Tallk Business Magazine July 2015

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



WHAT’S IT WORTH? How to decide how much a job role should pay

AGAINST THE ODDS How 3 entrpreneurs battled against disability and racism to succeed

FOOD FOR THOUGHT The British public’s favourite Frenchman, TV Chef and restaurateur Jean-Christophe Novelli reveals his tips for business success

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Editor’s letter Contributors News & events

57 Avoid the summer standstills Kimberly Davis on how to keep your business flowing this summer


59 So simple, so social A beginners’ guide to Instagram

62 Different places, same faces Paul Tuvey of Shutterstock on maintaining a consistent brand message

66 Pack to the future Five top packaging tips

69 Knowing me, knowing you Invasion of privacy

SUCCESS 18 Food for thought The secret to celebrity chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist, Jean-Christophe Novelli’s success

26 Fail cheap and fail fast Morphsuits’ co-founder, Fraser Smeaton explains why sometimes it’s okay to fail

31 Up and coming Becky Campbell of Reflect Digital

32 Lessons learned Chris Whitton


Inspirational tales from entrepreneurs who beat the odds

39 What’s it worth?

What types of insurance should you be aware of for your business?

A guide to coping with a maternity leave absence

76 Secret diary of an entrepreneur David Banfield of Interface Financial Group Employing former criminals

81 Helping yourself by helping others The hidden benefits of volunteering

Tips for focussing on the long term, not just the day-to-day

52 How to map sales’ performance 55 Time to just face it? Pitching via video-conferencing

How SMEs can utilise the new Apple watch to achieve success

113 I’ve got an app for that

FRANCHISE 115 Franchise news 116 Listen and learn Dynamis’ Nicky Tatley explains how to use feedback effectively

120 Avoid the cowboys The bfa’s Paul Stafford advises how to spot a good franchise from a bad one

123 Making the right call What telecoms issues do you need to consider?

ADVICE Your questions answered


126 Tricks of the trade show 128 Safe and unseen How to move your IT to the cloud safely

131 Legally speaking Wright Hassell on how to avoid gender pay discrimination

132 Too close for comfort? Is premium economy the answer for your business travels?


Rich With

107 Time to start buying .porn? 110 One to watch

125 Sales Doctor

Don’t leave your finance plans til year-end

Seeing the wood for the trees

The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley gives his views on the latest tech

Lee McQueen

47 The early bird


3D printing tips

104 Tech review

87 The long goodbye

A guide to dealing with late payments

49 Benefits street

102 Join the revolution

How to retain employees who’ve been offered a job elsewhere

44 Better late than never?


Dragons’ Den’s Piers Linney on how to use tech to increase staff productivity

Leadership expert Deborah Benson

Talk Money’s Adam Aiken on deciding what a job should pay?

41 Have you got it covered?

101 Cloud collaboration

75 Taking baby steps

84 Stay another day FINANCE


73 The parent trap

79 Cell block HR

35 Book reviews 36 Dealing with disability


89 We love... Top tech 91 Country comforts

134 Dodging the drought What steps can you take to avoid the summertime cash flow blues?

138 Directory

Top camping gear for fantastic UK summer breaks

94 Hotspots: Nottingham Locations for business stays, meets, and eats

97 On the road: Audi A6 Ultra Oliver Hammond’s car review

98 Let loose on the links The best destinations for mixing business and golf

OPINION 141 Question of the month: We ask: “Is a white lie ever excusable to secure a deal?”

142 Trash talk Readers discuss the business phrases that annoy them most

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 9

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LUKE GARNER EDITOR Luke Garner luke.garner@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

DESIGN Louise Salisbury artwork@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Prashanth Muthulingam Prashanth.Muthulingam@symbianprint.co.uk


I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work Thomas Edison

Scott Hartley scott.hartley@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk


Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4681 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. The opinions expressed by guests in this magazine are not necessarily the views held by Talk Business magazine, its publishers, and its owners.

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ailure is a dirty word in business, but it’s no secret that it’s there, ever present. Everyone from the high street giants (remember Woolworth’s anyone?) to the local corner café, will likely experience its clammy choke hold at some point, but failure doesn’t always have to be inherently bad. This month, Morph Costumes’ co-founder, Fraser Smeaton maker of the fancy dress costume, the Morphsuit – takes a radical view on the subject. “If you’re going to fail, do it quickly and do it cheaply,” he espouses. What he means is that, when starting out in business, you need to establish early on whether you have a viable product, and not to put all of your eggs (or in this case, money) into one basket. He also delves into the challenges of conversing with manufacturers in foreign languages that you know nothing of, and how to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers to succeed. Discover more on page 26. Some people are always striving to find themselves, to discover what they want to be in life, whereas others know from an early age what their calling is. Our cover star this month, Jean-Christophe Novelli, was one of the latter. “By the age of eight I already knew I was going to be a chef when I grew up,” says the Frenchman. By the age of 20 he was indeed a chef, and since then he has collected numerous Michelin stars to add to other illustrious achievements. All of this has endured through the recession, and he shares his secrets and insights with Talk Business on how to run a successful restaurant, business, and more, on page 18 of this month’s issue. Also this month, Zoe Efstathiou delves deep into an issue in the business world that is often overlooked, and marginalises a section of society - disability. She speaks to three entrepreneurs who have fought against the odds, and dealt with varying disabilities, in order to succeed in their careers and in business. Their inspiring tales of hardship and triumph can be read on page 36. And finally, now that the sun has poked its head out, we’ve come down with a dose of summer fever. Check out some amazing destinations to mix business with golf on page 98, our favourite items to make your UK camping getaway a success on page 91, and catch Kimberley Davis explaining how you can keep your business ticking over while people are on holiday, on page 57.

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The experts

ANDREW DALGLISH In 2006, Andrew co-founded specialist B2B market research company, Circle Research, which now boasts clients such as Vodafone, Microsoft, and Mastercard. Andrew is a leading expert in the market research sector. He developed his expertise after studying at Aberdeen University and completing a degree in psychology, before undertaking an MSc in marketing at Strathclyde University. In addition to his day job, Andrew is an extremely active member of the marketing and research industries, including writing a column for B2B Marketing Magazine. Andrew is also a guest blogger on Research Magazine’s research-live blog and enjoys speaking and leading events around the world.

12 July 2015



Ben Hutt is chief executive officer of Talent Party, where he is responsible for transforming the company into the leading global hiring platform. He has 15 years’ management consulting experience with top-tier firms, including Macquarie Group and PwC Consulting. Ben is highly skilled at leading organisations as they tackle the challenges of today’s economic environment, and he is passionate about helping businesses solve problems and improve productivity.

Ortis has been one the hosts of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show since 2009. He has co-hosted the live version of the show at Birmingham’s NEC during this time, and performed to 90,000 guests during the five-day event. Ortis has appeared as a guest technology reporter on BBC One’s The One Show, BBC Breakfast News, and Watchdog, plus The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Daybreak for ITV1. Ortis’s affinity for science and technology began when he was a child who was very much into sci-fi and comic books. His comic collection is fast approaching 8,000 units! He is a bonafide geek. He has an honours degree in pharmacy, and is also a qualified personal trainer. He supports a handful of charities, and is a patron of First Touch.







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news Payroll errors slowing UK small businesses in the race for talent Being paid late or inaccurately would cause a third of employees to look for another job


he payroll department could be the lynchpin for talent management and employee engagement in the UK’s small businesses, according to new research from Sage UK. Sage surveyed 1,000 consumers, with more than a third (35%) of respondents saying they would look for a new job if their employer paid them incorrectly just once. In addition to those who would look elsewhere for employment at the first sign of payroll issues, 51% agreed it would cause them to lose trust in their employer, and half went so far as to admit payroll errors would cause them to resent their employer.

Staff morale could also be at risk, with 44% of respondents revealing that the prospect of being paid late or incorrectly would make them enjoy their job less. “Many small businesses see payroll as a back-office process that doesn’t necessarily affect business performance. These findings challenge that way of thinking by showing that payroll can have an immediate effect on staff job satisfaction with just one mis-step, and could even jeopardise recruitment. Payroll is something employers simply must get right,” explained Jonathan Dowden, payroll expert at Sage UK. Sage’s research found payroll errors

One in five startups begin as second jobs Wannabe entrepreneurs mitigate the risk of going it alone, launching their new venture while still in employment


survey of 500 small businesses by alldayPA found 21% of start-ups launched in the last 12 months began as second jobs. This mirrors a growing trend for UK workers having second jobs to boost income. HMRC reports 1.2

million have official second jobs, up from 1.05 million in 2007. Of these, 450,000 are selfemployed second jobbers running their own business on the side - an increase of 40% from 2006. The study revealed the most common double-job entrepreneurs are

could be a thorn in businesses sides when it comes to staff satisfaction and recruitment. More than three quarters (77%) of respondents stated they would tell others if they had been paid incorrectly, while 9 in 10 respondents would be less inclined to want to work for a company, or apply for a job, if they heard about them paying people late or incorrectly. With nearly one in four people (22%) reporting they have been paid late or incorrectly in the last 12 months, this should motivate companies to look after their payroll. Contact: www.sage.co.uk

men between 25 and 34 years old. The typical sectors where people launch businesses are digital services, e.g. website design, search engine marketing (18% of double job start-ups), PR and marketing (12%), design (11%), and HR (5%). Reuben Singh, chief executive officer at alldayPA, said: “Ambitious entrepreneurs have been quick to embrace technology to help manage the transition from employment to running their own business. “This is a trend the Government should be reacting to by cutting red tape for second job start-ups, and simplifying the tax structure to help balance PAYE with self-employment and dividend payments.” Contact: www.alldaypa.com

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news U

K micro-businesses are owed £16.9 billion by their customers, new research from Intuit QuickBooks has found. The reluctance to pay promptly is having a major impact on cash flow, driving businesses to resort to additional borrowing; 32% of respondents stated they’ve had to take on loans or credit to pay suppliers and wages, putting increasing strain on the business. It’s also causing microbusinesses across the UK to spend an average of 19 working days per year chasing invoices. This attitude to payments is in stark contrast to business owners’ attitudes in their personal lives. 93% of respondents claimed they are happy to pay immediately as a consumer, but many do not even ask their customers to pay immediately in business. In fact, 94% of those surveyed who wait up to a month to invoice stated they were happy to pay upfront as a consumer. One issue at the heart of the problem is our dependence on the

Slow payment culture hurting UK’s most vulnerable businesses through increased borrowing and time wasted chasing invoices

UK micro-businesses owed £16.9 billion in outstanding payments invoicing process. The research found that only 36% of microbusinesses issue invoices via email, with many still issuing traditional paper invoices - and some waiting up until a month after completion of work to do so. Rich Preece, UK VP and managing director at Intuit, explained: “When you’re putting out fires, and jumping over hurdles on a daily basis, you don’t

need the distraction of worrying about whether you’ve been paid in a timely manner, so it’s disheartening to see the extent of the issue. This wasted resource and unnecessary exposure to risk is stopping owners from focussing on what really matters growing the business.” Contact: www.intuit.co.uk

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16 July 2015

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We saved our money elsewhere. I went to the ‘rejects’ store and picked up a set of chairs for £9.50 each. Nobody complained about them once they tasted how good the food was

18 July 2015

FOOD FOR THOUGHT He’s been dubbed the ‘most likeable Frenchman in Britain’ by the British public, but what is the secret to celebrity chef, restaurateur and philanthropist Jean-Christophe Novelli’s success? Editor, Luke Garner, chats with him to find out


hen we talk to JeanChristophe he’s at his cooking academy, nestled in the lovely countryside of Hertfordshire. It’s been voted one of the 25 top cookery schools in the world, and he’s just taken a quick break from instilling his wisdom into another generation of top chefs to speak to us. Clearly he’s been having a passion infused session with his protégé’s as he talks rapidly, enthusiastically and with

zest in the rustic French accent that TV viewers have come to know and love. “We’re actually celebrating the 10 year anniversary of my cookery school. I started with nothing, no clients, and built it up from scratch. You always have a chance to succeed if you have a passion for and love what you do, and I think that’s been a big part of the success,” said the well-known TV chef. Jean-Christophe’s success is not a short time in the making though. As with most entrepreneurs, it’s taken a lot

