in the US was invaluable, and it seems that many arts organisations are starting to struggle with next generation donors being drawn to other sectors, such as health and education.
DAY FOUR MAKING CONNECTIONS
DAY FIVE FUN AND FRIENDSHIPS
On Wednesday I had the privilege of meeting one of New York’s foremost political fundraisers – Bridget Siegel. This was my biggest learning from this trip – that whilst philanthropy in the US is undoubtedly better established than in the UK, the Americans face exactly the same challenges of finding fundraising talent, as well as recruitment and retention. As such, there seemed to be an appetite to explore translating our graduate talent programmes into the city, and links with New York University and Columbia University were made.
By the end of the week I had made so many contacts that my hands were full with follow-up, including exploring partnerships with organisations that could work with us in New York. But the highlight of these two days was meeting our American colleagues from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme. I was paired with crowd-funding platform, Rocket Hub, and a firm friendship was made for collaboration, and to be able to provide digital training for some of our UK-based clients.
This was such a great trip from Santander. As well as learning about New York and making great connections, getting to spend time with other ambitious entrepreneurs meant that I learned so much, with good feedback and ideas for growing our business in the years ahead. I’ve even agreed to set up Corporate Foundations for five members of our group! Running a growing business can be pressurised, but as one of the philanthropists that I met on the trip reminded me, business also needs to be fun, and with fun, know-how and a good business, it’s possible to change at least a little bit of the world. Contact: www.cause4.co.uk
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PEOPLE HR Insight
Fired for being five minutes late
once dismissed a new recruit on day three of his employment for being late. It wasn’t the fact he was five minutes late that really bothered me, it was that he was clutching a Starbucks coffee as he casually ambled into the office. The logic behind my decision was this: I concluded that he just didn’t care. If he couldn’t be bothered to arrive on time moreover, he deliberately made himself late by stopping for coffee (which he could have had in the office for free) - how would he ever care about his work?
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH BEING FIVE MINUTES LATE? The habitual five-past-niner may not be an issue for most employers, but it does have hidden costs for a business, not in money, but in staff morale. Those who stroll in late may be causing issues for their colleagues that managers aren’t even aware of. However, the day the seemingly unaware manager arrives to work at 9am and no-one is at their desk might be the day they realise there is a problem. Don’t let it get to that stage.
THE KNOCK-ON EFFECT The vast majority of employees want to follow the guidelines and rules. Despite what most people say in private, employees do like to be managed, and want to know that managers are managing their colleagues. There are more complaints about peers ‘getting away with it’ than there are about managers being too demanding or unfair. Employees who continually have to put up with those who persistently run late for work feel
they deserve the same flexibility. They may not necessarily come to work late, but they will take longer lunches, stop for more chats, and leave the telephone unanswered. These passiveaggressive tendencies are contagious and rapidly change the culture of an organisation, which in most instances are only reversible by changing the management. In worst case scenarios, the situation can become so awkward for hard-working employees that they exit the organisation. The sheer frustration of observing the daily slacker can be so irritating that your star employee never even complains - a quality which adds to their star status - but quietly starts looking for alternative employment. At this stage the outlook is bleak; managers can expect a future of idle employees who never appear to be around. This all started because one employee couldn’t get out of bed on time.
Why it is important to set the tone early in your business, according to HR Insight's Richard Cummings
These passiveaggressive tendencies are contagious and rapidly change the culture of an organisation which, in most cases, is only reversible by changing the management
THE ADVICE Managers should take time to note these behaviours or frequent occurrences and deal with them promptly. For those who are now becoming late starters, the secret is to let them know you know. A quick chat in the office to remind employee that they do start at 9am may be all it takes to rectify the situation. Managers will be hailed, for a short time anyway, as being the ‘people issue fixer’ by their currently disgruntled employees. Contact: www.hrisight.co.uk
ways to online success iMarketing, provider of SEO, social media, PR and more, give us its five keys to a successful online marketing strategy
90 September 2014
nline marketing is essential to the success of every modern business, but many find it challenging to get the results they need. Fifteen years ago, just having a website might have been enough to put a business ahead of the game – but in 2014, the situation is a lot more complex and a lot more competitive. Doing old fashioned SEO (search engine optimisation) to get your site ranked for important keywords has become harder, with search engines making frequent changes to the way they rank results. In addition, businesses also need to understand how to develop a social media presence. Even using AdWords, which used to be a shortcut to generating visitors to your site, is now much more expensive and needs to be closely managed to deliver useful results. In short, successful online marketing requires a growing amount of expertise and resources to do well. However, the good news is that it is still possible for SMEs to compete effectively within their niche – if they follow these five essential steps to developing a successful online marketing strategy.
1 DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE The best marketing is always highly targeted – whether it’s deciding what lifestyle magazines to place ads in or which part of town to do a leaflet drop. It’s the same online; the more targeted your marketing efforts, the more cost-effective those efforts will be, and the more likely you will reach the customers you want to reach. For online marketing this means deciding who your audience is and then creating text, images or videos with those people in mind. This helps to define what type of content they will be most interested in and what style of communication to use. It can also help to identify where your customers are most likely to be online, and to target your efforts in those places.
2 CREATE A CLEAR PLAN Online marketing isn’t something that you can do once and then forget about it. It needs consistent attention and effort over a period of months or years to achieve sustainable results. Initially, aim to create an online marketing plan, which covers the next six to 12 months. Include clear goals that are measurable and
time-oriented. Don’t try to achieve everything in one go either. Focus on early wins to start with, and then move on to longer term goals. Allocate time, resources and budget to your plan so that everyone involved knows what they need to do to make it happen. Finally, review your progress regularly, using the measures you defined in your plan. This keeps your eye on the ball and gives you a chance to adapt to changes in the online world.
3 FOCUS ON GREAT CONTENT Great content is what turns your readers into paying customers. It’s also how search engines decide where to rank you in search results. As well as looking at the quantity and quality of your content, search engines now take note of how often a site or blog is updated, how much interaction there has been, and how long visitors stay on each page. To keep both customers and search engines happy, you need a steady stream of fresh, interesting content. But this can be a challenge for many companies, especially if producing words is not part of their day-to-day business
(for instance, a haulage firm or a furniture making company). This is where using an agency can add real value, generating content for you to start with, but also giving you ideas for content that may be right under your nose and which your customers will find genuinely useful and interesting – from short snippets of news about your latest product arrivals, to “how to” guides that can be downloaded from your site.
4 ENGAGEMENT IS EVERYTHING In 2014, it’s less about “clicks and sales” (although they remain important) and more about creating a relationship with potential customers so that when it comes time to buy, there is a degree of familiarity and trust already in place. It’s also about reaching beyond the people actually viewing your website, blog or Facebook page – leveraging their network of contacts through linking and sharing (as well as old fashioned word of mouth). That means thinking creatively about what your audience is really interested in (it may not be directly to do with what you are selling), and what might make them care enough to post a comment
or click a “like”, “share” or “re-tweet” button. Images and videos can be critical here, partly because they are quicker and easier to consume, and partly because they are more likely to be shared with others.
5 DEVELOP YOUR RESOURCES IN-HOUSE While many companies are turning to online marketing agencies to help them, developing your in-house team’s ability to produce good content is an excellent way of keeping down costs in the long term. Don’t just leave it to the marketing department; involve people with specialist expertise about the company’s products and services, or who are in direct contact with customers. These people know what customers want, need, and are interested in, and can be a great source of content. If you decide to work with an agency, choose one which can set you off in the right direction and then, over time, teach you what to do and support you in the process of taking ownership of your online marketing strategy.
To keep both customers and search engines happy, you need a steady stream of fresh, interesting content
NEED A BETTER PLACE TO MEET?
A SPACE FOR PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATION Conversations can spark ideas, develop plans and drive sales, which is why meetings have such a vital role to play. Whether it’s a confidential one-to-one or a lively group debate, a secure, professional environment is often conducive to a successful meeting. Meeting in a neutral environment away from the hum of computers and the ring-ring of the telephone, you can focus fully on the task at hand. Take control of your meeting atmosphere by renting a meeting space, you can take advantage of the professional, relaxing environment it affords. Renting a professional meeting room will allow businesses to make better use of meeting times making them productive, efficient and rewarding. Select a seating style that suits the number of attendees and creates exactly the atmosphere you want, choose from these options: Theatre
As a further bonus, you can enjoy a coffee and an assortment of catering options that allow the business to have the coffee shop atmosphere too. While not every business has the luxury of their own meeting room, there are plenty of alternatives to explore in your friendly local Business Centre. … read more in our recent blog post at
Choice of room
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Do you know your place?
inear hierarchies, reflecting nature’s pecking order, seem the inevitable way to deliver management and run an organisation. However, more recent research shows that most socially-living animal species (herds, packs, and so forth), don’t have straight linear hierarchies, but complex social networks of one-to-one ‘dyadic’ relationships. Imagine a three dimensional cobweb, and you are nearer to the natural order of things - and nearer to the complexity that leaders are faced with managing. So, where does that leave us humans? Clearly, hierarchies offer an easy, apparently efficient way to organise management structures. Everyone knows their place and who they report to. Yet convenience and simplicity are not always the best indicators of effectiveness. Hierarchies can mitigate against innovation and progress in an organisation, with a series of ‘gatekeepers’ effectively stifling the messages being issued by top management and suppressing the ideas coming up from lower ranks. When meritocracy is swept to one side and promotion is based on ‘filling dead mens’ shoes’ with the next employee in line, standards of leadership, and consequently organisational performance, deteriorate. Researchers have also shown
The traditional top-down hierarchies of business may be due for an overhaul, says Dr Deborah Benson, managing director of Leaders for Leadership
that the longer and more tiered the hierarchy, the greater the propensity for corruption, at all levels.