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 19


I actually got called an idiot for turning down all that money, and I suppose they were right

of hard work, but he always knew he’d get there, even from an early age. “As a child at school I was pretty useless!” he confessed. “I could draw fairly well, but I wasn’t particularly academic. By the age of eight I knew I was going to be a chef though. I was brought up in a household full of women who cooked and baked all of the time, so I didn’t really stand a chance. I left school at age 14 to get a job in a bakery, and then by time I was 20 I was working as the private Head Chef to Elie de Rothschild of the Rothschild family. It seemed a bit like destiny.” That destiny started over 30 years ago when he set foot on the British Isles (a place that he adores and says offers opportunities to people like almost no other place in the world- high praise indeed from a Frenchman). After working as Head Chef at Keith Floyd’s pub, ‘The Maltsers’, for number of years he ventured to the New Forest, with a mere £500 to his name, and decided he was going to start a restaurant - Maison Novelli. While that amount of money may have gone further in 1996 than it would today, it was still woefully short of the amount most would expect to be needed to set up and operate a restaurant. Before long though he was earning £63,000 a week and a Michelin star was well on its

20 July 2015

way. The key to his triumph, says Jean-Christophe, was focussing on the quality, not the artsy, over presented aesthetics of the restaurant. “I was mad to try and start up with that amount of money, but I had huge determination and a lot to offer,” he said. “Clerkenwell was the only viable option at the time, but I was very well advised that it was an up and coming area and so it proved to be. I managed to lease a very old café that was run down, and I got a very good deal because of it.” “The one thing you can’t do in the restaurant industry is skimp on the quality of your food produce. Your restaurant lives and dies by it. So we saved our money elsewhere. I went to the ‘rejects’ store and managed to pick up a set of chairs for £9.50 each for example. They were perfectly good chairs, and nobody complained about them once they tasted how good the food was!” he chuckled, adding; “If you’re good at what you do, you don’t need to spend loads on luxuries, your work speaks for itself.” That’s not to say that everything was plain sailing for him though. He made a few mistakes along the way, but he feels they only made him stronger. The Frenchman often gets asked what is favourite meal is,

kind of an industry hazard being a chef, but it’s not something he can pin down as he likens it to ‘being asked which one of your children is your favourite’. He cooks according to mood, he says. That adherence to going with his mood has gotten him into a few ‘pickles’ (Ed - Sorry!) over the years though. “When I first started out I had all of this passion and emotions really drove me. That’s great when you’re in the kitchen, as it helps you to produce great work, but you can’t be like that in business. To be led by your emotions in business matters is a crime,” he warned. “If you let your emotions effect how you treat people then they’ll see weakness in you and then they’ll see that they can manipulate you. I made this mistake at first and it’s really not good for business. I had to change pretty quickly.” “I also made the mistake of forgetting about the money. I was made a £5.5million

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We always say we were a very rich family growing up the only thing we didn’t have was money offer for my 50% of my three restaurants in 1998, but I said no - partly because I was scared to lose control of my business, but also because I felt money wasn’t important at the time. That’s crazy really, money is a major part of the conversation, and it’s what keeps you going, feeds and houses your family etc. Anyone who says differently is either crazy or a liar,” mused Jean-Christophe. “I actually got called an idiot for turning down all that money, and I suppose in some ways they were right. I didn’t think about it properly at the time, but I could have started again fresh with that money, had a different culinary adventure, and started a new restaurant from scratch. But in the moment you often don’t think of these things.” It’s not only his own mistakes he’s learned from over the years either: Jean-Christophe has some great insights for

22 July 2015

others looking to start their own journey’s in the restaurant business, and even those who are already in business. So what are the mistakes he sees people make most often? “Firstly I would congratulate anyone who tries, who loves food, and sets up their own business in this industry. I truly admire them for following their passion,” he says. “Perhaps the first thing to understand though is don’t try to run fast, or run before you can walk. A lot of people start with lofty ambitions, but before you aim for Michelin star, just try to be busy first.” “It’s also vital that you never compromise on quality and understand that it’s not all about you - your staff are the true number ones. They can make the difference between a spectacular restaurant and a mediocre one, so make sure you train them properly and give them the support they need,” he explained. Away from the spotlight and the culinary scene, JeanChristophe partakes in a lot of work for charity - something he believes all people, not just SMEs and entrepreneurs should

get involved with. “It’s very important to give back, whether you’re in business or not. I was brought up well and was very fortunate, so I like to take the time to acknowledge people who are less fortunate than I was. We always say we were a very rich family growing up - the only thing we didn’t have was money,” he enthused. “For a business it’s not just about PR or marketing, it’s about yourself and helping others. I don’t even really keep track of what is done any more, I just get on and do it because it makes me feel good and helps others to have a chance at life.” As we close out our conversation, he has one last piece of wisdom for any budding entrepreneurs amongst the Talk Business readers. “Don’t try to impress people, try to express yourself,” he says. I think it’s fair to say that JeanChristophe, the British Public’s favourite Frenchman, has done more than his fair share of expressing and impressing. Contact: www.jeanchristophenovelli.com

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As a buzz-phrase on the recruitment CIRCUIT HIRING FOR hCULTURAL lTv IS nothing new. In fact, some 80% of businesses state that hiring INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE A CULTURAL lT for their organisation now ranks as one of the top deal-breakers in the recruitment process. With evidence showing that happy, integrated employees support business success through higher levels of productivity, increased customer satisfaction levels and improved outcomes, it’s easy to

I built this company in my vision from the ground up. I made it successful. Therefore I naturally assumed it would take individuals with the same traits as myself to continue that process... ...As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I couldn’t stand working with myself: I needed individuals who would complement, challenge and engage with one another. Not all stubbornly stick within their comfort zones. (David Thoms, CEO)

see why corporate culture has shot to the top of the hiring priority list. But as a holy grail in the business sphere, a successful culture is still proving hard to build, maintain‌ and hire for. How do we recruit the hRIGHT lTv n AND ENSURE THEY STICK


Corporate cultures, like any other culture globally, are often implied THAN EXPRESSLY DElNED 4HEY GROW organically over time, shaped by that organisation’s expectations, experiences and the values that hold it together and translated into its interactions with the outside world. Culture, simply put, is the sum of a multitude of elements that make companies who or what they are. Recognising the power of culture, some companies have taken to introducing roles such as “People #ULTURE -ANAGERSv WHOSE CORE responsibility lies in creating and driving this intangible, allusive ‘X factor’ that may hold the key to success. Others seek to include cultural aspirations in vision statements or company objectives. However, the challenge lies in forcing something that can’t be truly man-made: your organisation won’t become something simply because you tell it to. Rather than sticking a power statement on it, today’s business leaders must look to the individual elements that create culture and coax, rather than coerce, the desired results.


One of the major impacts of the newage culture craze has been a growth IN OUTSIDE THE BOX OFlCE INNOVATIONS designed to create this very “social AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENTv THAT will breed innovation and success. Recognised pioneers Google took the lead, leaving in their wake a sea of slides, pool tables and beanbag rooms amidst white walls and modernistic furniture choices: individual style statements, designed to echo how each organisation seeks TO DElNE ITSELF (OWEVER WHILE AN environment can support and help embed organisational ideals, culture is very little about what we say or how we look; it’s about what we do. And that starts with the people we employ.


THE THREAT OF HOMOGENEITY When hiring managers set foot into the interview room with the “cultural lTv MANTRA IN MIND THE MOST COMMON faux-pas is to confuse organisational VALUES WITH PERSONAL lT )T STANDS TO reason that we look for individuals we feel we easily build rapport with; particularly in organisations that are team-intensive or demand close, continuous interaction between employees. However in a traditional interview scenario, this puts power in the hands of the interviewer. Rapport is MISTAKEN FOR SKILL AND lT AS HIRING gatekeepers inevitably obtain more information from individuals they enjoy engaging with, and revert to

Culture is very little about what we say or how we look; it’s about what we do. And that starts with the people we employ. hLIKE ABILITYv AS A DECIDING POINT The result is a minion-style empire: candidates employed in the image of the person who hired them. Homogeneity of this nature is not only an ill-advised strategy for hiring: prioritising harmony and conformity will actively become a death sentence to businesses seeking to innovate and grow.


In the modern-day business world, a multitude of skill sets are essential if we are to succeed. Similarly, employing a diversity of personalities is key to embedding a successful culture. Despite the common belief that a great culture is one in which everyone ‘clicks’, we must work alongside individuals we don’t necessarily ‘like’ in order to bring together the different ideas, approaches and priorities that drive success and change. It takes just touches of consensus on the core values that really matter to that business to ensure the process is well-oiled enough to succeed. The answer is to abandon the oneman approach to recruitment. Committee or peer-based hiring is still a relatively new practice in some industry sectors, but is gathering momentum as a successful hiring approach. Rather than subjecting candidates to an intense one-on-one


interview with an individual, a multitiered and collaborative approach brings together the combined values of multiple employees to give a more realistic representation of the business culture overall.


To truly implement cultural hiring into business, then, we must look to the individuals we employ; strive towards an unbiased, committee or peer-based selection process and consider the needs of the business, OVER AND ABOVE PERSONAL lT Taking those elements into account, outsiders can actually hold the key to successful cultural hiring. Able to objectively assess the overall culture of any given organisation, they will identify the key skill or cultural gaps that present opportunities for future growth for the business. As a specialist recruitment partner, Pareto has extensive experience in providing impartial recruitment needs assessment in line with CULTURAL lT AND BUSINESS OBJECTIVES implementing a multi-staged assessment process that focuses on potential, rather than existing skill or ability. With experience across all industry sectors and delivering projects across the globe, Pareto has already played A SIGNIlCANT ROLE IN ESTABLISHING AND growing successful sales cultures for thousands of clients.

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“My advice?: Fail cheap and fail fast” Despite owning a multi-million pound fancy dress costume empire, discover why Morphsuits’ Fraser Smeaton is encouraging fellow start-ups to fall at the first hurdle


lmost everyone in the SME sphere of business knows the worrying statistic that 50% of businesses fail within the first three years of trading, so it may come as a surprise that Fraser Smeaton, co-founder of Morph Costumes - seller of the famous Morphsuit - is actively encouraging start-up entrepreneurs to fail. No, it’s not out of some narcissistic desire to discourage the competition, nor is it borne from a sadistic pleasure in seeing others fail. The key here is the method of failure. Fraser explains: “If you’re going to start a business, you need to make sure that you don’t put all of your eggs into one basket immediately. My advice is to fail cheap, and fail fast, that’s the trick. Obviously you hope to get it right first time and succeed, but if you are going to get it wrong, make sure

26 July 2015

you do it quickly and cheaply, so you can move on and don’t end up expending way too much time, money, and effort on something until the point where it’s do or die. “You see people who scrimp and save, and put their life’s savings into their business, only to find out that the idea isn’t right, and there isn’t a demand for it, no matter how good an idea they thought it was,” continued the Scottish entrepreneur. “Perhaps most importantly, you need to know when to cut the cord and move on from an idea that isn’t working. “For example, we had two businesses that we’d come up with together before Morphsuits that, at the time, I thought were decent ideas, but they never really got anywhere. We put some money into them, tested the market, and found it to be lacking. Because we didn’t put all of our savings into

them it meant we could pick ourselves up and try again until we found something that was right, and did have a market and a customer base.” Competition is an interesting subject when it comes to Morphsuits as, with the product being simply a spandex-covered outfit that can be produced relatively cheaply, there were always going to be imposters who thought they’d - as Fraser puts it - ‘be able to steal a slice of the pie, and make a quick buck.’ However, the Morphsuits team - which consists of Fraser, his brother Ali Smeaton, and their Edinburgh University flatmate, Gregor Lawson managed to fend them off through a combination of innovation, brand loyalty, and providing quality. “A lot of the early competition were people who set up in their bedrooms, and they tried to do it cheaper than


us. However, as we already had the following, particularly on social media, and our brand was becoming known for the product, we had a competitive advantage. They weren’t new and different like us. They couldn’t produce either the quality we could, reach the same sized customer base, or achieve the quantities of scale required to make their businesses viable either. Our focus on social media and growing a loyal customer base helped us to fend off these early imposters,� smiled the recent Fortune Hunter TV show guest expert. “Similarly, when the big boys became interested, and decided that there was money to be made here, they tried to undercut us. They launched their own copies at much cheaper prices, but we responded by innovating they didn’t have the cool designs we had, and our brand was much stronger. For example, we have a licensing deal with Marvel to produce amazing designs such as Iron Man, Spiderman and other superheroes, which just seemed like a perfect match for us. It took us four years of hard work to get that deal, but it has helped keep us ahead of the game.�

Though Fraser has managed to shake off (whether willingly or not) much of his Scottish accent, there is still a hint of the cheeky highland boy in his demeanour. What is not present, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out, is a Chinese accent, or indeed any fluent grasp of the language. That was a particularly troublesome barrier for the three young entrepreneurs when they first started out on their journey. For you see, Morphsuits was not a new invention, it was simply an obscure product yet to be

for a business idea for a while, and that’s when we said to each other, “Hey, maybe there’s a legitimate business here�. We decided we’d take something that existed, give it a name, make a few adjustments (such as making it see-through so you could actually look where you were walking) and bring it to the masses,� smiled Fraser. The challenges of dealing with Chinese manufacturers were indeed unique, and there were a number of mistakes and miscommunications along the

2EYLRXVO\ \RX KRSH WR JHW LW ULJKW ĆŹUVW WLPH EXW LI \RX DUH JRLQJ WR JHW LW ZURQJ PDNH VXUH \RX GR LW TXLFNO\ DQG FKHDSO\ VR \RX FDQ PRYH RQ discovered by the masses, and that product resided in a factory more than 5,500 miles away, in China. “We actually discovered the product one night at a party in Dublin, when a friend arrived wearing something similar to a Morphsuit. We couldn’t believe the attention he got in what was essentially just a one-colour polyester suit – he was treated like a celebrity, and was being bought drinks and having his photo taken with everyone. He got so much attention! We’d been looking

way, as Fraser points out. “None of us spoke a word of Chinese, so it was difficult to communicate what we were after at first. It’s not like French for example, where you can usually muddle through with some phrases you learned in school; English and Chinese or Mandarin are very different languages. “Initially we put in an order for 200 Morphsuits, and once they were made, the manufacturer called us delightedly to tell us that they’d saved us 10 cents per item

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 27


by taking some of the length off of the zip. They thought this wouldn’t matter, as they were thinking of the Chinese consumer, who is generally a lot smaller than the burly, sixfoot two rugby playing lad that we were selling to back in the UK. It almost made the whole shipment unusable, as the zips were 10cm too short, but luckily the demand was so great that our customers forgave us and bought them anyway. That mistake could have cost us the entire company at such an early stage. We certainly learned our lesson to communicate your exact requirements very clearly,” sighed Fraser. So, having been through the experience of importing from another country, and indeed continent, what advice would he give to any budding entrepreneurs looking to follow in his footsteps?

The manufacturer called us delightedly to tell us that they’d saved us 10 cents per item by shortening the zip by 10 cm. However, it almost “If you’re looking to trade across borders, make sure you made the whole get help from someone shipment unusable who knows what they’re

doing. Don’t be afraid to ask the experts,” he enthused vociferously. “We had no idea about customs laws or fees, or even how to pay them, but we used an international shipping handler called Seko, that had been doing this for years, and they took care of all of the legalities and worry for us. “We of course have made mistakes, from thinking we could do it all ourselves too though, and that’s a trap many entrepreneurs fall into early on - thinking they know it all, and can do things better than anyone else,” laughed Fraser. “When we first started selling in the US, we accidentally calculated Why not our postage wrong, tune into and mixed up pounds Fortune and kilogrammes. Hunter this This meant we were month to overpaying for catch a fantastic shipping for about interview with Fraser that will help six weeks until we to grow your business? Fortune noticed, which cost us Hunter airs each month, with a few thousand pounds!” regular repeats, on Showcase TV Perhaps the greatest (SKY channel 192), and irony of all in Fraser and FREESAT channel 402 his co-founders’ story is that

28 July 2015

they started out as just three unknowns with a fledgling business, one that delivers a large degree of anonymity to its customers through face-covering fancy-dress outfits, yet now their faces are becoming increasingly recognisable across the UK and beyond. Having turned over £1 million in their first year - a moment Fraser described as one of his ‘proudest moments as nobody ever thought we’d get that far, that quickly’ - and many more millions since, it’s unlikely the three Scottish boys will have any issue with their new found fame! And after all, if they ever want to get away from it all, they can always simply ‘suit up’ and fade away into the ever-growing throng of happy customers. Contact: www.morphsuits.co.uk

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I was working for a digital agency, seeing the same old mistakes, and the lack of attention to client care


fter winning the ‘Best B2B SEO Campaign’ award at the Drum Search Awards with its work on Egress.com, over many larger and more established companies, the only way seems to be up for Becky Campbell. Through organic SEO campaigns and immersing themselves in their client’s businesses, Reflect Digital very quickly developed an attractive and effective strategy for digital marketing. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS? My inspiration to create Reflect Digital came when I was working for a digital agency, seeing the same old mistakes, and the lack of attention to client care. I’d thought on and off about setting up on my own, I knew what

clients wanted, and I knew how to deliver it, so I took the opportunity to build an agency founded on client care, and I’ve never looked back. HOW DID YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY REACT TO YOU STARTING A BUSINESS AT 24? My parents have been hugely supportive; in fact they put forward the initial, and subsequent, investment needed to get Reflect Digital off the ground. Since then, they have been there around the clock, advising on business matters and being at the end of the phone when I’ve needed help. My fiancé is our sales and marketing director; he has been on the sidelines from day one, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without him. Friends have been great too, although they’ve had to put up with me blowing them out on more than one occasion!

to the test. Since putting this in place, staff turnover has dropped dramatically. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS? My best advice would be to document cash flow processes as early as possible; it is something we initially struggled with, but it has become much easier over time, as we got better at planning. We now spread payments more to help drip-feed the money into the business, and set realistic terms depending on the client. It took us a while to perfect this, but a good system makes it much easier to manage money coming into and going out of the business. HOW DO YOU EXPECT YOUR BUSINESS TO DEVELOP IN THE FUTURE? One of our biggest client wins to date was Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Reflection on success This month we speak to Becky Campbell who, at 24, started Reflect Digital - an award winning digital marketing agency WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? One of the biggest challenges to date has been finding the right people for the team. Initially we just did not put interviewees through their paces enough, which resulted in a couple of wrong hires. It is very hard to make a decision about whether someone is right for the business after only meeting them once or twice, but we now have a process in place, which really puts candidates

Our team’s love of football is what won the pitch for us, and it has inspired us to continue looking to win business in sectors that the team is passionate about. Keen to stay at the leading edge of the market, we have already launched our own content management system, and we have big expansion plans over the next year, through the development of further webbased software, and by continuing to build our team of experts. Contact: www.reflectdigital.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 31



Lessons learned Chris Whitton, founder of Exotic Palms and Spas, in Gillingham, shares the seven most important things he’s learned in business - even second time round


riginally, I founded a successful alarm company, building up a customer base across the South East, including police stations, magistrate’s courts and fast food chains. But I wanted a change of scenery, so I left that business in capable hands, and turned my hobby into a new business; an exotic plant and garden design company. Increasing demand from my customers for hot tubs in their nice new gardens changed my business focus completely, and I now only sell hot tubs. Having experienced many challenges in business, I’ve

32 July 2015

learned a lot since those early days, but here are a selection of my most valuable lessons: NEVER TAKE THINGS AT FACE VALUE I missed a huge opportunity to set up the hot tub business earlier than I did. Once I realised there was a demand for them, I sought to find a manufacturer to work with. I visited a factory in Canada, but dismissed it instantly because there was no automation involved. It looked old-fashioned and low tech, and I left without looking around any further. What I’d missed was that they made the iconic

Beachcomber tubs, hand made from start to finish, in a family run business. The tubs came with a lifetime guarantee, medically proven hydrotherapy benefits, and energy efficiency ratings 57% ahead of any other brand in the world. I hadn’t bothered to do any research, and it was a year before I revisited the factory and started selling the product. BE PASSIONATE Be passionate and believe 100% in what you sell. It rubs off on customers; they feel it, and it makes them confident to buy. I don’t sell the


cheapest hot tubs, but I believe they are the best. I’ve seen them made and have met the people who make them, and I’ve seen, and personally felt, the health benefits too. I make sure all of my staff right across the business, whether they are customer facing or not, know about the products and feel the same. Passion sells, but it has to be genuinely felt. BE IN THE RIGHT PREMISES Think about what it is you’re really selling, and make sure it’s properly presented. We sell an experience - a peaceful and relaxing time-out with friends and family. When we started though, our showroom was small, cramped, and didn’t convey peace or luxury - plus you had to look hard to find us. It was a big financial step to move to larger premises,

bank funding products available now for small businesses that I just didn’t know about. A business cash advance fits my business model perfectly. I only pay Liberis back when customers pay me, because my repayments are based on a percentage of daily card takings. Researching on the internet is a great place to start. There are many information portals that will guide you to the best funding for your business. GET TO KNOW YOUR SUPPLIERS WELL Make an effort to get to know your suppliers very well. It really benefits your business, especially when there’s a problem, to have a good relationship. If you get excellent customer service from your suppliers, you can pass

me 45 days to sell the product before I had to pay them, but I suggested a deal that would suit us both - we take more stock on better terms. We now have six months, although we pay immediately when we do sell a tub. Now cash flow is no longer a problem.

Think about what it is you’re really selling, and make sure it’s properly presented but sales have increased by 50% since. I should have done it sooner, but access to finance stopped me. Which leads me to my next point… DON’T BE PUT OFF WHEN THE BANK SAYS NO The bank turned me down for a short-term loan to finance a move to my new premises. Even with evidence of strong sales, they didn’t think there was future in hot tubs. So I put my plans to one side for two years. It was only because we were so in need of a new showroom that I looked at other funding options, and chose a business cash advance from Liberis. There are so many non-

it on to your customers. We’ve worked hard on the relationship with our supplier. In fact, the founder’s son has even called me at Christmas, and I’ve replicated the company’s world famous (and world’s largest) mural, ‘Legends of the Millennium’, in my showroom. ASK FOR HELP IF THERE’S A CASH FLOW PROBLEM A good supplier relationship means they’re more likely to help if you’ve a problem with cash flow. Remember - it’s in their interest that your business stays healthy too! My supplier originally gave

GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR CUSTOMERS Bend over backwards for customers is my motto, and give the absolute best service you can. Most of the time it costs nothing. The tubs I sell are a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, so you might not expect to see the customer again; we’ve moved one customer’s tub five times now, every time they’ve moved house. We provide training to maintain the hot tub, as well as maintenance and repairs. Never underestimate the value to your business of a good customer experience. Contact: www.exoticpalmsandspas.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 33

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LATEST releases


BOOK reviews The Perfect Sales Call by Tony Morris Our verdict:

About the author: Tony Morris is the MD of Sales Doctors, and a regular expert contributor to Talk Business magazine. Sales Doctors has trained people in 150 companies, helping to achieve impressive results, such as increasing referrals by 65% and conversion rates by 40%. We say: If you’re in the business of using the telephone to increase sales, then The Perfect Sales Call is for you. Stuffed to the brim with easy to follow insights, and tips to get the most out of yourself and your team, Tony

Sales! For Non-Sales People by Robert Ashton Our verdict:

About the author: Robert Ashton is a highprofile business speaker, best-selling author, experienced charity trustee, and creative social entrepreneur whose books have sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. He helps organisations to achieve greater social impact through economic self-sufficiency. We say: For the first time business owner, learning to do the myriad jobs it takes to run a successful company can seem like an impossible

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

Morris delivers an honest, pull-no-punches guide to what does - and doesn’t - work, based on his extensive experience in the industry. If you struggle to get past the gatekeeper, regularly fail to build a rapport, or simply can’t seem to close the sale, then this is your chance to improve. There are some great anecdotes that help to illustrate the key themes, and there are handy note sections so you can practise planning ‘the perfect sales call’ in your own words, using Tony’s advice and leadership. Our only criticism is that it isn’t a longer read - we want more! The Perfect Sales Call is published by CGW Publishing, priced at £6.99, and is available as a paperback or eBook.

task. And learning to sell for the first time is perhaps the biggest challenge of them all. That’s where Sales! For Non-Sales People comes to the rescue. Perfect for any ‘newbie’ or inexperienced salesperson, you’ll pick up the basics of how to sell, and why people buy. Robert Ashton will guide you on your journey to success, equipping you with the necessary tools along the route – such as understanding how to find, and then influence key people, learning how to measure performance, and how to expunge a lack of confidence. Sales! For Non-Sales People is published by John Murray Learning, priced at £9.99, and is available as a paperback.

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 35


Success is all about overcoming the challenges that are put in front of you. But for some, the challenges faced are greater than others. Business writer, Zoe Efstathiou speaks to a group of entrepreneurs who have encountered racism, battled disability and more, about their inspiring stories of success


usiness people are awash with advice when starting out. Areas such as cash flow, marketing, bookkeeping, and tax are all well covered, but the key to longterm success often lies in an individual’s ability to cope with greater life challenges - such as social, physical, or mental health issues. These topics tend not to be widely discussed, even though they’ve the potential to make or break an entrepreneur.