WHY LINEAR HIERARCHIES? It is claimed that the application of linear hierarchies grew dramatically after the two world wars, as people returned to business and continued the rigid military leadership structures. However, such structures are conceived for crisis situations, where leadership must be absolute, with no time for consultation and consensus. Perhaps, by always applying crisis leadership, we create a selffulfilling prophesy? Given the recent economic crisis, we have to question the efficacy of rigid hierarchies, reporting structures that stifle debate, challenges ‘from the ranks’, and the overarching authority of a sole leader.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES? There are alternatives. The much quoted international company, WL Gore & Associates (manufactures
Hierarchies can mitigate against innovation and progress in an organisation
of Gore-Tex and other technology-driven products) employs a practice of ‘lattice’ leadership based on selfgoverning project teams - and no hierarchies. It’s not a management methodology for all businesses, and certainly not one to adopt overnight, but think of the newest, highly successful companies, such as Facebook and Google. The younger generation has a different way of doing business, and today’s ‘bright young things’ will not bow to rigid hierarchies and wait twenty years for promotion. If companies want to really perform, or even survive, in this modern world, we need to challenge those old wartime structures and recognise that leadership is about being the best person for the job. We don’t all need to know our place in the pecking order. What we need is powerful fitfor-purpose project teams of motivated, capable individuals interacting positively, and staff who want to be led, not by a ‘guy above’ in the hierarchy but by the person with the right skills and attributes. Contact: www. leadersforleadership.co.uk
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PEOPLE Rogue employees
Unfortunately, business owners are often unaware of the problem until damage to the company’s image, finances or workforce has already occurred
The enemy within Michael Ball, partner and group head of the employment team at Gateley, looks at how your employees can sometimes be the biggest threat to your security
ecruitment is an essential function of a stable business, and a key marker of growth. With the right staff, an entrepreneur can transform an ascent startup into a thriving enterprise. However, right from the start, employers should consider how they’ll be affected if the employment of key staff ends. Employees with access to sensitive information, such as client lists or intellectual property, can cause significant damage if they join a competitor or try to use the data against a company in an unethical way. To minimise the impact of these so called ‘rogue employees’, business owners should be aware of the risks
and ensure that appropriate safeguards are put in place at the outset. In a recent UK poll, 41% of data security experts stated that rogue employees posed the greatest threat to their organisations. These individuals can range from disgruntled ex-staff who want to damage the company’s reputation, to someone attempting to take major clients with them to a new employer. They can also be employees wanting to poach top talent, or intellectual property, to support a directly competing business venture of their own. Unfortunately, business owners are often unaware of the problem until damage to the company’s image, finances or workforce has already occurred, and few have established the essential legal safeguards in advance to protect themselves. While it’s often necessary to allow key employees access to confidential company information as part of their job, properly drafted restrictive
covenants – specific to the individual’s contract and role – can deter them from joining competitors or limit their ability to solicit customers after they have left the business. Many companies, especially those that are just starting to grow, are unfamiliar with effective hiring practices and rely on template contracts for all employees, regardless of their seniority or level of access to sensitive information. Often employers will use these same contracts for years, without updating them as the business grows. By failing to ensure that clauses remain relevant to their business interests over time, many companies are putting themselves at unnecessary risk. Whilst it may take more effort initially, creating bespoke employment contracts for each staff member is one of the best ways to help protect businesses from rogue employees. The stricter the limitations on an individual’s knowledge level and role, the more enforceable the clause is, helping companies
PEOPLE Rogue employees
to protect legitimate business interests and establish clear guidelines for how use of client, product and proprietary data may be restricted if an employee resigns, or is appropriately terminated. Failure to establish these protections at the beginning of the hiring process will limit a company’s ability to assert its legal rights if an employee ‘goes rogue’. Contract provisions that businesses can use to minimise damage can include:
lists to competitors. Even new employers can be drawn into litigation if evidence of inducement or financial benefit is discovered. Additionally, the courts can force rogue employees to return all confidential data to their former employer, require computer equipment to be delivered up and imaged, or demand proof that all proprietary information has been destroyed. It’s recommended that businesses review contracts on
they do not try to create unreasonable restrictions on employees that go beyond protecting their legitimate business interests. For example, whilst a company could prevent a former employee from working in a competitive industry – such as mobile technology development or pharmaceutical research – for a relatively short and defined period of time, they could not extend this restriction for years, as it would create an
a regular basis – at least every year for key employees. Evidence of agreement is required, so signed contracts are essential. Many start-ups or growing firms think they have adequate safeguards in place, only to find that the restrictive clauses no longer apply as a staff member’s role within the company, or access to sensitive information, changes over time. Employers should be careful that, in attempting to implement restrictive clauses,
unreasonable hardship on the individual and would not be upheld by UK courts. Although rogue employees can pose significant risks to a growing business, effective planning during the hiring process and continued reviewing of staff contracts and company security policies can ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place.
NON-SOLICITATION AGREEMENTS – restrict ex-employees from contacting former clients, customers or suppliers for a defined period of time after they’ve left the business.
NON-COMPETITION COVENANTS – prevent key staff from working for competitors or seeking similar employment within the same industry within a specific timeframe.
NON-DEALING CLAUSES – prohibit former employees from interacting with clients or suppliers who may seek them out after their employment with a company ends.
STAFF POACHING RESTRICTIONS – limit an individual’s ability to take staff from a former employer to another company or new business venture.
CONFIDENTIALITY OR NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS – impose a duty on employees not to reveal a company’s trade secrets, such as pricing, product design, or market strategy. Using properly drafted covenants, companies can obtain injunctions against ex-staff who are targeting customers, or providing client
96 September 2014
Whilst a company could prevent a former employee from working in a competitive industry, they could not extend this restriction for years
Next Shows… Outstanding Sales and Marketing Opportunities
• 11 September 2014 BRISTOL SHOW The Future Inn Hotel • 25 September 2014 WORCESTER SHOW Worcester Cricket Ground • 15 October 2014 GLOUCESTER SHOW Kingsholm Rugby Stadium
The Sterling Integrity Business Show is a fantastic opportunity at various locations throughout The Midlands, The South West, and South Wales.
• 23 October 2014 OXFORD SHOW Puma Hotel
Please contact Neil on 0777 202 6592 or go to www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk
Business Junction, London’s premier Business network, invites you to a Free networkinG event Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junction is offering all talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our our 4 June networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 5 august networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 10 September 2014 Networking Breakfast at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, Bank Nearest tube: Bank 30 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8JB 8-10am Thurs 1st Aug networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-at-bank
45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
18 September 2014 Networking Lunch at Henry’s Bar, Covent Garden Thurs 8th Aug networking lunch at the roof Gardens &Nearest Babylon restaurant at High st. kensington 5-6 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8PS tube: Covent Garden 12.30-2.30pm 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington Booking:http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-covent-garden-6
Wed 14th Aug
networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at covent Garden
event at University Women’s Club 24 September 2014 Networking 60evening Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ Nearest tube: Holborn 2 Audley Square, London, W1K 1DB Nearest tube: Green Park 5.30-9pm Thurs 22nd Aug networking lunch at the Happenstance at st. paul’s http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-evening-in-mayfair-2
1A Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7AA
Nearest tube: St Paul’s
25 September 2014 Networking lunch in at Obika, Fitzrovia Thurs 29th Aug networking lunch at1RH dirty dicks at Liverpool Neareststreet tube: Tottenham Court Road 11-13 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 12.30-2.30pm 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-fitzrovia-4
Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: talkbusiness2/13 now in its 12 year and with over 450 member companies, Business Junction is London’s leading independent business network. we run 80+ pan-London networking events each year including a weekly lunch, a monthly champagne taittinger breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.
www.businessjunction.co.uk 020 3667 6776
IMAGE We love...
We love... flexible working
GET YOUR HANDS ON THE TOSHIBA PORTEGE Z30-A, WORTH OVER
Working from home has some great benefits, but often, getting access to the right equipment is not one of them. We look at some great products to make life a little easier for flexible workers
Fancy getting your hands on this superfast, ultra-lightweight business laptop from Toshiba? It has a value of £900-£1700, but it can be yours free! All you have to do is write to us about anything business related that is on your mind. Whether it be an article in Talk Business or something in the news, we want to hear your opinions! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at: Letter of the month, Talk Business magazine, William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AJ
LANTRONIX XPRINTSERVER Fed up needing to print on the go but only having your iPhone or iPad to hand? Thanks to the Lantronix xPrintServer, you can now connect to almost any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled printer and get that file urgently when it is needed. It eliminates the need to print through apps, install software, or email yourself documents for printing. And more importantly, you don’t need to buy a new printer because xPrintServer works with more than 4,000 top brand USB and network printers. Price: £60 Where can I buy it? www.latronix.com
PORTÉGÉ Z30-A Wherever you make your office, the one thing that is vital to great work is a great laptop. With an ultra-thin, premium design, the high-performance 13.3 inch Toshiba Portégé Z30-A Ultrabook was made to keep business moving. A 4th-generation Intel Core processor will help you power through the working day while the full-size ports give you all the flexibility you need. Lightweight, powerful and possessing great battery life, the Portégé Z30-A is the perfect computing solution for businesses on the go. Price: £1000-£1700 (depending on model and specification). Where can I buy it? www.toshiba.co.uk
GIGASET SL930A ANDROID HOME PHONE With internet access, Skype and online address books, the SL930A Android home phone from Gigaset is far more than your average landline telephone. The stylish handset allows you to keep all of your business numbers (up to 2,000 entries) and contacts in one place, whilst offering all of the benefits of Android capability. For the ultimate tool in staying connected when away from the office, the SL930A is the perfect choice. Price: £179.99 Where can I buy it?: www.amazon.co.uk
IMAGE Hot spots - Cardiff
Hot spots This month we head to the glorious land of Saint David, with the best places to eat, greet and lay your head in Cardiff and the surrounding area
AWAY ON BUSINESS THE HILTON, CARDIFF Where? Kingsway, Cardiff. Why? There are many things that can set a hotel apart from its competitors, but one thing that always makes any stay memorable is a great view. The Hilton Cardiff has visual delights in abundance. Situated on the corner of Kingsway, mere steps away from a throng of excellent eateries, superb shops and bustling bars, the hotel overlooks the magnificent grounds of Cardiff Castle. A national heritage site, parts of the castle date back to 50 AD, and it is one of Wales’ most popular tourist attractions. You’ll struggle to find a better sight to wake up to anywhere in the UK. The executive rooms are finished with the quality touches you’d expect from a five-star hotel, despite this only being four-star graded. A welcome tray of fine cheeses, fresh scones and Irish liqueurs will put a smile on anyone’s face as they enter their room, and the executive lounge is well stocked for breakfast with the finest smoked salmon, an array of continental meats, and of course, a full English for even the most patriotic of Welsh travellers to guiltily savour. The Hilton name has long been synonymous with elegance and quality, so it is no surprise that it has excelled once again. Contact: www.thevarsityhotel.co.uk
100 September 2014
IMAGE Hot spots - Cardiff
MEET AND EAT LE PIERRE BISTROT Where? Caroline Street, The Old Brewery Quarter, Cardiff. Why? With ever-changing dietary requirements these days, it can often take something special for a restaurant to not only keep up with the latest trends, but to also stay true to its culinary values. Fortunately, Le Pierre Bistrot in Cardiff’s Old Brewery Quarter, has managed to combine the elegance of French dining with an optional gluten-free menu. It can be tricky to find good gluten-free menus in restaurants, and this problem doesn’t just stop those with a glutenfree diet from eating out; it makes it difficult for the family and friends of gluten-free eaters too, as they struggle to find restaurants to cater for all their needs, resulting in them not being able to dine out together. The gluten-free option is perfect for any businessperson with special dietary requirements, and features almost everything from the regular menu, giving an unusual volume of choice. This will be music to the ears (and taste-buds) of any gluten-intolerant readers. The food itself is wonderfully prepared by its chefs, under the guidance of Head Chef, Ben Morse. His classic Frenchinspired menu features favourites such as baked camembert entrees that melt in your mouth. Now you can conduct business over a meal, or just relax after a hard day of meetings, safe in the knowledge that there is a superb option that caters for even the most discerning of clients. Contact: www.lebistrotpierre.co.uk/ locations/cardiff
EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS CELTIC MANOR Where? Usk Valley, near Cardiff. Why? There is a term that is often thrown around lightly these days - the “Wow” factor. One of the most important ingredients when looking to host any conference or event, for once, the term is more than justified here. Both inside and out, Celtic Manor is a visual delight. The 19th Century manor is quaint and homely, reminiscent of chocolate-box villages, whilst inside, the conference facilities don’t disappoint either. At its heart is the 1500-delegate Caernarfon Suite (pictured), with adjoining pre-function areas and worldclass technical facilities, making it easy to see why Celtic Manor Resort has been voted C&IT’s Top UK Conference Hotel for five consecutive years. The host venue for The Ryder Cup in 2010, the five-star Celtic Manor Resort is set in more than 2,000 acres of panoramic parkland, and also features three 18-hole golf courses - perfect for any corporate golf day! Contact: www.celtic-manor.com
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IMAGE Christopher Ward
C9 HARRISON 5-DAY DATE AUTOMATIC £1500
The first in-house movement by Christopher Ward, Calibre SH21 powers the C9 Harrison 5-Day Date Automatic to provide 120-hour power reserve, stop-second mechanism, and high quality grade stainless steel case. This robust movement shows the wearer is confident with classic style - a gentleman who can withstand the toughest of business pressure situations with steely confidence and elegance.
You may not give much thought to that timepiece that sits on your wrist each day, but the style of watch you choose says a lot about you to prospective clients - even before you’ve opened your mouth All timepieces are available at www.christopherward.co.uk
C900 WORLDTIMER £1575
For many, beauty is judged externally; for others it’s what lies beneath, and the C900 Worldtimer is measured by both. The ETA 2893 automatic movement makes two time zones function on a 24hour basis, and showcases the geographic location on a three-dimensional world map dial. This magnificent timepiece is ideal for the global executive working across multiple time zones who insists on beauty in a 24/7 world.
What does your watch face say about you? C70 3527 GT CHRONOMETER £2150
Embedded behind museum-grade sapphire crystal in the back plate of the stunning C70 3527 GT Chronometer is an original piece of metal from the body of one of the rarest cars - the Ferrari 250 GTO. With the Ferrari colouring beautifully executed in the dial, the vivid red hue spells danger, passion and speed, which is perfectly equipped for those who like to live in the fast lane and are driven by the rush of risk-taking. With only 100 limited edition pieces on offer, the man that owns a C70 3527 GT Chronometer will never settle for second best.