36 July 2015


Against the odds

TIJION ESHO is the lead clinician and founder of Le Beau Ideal, a Harley Street non-surgical aesthetics clinic, yet his path to success has not been without obstacles. As a junior doctor training in Lincoln, Tijion encountered severe racism. On one occasion, a mother refused to let him examine her baby due to the colour of his skin, but the racism Tijion faced also stemmed from colleagues. “I remember coming down to the canteen, which was shared by patients and staff. As soon as I walked in everyone was staring. They were whispering while I was eating my food. I really wasn’t sure why and remember thinking, ‘Have I got something on my face? Are my clothes dirty?’” Tijion recounted. “I went back to my room, and I remember thinking, ‘I’m a good guy and soon to be a good doctor, but is this all that some people will see the colour of my skin?’.” Tijion began eating meals privately in order to avoid disapproving stares. He dreaded going into work, but finally some words of wisdom from his mother pulled him through. “She said to me, ‘You’ve the potential to be greater than you ever imagined, but not everyone will like you, and that’s okay no matter what the reason’,” Tijion recollected. “She told me to take all the hate and anger, and focus that energy on being something great, as no-one can define who you are except yourself.” Instead of holding him back, Tijion’s experience of racism ended up having an empowering effect, enabling him to develop a resilience and unshakable sense of self-worth. “Not worrying about negative opinions, especially from people that didn’t know me, was truly liberating, both personally and professionally. It allowed me to form an overwhelming belief in myself and my capabilities.”

On one occasion, a mother refused to let Tijion examine her baby due to the colour of his skin


While Andy was born with his condition, entrepreneur Simon Fox developed one unexpectedly. He was at a New Year’s Eve party in 2007, when he experienced a panic attack that would eventually set him on a new path in business. “At midnight, when my friends were drinking champagne and celebrating, I was away from the party, alone and convulsing,” Simon explained. “In the weeks that followed, my life basically fell apart. Feeling as though you’re going to die at least once a day makes life hard to live, and my world quickly became very much smaller. My friendships suffered, and my work suffered immensely.” “I withdrew almost completely from the life I had been building. I’ve always been ambitious, independent, and entrepreneurial but now what I was most of all was frustrated, lonely, and anxious.” Although temporarily debilitating, Simon’s experience of panic attacks and generalised anxiety disorder ended up inspiring him to create Flowy, a mobile game in which users gain points for regular breathing. By using breathing exercises to blow boats around or power up robots, the game restores a sense of calm to individuals in the midst of a panic attack. Simon launched the app in December 2014, having received a £50,000 grant from The Nominet Trust to fund a clinical trial. Flowy launched for Apple and Android to coincide with Mental Health Awareness week in May, and has already been downloaded 20,000 times. “Flowy has been a pleasure to work on because from day one, people really got the idea and liked it. We get a lot of amazing feedback from Flowy users, everything from ‘This feels like a secret weapon!’ to ‘Holy sh*t this thing really works!’ My favourite piece of feedback came from a study participant who simply told us, ‘For me, it’s changed my life completely’,” Simon beamed proudly. Coping with a mental health condition can be a longterm journey, and one that requires continual support and self-awareness, yet it need not be a hindrance to a fruitful and productive career. “There’s no easy solution, and you may never feel healed. Despite this you can still live a quality life. I used to think I was disqualified from life. Now my experiences have become a valuable tool in my professional life,” Simon commented. “You don’t have to be someone else to be successful.”



Tijion was able to move on from the racism he endured in the early days of his career, but some entrepreneurs face challenges that are harder to escape. Born with a visual impairment, Andy Hinxman suffers from extreme long and short sightedness and is registered blind. However, his condition hasn’t held him back from becoming the director of Keybridge IT. Andy realised at an early age that he’d be unable to pursue the career choice of his father, a policeman. Yet he’s found IT to be an ‘inclusive and adaptable industry’, in which he’s able to thrive. As well as providing a rewarding career path, technology has been fundamental to Andy’s success, by improving the ease with which he is able to manage his daily life. “IT and applications can help people with disabilities to see, hear, and understand much better than they could before,” Andy explained. “In the past, I couldn’t see road signs, departure boards, or maps from just a metre away. However, mobile apps like Google Maps have helped me greatly.” Simple tricks, such as changing the resolution on his computer screen, and learning to touch type have proven hugely beneficial to Andy. What’s more, the proliferation of web resources and blogs has connected him to a supportive community of individuals facing similar issues. Rather than experiencing disability as an encumbrance, for Andy, it has spurred him to reach greater heights. “It’s strengthened my business and attitude,” Andy explained. “It’s made me want to succeed more than others perhaps, in order to show that anyone can achieve anything.”

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 37

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What’s it worth? Working out how much you should pay an employee can be a headache, but it’s worth getting it right, says Talk Money’s Adam Aiken

Y It’s tempting to scrimp and save when money’s tight during the early days, but the quality of your employees could make or break you

ou’ve just set up your business, you’ve made a good start, and the future looks bright. So bright in fact, that your attention has turned to recruitment. It’s time to hire your first employees. But how much should you pay?x THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING IT RIGHT The first thing to bear in mind is that your workers are a key resource. You might be tempted to scrimp and save, and money might be tight during the early days of your business, but the quality and attitude of your employees could make or break you. You’ll need to pay at least the minimum wage, so that’s your starting point at the bottom end of the scale. Yet many businesses are now adopting the ‘living wage’ - a figure deemed to be sufficient to provide a basic standard of living. Put simply, if you pay the minimum wage in central London, you’re going to find it hard to get anyone to work for you. However, the living wage threshold varies, based on where you are in the country, so you’ll need to do some research. CONSIDER AN AGENCY For anything remotely specialist, you’ll need to pay more than the living wage. This is where a

recruitment agency can help. A well-established agency should know the marketplace well, and give you guidance on what the remuneration should be, relative to both skills and location. An online search might also throw up a few pointers, particularly if the role you are trying to fill is easily comparable with others. HOW WILL YOU PAY? If the position you’re trying to fill has easily measurable productivity, you might want to consider a bonus scheme or commission. This can have the dual effect of allowing you to pay a slightly lower base salary to start with, while giving your new hire an incentive. Don’t worry if someone ends up taking home far more commission than you’d expected - it means they’ve done very well for you. Just make sure you pay commission for actual results. If it’s a sales job, for example, base commission on completed deals, rather than on new leads that might come to nothing. DON’T CUT CORNERS If you don’t pay your employees properly, you risk losing them. Of course you need to be careful how you spend your money, but trying to get away with being as mean as you can

doesn’t always work. Would you be happy with a sub-standard IT system, or a cowboy accountant? Assuming the answer to this is ‘no’, the chances are you won’t want to cut corners when it comes to remunerating your staff, either. If you don’t hang on to your employees, it’ll cost you time and money to replace them. Posting job adverts, sifting through CVs, and interviewing (and doing it all again if you can’t find the right person the first time), don’t come free, so factor this into what you can afford.

Contact: www.talk-money.co.uk

MONEY talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 39


Imagine a member of public is injured because you failed to do a health and safety check. You’d have to pay the costly medical fees, compensation, and legal fees

Have you got it covered?


ith abbreviations like NCB, PL, EL, GIT, CAR and PI, it’s no wonder people find insurance mystifying. But as mystifying as it seems to be, it’s a vital investment when you consider that each year, the UK court system orders businesses to pay millions in compensation and legal fees. VEHICLE INSURANCE GIT Now, this particular abbreviation might sound like an insult, but it’s actually important cover, especially if you carry goods in your vehicle. Goods in Transit (GIT), is essential for couriers, hauliers, and even those who carry their own tools in their vehicle. Imagine you’d just secured a contract for a big job and were about to set off when you realise that all your tools have been nicked from your van. Not only will you lose your contract, you could potentially lose your

Lyndon Wood, author of Diary of a Fortune Hunter, and founder of constructaquote.com, looks at the different types of insurance every business owner should be aware of business. Tools aren’t cheap, and shelling out the cash to replace what’s been stolen isn’t simple. A GIT policy will cover goods in your vehicle; whether that’s other people’s packages and parcels, or your own work tools and materials. NCB Everybody loves a good bit of discount, and that’s exactly the essence of NCB. No Claims Bonus (NCB), sometimes referred to as NCD, has a direct impact on the price you’ll pay for your vehicle insurance. NCB is a reduction in the calculated price of your insurance premium, and every year that you complete your insurance term without a claim occurring, you’ll gain an additional year’s NCB. It’s basically your insurer rewarding you for driving carefully. No matter which way you look at it, insurance is about risk, and the more

careful you are, the lower risk you’ll be to an insurer. Most companies will only accept NCB earned in the UK. This is simply because driving laws across the globe vary. NCB will usually be the same whether you have a private or a commercial policy. FLEET Not to throw a spanner in the works, but fleet discounts work a little differently to a single vehicle commercial/private policy (NCB). A fleet policy is a multi-vehicle company policy, and discounts apply to the company registered on the policy, rather than to an individual person or vehicle. This is because a company could change the number of vehicles it insures, and could also change the people who drive them. The discount applied for claim-free

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driving isn’t referred to as NCB; it’s referred to as ‘fleet driving experience’. It’s basically the same as NCB when it comes to discounts, but it’s less about who and which vehicle, and more about the company. LIABILITY PL In short, a Public Liability (PL) policy will cover your clients - including other members of the public - for third party property damage and injury. Any established business or start-up should consider the implications of being involved in a sticky claim situation while not having a public liability policy in place. Imagine that a member of the public is seriously injured because you failed to do an adequate health and safety check. You’d have to pay the costly medical fees, compensation, and legal fees, plus there’s always the risk of racking up a bill that puts you out of business. Even if the claim is unsuccessful, you’ll still have to pay the costly legal fees. From a businessperson’s perspective, the most important insurance policy you can invest in is PL. Why? Because it could potentially save your business if a claim is made against you. EL Rule of thumb; if you have employees, an Employers Liability (EL) policy is vital. Even if you only employ subcontractors, temporary workers, or apprentices, you’re still legally required to insure them. Unlike public liability, employer’s liability covers your employees against injury or disease as a result of their time under your employment.

42 July 2015

The most important insurance policy you can invest in is PL, because it could potentially save your business if a claim is made against you If you don’t have a minimum of £5 million cover, or if you fail to insure them, you’ll face a fine of up to £2,500 for every day that you’ve been without the proper cover - if in doubt, get it! You’ll also face a £1,000 fine if you fail to produce your certificate when requested by a HSE director. PI I’m sure we’re all guilty of giving someone some not-so-good advice, but in business this could have some serious consequences. Professional Indemnity (PI) is a constituent of liability insurance, but differs in the respect that it’s designed to benefit the professional in the event that poor advice/service has been given, resulting in a financial loss to the client. If you sell professional advice for a living, such as architects, accountants, solicitors and surveyors do, you’ll need a policy. PI policies are usually on a ‘claims made’ basis, which basically means that, as long as you notify your insurer of any incident during your policy term that may raise a claim, it’ll be covered. But, if you cancel or don’t renew your policy, then it will end cover for any subsequent claims - that’s why it’s important to have cover even when you’re in between contracts.

CAR If you’re involved with extending, refurbishing, converting, or new builds, you’ll probably want to consider a Contractor’s All Risk (CAR) policy. You’ll be responsible for the work until it’s handed over to the owner, which means that, if there’s damage before you hand it over, you’ll be liable to pay for it. The last thing you’ll want is a massive bill that you can’t afford to pay, which sends your contract and your business down the pan. A CAR policy will cover you for damages, and will also help reinstate a project if an event occurs, which renders materials unusable. Remember - the most important decision you can make in business is choosing the right insurance with the right insurance company. You should look for honesty, transparency, and care in an insurance provider, and avoid the ones who are only looking to make a quick sale. Contact: www.constructaquote.com

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Better late than never? Max Firth, managing director for Experian Business Information Services, takes a look at how SMEs can deal with problems caused by late payments, and avoid them in the ďŹ rst place


he speed at which customers repay their debt can have a real impact on the future of a small company. Take a look at your accounts and examine your cash flow; are customers settling their bills on time, or are they gradually taking longer to pay you? During the last tax year, nationally, businesses went an average of 24 days beyond their agreed payment terms to settle their invoices. However, the trends in late payments were far from uniform. Overall, SMEs were the quickest to settle their debt, with companies with one or two employees paying bills 20.58 days beyond terms, on average. In Northern Ireland, businesses settled invoices 15.93 days beyond terms, whereas in the North West, companies were taking 30.44 days. Meanwhile, some industries pay invoices up to 20 days later than the UK average, at a whopping 44 days beyond the agreed terms. Ask yourself, who makes up your customer base? The larger the business, the

44 July 2015


Some industries pay invoices up to 20 days later than the UK average, at a whopping 44 days beyond the agreed terms longer they take to pay and the region you service may be fast or slow payers. But, if you take the national average of 24 days and extend the answer across your customer base, how will your company’s cash flow be affected? The best strategy to mitigate against cash flow problems is to be proactive, and anticipate issues with late payments before they happen. Have an agreed blueprint that clearly outlines how you manage a customer through the service and payment cycle. Here are some tips on how to create the blueprint to deal with late payments:

Amazingly, only a third (34%) of SMEs bother to run a credit check on new business customers

1 STATUS CHECK THE CUSTOMER – DO THEY EXIST? Only six in ten registered businesses go on to trade, so do you know if your customer actually exists? Telephone and email correspondence with a new customer should be backed up by checking its address is real, in person or on Google Street View. Ask for at least two references from suppliers they use to confirm they are prompt in paying, and don’t just rely on email - call the reference and ask if it’s possible to share proof of their payments. 2 SET APPROPRIATE CREDIT TERMS BASED ON THOROUGH RESEARCH AND FINDINGS Amazingly, only a third (34%) of SMEs bother to run a credit check on new business customers. Make credit checking a part of your company’s DNA, and treat it like business insurance. Run credit checks on your customers to ensure they can pay you for your services, and do this before you enter into business with them.

You can then set or negotiate the appropriate credit and payment terms for individual customers. 3 SECURE CONTRACTS IN WRITING. DETAIL ALL SERVICES AND PRICING WITH AN AGREEMENT FROM AN AUTHORISED PERSON IN THE COMPANY Don’t rely on a gentleman’s agreement or email. Make sure you have a signed contract by an authorised person, which clearly outlines the service that will be delivered, the price, and how the payment needs to be made, along with the due date. Include penalties in the contract, such as the application of interest by the day, should a customer pay late. Always ask for a purchase order number (along with a copy of the purchase order) for the agreed service, and if appropriate, ask for a deposit for the service in advance - scaling up to 40% of the deliverable. Make sure you stick to the contract by issuing invoices promptly. 4 NEGOTIATE AND SECURE TERMS FOR INVOICE DISCOUNTING AND/OR CREDIT INSURANCE TO HELP WITH PAYMENT TIMES Credit reports not only provide you with the knowledge to set a customer’s payment terms based on their credit status and history, but also empower you to negotiate on invoice discounting and credit insurance in return for faster payments. Giving customers a range of payment options boosts your relationship with them, which helps to secure repeat business. But make sure to use payment options as a form of reward, rather than to give customers an excuse to delay.

5 MONITOR THE CUSTOMER – ARE THEY NOT THE PROMPT PAYER THEY ONCE WERE? A company’s financial circumstances can change rapidly. Monitor a customer’s credit rating on an ongoing basis, and take a proactive approach to dealing with potential problems with payment. Don’t be afraid to change payment and credit terms if there is a risk your customer won’t pay you. 6 USE THE SAME PROCESSES EVEN IF YOUR CUSTOMER IS BASED ABROAD 84% of UK SMEs don’t check the credit history of potential overseas customers to verify whether a company is creditworthy. Take similar precautions when exporting as you would do when doing business within the UK - be consistent in the trading, credit, and payment rules you set. Set up access to an international credit report, learn about a company’s credit history, and set appropriate payment terms and credit limits. 7 COMMUNICATE WHEN LATE PAYMENTS OCCUR A site visit and telephone call will tell you more about a company than a faceless email. Put yourself in a position to be paid first. If a customer has breached the terms and conditions of their contract and not paid on time, address the situation promptly, and communicate in a clear and professional manner - in person, by telephone, email, and in a letter. In the letter, reference the clauses that they have broken, and highlight interest that will be applied at a rate as outlined in the contract. This should help to encourage a swift settlement. Contact: www.experian.co.uk

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Falling into the trap of making a big elaborate strategy, but not checking one, two, or even three months down the line, is all too easy


inancial year-end is one of the most important points in a business’ financial calendar - providing a key opportunity to re-evaluate overheads, costs, turnover, and profit in line with industry economics and performance rates. But this shouldn’t be reserved to big blue-chip companies, it’s also essential that smaller businesses are in the know when it comes to their finances - not least at year-end, when a business owner has the opportunity to evaluate performance and plan for the year ahead. No matter how large or small your company, and what sector you’re operating in, looking ahead to the new financial year with a clear, fresh, and up-to-date plan will help to keep your business on track and heading for success. Financial strategy needs to form an over-arching framework in any business, and is necessary to guide key decisions. With a clear strategic plan in place from the outset, businesses can set about executing plans, safe in the knowledge that outgoings and turnover are 100% accounted for. So, what can those in the trade do to ensure they’re on track with their financial schedule ahead of year-end?

The early bird KPMG’s head of small business accounting, Bivek Sharma, discusses why you shouldn’t leave financial planning until the last minute

The first touch point is tax and allowances, which usually end with the financial year. As a small business, it’s important to use allowances effectively so that you do not incur charges. It is also useful to make notes of tax deadlines, to make sure that you’re ahead of the game and will not face penalties. Really the key is to ensure you’re aware of the financial schedule; meaning you’re always in the know when it comes to upcoming outgoings, taxes, and charges. It’s also essential to continuously re-evaluate any plan that is in place. Falling into the trap of making a big elaborate strategy, but not checking one, two, or even three months down the line is all too easy; you need to ensure that your predicted turnover and profit is on track. Reviewing your set targets each month will be much more effective for your business, and will help you to monitor trends and changeable economics, ensuring your year-end results don’t hold any nasty surprises. Once you’ve got your head around the figures, market trends that impact on your profitability month-onmonth can be accounted for. This will allow you to reserve funds from peak

trading periods, and help with cash flow when demand is quieter. Businesses can also benefit from external help, and it needn’t be costly. An investment into a resource that allows you to monitor your finances in an easy and accessible way could mean the difference between failure and success. They say you have to invest to grow; I like to think that an investment in financial monitoring is the ultimate safe bet for a company - allowing you the time and the knowledge to focus your business growth in areas that you know to be profitable, and plan in full for the financial year ahead. Contact: www.kpmg.com

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Often people FODLP D EHQHƬW of their business is that they are professional. What? As opposed to being amateur?!

Benefits Street This month Rich With gets


ne of the first things we do as an agency, when we meet clients is to establish the benefits and features of their product and service. However, 99% of the time, people don’t understand - they confuse one with the other, and focus on technical aspects of the product, or what it physically does. There is little thought put into the emotions, or the improvement to their clients’ lives. Often, people claim a benefit of their business is that they are professional. What? As opposed to being amateur? So I thought a light-hearted analogous rant might help things along. Last week I got a new lawn mower. It’s nothing revolutionary, it’s just a common garden appliance, and yet this seemingly straightforward purchase has had a profound effect

on my life. New Mower is light - this is the feature. Old Mower was heavy, clunky and, after mowing, I’d awake the next day as if someone had spent the night kicking the base of my spine. New Mower glides over the turf with little effort, and the next day - no backache. There’s the benefit - it takes less effort, leaves no injuries, and it’s also light enough that my wife has no excuse not to mow the lawn - another benefit! It’s very effective. Due to its lightweight nature, I mowed the lawn in two-thirds of the time it normally takes. Yes, that’s the feature, but the benefit is that I then get to spend more time doing something fun with my kids - and it can even be racing around because my back doesn’t hurt any more. It’s quiet. Old Mower made the noise of a Chinook helicopter taking off. New Mower purrs like a baby kitten. Again, that’s the feature. The benefit is I can start earlier in the day and the neighbours don’t shoot me filthy looks because I woke up their baby. New Mower compresses cuttings into a fraction of what it did previously, is built from around a third less materials, and is

significantly smaller. It also folds down for convenient storage. Those are all the features. The benefits are that my environmental conscience is clean. I’m pretty enamoured with New Mower. It saves me time, lets me play with my children, and doesn’t make me ache the next day. These are all compelling reasons to buy the product. It also means I’ll wax lyrical about it to anyone who’s unfortunate enough to be stuck with me at a BBQ this summer. As SME owners, we need to be aware of the benefits and features of our services or products - this is what helps us sell ourselves with knowledge and confidence. It also highlights the benefits of good design - the team responsible really took on board the whole experience of doing a mundane task, and made the solution effective and efficient. It’s not exactly made the job a pleasure, but it’s certainly made it a lot easier. So, highlight the benefits in your marketing, tell the stories, and create a compelling reason why people should do business with you. Contact: www.justgro.co

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Seeing the wood for the trees


t’s easy to get drawn into the dayto-day detail of your business, and lose track of the long term goals and aspirations. So how do you stay focussed, and on track? Personally, I’d recommend having a written business plan - every business needs one, at all stages of their growth. This is borne out by research conducted by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership; companies with a written business plan have 50% greater sales growth, and 12% higher gross profit margins than companies without them. A business plan should help you make decisions that keep your business on track, and help you avoid getting distracted from the path towards your ultimate goals. And if you feel you’ve lost your way, or been distracted, then your written plan is an important document for you to go back to again and again. So how should this be achieved? 1 At least once a year, take time to strategise for the coming year. Absorb the learnings you’ve acquired from the previous year, and re-evaluate the direction of your business. 2 By writing your business plan, you begin the process of systemising your business, so that you are not

Shweta Jhajharia, founder of The London Coaching Group, explains how you can keep yourself focussed on the long-term plan and avoid being distracted by the day-to-day detail

Very rarely is your mindset the thing that needs changing - it’s the model that you need to work on absolutely required for it to run. The way we define a successful business is “a profitable enterprise that can run without you”. If you’re keeping your business plan in your head, then that can never happen. 3 Very rarely is your mindset the thing that needs changing - it’s the model that you need to work on. When you spell out your business plan on paper, you can start to see it as the model, and not put all the pressure on yourself to change. Then you can start to see strategies - usually ones that are really quite simple to implement - that will stimulate growth in your business again. 4 Your business plan should be used to create real, tangible, and achievable goals, along with actions to achieve them. It should let you assess where you and your industry are now, and plan out the next steps accordingly.

However, your plan should not be thought of as a definite path, but more as an indicator of the general direction. It should be a manual that gives you the right strategies to keep you on track, no matter what bumps you encounter on the road. A business plan helps you to learn how to plan, so you can weather whatever uncertainty comes your way. It’s a simple fact that businesses with a good business plan do better than those without one. This is, in part, because a business plan keeps you on track, and helps you stay focussed when the day-to-day threatens to distract you. So, take the time to plan, and the path to success will be a smoother one. As they say, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Contact: www.londoncoachinggroup.com

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Mapping sales staff performance:

The four quadrants for analysis Javier Peralta, UK manager for mobile sales management specialist, ForceManager, looks at how mapping sales activity can improve staff performance and boost sales


n a metrics and results-driven business like sales, tracking and analysing staff activity is crucial to improving performance. However, with sales staff increasingly mobile and away from the office, it can be difficult for sales managers and directors to really know what their employees are doing, and how they are performing.

communication such as calls, emails and face-to-face visits, giving businesses greater insight into their sales activity and performance. With geolocation, mobile CRM systems can provide an overview of the geographical areas where sales efforts are being focused, and where they could be missing out on opportunities. As a result, sales managers and directors can access a range of metrics GAINING TRUE INSIGHT to measure sales performance, such INTO PERFORMANCE as how many calls, emails, and visits Until recently, sales managers have had are actually resulting in sales. But few resources with which to assess the to get the maximum value from performance of their field sales force. this information, it should be In the absence of a truly mobile CRM used not simply to track staff solution, salespeople on the road have not activity, but also to analyse their had access to the same CRM resources that performance and identify areas office-based staff have, leaving them with for improvement. less customer information to help them do their job, and turning reporting into a THE FOUR QUADRANTS chore to be done at the end of the week or OF PERFORMANCE month. The result is that field sales teams MEASUREMENT have largely been left to rely on their own So how can sales managers best skills to nurture relationships, while sales approach assessing and evaluating managers have had limited information, or the performance of their inconsistent and poor quality information employees? Broadly speaking, to monitor field sales performance and there are four quadrants, which provide targeted support to the staff that salespeople can be grouped into require it the most. when analysing their efforts and However, the rise of truly mobile results. Let’s take a closer look at CRM technology has made it easier how sales performance can be for salespeople to report on the go, mapped using this method, and for their managers to track their and how this model can be performance. These mobile solutions track used to boost sales.

52 July 2015


The rise of truly mobile CRM technology has made it easier for salespeople to report on the go, and for their managers to track their performance



These people are clearly the best performers, working hard and producing a high volume of sales - and they should be rewarded for it. That doesn’t mean they should just be left to rest on their laurels, though. Staff need regular motivation, and relationships with customers need to be maintained and nurtured so as to maximise the potential business from each customer. Sales managers should also think about what other team members can learn from their highest performers, and how they can share this best practice across the team.