C1000 TYPHOON RAF VERSION £1500
Anyone who is all about power, strength and an indestructible force to be reckoned with - meet your match in the C1000 Typhoon RAF Version. One of the most technically sophisticated aviation watches, inspired by the most advanced military aircraft in the world - the RAF’s multi-role combat fighter FGR4 Typhoon. This watch is the first in the entire Christopher Ward collection to have a high-tech ceramic case, built around a titanium sub-frame for additional strength. The ceramic used is one of the most advanced composites in the world and seven times stronger than steel. So if you like to dream big, the C1000 is the closest you can come to being a real action hero!
C5 MALVERN SLIMLINE £399
Designed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Christopher Ward, the C5 Malvern Slimline is inspired by the brand’s first ever model, the legendary C5 Malvern Automatic. This updated version superbly accentuates its slimness with some of the most beautiful subtle lines, making it suitable for either gender. With the fineness of the elongated indexes and hands in three spectacular sun-ray effect colours, this timepiece is the perfect accompaniment for those who appreciate values, loyalty, architectural excellence of form, and aren’t afraid of change.
Suits you Sir! 104 September 2014
IMAGE How to choose the perfect suit
Finding the right suit is an essential task for any modern man, and can be the difference between looking like a dapper gent or a fashion fail. Elliot Suiter, director at online tailor, InStitchu.co.uk, goes through the top ten tips for buying a new suit KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR The most important thing to think about when buying a suit is to have in mind what you want it for. Will it be for work, a wedding, general leisure, or a combination of all three? If you are looking for an allpurpose suit, go for a charcoal one as it’s the most versatile colour across the board.
LOOK OUT FOR THE QUALITY OF THE MATERIAL The difference in price for suits is usually down to the fabric you choose. The quality of wool is measured in super (S) numbers. Anything from a super 100 to 140 will be durable, and suitable for wearing all year round. Wool is a breathable fabric, so aim for 100% if possible. Try to steer away from polyester as it doesn’t breathe as well, especially in the summer months.
WHAT STYLE WOULD YOU LIKE? There are many variations in the style and cut of a suit, so deciding what you want the suit for will determine its design. For example a peak lapel is a more formal design for weddings etc., whereas a notch lapel is for work and everyday use. Adding a ticket pocket is also a fashionable choice
This may sound obvious, but many men do not know what a well fitting suit looks, or even feels like
at the moment, so do your research and see what suits are the best fit for your personality.
MAKE SURE THE SUIT IS WELL FITTED This may sound obvious but many men do not know what a well fitting suit looks, or even feels like. The idea is to have the fabric drape to the contours of your body, not pull everything in. Perhaps the most important measurement is the shoulders as this is where the suit will hang from. Make sure that you try to have a bit of shirt cuff on display, and don’t have your trousers too long. They should be just long enough to touch the heel of your shoe.
A HANDY FITTING TIP Many men are unsure about what the correct length of a suit jacket should be. As a guide, when you let your arms hang by your side, you should be able to cup the bottom of the jacket.
BE ON THE BUTTON The number of buttons you have on a jacket is dependent on your height. Two buttons are the norm today but taller men may wish to opt for three. However, the golden rule is that you never do up the bottom button. It is also a good piece of advice to have only one button for tuxedos and sports coats.
MAKE SURE YOU GET THE RIGHT CUT There are three major styles of cut - American, British and Italian. Their use is dependent on what shape body you have. We prefer a British cut. That means two vents at the back of the jacket. It will hug your waistline yet still give you freedom when walking.
TRY THE SUIT ON CORRECTLY It is surprising how many guys do not know how to try a suit on. It is far easier to tell if a suit looks good when wearing a proper shirt and shoes. Don’t try the jacket on with jeans or trainers, this will not give you the right idea of how the complete package will look.
STAY AWAY FROM PLEATS Avoid pleats as they look incredibly old-fashioned, a plain front is a lot more modern. Side adjusters are also popular today as an alternative to belt loops.
CUSTOMISE Many suits look the same today, so it’s fairly easy to stand out for the right reasons. Get creative and add in some bespoke features where possible like working cuffs, monograms and button colour stitching. Don’t go crazy but let your suit reflect who you are. Contact: www.institchu.co.uk
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TECHNOLOGY Tech Stars
It's an Android World Tech Stars' Jon Bradford investigates how Android has gained ground, while Silicon Valley snobbery isolates Apple
othing creates more arguments and flame wars online than raging debates between Apple’s iPhone fan-boys and those of Google’s Android operating system. It is widely accepted that Apple’s iPhone and IOS operating system were years ahead of anything else available when it launched seven years ago. At the time, it was mocked by the mobile powerhouses of the day - Nokia and Blackberry - but where are they now? Conversely, when Google launched Android, it was at best half-baked, but now the differences for the average end user between the two systems are limited. There remain philosophical differences between the two tech giants. Steve Jobs was widely known for his obsessive and controlling approach, leading to Apple maintaining absolute control of its entire experience, from designing and manufacturing hardware and software, to having its own stores. Anyone who owns more than one Apple product will testify to how beautifully and effortlessly they work together. On the other hand, Google’s historic stance has been very different, adopting a more open approach. It has largely
chosen not to develop its own hardware, instead working with other manufacturers such as Samsung and LG to implement variations of Android. This has led to interesting anomalies, whereby Google’s major competitors, Amazon and Microsoft/Nokia have developed their own branded phones and tablets by piggybacking on heavily modified versions of Android. Interestingly, in the battle for smartphones, both Apple and Google can justifiably claim to be winners. And this is where I draw parallels with another eco-system - the start-up ecosystems of Silicon Valley and the rest of the world. Just like Apple, Silicon Valley is a tightly integrated and welloiled machine. But to benefit from it, you need to be an integrated part of it. There are many Silicon investors who will not even consider your start-up unless you are physically based there. During the last 50 years it has thrived and, much like Apple, it has produced very healthy profits, but it is subject to ongoing criticism about its arrogance. Combined with the US’ increasingly restrictive immigration policies, Silicon Valley might ultimately become narcissistic and isolated creating a huge echo chamber. Android is much more
comparable to start-up eco-systems outside of the Valley. Whilst the entrepreneurial kernel remains consistent across these clusters, each implementation creates a different eco-system. However, it is their differences that we should embrace. Many of these clusters are still developing, finding their own niches and opportunities to innovate. As with Android phones, ecosystems come in a wide variety of sizes, forms and levels of sophistication. There has never been a time in human history that the rate of change resulting from innovation has been so profound, creating opportunities in more industries and geographies than ever before. Whilst Silicon Valley might be the pinnacle of innovation, it’s an Android world; startups and eco-systems are messy and fragmented, but their opportunities are enormous. In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s difficult to claim that no man (or eco-system) is an island.
Combined with the US’ increasingly restrictive immigration policies, Silicon Valley might ultimately become narcissistic and isolated - creating a huge echo chamber
TECHNOLOGY Goodbye QWERTY
No QWERTY talk
Michal Kubacki, CEO of ETAOI Systems and inventor of the 5-TILES keyboard, argues that it is time for the overhaul of QWERTY keyboards
108 September 2014
hen we talk about legacy technology, we are usually referring to the square-box PCs still running Windows 95 in the hidden bowels of the company, or the fact that so many software systems still use a floppy disk icon for the ‘save’ function. But what about the interface that was invented for 150-year-old technology that is no longer in use? You may be surprised to find that you use it every day. We are of course talking about QWERTY, the keyboard layout invented in the 1870’s for the first generation of mechanical typewriters. Typing machine inventors, Christopher Sholes and Carlos Glidden found that a pure alphabetical layout was too confusing and inefficient for telegraph operators who were transcribing messages from Morse code. It is commonly thought that the mechanical function of the machine also played a role, separating some letter combinations in order to prevent the arms from jamming. In 1878 Sholes and Glidden sold the manufacturing rights
for their typewriter - with its QWERTY layout - to gun-maker, Remington, which had already started branching out into sewing machines. By 1893 the five largest typewriter manufacturers had agreed to adopt QWERTY as their standard layout, and it remains the default standard for all of our text entry systems today. This popularity is not only due to its ubiquity, but also due to the investment made by those who have learned how to type on QWERTY. Back in the 19th Century, Remington didn’t just produce typewriters, it also provided training courses – an investment of both time and money that made typists who learned on its proprietary system unwilling to switch if something better came along. Companies making use of trained typists were forced to stock their offices with Remington typewriters. And so the cycle of reinforced commitment came into place. There have since been many attempts to improve the layout of the keys further. Interestingly, Scholes himself continued to make improvements to the layout right up until his death - his final patent was filed in
By 1893 the five largest typewriter manufacturers had agreed to adopt QWERTY as standard, and it remains so to this day
TECHNOLOGY Goodbye QWERTY
1889. Perhaps most famously, Dr August Dvorak invented an alternate layout in the 1930s with the aim of making the keyboard significantly faster and more accurate to type on. Unfortunately, these claims were never conclusively proven and by then, the QWERTY layout was simply too deeply embedded as a standard. Dvorak does have a dedicated user base to this day though, mostly because the smaller range of motion while typing is said to result in fewer repetitive strain injuries. There have also been attempts to change the shape and mechanics of the keyboard - such as the chorded keyboard invented by Douglas Engelbart in the mid 1960s. Some of these are still used by the Braille community, but have otherwise failed to take off. Fast forward to today, and we still find the QWERTY layout in use across all of our interfaces, and it’s even being crammed onto our smallest device yet, the smart watch. Although most of the first generation of smart watches have no input mechanism whatsoever, this closes off so many potential use cases in the emergent wearables category. Research shows that the current text input systems are the Achilles’ heel of mobile touchscreen devices. Smartphone users are frustrated by so many small keys crammed on to the screen, making typos
a frequent hazard, and taking up too much space on the screen. These frustrations will be intolerable on the newly emergent wearable devices. It is simply time to start from scratch, and invent a keyboard for the modern age. Enter 5-TILES, the radical re-invention of text entry for modern day touchscreen devices, including the smart watch. The 5-TILES keyboard is the outcome of my own frustrations with typing on the mobile phone. As a creative writer trying to capture my thoughts while working on construction sites in the mountains of Italy, I was desperate to replicate the sensation of typing, where the technology gets out of the way of the flow of words. The QWERTY keyboard that was jammed onto my phone simply did not cut it, and so I started to dream of an entirely new text input system that would be suitable for the next generation of digital devices. The result is five simple keys that take up 70% less of the screen, are comfortably sized for all fingers, and are compact enough to fit on smart watches and other wearable devices. Typing works by tapping or swiping across the five keys in simple combinations for an almost infinite range of letters, symbols, emoticons, and editing commands. The layout is based on the alphabet, slightly re-ordered to be optimised for speed.