Some staff are capable of meeting their sales targets without a great deal of interaction with customers. They obviously have a talent for selling, but aren’t striving to reach their full potential. It could be that they are spending too much time on individual contacts, or that they are not planning their time efficiently. On the other hand, it may be that, because they are hitting their targets, they have simply become complacent and started underperforming, in which case they need motivation to increase their efforts and, in theory, generate even more sales.



Sales staff can often work extremely hard without getting results. They make the calls, they send the emails, they visit prospects, but they don’t generate sufficient sales from their activity. This could be a case of not targeting the right customers, not following up communication, or perhaps a signal that they need help in the art of qualifying and converting targets. These employees should be recognised for their hard work, and given training to help them enhance their sales numbers.



The most concerning group for sales managers is the one that is neither making the effort nor getting results. This could be through a lack of motivation, lack of selfconfidence, or a simple lack of selling ability. Managers need to identify why these team members are not performing, and what can be done to help them improve, as it is clearly not good for business to be carrying people who are not contributing to the bottom line.

Understanding these four quadrants, and which one employees fall into, can greatly help organisations to manage their sales staff. Using the data that mobile CRM technology provides, staff who are working hard and performing well can be recognised and rewarded, while those who are struggling to generate sales, or underperforming, can be given targeted support and training. Giving managers greater insight into the performance of their staff also incentivises staff to regularly evaluate their own actions, and keep up-to-date records of their sales, something that mobile CRM systems enable through fully automated reporting, and streamlined CRM processes. With an increasingly mobile workforce, mapping sales staff performance is a vital function. With the help of mobile CRM technology and the four quadrants of analysis, sales managers can utilise performance mapping to increase productivity, improve efficiency, keep staff happy and motivated, and ultimately boost those all-important sales. Contact: www.forcemanager.net

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Time to just face it?


he technology around us is constantly changing. During the past decade in particular, it has progressed at such an exponential rate that companies now integrate most of their work with some form of technology, whether it be for work documents, correspondence between people, or business development. As a result, channels of communication have never been so extensive, and productivity tools have never been so vast. A major trend that we’ve seen recently is the shift toward people using technology to pursue new business leads, such as pitching to prospective clients. Gone are the days of lugging around collateral for their pitch from office to office (or even country to country), as we move towards a paperless society. As such, pitching via video and web conferencing has become a viable option for product and service providers, as well as potential clients with limited time and budget. But for most revenue-generating companies, pitching to potential clients is a fundamental aspect of their business so, needless to say, it needs to be done right. Making the perfect pitch isn’t

easy, but there are a couple of things that can get you there, by making it on a video or web conferencing service: CHOOSE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS INTERRUPTION-FREE Booking a meeting room to account for extra time, both before and after your scheduled pitch, is an effective way to limit interruptions. This way, it not only gives you ample time to prepare for your meeting, but it also stops you from becoming stressed for time even before you make your pitch. Using a network cable, rather than connecting to WiFi, is also another way to minimise interruptions, as internet cables prevent the possibility of drop outs and, instead, provide that reliable and consistent connection that you require for the perfect pitch. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONFERENCING SERVICE Many companies restrict software downloads, so choosing a simple, clean, and userfriendly conferencing service is important, but using one that allows participants to join through just a web browser (such as iMeet for Powwownow) is

Is pitching to clients via video a viable alternative to face-toface meetings, and how can you ensure they go without a hitch? Chris Martin, chief technology officer of Powwownow, ďŹ nds out

Booking a meeting room to account for extra time, both before and after your scheduled SLWFK LV DQ HƍHFWLYH ZD\ WR limit interruptions imperative in ensuring that a pitch can be made at all. COME PREPARED Acting professionally is paramount when pursuing new business leads. Therefore, it is imperative that you enter your meeting room and video or web conference early to upload all the necessary collateral required for your meeting. By doing so, it ensures that all relevant documents are on hand and ready to present, rather than being caught scrambling to find a certain file, or worse, trying to find a whiteboard marker to visualise what you’re trying to say. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk

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Avoid the summer standstills Founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis tackles what you need to do to ensure your summer ends in success

If you learn to work with the tide instead of against it, you’ll be much more successful


ummertime has arrived. For some companies, this is their busiest season; for others, it’s completely dead as everyone is away on holiday. Whether you’re too busy, or not busy enough, it’s vital that you keep your marketing momentum moving forward. Here are my tips to make sure your business doesn’t come to a grinding halt:

1 SCHEDULE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA Maybe you’re the one who is going away for the summer? It’s time for you to just relax and recharge your batteries. That’s brilliant, and you absolutely should. Burn out can destroy your business, and you’re no good to anyone if you’re stressed out. So the last thing you want to do is go away and feel the need to check your email or phone every two minutes. But just because you’re off the grid doesn’t mean anyone else has to know that. With wonderful tools like Hootsuite, you can still have an online presence, and engage your audience. Before you leave, use one of these tools to schedule all your tweets, status updates, etc., across all of the platforms. Your social media carries on and the conversations can continue while you’re sunning your buns on the beach! 2 UTILISE THIS TIME If your business goes dead in the summer months, don’t fight it. Use this time to get away yourself. There’s no sense trying to get people to come to events or buy Christmas ornaments

when it’s just not the season. Instead, work around it. Make sure you do twice as many events or promotions in the ‘working’ months so that you can relax when everyone else is. If you learn to work with the tide instead of against it, you’ll be much more successful. Even if you can’t go away, this is the perfect time to send your employees for training, or for you to sit down and work on your business strategies for the coming year. Whatever you do, don’t let this precious time go to waste. 3 AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE Automating your processes is always a critical element for any marketing strategy. But if you find that this time of year is super busy for you, then the last thing you want is to lose out on opportunities simply because you can’t keep up with the demand. Automating your processes and systems will allow you to make your difference in a much bigger way. It will ensure you can reach everyone and, most importantly, maintain the quality of your product or service. Don’t let summer bring your business to a halt. If you can ‘plan, schedule, and automate’ your business, you’ll not only find that this could be your most successful summer yet, but you’ll set the foundations for an even greater autumn. Contact: To learn more, visit www.sarsaparillamarketing.com and download Kimberly’s free ebook, “Deadly Marketing Mistakes That Are Destroying Your Business, Right Now”.

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So simple, so social

Each month social media expert, Richard Chapman, founder of Richard Chapman Studio, takes a look at a different social media platform and examines how you can get the best out of it for your business. This month he examines everyone’s favourite food filter, Instagram

The time-honoured cliché about ‘a thousand words’ was never more deftly applied than to Instagram


t turns compulsive, engrossing, and impossible to ignore, Instagram is arguably the best truly ‘social’ media in the world today. Instagram has taken photo sharing, the element of Facebook people love best, and built a distinctive, instantlyrecognisable suite of tools to improve image quality, then make them public. In so doing, Instagram has created a genuine

community around ‘where you are’ and ‘what you’re doing’. On the face of it, Instagram is the simplest offering imaginable: posting photos of friends or views isn’t exactly revolutionary. However what makes it successful is its informal, ‘soft’ yet persistent, influence. A number of apparently simple features combine potently: the gradual growth in users’ followers; the number of likes they receive from a huge global audience; the way that hashtags create an immediate sub-section of the app across topics and interests, and the different tones and themes of sophisticated users’ feeds. All social media begins with the individual, then gradually commercial opportunities

emerge. Instagram is a great way of building a story, whether it be of your everyday life or, increasingly, of the business you work for. From a commercial perspective, it speaks volumes about what your business does and how you do it. It explains what you sell, to what use those products or services would be best put, and by whom, as well as the core principles your business is run by. And you may well ask: this from a photo or two uploaded a day? Yes! The time-honoured cliché about ‘a thousand words’ was never more deftly applied than to Instagram. Quality of imagery, as well as more familiar social media rules, such as consistency of content

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Instagram is a good media for your business if you have regular, visually stimulating, products or services that are constantly changing in terms of regularity and approach, will build awareness and yes - sales. WHERE DID INSTAGRAM COME FROM? An ‘overnight success that was a year in the making’ is how Instagram has been described by its founders, Kevin Systrom, who later joined forces with developer, Mike Krieger to build the app. It was originally just one part of a ‘geo-location check-in’ app called ‘Burbn’ that was being developed (but never made it to the public domain). Part of that, a photo sharing and commenting section, was identified in early user testing as the most successful element. Instagram came about by the paring away of all other elements from Burbn, leaving simply location-tagged photo sharing, liking, and commenting. On the night Instagram launched, Kevin and Mike pressed ‘go’ and reckoned they had hours before people would download an app with no promotion that nobody had heard of. But, incredibly, within minutes downloads began around the world, and had reached 100,000 in the first week. Millions of users later, the rest is history. WHAT SORT OF BUSINESS IS IT USEFUL FOR? Given Instagram feels like a cocktail of Pinterest and Twitter, it’s worth considering how related elements of those media work best, then bring that knowledge to bear here. Pinterest, another social media based solely on photography, always needs a photogenic subject matter. Twitter is a beast that constantly needs feeding - where posts are always visible, but older material can quickly disappear on a user’s mobile device.

60 July 2015

So the logical conclusion here is: Instagram is a good media for your business if you have regular, visually stimulating products or services that are constantly changing. Some great examples of smaller businesses successfully starting out on Instagram I’ve seen recently include: Taste of Lisboa A ‘food tour’ business operating around the Portuguese capital. Its regular, mouthwatering photos showcase the gorgeous local treats for potential tourists, and capture the experience of a food tour for the uninitiated. The overall impression is of an enjoyable experience led by informal yet knowledgeable tour guides. The Good Life Experience A new festival in Flint, North Wales, which celebrates rural living in all its forms. Cleverly, for an annual event, they keep interest fresh with a low-key regular feed of images showing preparations for the next event, additions to the attractions and line-up, as well as memories of the previous festival. RSwiader An emerging minimalist-chic clothing brand, based in Los Angeles has steadily built an audience of 4,000 (and counting) followers since its launch in March 2015. Its feed is a clever mix of mainly monochrome product visuals, model shoots, and elegant images currently providing inspiration for the design team. Potting Shed & Rectory Hotel Based in the Cotswolds, it is a great example of a small business using social media to reach beyond the traditional local remit

of a British pub. Regular updates include daily menu changes, scenes from around the pub and surrounding area, and images from other local businesses, such as antique dealers, galleries, and village fairs. How can sharing images from your phone lead to sales? This is a pretty simple one: with a little imagination and a carefully curated regular feed of images, you can tell a story around your business. To build a wider audience may take a little patience but, by being an active member of the community, following related businesses, and using hashtags creatively, your audience will swiftly follow. A ‘hard sell’ tends to be offputting, but if your audience thinks what you’re doing looks beautiful, different, or visually striking, they’ll remain engaged and make a visit - sometimes to another country just to pay a visit to a place because it looks so good you just can’t miss out. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I’ve done it. Contact: www.richardpchapman.com




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Arguably the greatest error that companies make is not knowing that visual consistency does not begin and end with a logo

62 July 2015

Different places, same faces


Paul Tuvey, European sales director at Shutterstock, expounds the importance of keeping a consistent branding message through all channels


magine yourself walking down the high street in a typical town centre. You spot mannequins in the window of a boutique, with a sign in the window advertising a sale or a new line of clothing for the summer season. It catches your eye, draws you into the store to learn more, and see what else is being offered. But when you walk in, you see a different look and feel to the store than what was teased in the window. At best, you’d believe there’s an identity problem. At worst, you might feel deceived into coming in with a false, overreaching promise. Moving this metaphor to the digital space, that’s a disappointing feeling you might have experienced once or twice after clicking on an advert, only to discover the advertisement itself was vastly more compelling than the website you’ve arrived at. How likely, at that point, are you to stick around and click around? Brands risk confusing the consumer when they lack a consistent message from the advert through to the affiliated website or landing pages. There is a better way. By insisting on continuity, brands reinforce a company’s identity, messaging, and the follow-through becomes clear to the consumer. Simply stated, clarity and consistency drive higher engagement, making the money you are investing in marketing more effective.

MATCHING IMAGERY The consistency you strive for begins with the images you choose for your banner adverts and landing pages. You can get your engagement rates, and the likelihood of conversion, up just from giving people more of what they want. Visual continuity removes confusion for users, and makes everything as simple as possible for the consumer. Create a simple process that takes them somewhere that’s familiar to them, and more built-out and robust. Visitors psychologically want that consistency from one place to the next. GO THE FULL MILE As easy as this might sound, some brands fall short on delivering value to the people who come hunting to learn more. The most important thing to remember, and arguably the greatest error that companies make in this way, is knowing that visual consistency does not begin and end with a logo. Logos can be effective as a way to recall a brand, but inside of a conversion funnel, you need to provide something else, something more. What you should do instead is incorporate your logo into your marketing materials in a more subtle way, so everything is branded and credited, while also encouraging people to think broader. Take a look at how WebDAM drives people to sign up. It’s clear, not too busy, and full of relevant, interesting information. Most of all, this landing page takes the visitor further, for the sake of both the company and the consumer.

TEST YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS Every marketer worries about bounce rates, which measure how long people stay on a given page before deciding to look elsewhere (typically they focus on how long someone stays on the home page before exiting the site in particular). A focus on data, and making informed decisions is critical for success. One of the major reasons a site could have a high bounce rate is not paying close enough attention to improving the site experience. Even if it may feel tedious or trying, testing new approaches, colours, fonts, and more will deliver valuable information. ‘Heat mapping’ is a common way to see what is working and what is not. With large volumes of data at your disposal, you can break down and dive into what parts of your pages are generating views and clicks. If you can remove portions to draw extra emphasis to what is useful, that can lead to stronger results. Put yourself in a position to build interest and favorability, and you’ve the potential to convert the customer. If, at no point in the process does the visitor feel he or she is being sold to, then you’ve executed well. With online marketing, you want the visitor to feel empowered to make his or her own decisions. Establish the right framework for them; it needs to be based around consistency, from banner adverts to landing pages to overall site experience, if you hope to make a lasting impression. Contact: www.shutterstock.com

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Unprecedented Success For Thames Valley Expo

IT’S TIME TO GET WEBSITED! Taking your small business online used to be a chore that almost no business owner enjoyed. These days, it’s become a lot easier to make the switch from offline to online, and more and more businesses are finally gaining access to the online audience their business deserves. One of the biggest challenges facing SMEs in the UK is that the vast majority of their prospects are searching for products and services online. This means that without a website, they find themselves way behind the times and losing customers as a result. There are a host of reasons why SMEs continue to resist these necessary technological advances, but it needn’t be that way. You’ll be surprised at how easy building a website can be - especially when



someone else does it for you. Let’s tackle some of the most common questions we hear from small business owners on the verge of making ‘the big switch’. 1 Do I really need a website? Yes you do. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you need a website for your business, then consider this fact; 56% of consumers don’t trust a company that doesn’t have a website. That’s more than half of your potential custom down the drain; can you afford to lose that much money? A website allows you to quickly grow your customer base and it doesn’t have to come at a cost that will break the bank. 2 Isn’t The Whole Process Too Complicated For Me? Many small business owners prefer to have no website than to have a poorly designed one. With

issues such as SEO, local SEO, Google algorithms and mobile optimization to worry about, the entire website creation process seems to be akin to a rather unpleasant maze which SME owners find it easier to just steer well clear of. In almost every instance though, they’re unaware of just how easy it is to find a professional website designer. More and more SME owners are understanding this and moving towards online marketplaces like 99designs to find a professional designer. The process has been simplified to the point where you only need to answer a few questions based on your tastes and business type and the professional designer can do the rest. No longer is the web design process time consuming for business owners. Once the website has been


So what does a professional website design service entail? • Logo Design Successful businesses have logos as they are memorable, permanent and offer customers a visual representation of what your business stands for. A logo design team working in conjunction with web designers can create the perfect logo to make your business stand out and achieve a greater semblance of brand identity. • Domain Name & Hosting The former is just the name of your website, while hosting is what makes your website visible online. • Easy Renewal You need to renew your domain name and hosting package annually but you can built, you don’t have to fear set this up to be automatic. the maintenance process as • Mobile Optimization: designers now make it possible In 2015, websites need to to add extra pages, images, text be#TVExpo ‘mobile friendly’ which and even videos to your site as means it must be possible and when you need them. The for users of mobile devices website editors of platforms to quickly and easily access such as Jimdo have little or your site and view its no learning curve and can be www.thamesvalleyexpo.co.uk content. Techniques such mastered in a matter of minutes. as responsive web design are used so, yet again, you 3 Costs Are Too High don’t need to lift a finger. At This is probably the main present, less than 10% of concern among SME owners. SME websites are mobile There is still this impression friendly and this is believed that a professionally to cost small businesses an designed website will cost average of £24,000 a year. you thousands of pounds. The reality is, of course, very Quick Website Building Tips different; imagine a world where you could spend a 1 Get To The Point little over £300 and have a Make sure your home page website that is the envy of does not contain more than your industry rivals, delivered 400 words of content. The in less than two weeks. whole point of the page is to

quickly and concisely spell out what your company can do for its prospects. 2 Have Fewer Options: The more navigation options and links that are on your page, the easier it is to distract the consumer and steer them away from what you want them to do. 3 Simple Structure: Avoid web designers that try to sell you a complicated website. The best sites are crisp, clear and well structured. It should be possible to reach any page on your site from the home page within three clicks. 4 Call To Action: There should be a call to action on most pages; this can include asking visitors to purchase something, subscribe to your email newsletter or visit your company’s Facebook page. How Do I Get Started? Every brand needs to look its absolute best, especially online. That’s why 99designs created the perfect offer for small businesses @thamesvalleyexp that not only gives you a custommade logo, but also a matching, branded website template that’s mobile-friendly and easy-to-edit! The best part is, pricing starts at £307 and your brand new website will be delivered in less than two weeks. Take your business online today at – 99designs.co.uk/websited

® Great design for everyone


Don’t be afraid to shout about the fact that your packaging has been specially chosen with the environment in mind

Dave Smith, lead blogger at Davpack, gives five top tips when choosing the perfect packaging for your product


hen it comes to your product packaging, it can be tempting to just produce something that looks good and forget about the practicalities. There’s so many things you need to consider, so here are my top five tips to help you get it spot on: 1 KEEP EVERYTHING INSIDE SAFE Making sure that whatever is inside reaches both the marketplace and the final customer in perfect condition is the most basic function for your product packaging. Whether that means keeping fresh food fresh, fragile goods in one piece, or delicate surfaces free from potential scuffs and scratches, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to minimise the potential for damage in transit. 2 THINK OF THE PLANET Packaging has a bad reputation, and unfortunately there are still companies who use too much. However, having established that some (in fact, the right amount of) packaging is necessary, you can help the health of the planet and the reputation of your business by using environmentally friendly solutions. And don’t be afraid to shout about the fact that your packaging has been specially chosen with the environment in mind.

66 July 2015

3 MAKE IT SUITABLE FOR WHEREVER YOU END UP SELLING The internet has turned the whole world into a savvy seller’s marketplace, with more options for discovering new customers opening up all the time, and your packaging needs to be ready for wherever it ends up. Think about whether you need to make it strong enough to withstand the extra buffeting longer journeys will entail, and offer effective protection against wider extremes of heat, cold, and humidity. Also check that the materials in your packaging can be shipped abroad without any restrictions. Untreated wood is one example of a material that is strictly controlled, as it can carry tree pests devastating to other eco-systems. 4 USE YOUR PACKAGING AS PART OF YOUR MARKETING Your packaging is a key means of promoting your brand and creating interest in your product. While making it eye-catching, memorable,

and informative, you also want it to be identifiably yours, to reflect your other marketing streams. 5 KEEP IT SIMPLE We’ve all been there - you’ve bought something on the internet that arrives in cool packaging, which cleverly reveals different components, bit by bit as you unfold this and peel back that. Unfortunately, you then decide that you want to return it. But now you’ve got to put it all back together somehow. And that’s where the trouble starts. No matter how you try to replicate it as you think it looked before, you always end up with something left over and no room to put it. People need to return things for many reasons. If they can’t return them safely and sensibly because you’ve made it too difficult, you may end up getting things returned damaged, or in such a mess you need to start from scratch when repacking to be sold again. Contact: www.davpack.co.uk



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100 Ways to Improve Your Business How Many Of The 100 Things That Successful Businesses Do Can You Check Off Your List? It is much better if you can make a series of small manageable changes, the sum of which lead to a fantastic overall improvement of your business. The chances are that you are already doing many of the 100 things that successful businesses do, which is great.

f you are a business owner reading this magazine, then you probably know instinctively that with all businesses, no matter how big or small, or how successful, there is always room for improvement.

Every business is different, but the basics of running a successful business apply to everybody.

The problem is that running a business involves a lot of hard work. There are always a thousand and one things that demand your time, while everything around you is changJOH FWFSZ ĂĽWF NJOVUFT

If you want to improve your business, the last thing you want to do is to turn it upside down and put it through a period of chaos. This is often unnecessary and potentialy disastrous.

As a result most businesses just jog along and get nowhere near reaching their full potential.

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The difference between a successful business and an average one is not a matter of doing anything spectacular, but in doing those simple basic things well.

But there are probably still dozens of items that you can take action on, or prevent you making some common mistakes as your business grows.

This jargon free guide is a checklist that allows you to assess where you are now and point you towards the actions ZPV OFFE UP UBLF UP üMM JO UIF gaps. It’s full of practical proven strategies, for making changes that work and deliver results. Get your FREE guide now at ImproveBusiness100.com

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Knowing me,

When does personalisation cross the line into invasion of privacy? Tim Langley, CEO of CANDDi, takes a look at how to handle customer data

The retailer had achieved its goal of staying one step ahead, but the slightly sinister marketing approach proved to be a public relations disaster

knowing you


recently had a pretty tough week. The kind of week that ends up in the bar across the street from the office for a consolatory pint. This is a bar that I have frequented since setting up shop in Manchester city centre two years ago, and the team and I often go in on a Friday evening to wind down (or up) ready for the weekend. On this occasion, I was alone as I sat at the bar and got my wallet out. George, the barman who normally does the Friday evening shift, came over and immediately said to me, “Tim, you don’t look like yourself. I’ll bring

over a pint of your usual and you just sit back and relax.” George quickly went off to get me a pint of Guinness, and told me to put my wallet away and just enjoy the drink - it was on the house. It got me thinking about the things that George knows about me; my usual demeanour, who I normally come into the bar with, and when, what I drink, and that I don’t tend to like to chat when I have things on my mind. George knew the best way to deal with my needs as a customer, because he had this information. And because I am a regular customer,

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 69


I am happy with this information being known to the people who work in this bar, and I am okay (very much so in this instance) with them acting on it. On this occasion, they got their service spot-on.

As marketers, with access to significant amounts of data on individuals and their behaviours, how can we use the information that we purchase and generate to bring value, rather than appearing to be intrusive and creepy? It is a very difficult line to tread, as proved by US retailer, Target’s foray into personalisation. The large conglomerate had been seeking ways to capture the lucrative market of those expecting children, and set out to explore if there was any way to stay ahead by using all of the available data modern marketing has at its disposal. As revealed in The New York Times, statisticians working for Target were tasked with analysing the shopping patterns of female customers, with the aim of determining if they were pregnant. This would then allow the retailer

approach proved to be a public relations disaster. As highlighted by this example, the exchange of detailed information must be consensual and transparent. Not only that, the data itself should always be acted upon in a relevant and sensitive way. Many retailers similar to Target will regularly be capturing and analysing data on this level, but care and consideration must be given to how this is then used. Individuals must also be in control of which companies they have relationships with, and be aware of how this information is being used. There’s nothing worse than making people feel disenfranchised and powerless in front of the all-knowing big data machine. At CANDDi, this measured and considered approach is something

What if the anonymous person behind the bar thought they knew what I wanted to drink, and commented on my mood? Free pint aside, I think I’d ƬQG WKLV D OLWWOH XQVHWWOLQJ

But what if I’d gone to a different bar, one that I had never been to before, and was greeted by name? What if the anonymous person behind the bar thought they knew what I wanted to drink, and commented on my mood? Free pint aside, I think I - and indeed anyone else - would find this a little unsettling. Rather than feeling looked after and valued as I did in my regular haunt, I’d feel uneasy - I’d question how they knew these things about me, and why they felt that they could talk to me so freely and personally? This however, is often the situation in marketing, when we have access to the kind of information involving people that we’ve never met or interacted with before.