People tell us they love using the 5-TILES keyboard over the QWERTY system, and I strongly Smartphone believe that this patent-pending users are invention is ready to take us into frustrated the next 150 years. Unlike the by so many sub-optimal QWERTY system, small keys 5-TILES is designed specifically crammed on for screen devices, smart watches, to the screen, wearable computers, and the making typos internet of things. a frequent The Android version of hazard the keyboard has been in live prototype mode on the Google Play store since June 2011, where it has gone through a number of iterations with a dedicated group of early users, and will soon be re-released as a formal Beta product. Do you agree The way we type is with Michael that well overdue for a major change - it’s time to let go QWERTY keyboards of our legacy QWERTY are due for an keyboard that can’t overhaul? follow us any further. We need a text entry system that is suitable for our Tweet us modern touch screen devices, as your opinion well as the portable and wearable @TalkBusiness computing devices that have yet to be invented. Is it finally time to mag move on? I think so. Contact: www.fivetiles.com
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TECHNOLOGY Trademarking issues
A pain in the
rademarks can be a tricky business, and some will look to take advantage of the complexity of current laws. Therefore it is unsurprising that many small businesses will fall foul of other company’s trademarks without even realising an infringement has taken place. A recent application made by Google to register a trade mark for the stylized word “Glass” in relation to its wearable smart glasses, has been refused by the US trademark Registry on the basis of a number of objections, which highlight the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable. The first objection centres on potential consumer confusion as a result of number of earlier trademarks registered, which include or comprise the word glass (including Smartglass and iGlass). The second objection is based on the view that some of the goods covered by Google’s application may feature glass display screens or lenses. As a result, the mark “Glass” is not capable of registration for such goods because it
merely describes a material component of the goods. In response, Google has filed nearly 2,000 pages of evidence to support its application. Google has pointed out that the product is made of a titanium frame and plastic screen, so the mark is not descriptive. Google has also filed additional evidence, which is intended to show that consumers will associate the mark with Google as a result of the huge publicity which the product has attracted in the US. Arguably the word ‘glass’ is not descriptive of the specific goods covered by Google’s application (essentially wearable computer hardware and peripherals) and it should be remembered that everyday words can be registered as trademarks for goods/services for which they are not directly descriptive (such as “Coach” for bags and accessories). However, it is possible that the examiner may have been aware that the mark will actually be used in relation to smart glasses and this may have contributed to the
Matthew Dick and Anna Reid of D Young & Co, look at a recent attempt by Google to trademark the word “Glass”, to highlight the issues for businesses trying to trademark a descriptive word
objections raised. In the UK, where Google Glass has received less publicity, the UK Registry accepted Google’s application for the same stylized “Glass” trademark (although this application has since been opposed by a third party). Google’s application to register the plain word glass as a Community Trade Mark (CTM), which covers the whole of the EU, has also successfully passed the initial examination process, although this application is now facing opposition too. Google will be hoping that the arguments and evidence filed in support of its US application will be sufficient to overcome the objections raised, but its application hangs in the balance. This case highlights the need to seek advice from a specialist trademark lawyer before seeking to register trademarks that may be deemed to be descriptive.
It is unsurprising that many small businesses will fall foul of other company’s trademarks without even realising an infringement has taken place.
TECHNOLOGY Leasing for flexi-workers
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Purchasing new equipment for your flexible workforce is money down the drain, argues Santiago Alviar-Baquero, head of SMB and distribution for Northern Europe at Toshiba
e are living in an age where technology is evolving rapidly. It has become increasingly integral to almost everything we do, and not just in the consumer world. For businesses, technology is instrumental in levelling the playing field, especially for SMEs as they strive to compete against more established competition with far greater resources and marketing prowess. Simply put, small and medium enterprises just canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford to be taking short-cuts with the technology that they use. Yet at the same time, this can be tough â&#x20AC;&#x201C; SMEs by nature have the lowest capital and can struggle to afford the IT
112 September 2014
Leasing programmes enable SMEs to bring in high quality solutions for lower levels of initial investment
solutions that will give them a competitive edge. One method for overcoming this obstacle is to lease products rather than purchasing outright, removing significant up-front costs, so IT expenditure can be kept under tight control. At present, we are seeing more and more demand for leasing within the industry, as small, cash-strapped businesses affected by tighter cashflows during the recession look for affordable options to bring in the equipment that will benefit them. Of course, the immediate benefits that spring to mind with leasing are financial, as leasing programmes enable SMEs to bring in high quality solutions for lower levels of initial investment.
TECHNOLOGY Leasing for flexi-workers
A TOSHIBA PORTEGE Z30 BUSINESS LAPTOP
However, leasing technology also offers additional benefits by giving these small businesses access to solutions that they otherwise might not be able to afford. We operate in a mobile, flexible world, so businesses need to be able to function effectively in this landscape – this is especially true as they look to work in conjunction with the new Government flexible working legislation. Leasing allows them to choose
top of the range devices at low cost and low risk, and select the one that best meets the business’ unique requirements. Products can be leased in different numbers, for different time spans, and with many different and varied options in terms of payment plans – giving SMEs full control over all of these aspects. Fixed and regular payments provide business certainty, while payments are tax deductible against profits, and as such, make leasing an efficient financial expenditure. With a flexible working set up, SMEs can eliminate the need for expensive real estate – many may struggle for office space given its price-tag, so providing solutions that allow for homeworking can save considerable
expense. With leasing, there is also no need to compromise on quality. As such, those businesses that are in a fixedlocation can save office space by leasing premium solutions that may take up less room. Scalability is another key benefit to leasing that is somewhat overlooked.
Small and medium enterprises often have high growth trajectories, and the solution that fits a business now may not be one that fits the expanded operations of the business in 18 months or two years from now. Leasing allows companies to quickly and efficiently adopt new technologies as they evolve, whereas up front investment in new solutions may tie them into something that seems perfect at first, but proves a hindrance two years down the line.
The importance of SMEs in the UK can’t be underestimated, with the Gross Value Added of these growing businesses making up 49.8% of the UK economy in 2013 according to the European Commission’s SME Performance Review. That is why there is a responsibility on larger firms to support start-ups and SMEs, and this is the reasoning behind the launch of our own leasing initiative at Toshiba. Leasing
WORTH £900 See page 99
really is a lifeline for any fledgling company, as well as those that are becoming more established, and it allows them to adapt to the most innovative solutions at an affordable price, which in turn enables them to play such a big role in the economy as a whole. Contact: www.toshiba.co.uk
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I’ve got an APP for that This month we’re looking at an app that allows you to keep check on the progress of your emails, and an app to make you a gourmet genius - no matter where in the world you are
Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS The gist: Fed up of watching projects take the slow train to inbox-ville? With MailTracker you can speed up the process as it allows you to see when, and by whom, your emails have been read. It syncs with your iPhone mailbox to let you know when and where it was read from, and works with Gmail, Google Apps Business, iCloud, Yahoo!, Hotmail, and custom IMAP/SMTP accounts. Now you can push people for their replies and make sure that things get done quickly and efficiently, as you’ll know when they’re telling porkies about not receiving your message. Downloadable from: www. mailtrackerapp.com
Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS The gist: Want anchovies on your pizza in Paris? Ask for anchois. Got a hankering for a fillet steak in Holland? That’ll be a biefstuk van de haas. No matter where you are travelling in the world, if they speak any of the six most popular languages, then the Gourmet Guides app will help you to translate any menu item into English. Almost any food item is covered, with Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, Portuguese and French translation available for each. So wherever you are, there’s no excuse to go hungry! Downloadable from: www.gourmetguides.eu
FRANCHISE Franchise news
Franchise NEWS Guest bloggers to aid the etyres brand
obile tyre fitting franchise, etyres has turned to its fans in order to gain awareness of the brand. It will allow credible guest bloggers to post on its blog about related subjects, using its links, fanbases and network to build awareness throughout social media outlets. Clive Edwards, etyres marketing manager, said: “Guest blogging is an important strategic tool, especially for online businesses, and it offers great opportunities for getting our message across to a wider audience of potential customers. “Trust and credibility are very important to customers today, which is why word-of-mouth recommendations are very important. Guest blogging is another way we can convey the message that we are experts in our field and are offering a service built on integrity.” Edwards says receiving guest blogs from credible sources is an effective way to gain a bigger following on social media accounts and websites.
improved online sales to the point where almost 70% of Domino’s deliveries in the UK are now ordered online - up 30% on the same period a year ago. The company’s sales were also aided by a successful World Cup period in June, ales at Domino’s Pizza grew with fans helping to boost profits to £146.7 by 11.3% compared to the million, though strangely its struggles in previous six months thanks Germany continued, despite the country to a strategy of bundling at becoming World Cup champions. the global pizza franchise. By promoting meal deals, inclusive Contact: of sides and drinks (‘bundling’ them www.corporate.dominos.co.uk/ together into packages), the franchise has franchising
‘Bundling’ sides and drinks into meals helps towards first half profits
etyres has turned to guest bloggers to boost its brand awareness
Meal deals the key to Domino’s success
Diamond Logistics rapidly expands franchise network Seven new depot openings in June and July help extend national coverage
iamond Logistics Ltd announced a dramatic expansion of its franchise network, with seven depots opening throughout June and July. Recent franchise depot openings include Slough, Lichfield and Bolton, and outlets are due to open soon in Coventry and Northampton. “It’s brilliant that the Diamond network is expanding so well. This is a testament to the Diamond team, and our franchisees who are all doing such a terrific job,” said Kate Lester, CEO and founder of Diamond Logistics. “We are well on track to achieve our target of nationwide coverage by this time next year, turning Diamond into one of the leading couriers in the UK.” Built upon a strong customer ethic, high service levels and a carefully crafted
franchise offering, Diamond is one of the UK’s fast growing franchise networks. “Diamond has removed all the hard bits of this kind of franchise and left just the profitable, high value activities. It’s completely client-centric so we can offer our clients exactly what they need,” says Diamond Basildon franchisee, Paul Turner. “It was a leap to invest in something like this, but in only a few short months I have busy collection rounds, a new ops team, and have already had to expand my premises.” Founded in 1992 by Kate Lester, Diamond Logistics Ltd is a specialist same-day courier and logistic company providing a wide range of organisations with delivery and fulfilment solutions. www.diamondlogistics.co.uk
FROM Y–FRONTS TO YVES SAINT LAURENT – CUSTOMER SERVICE IN WAG LAND Richard McConnell, The ZipYard Altrincham
he ZipYard offers a professional tailoring and alterations service in a clean, purpose build environment. Our award winning business is all about outstanding customer service. Whilst there’s no other specialist alterations and tailoring centre in the area there’s numerous businesses offering similar services and competition is great. As the top performing ZipYard and 2012 Franchisee of the Year we have raised a total of 22,500 invoices. Turnover in the first year was £174,500 from 9978 customers. In the 10 months to date of our second year we are at £238,000 from 12,675 customers and on track to hit our target of £274,000 by year end.
EARLY DAYS As a former driving instructor I was used to dealing with members of the pubic and took pride in my level of service, so when I decided on a career change I already had a very strong customer service ethos. When we first opened it was easy to turn jobs round incredibly quickly. But as word got around and our customer numbers soared, ensuring that customers were happy 100% of the time became more difficult. We soon expanded our team of seamstresses from two to five and now employ eight full time. Working in Cheshire we are dealing with high end customers with high end expectations and it’s a great responsibility working on designer garments sometimes worth over £1,000. Famous footballers and TV celebrities
including Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor and presenter Gordon Burns bring their garments to us. Everton player Marouane Fellaini is one of our regulars. We once stayed open to fix a black tie for an awards ceremony that evening and he turned up later with chocolates for the girls to say thank you. ADDED VALUE We want our customers to believe that nothing is too much trouble. We don’t charge any extra for the express service and often carry out additional minor repairs for free. If one of the seamstresses notices a button needs replacing whilst they are turning up a hem it takes very little additional time to do the complementary work – and customers are always surprised and delighted.
Frequently people come in off the street with a button that’s just come off – we’ll fix it there and then – again for no charge confident in the knowledge that he or she will regard us as a lifesaver and talk about The ZipYard to others. SYSTEMS The sophisticated till system included as part of the ZipYard package has a customer relationship management feature which tracks customers each time they come in and allows us to make notes. If a regular is getting ready to go on holiday I can input this into the system. Then I can wish them a happy holiday when they pick up the clothes and ask them about it the next time they’re in. Building relationships is paramount– and as a result the average repeat customer visits us about once a month. Some have used us over 200 times spending several thousand pounds. Outstanding customer service means that we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. Last year a groom and his entire male entourage turned up the day before the wedding in a panic because they had only just discovered their suits were ill fitting. We stayed open through the night to finish the work and to get the party to the church on time and looking their best.
Another customer spent over £400 altering her wardrobe after a successful diet, and an elderly lady brought in all of her clothes to be taken in - all bundled into storage boxes and carried up the high street to us. Nowadays very few people have the time or skill to mend their own clothes –and a lot of our work involves repairs - but even I was surprised when one of our regular customers brought in a pair of her son’s Y fronts for us to fix a tear! For many of our customers we have become their ‘personal’ tailors. One wellheeled man left a message on our answering machine to say his wife was bringing in a ball gown the next day so ‘please leave space on your machine’ for her. They expect a very fast service and we rarely disappoint. A regular moved out of the area but saves up his repairs until he comes back to visit friends – travelling over 160 miles for our quality of service. Grateful customers send flowers, wedding cake, thank you notes and gifts.
THE FUTURE Managing customer expectations isn’t easy and it has been a big challenge for us to be able to turn round work quickly as the volume increases. Recently we dealt with 90 paying customers in one day which is ten an hour! We already open seven days a week and are looking to employ another seamstress to focus full time on express work and have installed a second till to cope with the queues that had begun to form outside the door in busy periods. We are looking ways to extend the range of services we offer including a paid for delivery and collection service which will appeal to our busier user clientele. At the moment I manage ZipYard with the help of one other but I will be recruiting additional customer facing staff to free me up to do more marketing and work on plans to open another ZipYard in the North West.
“To Danuska with eternal thanks. You u saved my day. It means so much more than words could ever say.” - Breeda (bride) We frequently see brides who have bought a dress form the internet. On one occasion a woman came in to the centre in tears with a dress that fitted terribly –by the time we had finished she was parading up and down with a big smile on her face.
Contact: Emma Downes T: 01530 513307 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.thezipyard.co.uk
FRANCHISE Franchises versus start-ups
Franchises versus – the truth about It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction when researching franchising, says Dynamis’ Matt Skinner
I Some franchise brokers will claim that franchises have a 90% success rate, compared to a mere 15% for businesses started from scratch
120 September 2014
f you spend time on the internet researching the potential success rate of a franchise compared to a startup, you will come up with a barrage of conflicting arguments. Representatives of independent businesses tend to refute claims that the franchise system is virtually fool-proof, whereas some franchise brokers and consultants will claim that franchises have a 90% success rate, compared to a mere 15% for businesses that were started from scratch. This statistic, originally put out by the US Department of Commerce in the 1980s, has enjoyed continued outings despite being discredited by the International Franchise Association as well as the SBA (Small Business Administration) in recent years. The truth is tremendously difficult to quantify as longevity, return on investment (ROI), annual turnover etc., are all measures of success – though valued differently from business to business. But it is fair to say that a franchise started under optimum circumstances has a better chance of overall success than an independent start-up. Jania Bailey from franchise broker, FranNet, voiced the justified opinion of most people in her industry in a recent interview: “I think the crux of what we do and the reason we’re so committed is that franchising works,” she says. “You have the support of the franchisor and the experience of other franchisees. You have a back
room you don’t have when you go out on your own.” The bottom line is that, although there is no guarantee of success in investing in a franchise, the structure of the business model offers a much more solid platform from which to start trading than a fledgling enterprise does. The established nature of a franchise and being able to tap into the previous experience of others that are in the same situation, having been there and done that, creates an early “legup” towards being a success for any potential franchisee, allowing them to hit the ground running. Franchises, with their instant brand awareness and reputation, streamlined operating systems, financing advantages (whilst most franchisors don’t offer financing, many have relationships with lenders who will view that brand’s referrals more favourably than an independent business owner just starting up), existing marketing strategies, training and ongoing support - offer a more realistic potential for ROI. A new franchise owner will have parted with a significant fee payable to their franchisor for the opportunity, but this investment has tangible assets, as opposed to a new business entrepreneur who will have start-up costs, and then all of the aforementioned business accelerators to somehow acquire, likely at yet more cost, thus increasing the initial outlay. It’s also likely that the re-sale of a franchise will be easier
than a private small business, (especially in a tough economic climate), and this is an important factor in judging the overall success of a business endeavour. Being left with a struggling startup that won’t sell could erase all previous profits. Of course, the freedom of running your own business, and the satisfaction therein, is the reason why so many people opt for going it alone. However, with greater freedom comes greater risk. Thomas Hickman - internet marketing director for 7-Eleven franchising - advocates selfrecognition during the buying process in an article for Income.com: “Freedom will come at a steeper price. Most small business owners put in much more than the typical 40 hours a week, because they lack support. Competition for these small businesses is usually a franchise that has already gained consumer trust and recognition. Whichever route you decide to go with will have positives and negatives. It all comes down to what you are willing to risk and dedicate yourself to.” Whether investing in a franchise or having a go at your own dream business, both represent giant leaps for the first timer and the experienced. One is a more exhilarating ride and one has a stronger safety net and shorter trajectory to success, but ultimately the choice is yours. Contact: www. dynamis.co.uk
FRANCHISE Franchises versus start-ups
start-ups success rates
The freedom of running your own business is the reason why so many people opt for going it alone. However, with greater freedom comes greater risk
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FRANCHISE Nigel Toplis
- an ideal marriage, bitter divorce, or lustful co-habiting? Franchise guru, Nigel Toplis, examines the sometimes odd marriage between franchisor and franchisee
Where the relationship is strong and founded on mutual respect, openness of thought, and dedication, then the individual business of the franchisee will thrive
s there one all-encompassing definition of the franchise relationship? Can you sum up the interwoven nature of different parties with different skill sets in a single sentence? Can anyone truly quantify the true mutuality of a relationship? In short, I don’t think you can. What I can say is that the relationship between the franchisor and franchisee is absolutely fundamental to the success of the business. Where the relationship is strong and founded on mutual respect, openness of thought and dedication, then the individual business of the franchisee with thrive and, if replicated throughout the system, the network as a whole will flourish. On the other hand, if the relationship is bordering on the verge of bitterness, where objectives are opposite, where energy is absent, and where trust has evaporated, then, for the benefit of both parties and the network as a whole, it is best to instigate divorce proceedings. Naturally, because we are dealing with humans, both situations exist. That doesn’t mean that a good franchisor and a good franchisee will agree on everything - they won’t and they shouldn’t - but what neither party should do is try to run the other’s business. Ideally, both the franchisor and the franchisee should see the role of the franchisor as a ‘non-executive’ director for the
PEOPLE Nigel Toplis
BEFORE YOU SIGN UP Taking on a franchise is a big decision, right up there with marriage and moving house, so it requires careful examination. My first piece of advice is don’t rush, and don’t let the franchisor rush you. Secondly, when you think you have found the right business, the right opportunity – stand back and ask yourself these ten questions:
franchisee, and the intellectual and support hub that the franchisee can tap into at will. Good franchising is built on the foundations of a strong and successful marriage between franchisor and franchisee. The phrase ‘in business for yourself, not by yourself’, really does capture the essence of franchising.
THE PACKAGE With a franchise, the franchisor 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. Franchising is very much a two-way street though, where the franchisor can achieve faster expansion and gain a higher return on capital, whilst the franchisee gets a proven business system, which will include marketing, training, support and more. Because there is this extensive support structure available, franchisees come from a wide range of backgrounds and previous experience. Running a franchise is conducive to a variety of transferable skills, including project management, marketing, operations, and
124 September 2014
sales, and the franchisor is there to help if you need to boost any skill sets.
OPPORTUNITY Franchisees can often choose where their franchise is based, and many can be run from home, meaning more time to spend with the family and no daily commute. This is a huge benefit for many franchisees, especially parents. For young people too, franchising is an excellent way to launch their careers.
GOOD FRANCHISEE Again, there is no single template, but my own definition is that a successful franchisee is likely to have all the attributes, not of an entrepreneur, but rather of an enterpriser. (“A person who sets out on the path of self-employment, and thereby demonstrates his desire for the rewards of enterprise and the willingness to take risk, but who is not planning either to specifically develop and exploit new technology, or create new markets, or to expand and build the proposed activity into a large scale business - all targets, which are the domain of the entrepreneur”).
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Does it have a solid trading history? Is it financially sound? Does it have a history of success? Is there a genuine head office support structure? What does it actually provide by way of support? If the franchisor supplies product, what are the Ts & Cs? What is its position in the market? Are projected cash flows realistic? Does the company have a finance facility with the banks? How tough is its interview process?
Thirdly, take the franchise agreement to a bfa-accredited lawyer, and get feedback on its content and meaning. Finally, work with an accountant to draw up a business plan. So, signing up to a franchise is just like preparing for marriage – follow the steps, don’t rush, ask questions (of yourself), take advice, and make a decision. Good luck! Contact: www. recognition-express.com
BCRS Business Loans – a non-bank lenders perspective on accessing finance for your business
n times of market volatility when accessing finance for your business seems to be non-existent, there is hope, writes BCRS Chief Executive, Paul Kalinauckas.
I believe for a growing business one of the biggest milestones they will reach is the point when they are ready to take it to the next level - expand operations, recruitment, purchasing more equipment or securing new premises. Few small businesses can afford to finance this type of change through working capital alone, but once in place, they know the positive effect it will have on their cash flow and future prospects. This is the moment that business owners need to turn to financing as a way to move their business forward. Fortunately, obtaining finance for a small business does not have to be challenging. No matter the size of your business or its cash flow situation, there are plenty of options for financing your growth. BCRS Business Loans is one of those options! BCRS provides access to finance for businesses through its Business Loan Fund. Set up twelve years ago,
BCRS has helped many businesses grow and prosper. Loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 are available to viable businesses turned down by mainstream lenders. BCRS’s sole purpose is to provide access to finance to enable businesses to grow and prosper. Our loan fund has been especially designed to help businesses. We understand that getting business finance can sometimes be a problem. Lack of track record, unreasonable security arrangements, past financial problems or simply not meeting conventional credit scoring methods may be hindering the process. This is where I believe BCRS comes into its own. There is a lot that my team and I can do to help Midlands based businesses and we are looking to connect with them as their local business loan fund. The BCRS model is of an approachable lender and we assess each individual case on its own merits. We operate very much with a traditional lending ethos rather than impersonal computerised credit scoring. A BCRS loan can be used for a wide variety of projects including working capital, purchasing equipment, recruitment, startups and marketing. We lend into most market sectors including construction, engineering, IT services, manufacturing, service providers and wholesalers.
A quick response for your lending requirements is available through the enquiry form facility at www.bcrs.org.uk or call us on 0845 313 8410.
how to be a good client
he relationship between Web Development Agency and Client can be a tricky one. I’d be lying (as would any agency owner) if I said every single project had run 100% according to plan. Luckily we’ve always got there in the end and delivered something both we and the client are proud of but I have to admit to a few moments of utter frustration and head banging on both sides. Fundamentally, clients are not web designers or developers - so understandably they are entering a world where PHP, CSS and HTML mean very little to them. We as an agency spend a huge amount of time upfront ensuring that the client understands and knows as much as they want to. Some clients want to learn it all, some don’t have time and just want the finished product. Either way it’s the agency’s responsibility to communicate extremely clearly so the clients understand exactly what is happening, by when and why. The agency also have to take responsibility for listening to the client’s needs but also inputting their own specialist knowledge to do the best possible job. We’ve had clients before who have requested things that go against best practice so we take the time to understand why they want that and then suggest a different route. Whilst the agency are the ones doing the invoicing I truly believe that in order for the client to get the most out of the agency they too should take some responsibility and work on the relationship to ensure happy ever after. Below are some of the top things to do to ensure you are delivered what you want, on time and on budget! Give a Good Brief The brief should be something you spend a decent amount of time on. Not just want you want but why you want it. It should detail what are “must haves” and what are “nice to haves”. It should have all stake holders inputs, but be collated by one voice. It should be concise yet detailed,
whilst allowing the agency to have some creative freedom. It should give examples and it should be quantifiable: “we want it to be magical but factual” is not a helpful brief. It should have key dates and budget expectations. Writing a good brief is not easy but this effort invested up-front will help you identify what it is that you actually want. Be a Good Listener I’m assuming you’ve chosen your agency well. They pitched, showed they understood your business, proved themselves with previous experience and were all-round trustworthy people. You’re paying them because they are specialists. You’re paying them because they can do something you can’t. So listen to them if they say that a butterfly following the cursor around is a bad idea, and no you really shouldn’t have a “no scrolling” website. If you’ve chosen well they will have a level of understanding of user behaviour that you may not - listen to what they say! You may not decide to take all of it on board but it will be worth considering. Give Us Your Undivided Attention As you start the project with your appointed agency, you’ll likely compile a Specification Document together this is super important. It should detail exactly what you are paying for, what’s included and more importantly what’s not. It’s the agency’s responsibility to go through this with you in detail and explain it in a way that you understand - but as the client you need to really be on the ball with this one. This document should cover you to ensure all your needs are met and it should also cover the agency to ensure they don’t quote for a Mini and then expect a Ferrari on delivery. To be brutally honest, these meetings can be tedious and hard work. Do them first thing in a morning, be prepared and ensure you are on top form so you walk away happy and with full understanding. Be Honest and Kind When it comes to feeding back on designs you have to be honest. Don’t spare our feelings if you hate
something. Far, far better to fix it now than the day before launch. This is your site. You have to be happy. The design should really feel right for you and the agency shouldn’t stop until it is. Be kind though. Constructive criticism is great and good designers expect and enjoy this. However, a half-hour session ripping their work completely apart is not good for the soul. It’s difficult to sometimes express what you like and don’t, but where possible give alternative examples: “can we try the navigation in a lighter blue” as opposed to “can we make the top of the site livelier.” Try Not to Assume Once the initial build has been completed, it’s likely you will want to request small changes. This is fine, completely anticipated and good agencies will expect this no matter how tight the brief is, how much the designs were signed off, or how many times it has already changed. The problems come when the client assumes what a “small change” is. What you may think is a quick five-minute job might actually take a significant amount of coding or re-designing. If that’s the case then you need to trust the agency in what they say. Remember – a good website is never finished, and a successful web project tends to end with a list of “post launch” ideas to expand/enhance the site in future. If you want something fundamental doing to the site before launch that wasn’t agreed within the specification or design stage, you should be prepared to pay for the additional agency time. Treat your agency how you would treat your staff. Be fair, trust them, listen to them and allow them to do the job you have paid them to do.
(0113) 887 3070 www.zealmedia.co.uk
ADVICE The sales doctor
The sales DOCTOR Sales Doctor, Tony Morris, gives advice on how to upgrade a client without being pushy Dear Sales Doctor, I have a regular client who provides a steady stream of income for me each month. However, they are on the basic package and seem content to stay there. How do I get them to upgrade without being too pushy and losing a good source of income?
henever you want to upgrade or maximise a client, you have to always look at it from their perspective. I use the acronym, WIFFM – what’s in it for me? Everything you deliver to them must communicate what’s in it for them; what will they get out of using it, and what are the major benefits the extra services will help them to achieve? The best way to communicate this message succinctly and clearly, is to explain how these extra services have benefited someone similar to them. Use the example of a similar company that faces the same challenges they do. The company that I feel communicates this message the most effectively is online seller and distributor, Amazon. Therefore I have aptly named this the “Amazon technique”. Whenever you make a purchase
via Amazon, it very cleverly shows you complimentary products that it feels are right for you, based on your purchase and history. As an example, whenever I buy a sales book, I end up being offered (and often buying) a sales audio CD alongside it. The language it uses is as follows; “Clients that buy item A, really benefit from items B and C. Why not add them to your order?”. I recommend copying this style of language when trying to get a client to upgrade. Another great example of this type of language at work is fastfood behemoth, McDonalds. You go in just to buy a burger for 79p and they say, “Would you like fries with that?”. Every customer who says, “Oh, go on then,” probably adds another £7 billion or so to its bottom line. Equally, when you ask for a meal deal, they say “For only X pence more, would you like to go large?” Staff cleverly upgrade the vast majority of customers without
Tony Morris is the director of Sales Doctor, a sales training company based in Covent Garden, London. His new book, based on the Sales Doctor series, called “Dear Sales Doctor - the 66 top answers to the sales questions you’re afraid to ask”, is available now from www.wedosaletraining.com.
losing them, or coming across as too pushy. No doubt you’ve probably experienced this style of selling elsewhere in life, and not even realised you were being sold to. So take a few lessons from the proven methods of the big boys, and you’ll have those clients upgrading in no time!
NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk businessmagazine.co.uk
ADVICE Midas Media
SEO is dead. long live SEO? With last year’s Google algorithm updates causing some digital marketing ‘experts’ to once again proclaim that SEO is dead, should your business be ditching search engine optimisation altogether in favour of its paid cousin, PPC?
any businesses have already begun to slow down their spending on SEO and it seems that PPC is the flavour of the month. Are they just two sides of the same coin or is it worth picking and choosing?
WHAT IS SEO? SEO, or search engine optimisation, refers to the practice of naturally maximising the potential of a website’s ranking power on search engine results pages. There are many arguments about what is good and bad practice in SEO, but in general, building a great, userfriendly site, acquiring high authority links back to it, and optimising the HTML code will all help grow your website’s authority on Google (notice that I specify Google as, although optimising for Yahoo and Bing
128 September 2014
doesn’t hurt, Google gets around 89% of UK search engine traffic). Many of the techniques that were popular and effective in the early days of SEO, such as submitting websites to hundreds of low quality directories and writing keyword-heavy copy, have been hit hard by Google algorithm updates. However, this is nothing new and it is certainly not a reason to think that SEO is a dying art. It has been happening for years as Google continues to fine tune its search engine to make it as relevant as possible for its users. As Google’s search engine algorithm matures, our SEO strategy has followed suit. Now more than ever, creating quality and engaging content is invaluable to enhancing your website’s authority online. ‘Social’ is also gaining ever
more power and intertwining with all aspects of SEO. However, link building is still incredibly powerful and Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, has said that “Backlinks still have many, many years left in them”.
WHAT IS PPC? Pay-per-click (PPC) is when advertisers pay the publishing website or search engine each time their ad is clicked. Typically, this is done through Google AdWords and the paid ads can be seen at the top as well as at the right-hand side of a search engine results page, or SERPs for short. Each search engine has its own version of PPC that works in a similar way; bidding on clicks known as cost per click (CPC), or bidding on impression cost per mile (CPM), the advertising cost per thousand views.
Pay-per-click campaigns are immune to the pitfalls of algorithm updates, unlike SEO, and it gives your business a level playing field
ADVICE Midas Media
If you are creative enough, if you can get the right community behind you, then SEO can be truly powerful and company changing
PPC involves bidding on a keyword that you want your website to rank for, and paying a varying amount dependent on how competitive that term is. You only ever pay when a user visits your site by clicking through from your advertisement. PPC can be reliable as the wealth of data that is given to you allows you to fully scope your competition before deciding whether it’s worth placing a bid and displaying an advert. Use Google’s “Keyword Tool” to see what each keyword will cost you. As long as you research your competition, choose the right keywords, bid the right amount of money, and manage the campaign efficiently, PPC is a great way to drive traffic to your site. There is no doubting its effectiveness and it can be seen in its growing popularity with businesses.
PROS & CONS A key reason for a business choosing one technique over the other is price. Good SEO can provide for a better long term ROI than PPC. It helps build a natural and long term backlink profile that gives your website authority, a higher ranking on Google and hopefully, more conversions. Obviously there are costs in hiring an SEO expert, but the cost involved in exhaustively testing and paying for a PPC campaign tends to outweigh it. The links and authority built in an SEO campaign will also take much longer, if ever, to degenerate than a PPC advert, which disappears when the budget for it runs out. SEO can also improve your website’s ranking on several search engines simultaneously when implemented correctly, whereas
for PPC you would have to pay for each search engine advert. Then why is PPC so popular? It’s a quick win. If your business can compete in bidding for relevant keywords, then there is no better way to direct quick, highly targeted traffic to your website. If you are testing your website’s conversion rate and need a lot of quick traffic, or your business is providing a timesensitive offer, then relying on SEO alone is often not realistic. PPC campaigns are immune to the pitfalls of algorithm updates unlike SEO, and the first page of many highly competitive terms are almost all authority sites, which cannot be displaced. PPC gives your business a level playing field and allows your website to compete with the big boys.
CONCLUSION AND THE FUTURE Don’t believe the fear mongers. Moz founder, Rand Fishkin believes that, “If you are creative enough, if you can get the right community behind you, then SEO can be truly powerful and company changing”. You must adapt your SEO strategy to align with algorithm updates as it is still a huge player in improving your website’s authority and increasing its traffic. PPC is a great tool in the right hands, but you must be clued up and know your competition. If budget allows, you may wish to combine both methods, but crucially, the most important aspect of any digital marketing campaign is to manage them correctly, set clear goals and measure everything. Contact: www.midasmedia.co.uk
Should I Outsource IT Support?
any businesses have a distinct choice with regard to the ongoing management of their IT requirements – should they manage with an internal, dedicated IT department, or outsource to a 3rd party IT service provider? For smaller companies and startups, the cost of an IT department is generally out of reach. As a result, IT outsourcing is the preferred way of keeping systems working whilst you and your staff concentrate on running the business. However, IT outsourcing offers signiﬁcant beneﬁts, even for larger companies. These include: REDUCE COSTS AND BUDGET MORE EFFECTIVELY. Outsourcing your IT drastically reduces your payroll costs and saves on the associated NI contributions. By going a stage further and embracing cloud computing, you can signiﬁcantly reduce the money spent up front as capital expenditure by paying smaller increments as part of your operating expenditure. Outsourcing IT allows you to reduce your ﬁxed costs and manage your variable costs far more effectively. NO STAFFING HEADACHES By outsourcing, you won’t have to hire dedicated IT staff - saving you money on salaries, training and associated staff
beneﬁts. Furthermore, sickness and holiday cover become a thing of the past, as does future recruitment should your IT employee decide to move on. IT THAT NEVER SLEEPS Many IT providers will offer 24/7 support meaning that you are supported around the clock. INCREASE YOUR COMPETITIVENESS Companies with their own IT department will be spending a lot of time and resources on keeping their systems up to date, something usually reﬂected in the costs for their customers. When outsourcing, you can provide customers with a more competitive offer and are in a better position to attract more business. IMPROVE SYSTEMS Outsourcing IT effectively puts your system under the care of specialists leaving you to turn your attention towards your daily operations. With access to professional guidance, your outsourced team will be capable of recommending the most appropriate solutions and implementing these with minimal fuss. FLEXIBILITY One of the key beneﬁts an IT support provider brings is the ﬂexibility to adjust the services as required. For example, with outsourced support and a cloud computing
solution, companies only pay for what they need and the precise number of users they have. There is no need to purchase an expensive server with built-in redundancy for growth which may not occur PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT With the IT industry evolving so fast, it is increasingly difﬁcult for internal IT teams to remain up to date. By outsourcing to specialists you don’t have to worry about sending staff on endless training. For example, Akita supports several hundred clients using different systems and applications. This exposure, plus the added beneﬁt of a large multi-disciplined team of IT engineers, ensures an excellent and continually-updated knowledge base for clients to beneﬁt from. SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT By engaging with a professional IT provider, you will have the added peace of mind of guaranteed service levels. This ensures that the service you need is guaranteed by the provider, with response times to ﬁt in with you business requirements. HOW MUCH WILL IT OUTSOURCING COST?
To ﬁnd out how cost-effective IT outsourcing and cloud computing are, contact Akita Systems on 01732 762675.
ADVICE Eye for business
Lights, camera, but what action? Charlie Gauvain, MD of video production company, Eye For Business asks the question: “Is video part of your marketing strategy?”
Technology has advanced to the stage that people can make videos on their phones or tablets, but is this the right thing for your company?
ith all the compelling evidence out there suggesting that online video marketing should now be part of your advertising and marketing budget, is your company considering using video? Research shows that 64% of website visitors are more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video, and according to Forbes Insight, 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text. In order to make quality, engaging and effective content, a video strategy as part of your overall marketing plan can not only ensure you measure the results, but also see that you get a return on your investment. At the first stage of your strategy there are a number
of routes to consider; using a professional video production company, producing the videos yourself, or a combination of both. Technology has advanced to the stage that people can make videos on their phones or tablets, but is this the right thing for your company? For certain uses this can be extremely useful and cost effective, such as for recording and distributing internal information or for “How to” videos. A good example of a company successfully following this strategy is the online parts company, espares, which has 27,500 subscribers on YouTube, and 16 million-plus views of its videos. But don’t expect to be able to produce high quality glossy adverts or promotional material without any experience. Even if you’re only looking to produce simple customer testimonials, it is worth getting
ADVICE Eye for business
Using the analytics available, now you can not only tell who is viewing your film, but whether they watched the video all the way through
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
some consultancy or training to support you as you get started. If you opt to work in partnership with a professional video production company, they can sit down with you to create a video strategy, even if you only plan on having a single film. Everyone, including yourselves, will need to know what you want and who your video is for. You don’t have to come to the table with a fully formed idea, you should expect help with that, but before starting to think about the finer details, you do need to think about a few things, namely;
KNOW YOUR PURPOSE It sounds simple, but what is the purpose of your video? Do you want awareness of your product or service, increased traffic to your website, higher sales, improved communication with your customers, or even to train your staff?Whatever the purpose, you have to know the core reason you are making your video.
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Who is going to view your video and how? When creating your strategy it’s important to consider who it is you’re targeting and how they are most likely to view it. Online, at conferences, as part of a presentation? Is there a particular demographic you want to reach? What style of video and content will this group of people respond best to? Does your viewer know your company already or is the video intended for a new audience with no prior knowledge? Being clear on this allows you to think more creatively about your subject and platform.
light, and incorporate those elements into your brief.
There has never been a better time to measure the results of video as part of your marketing strategy. Very simply, you can see the number of views the video is getting online, but using the analytics available, now you can not only tell who is viewing your film, but whether they watched the video all the way through and if not, where they stopped. What did they do after they saw the video? Did they contact you? Did you make sure that there was a call to action at the end of the film, so they knew what they needed to do? Is this part of an Adwords, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter campaign? What is your budget for the campaign and what are the KNOW YOUR STYLE With your purpose, audience, results you require? Having taken all of the above and platform pinned down, into consideration, there are a you can have a bit more fun and think more about the kind few final bits to consider before of style you want. Remember you decide video is something you want to consider, and though to always think about start planning your strategy your audience and what they will respond best to. There are or grabbing your camera. Be realistic about what a video can so many different emotions that can be conveyed through achieve for you. It can attract video. You could use comedy, an audience, bring them to you, persuade them that you are or a documentary style, a someone they want to talk to, character and sketches, or a but once it’s achieved it’s still more classic, corporate feel. down to you and your company There are a wealth of tools available that can be employed, to convert these new leads into business. and that’s before you’ve even I believe video should thought about shot design, form part of any successful sound or narration. Put your social hat on, think business’s marketing plan, as an engagement tactic that supports about sharing and spreading your goals. But, producing the word. a great video is not enough, With your message and remember you have to use it! audience in mind, hone in on what delivers your information and represents Contact: your company in the best email@example.com
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NEW! BUSINESS EVENT
THENATIONAL BUSINESS SHOW 5 & 6 March 2015 | Alexandra Palace, London
Brand new business to business exhibition taking place 5 & 6 March 2015 Don’t miss the UK’s most innovative business exhibition and conference designed to help established UK businesses to grow and prosper in 2015
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BOOK IN AUGUST AND GET 10% OFF! Simply mention Talk Business
Exhibition stands are NOW available from as little as £1,400+VAT To register for tickets or to enquire about exhibiting go to:
www.nationalbusinessshow.co.uk If you’re interested in exhibiting or speaking at The National Business Show 2015, please speak to David Hitchmough on 02392 268444 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVICE Digital Lighthouse
Double your online profits If you have bought into the myth that to succeed online, you only need to build a website and customers will flock to you, you're condemning your business to an early grave, say marketing specialist, Digital Lighthouse
he business landscape has undergone a seismic shift in the past few years as B2C and B2B consumers have adopted the internet as their preferred way of interacting, and that means online marketing is no longer an optional extra – it’s a business survival strategy. Digital Lighthouse’s team of marketing experts have developed a system of key online marketing tactics that, when used together, transform any business’ online efforts. Those tactics include using short, attentiongrabbing videos on your website, using a lead-generating microsite, using an automated follow-up email system to nurture leads, ensuring your website works as a lead-generating machine, giving away valuable content, creating a Facebook and LinkedIn presence, using Google’s pay-per-click advertising, and using re-marketing to target website visitors after they leave your website and visit others. The key to any company’s online success is its website - it should work as a lead-generating machine. The website needs to be the hub of an integrated system that draws prospects in and then nurtures them as they move along their buying process. This is unfortunately something that very few companies succeed in doing well. That’s because the majority are still working under the illusion that if you have a website, people will come. It’s not enough merely to have a website. People need to be made aware of your website, and they need to be given a strong reason to visit and to take the action you want them to take.
Those things don’t happen on their own; you need to know how to encourage people to move away from where they are online - Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube to visit your website. When they arrive on your website, they should be able to see instantly that you can help solve their biggest problems. According to Digital Lighthouse: “Most visitors give a website eight seconds or less before making the decision to leave, which is why your content, images, and videos need to show them immediately you have something they want. After all, once they hit the back button and leave, they’re unlikely to ever return. When they go, they take with them any opportunity you have of convincing them that your business has what they want.” Since the majority of your prospective customers – both B2B and B2C – are likely to be using social media on a daily basis, you need to be active on the most popular social media platforms. You also need to communicate with your prospective customers in the right way –hard sales tactics don’t work on social media networks and do nothing but alienate the people you’re hoping to reach. If you do succeed in getting prospective customers to visit your website, you need to have a way of capturing their contact details so that you can continue to communicate with them after they leave. “There was a time when offering visitors free subscription to a newsletter was enough to convince them to hand over their email addresses, but that’s more of a
turn off these days,” says MD, Mr Jay. “Very few people want yet another newsletter email clogging up their inbox. Many of them view the offer of a free newsletter as a complete turn off rather than a powerful enticement to give you their email address.” Instead, you need to offer them something for free that they perceive to be very valuable. If your free offer works and they give you their email address, you then need a follow-up system in place so you can begin to develop a relationship with them. However, they need to get to know, like, and trust you and your company first. Knowing which online marketing tactics to use and how to use them effectively is something that many marketing professionals struggle with. It’s also something that many business owners simply don’t have the time to do themselves. It’s easy for the uninitiated to waste a lot of time and money if they don’t really understand online marketing. All too often, business owners do nothing or turn to their website developers or designers for help, not realising that they’re often inexperienced in marketing too. “It’s much better to get expert advice and help from experienced online marketers,” says Mr Jay. The decision to provide clients with a ‘done-for-you’ marketing package has proved a popular one for Digital Lighthouse - it receives an average of 300 enquiries each day. That’s helped to boost the company’s growth by 466% in the past 12 months.
Many people view the offer of a free newsletter as a complete turn off rather than a powerful enticement
Contact: www.www.digital-lighthouse.co.uk talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 135
Payroll Question Time Ros Hendren, Consultant from Well Paid answers some common questions about payroll and outsourcing payroll. What is RTI and how does it affect me as a small business owner? Real Time Information (RTI) was introduced for all companies (with a few limited exceptions) in April 2013. It replaced the need for an annual P35 submission to HMRC, with a requirement that PAYE information must be reported on or before payday, every time you pay your employees. A critical part of this change is that you no longer have the option to report PAYE information manually; all reports must be submitted electronically, either through RTI compliant payroll software or using HMRCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s updated Basic Tools. RTI reporting is compulsory with automatic fines issued for noncompliance. However in order to help small businesses make the transition to this new way of working, HMRC announced a 12 month easement of fines for companies who do not comply. This was further extended to
October 2014, but there are no signs of any further extensions. This means that as of October this year, if you are not yet RTI compliant, you will face automatic fines of ÂŁ100 per 50 employees per month, where submission deadlines are missed. If you run your payroll in house using a payroll software package, your software should already be RTI compliant. If you still operate a manual system then you need to find an alternative solution. Either way you need to make sure that your payroll staff are aware of the changes, to avoid the risk of non-compliance and fines. If you outsource your payroll then your provider should have taken care of everything already, but you might want to ask just to be sure.
What is the benefit of outsourcing my Payroll? Traditionally, payroll outsourcing is the provenance of large companies but in many ways it is of even greater
benefit to small businesses. Payroll legislation changes continually, usually at the start of every new tax year, but also with a change of government, and when new policy is introduced. Keeping pace with this change is a monumental task for any business, be it a large corporate or a small company. Not only is there a constant need to update payroll systems and processes, but payroll staff also need constant re-education of current legislation, to ensure compliance and the avoidance of fines. This is a costly and time-consuming activity that although essential, adds no value to your business. By outsourcing your payroll you can free up cash flow, time, and resource to concentrate on delivering your core business to your customers. Additionally, outsourcing your payroll gives you access to a virtual team, where you can access payroll knowledge and expertise, at a fraction of the cost it would be to hire the same expertise within your business. With a Payroll Bureau you can rest secure in the knowledge that no matter what payroll legislative changes are introduced, you have an expert to guide you through. Outsourcing your payroll also has the added benefit of providing secure offsite storage of employee data.
Ros has over 25 years experience in the payroll and outsourcing industry and owns Well Paid, a Payroll Bureau specialising in supporting the needs of small businesses. www.wellpaid.org.uk
ADVICE Keys to the digital kingdom
Caught in the supplier’s web Getting a professional to produce a slick website for your company is always a smart move, but do you know who owns the rights to your online venture? Aaron Martin and Dan Norris-Jones, directors at Collective London and Priocept respectively, investigate
n an age where digital is becoming an increasingly important part of the business model, a company’s online presence can be business-critical even for those that wouldn’t be described as digital businesses. But are you confident you own your online presence? Could you change supplier tomorrow with little consequence? Or are you at risk of being held to ransom by your digital supplier? Here are five points to bear in mind when selecting, working with, and managing your digital suppliers, all designed to ensure you can develop your digital presence to your own agenda, and not your supplier’s.
OWNERSHIP While it makes sense that you should own everything you pay for, in the world of digital it’s rarely straightforward. Unless you have specifically agreed ownership terms, your supplier may try to retain full ownership of everything you have paid them to build. Make sure that everything that you pay to be created is contractually owned by you. And make sure you have
practical ownership as well as legal ownership, by having unrestricted access to your assets.
And make it clear that any of their own software products are banned from the list.
If your digital partner disappeared tomorrow, would you have enough control over your digital presence to pick up where they left off? To make sure you’re in control, have someone in your business know how everything is being put together, where everything is held, and how everything works.
Knowledge is power, and unfortunately, all too often knowledgeable suppliers exert this power over ignorant clients. But this can work in reverse too – as a knowledgeable client, you can ensure you get a better service, a better solution, and better value for money. Make sure you take the time to understand the jargon.
BEWARE PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE
PLAN FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST
Many digital suppliers have their own proprietary solutions, which they try to embed into their projects. Try to leave and you might find that nobody else can use that solution and that your only choices are to stay locked in, or to create everything from scratch again. If your agency tells you that you need a specific solution, ask them to run a vendor selection process to evaluate alternative products and recommend the best option.
While your supplier may well have your best interests in mind now, that may not always be true. So to remove any doubt, draw up a master services agreement as the contractual basis of the relationship. Cover all the points above, plus project scope, notice periods and payment terms. If your supplier is hesitant to reach an agreement, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why.
If your supplier is hesitant to reach an agreement, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why
ADVICE Low cost, high class events
Cheap doesn’t have to mean tacky Organising a high class event on a low end budget is possible, says Daniel Le Grange, Group conference and events manager at Better Venues
lanning a high class corporate event at a reasonable price can be a challenge. There are several ways you can budget an event whilst keeping it sophisticated. Planning ahead is the most important part of planning a corporate event on a budget. The earlier you start, the more options you’ll get to choose from. This gives you time to get creative and find the best prices. Form a planning committee to work out the necessary nooks and crannies. There are plenty of ways to keep to your budget, so don’t be tempted to change it. Here are my top tips for producing the perfect event without blowing the budget:
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Try various venues before choosing too quickly, and be sure to negotiate
the package deals. With plenty of time, finding the best venue for your event can make or break costs. Many locations are flexible, and will cater to your needs, so give them a chance, especially if they offer a great price. Finding second-tier cities near a metropolitan area can lower venue costs drastically.
CONFERENCE LENGTH Discounts for events that are only half-a-day or for an extended period of time, may very well be available at the venue. Afternoon reservations are usually less expensive than evenings, so keep this in mind when choosing your venue. During an afternoon event, guests are inclined to drink and eat less food, saving you more money. You can also check on reserving space by the hour. This way you won’t have to pay for the time you are not using the venue.
CATERING Food tends to take up a large segment of the budget, but there are options to reduce this. If venue catering is too expensive, it never hurts to ask what alternatives will be less costly with the same quality food. Try reducing the menu from full entrees to hors d’oeuvres, or light snacks, like tea and crackers - particularly if it is held in the afternoon. A list of the number of venue and catering specialists who will be assisting the event can eliminate stress and further guarantee the right amount of help will be needed.
If you provide free drinks, check if the venue has a ‘sale or return’ policy. This means they can return unused drinks and pass the credit to you
DRINKS Alcohol can be another huge cost. Cash bars are an economical option. Paying for alcohol based on consumption, rather than an open bar, will ensure you will not be paying for drinks that are not consumed. If you want to provide free drinks, check if the venue has a ‘sale
ADVICE Low cost, high class events
or return’ policy. This means the venue can return drinks they did not use and pass the credit to you.
DECOR For guests who have perhaps been to the same, or similar conference, years prior, or have travelled a long way, it would be unheard of to skip out on the decor! We aren’t talking chandeliers and ice statues of course, but there is a lot that can be done to make the event appear not only presentable, but also refined - without being excessive! A few economical ways to transform the atmosphere of an empty corporate event include adding balloons and setting a projector that shows art pieces on the ceiling instead of renting art for the walls, which can be expensive. Lastly, don’t forget to ask the venue if the in-house plants can be borrowed during the event. Floral arrangements will grab the attention of guests when they walk into the venue – and they will be free!
ENTERTAINMENT Do you want that extra “wow” factor that will keep your guests talking about the event to friends and family? If entertainment is in your budget and you want an event that will
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be memorable for your guests, hiring a corporate entertainer can be very impressive. But even cheaper forms of entertainment can be found by using the resources you already have. It doesn’t cost a lot to hire a Santa outfit for your Christmas party, or you may have a talented employee who plays in a good band, and could perform at your event.
SPONSORING If it is an event to remember, then surely a sponsor will back you. Find something special about your event and your company that is unparalleled to others. Make it known to the sponsor that people will become acquainted with their brand and it will also increase their ROI.
TRANSPORTATION It is highly necessary to guarantee there will be plenty of parking spaces for the event guests. Providing busses or minivans from parking locations can be accommodating, if it fits in your budget, especially if parking near the venue does not provide the proper space. Depending on location, it may be necessary to provide walking, driving, and public transport directions. This may
not be cheaper, but it will be more convenient for attendees and lead to less qualms. Surprisingly, signs for events can be quite pricey due to printing costs. Though adding electronic signage may be highpriced, overall you will save money and be able to re-use signs for the next big event. Audio-visual costs can be expensive, so rent equipment like LCD projectors and stages from a nearby location to reduce transportation costs. These smart choices can go a long way towards providing a stunning and memorable event, whilst keeping the budget in check. So now you can ‘wow’ your crowd, whilst keeping the accountants happy. Contact: www.bettervenues.org.uk
Don’t forget to ask the venue if the in-house plants can be borrowed during the event
When did you last
benchmark your funding?
Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions
With the economy on the mend, it’s important for businesses to ensure their funding facilities are providing the means to seize any opportunities that arise. Managing Director of Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions, Evette Orams, explains why it’s important that your business has the optimum facility in place. The commercial finance landscape is radically different today when compared to even just a few years ago. In fact, it continues to evolve on a daily basis with no shortage of lending statistics being released that show contrasting stories. Much has of course been made about the alarming – and ongoing – lack of availability of traditional bank finance. Despite a number of initiatives and efforts to reverse this trend, net lending to UK businesses has fallen by an almost unbelievable £56 billion since May 2010. Taken in isolation, business owners would almost be forgiven for giving up on external funding sources. However, the emergence of other funding methods means that those who have could be missing out. The importance of benchmarking When was the last time that you benchmarked your existing funding facilities? Our SME Trends Index, which surveys business owners and finance directors on an annual basis, found that one in three haven’t done so inside the past six months. But even if you have, it’s always prudent to keep an ear to the ground. Crucially, benchmarking shouldn’t be about cost as that in itself would be a false economy. Instead, consider whether your finance arrangements are providing the required level of service, how well they suit your business and whether the amount of funding they provide is adequate for your requirements and objectives. It should be about the value added to your business. The wider picture Whether to solve the cash flow challenges or to take advantage of the opportunities that arise, many businesses are still on the lookout for new funding that will complement their existing facilities. While enquiries regarding an overdraft or bank loan can nowadays often draw a blank, those prepared to look beyond the norm are regularly yielding better results – and ultimately a more beneficial facility.
Take invoice finance as an example. In stark contrast to traditional lending, the asset based finance sector has posted a record-breaking quarter at the end of 2013, with funders advancing more money to their clients in a three-month period than ever before. Suitable for the majority of industries trading on credit terms - and in particular Why use a finance broker? manufacturing, haulage, • Expert knowledge recruitment and printing • Saves you time and - the asset based finance resource sector is supplying vital • Their independence support to more than • Access to key decision 43,000 businesses in makers the UK, a number which continues to rise.
Don’t compromise Whether your business is looking for additional funding or to undertake a simple benchmarking exercise, a broker can add value. By objectively gaining insight into your requirements and objectives, an independent broker can introduce the most suitable facilities on the market from the funder that matches your expectations. Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions has more than 17 years’ experience at matching businesses’ funding needs with their ideal facility. Independent of any funding organisation, this ensures that our matchmaking process will put you in touch with the most suitable funding options. Ask yourself this: What could my business achieve with the right funding in place?
0800 9774833 email@example.com www.hiltonbaird.co.uk/fs
Sign Up to
CHANGE Email marketing is undergoing something of a revolution, says Matt McNeill, founder and CEO of Sign-Up.to. Talk Business caught up with him to discuss the changing face of marketing TB – We hear a lot about responsive design. What is it, and why is it so important? MM – In a nutshell, it’s a process of coding email templates so that they automatically adjust to optimise the viewer’s experience on a whole range of devices – desktop, tablet or smartphone. The mobile consumption of emails has increased dramatically during the last few years. Today, around 60% of all emails are opened on a mobile device, but only 18% of emails are optimised for that platform. Non-responsive emails have a very high abandon rate, above 80%. That’s a lot of potentially valuable content which is never reaching its intended audience. TB – Interesting, how does it work? MM – It’s much more than just scaling the email to fit a smaller screen. Responsive design automatically optimises the content for the viewing device. This includes re-arrangement of the layout, removal of less important content or images, and scaling of text and other
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items to be more prominent. Responsive design is no longer a “nice to have”. That’s why all of the email templates we produce for our customers are now responsive from the ground up. TB – What other innovations are you working on? MM – There’s a whole emerging area based around relevance – we refer to it as precision marketing. More than 800 billion emails were sent last year and, even if you take out the 70% officially classed as spam, that still represents a huge amount of legitimate emails competing for attention. Precision marketing is a great way of targeting highly relevant content to specific audience groups. Being relevant is essential for cutting through the noise and getting campaigns noticed. TB – So how does precision marketing work? MM – There are two aspects. Firstly, subscriber profiling – understanding the individuality your audience. Profiling ranges from collecting simple information like gender, location or birthday, to a more in-depth
understanding of preferences and campaign engagement. We call these profiling ‘dimensions’ and our customers use them to create segmented groups or audiences within their subscriber database. The second part is targeting. Audience profiling allows the creation of customised content that’s specifically relevant to the profile characteristics of each group. It can be done manually, but dynamic content is one of the most exciting developments. It automates the whole customisation process, with readers receiving the same campaign seeing different content variations depending on their individual profile characteristics. TB – Can you explain more about how precision marketing is being used? MM – One of the simplest, but most effective, targeting applications is birthday messaging. Many businesses collect birthday data to send a timely special offer or personalised discount voucher. Multiple profiling dimensions can be combined so, if the
Today around 60% of all emails are opened on a mobile device, but only 18% of emails are optimised for that platform
One of the most effective targeting applications is birthday messaging. Many businesses collect birthday data to send a timely special offer or personalised discount voucher
location of the subscriber is known, the birthday offer could be linked to a local outlet or restaurant, and, if their preferences are captured, even to their favourite product or menu. TB –You mentioned engagement as a profiling dimension. What do you mean by this? MM – Engaged customers are the ones who regularly open, click, and interact with your marketing campaigns. They’re great for your business. In contrast, disengaged customers are those who have lost their original interest and may be drifting to your competitors. Engagement is an abstract concept that’s hard to quantify, so earlier this year we introduced a scoring algorithm that automatically captures how subscribers interact with campaigns over time. It gives a quantifiable measure of engagement and can be used to target future messages based on historical behaviour.
entertainment customers sent a campaign identifying and rewarding their top subscribers with VIP tickets. Their open rate increased from 18% to 60% - that’s almost triple the industry average. At the other end of the scale, subscribers on the fringes of your audience can be targeted with re-engagement incentives or new messaging. TB –What would you say is at the cutting edge of email marketing right now? MM – We’re really excited about “Audience Insights”. This is a form of behavioural profiling, which takes performance measurement way beyond both standard analytics, and even engagement scoring. Most email campaigns contain goal-based links, which drive readers onwards to a website. Audience Insights works by tracking a subscriber’s
journey from the email campaign right through to their subsequent online activity, recording a range of data on their browsing behaviour, interests and purchases. The objective is the same, to capture valuable intelligence, which can be used to continually refine future campaigns. We released Audience Insights this summer and it’s already being used by customers in ecommerce, travel, media and other applications. Contact: For more information on the above or to find out about SignUp.to visit www.signupto.com
TB –So how would you use engagement profiling? MM – Five-star subscribers, that’s those who are highly engaged, can be rewarded with loyalty schemes and special offers. One of our
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OPINION He said/she said
He said / she said This month the entrepreneurs are tweeting about the Commonwealth Games and crisp flavours. Opinions (and spelling errors) are all their own Deborah Meaden @DeborahMeaden I am very chuffed with @BBCDragonsDen investments this series.... so @SwingPatrolLdn @ Spooncereals @gripitfixings pretty diverse but all good.
This is such brilliant marketing, it blows my mind. FIND YOUR NAME ON A BOTTLE OF COKE! http://ow.ly/zPql8
The Dragon’s Den star gives a shout out to all of her latest investments. Catch our interview with GripIt Fixings’, Jordan Daykin on our website.
Our marketing expert is getting all excited about cola this month. See what she’s talking about on page 67 (she’s not just amped up on sugary drinks - we promise!)
Charlotte Roach @Charli_Roach
Lord Alan Sugar @Lord_Sugar
@RosemaryPringle @ NonStanford don’t think I’d last long before saying something too controversial! Presumably I’d have to know something too Former triathlete, accident survivor and cover star Charlotte Roach jokes about being a Commonwealth Games commentator. Why the modesty? We think she’d make a great pundit!
Richard Branson @richardbranson Sometimes all you need is a great idea, grim determination & perseverance The Virgin entrepreneur and billionaire gets all inspirational. We’d add in “having a thick skin” to that list though.
146 September 2014
Kimberly Davis @ApprenticeKim
It’s time to settle this. My favourite @Walkers_Crisps finalist flavour is #Votecurry, what’s yours? @Amscreen You’re fried! Lord Sugar takes time out of his busy filming schedule (yes, The Apprentice is coming back) to discuss the important questions in life.
Nick Clegg @nick_clegg The Israeli military operation has overstepped the mark in #Gaza and I believe arms export licenses should be suspended. The Deputy Prime Minister controversially sets out which side of the fence he is on in the IsraelGaza conflict.
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