70 July 2015

to send targeted advertising, and vouchers for pregnancy-related items to women they believed were expecting a child. The intrusiveness of this approach was highlighted by the story of an anonymous angry father in the United States, who approached Target to express his distaste at the marketing material his teenage daughter had recently received through the post. He was initially worried that the material would encourage his daughter to get pregnant, before realising that Target was actually right, and she was indeed expecting a child. The retailer had achieved its goal of staying one step ahead, but the slightly sinister (and slightly creepy) marketing

we encourage our customers to adopt. One of the ways that the company works is by collecting data through form submissions, and we recommend our clients use the customer insight generated by CANDDi to create better, relevant, and useful customer messaging and communications. Once the trust is there, conducting your marketing on an intimate and emotional level can bring huge benefits to both sides of the relationship. So, now that I’ve shared all of this information - my name is Tim and mine’s a pint of Guinness. Contact: www.canddi.com

Avoid costly legal fees Talk to a solicitor before your issues become problems At Hodders Law we are in business to help your business. We deal with businesses every day that have got into costly legal GLI¿FXOWLHV EHFDXVH WKH\ KDYH QRW sought legal advice at the outset. Some examples of theses issues are: • STARTING A NEW BUSINESS, AND ENTERING INTO SHAREHOLDER OR DIRECTORS AGREEMENTS • EMPLOYING PEOPLE AND NOT HAVING CONTRACTS OR NOT FOLLOWING THE CORRECT PROCEDURES

• EMPLOYING PEOPLE WITHOUT CHECKING THEIR IMMIGRATION STATUS • BEING STUNG BY SUPPLIERS BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HAVE THE CORRECT CONTRACTS • BUYING YOUR PREMISES These are just examples of the kinds of issues we see at Hodders; the kinds of issues that could have been prevented if our advice had been sought from the beginning. We know about running a business, and we know you have more important things to worry about than legal issues. So let us handle the legal side of your business, and you can worry about marketing, HR and running your business.

Contact us now to see how we can help you. Email: business@hodders.co.uk Phone: 0808 168 8677


At Hodders we have experts in all areas of Business and personal law, so that we can be your one stop shop for all your legal issues. And if things do go wrong, we have the dispute resolution solicitors that can try to put things right for you. At Hodders we have solutions to suit all levels of business, from monthly dedicated advice lines, to employment and immigration health checks. If you are in business, then speak WR RQH RI RXU EXVLQHVV WHDP WR ¿QG out how we can help you take away your legal worries so that you can concentrate on running your own business.


The parent trap Leadership development consultant & coach, Deborah Benson asks whether you’re really prepared to go into business with a parent


etting up a business is always fraught with challenges, but doing so with your parent is a refined version of ‘coleadership’, and even more intense than the traditional family business, where other family members share the workload and, importantly, the emotional load. Co-leadership works best when joint owners share a vision, have a trusting relationship, and strong desire to work together. So far, so good, but challengingly, each must be prepared to step back when needed, allowing the other to lead - and not

every parent can comfortably relinquish control. Competition from offspring seeking power or recognition (even subconsciously) can also cause friction. So, take a long hard look at your relationship before embarking on this exciting journey. Was putting up tents together on family holidays great fun, or did it end in tears? How well have you undertaken joint projects, even help with homework? It matters, because when the chips are down, you must both be capable of communicating as mature, developed adults, and not reverting to parent-child behaviours. Challenge your motivation for working together. Do you genuinely have complementary and appropriate business skills? If not, reconsider your intentions, and consider if you will ultimately do more harm than good, not

Was putting up tents together on family holidays great fun, or did it end in tears?

just to the business but to each other. And these days, it’s quite likely to be the ‘bright young thing’ that is the business driver, offering their parent a role. Can your mum or dad really take instructions from you, however politely delivered? Clare Seaman of Queen Margret University stresses the intensified impact of emotions in family business: “Starting a business can be tough enough without these added pressures, so set ground rules early. Agree who ultimately calls the shots or, if equal partners, pre-agree the approach for issues like performance reviews and conflict resolution - how are you going to tell your mum or dad if you’re uncomfortable with something they are doing or planning, for example?” Furthermore, as Mairi Mickle, family business consultant, recommends, establish good corporate governance from the start, even down to addressing sensitive issues like one of you eventually needing to leave, or wishing to buy out the other. Personal relationships will fare much better in tough times if such issues are agreed before being needed. If you can’t preagree governance issues, frankly, don’t risk entering a shared business venture. You must also consider other employees. How are you going to act in front of them - as business partners or close family members? It’s easy for non-family to feel excluded and view progression as limited, so you need clear development plans and succession planning in order that valued staff realise they too have good prospects. If you get it right, setting up a business with a parent can enhance mutual respect and deepen bonds, and result in a highly profitable enterprise. Just do it for the right reasons, and pre-empt relationship pitfalls through good planning and honest, mature communication. Contact: www.leadersforleadership.co.uk

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DEC 2015


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Taking baby steps The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion - but not for all. Louise Carling, HR expert at recruitment specialist, Macildowie, looks at how your SME can cope with maternity absence

Returning employees may need to adapt to new practices, while employers may need to be prepared to welcome somebody back RQ D SDUW WLPH RU ƭH[LEOH ZRUNLQJ EDVLV


hile it’s an exciting time for the individual and their fellow employees, maternity leave can also bring a number of issues to the surface. With an employee being potentially absent for up to a year, the remaining team can often feel unsettled - leaving staff worried about their increasing workloads and responsibility. For employers preparing for an employee’s maternity leave, thorough planning is essential. The loss of a key individual’s knowledge can often result in gaps in the business forming, which can cause many potential issues. This can be particularly prominent for those departing who are in client-facing roles with a high proportion of time spent with customers who know, like and trust them. Companies should prioritise preparing remaining staff in advance, in order to reduce the impact of losing an employee with specific insight.

This can be achieved through crosstraining staff adequately beforehand - an opportunity for fellow employees to increase their own skill sets. The challenges for different businesses vary depending on the size of the organisation. Smaller businesses often absorb roles, while larger organisations are able to dilute the responsibilities across a team. Some companies also use an employee’s maternity leave as an opportunity to reshuffle teams, which can result in new recruits being appointed, or new job roles created. Regardless of the plans for the business, it’s important to have a handover procedure in place. Assuming the departing member of staff’s duties can be picked up seamlessly, can often result in minor jobs and processes being forgotten about, so leaving enough time for a handover is key. Alternately, if the business chooses to hire a replacement member of staff on a temporary basis, it’s essential that the skill requirements are met sufficiently.

For the departing employee, it’s important that the business remains in some contact with them throughout the maternity period, to ensure that, once they do return to work, the process is as smooth as possible. Many companies have introduced KIT (keeping in touch days), which means employees are kept in the loop with any major changes, helping them to still feel a part of the team. Once the employee does return to work, bosses should make sure they understand their original role and responsibilities. This is particularly important if any structural changes have occurred within the company during their time away. Flexibility and honesty are traits that need to be instilled from both parties. Returning employees may need to adapt to new practices, while employers may need to be prepared to welcome somebody back on a parttime or flexible working basis. Ultimately, employers must remember that this person has already proven their worth to the organisation. They can do their job well, and are loyal about returning to the organisation you can’t replicate that. Contact: www.macildowie.com

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Secret diary of an entrepreneur David Banfield, president of the Interface Financial Group, gives an insight into what a typical week looks like running an invoice financing company

It’s another ‘no lunch’ day as the afternoon is devoted to calls in New Zealand, as we share some common business hours

76 July 2015



DAY ONE: PLANNING MAKES PERFECT I arrive in the office just before 8 am. Having already reviewed incoming emails before leaving for the office, I spend half an hour looking at my agenda for the day, and week, ahead and getting my ‘to do’ list up to date. I plan most of my meetings at the beginning of the week, as I’m usually on the road by the end of the week. With the great advance in technology, meetings now can be structured so I don’t have to physically leave the office, which is great. Working in the franchise sector, a lot of my time is devoted to talking with people about their needs, aspirations, and ambitions, and Mondays tend to be set aside for just that. Each meeting usually takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, it’s something which can’t be rushed, and so I tend not to schedule in too many. I find helping people with their career or their selfemployment plans very rewarding. More and more people are transitioning from employment into entrepreneurship - most of them with little or no structured plan. I have three meetings this morning, and two in the afternoon, using any time in between to deal with the unstoppable email stream.

with up-to-the-minute information and developments within the company. It’s another ‘no lunch’ day as the afternoon is devoted to some leftover calls from Monday, and towards the end of the afternoon I start calls in New Zealand, as we have some common business hours.

DAY THREE: DOING THINGS THE WRITE WAY As a regular contributor to publications in four countries, I set aside a morning each week to write. This morning is spent drafting a range of advice and opinion pieces for business and trade magazines - messaging through these publications is an important part of how we promote ourselves and get the message out to our clients about what we do, and how we can help. I have a Skype meeting over lunch with the PR team to discuss other planned features and upcoming deadlines. This afternoon I have a planning meeting (via Skype again) with the senior management team, where we look at the current position of the overseas development projects that I am heading. One of my goals is to increase our international footprint, so I’m working on entering new countries with our brand. The usual work-in time before DAY TWO: we launch in a new country is about two FOOD IS FOR THE WEAK years, and so early planning is essential. I have two webinar presentations backI leave the office early at 6pm and head to-back this morning, with the first at 10am, which accommodates some early home for a quick bite before attending birds on the west coast. The first webinar a Board meeting. In addition to the ‘day job’, I also serve on the Board of walks prospective franchisees through our model. The presentation takes a little a 120-unit complex for East Markham Non-Profits Homes. We built the facility over an hour, followed by a lively ‘Q&A’ five years ago, which houses 400 people. session for a further half an hour. We meet as a Board once a month, and It’s a quick change of script and manage the facility on a day-to-day basis approach as the second webinar kicks through emails and phone calls. off. This is an educational webinar designed specifically for franchisees. DAY FOUR: These much more knowledgeable individuals form part of my broker group TIME TRAVEL Running a small, but multi-national that feeds leads to us. I provide them

company means I essentially work in nine different countries and numerous time zones, so there’s no ‘nine- to-five’ element with this business. Early mornings and evenings are the best time to catch the team in other countries. This morning I have Skype calls to teams in UK, Ireland, and South Africa, as this is the best time for everyone. We spend time reviewing what’s in the current pipeline, and any local concerns that have surfaced. We also go through a regular planning session to map out the goals for the upcoming period. Afterwards, I meet with agents to start the search for office premises within the area. Due to growth, we need a bigger office which can accommodate our needs. This afternoon, it’s more Skype calls, this time to teams based in Australia and Singapore. While these calls follow a similar pattern to the UK and South Africa, they tend to be more in depth, as our business is highly regulated in Australia and we need to be constantly aware of Government requirements covering how we work with prospects. I would welcome a universal system that covers all countries, however I suspect it’s just a wish! DAY FIVE: MAKING ADJUSTMENTS I spend this morning preparing for two trade shows - one in Birmingham, UK, and the other in Orlando, Florida. I spend an hour on a call to each location to set up the timetable for all of the additional meetings I want to structure before, during, and after the shows. I fly out this evening so that I don’t lose any of the work day, arriving into London on Saturday morning, and taking Sunday to re-adjust and get up to Birmingham. Contact: www.interfacefinancial.co.uk

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Invoice finance for your business

Let your imagination take flight At Simply Factoring Brokers we know that each enquiry is unique and no two businesses are the same. Each business has different requirements and we realise this. We can tailor the funding package to each individual prospective client getting it to fit perfectly. Above all we listen. Take a look at our scenarios below and see if any of them sound familiar, we really can help anyone so don’t be afraid to get in touch. HAVE YOU LOOKED INTO THE MINEFIELD BEFORE Here at Simply Factoring Brokers we are one of the largest Invoice Finance Brokers in the UK and our depth and breadth of experience in the invoice finance sector is staggering. So if you have looked into this section of business finance before then don’t be afraid to get in touch and our friendly team of experienced brokers are waiting to take your call.

DO YOU ALREADY HAVE A FACILITY If this is the case then don’t be afraid to put us to the test, in fact if you do have a facility and you are reading this we bet you £500 that we will be able to find out a better priced facility by at least 20% against what you are currently paying. Try to prove us wrong??

NEW TO THE GAME If you have never looked into this before and you think this maybe something of interest to you, then by all means get in touch as we have access to over 20 of the UK’s best funders allowing us to get the best deal every time no matter what the circumstances. We will hold your hand through the process and save you time and money. We will take the strain of finding your company the right finance product at the right cost. Don’t waste your time doing something we are professionals at doing. At the end of the day it won’t cost you a penny to use us to ensure you get the right funding.

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Cell Block HR HR Insight’s Richard Cummings delves into what you should be aware of when employing former criminals


here has always been a certain fear when employing former criminals. However, during the past few years, businesses such as Virgin and M&S have promoted their recruitment strategy for employing ex-offenders. Organisations, such as The Prince’s Trust and Working Links, continue to help former criminals get back into employment, so will you rethink your position? Of course, there are things to be aware of should you employ exoffenders. The time period, after which a conviction becomes ‘spent’, varies depending on the offence and age of the offender: • Non-custodial offences - usually five years from conviction. • Prison sentences of less than six months - seven years from conviction. • Prison sentences of up to two and a half years - 10 years from conviction. • Serious offences - never. Ex-offenders are not obliged to disclose any spent conviction. It’s also important to point out that former criminals are only legally obliged to disclose any unspent convictions at the request of the employer. Requests for a disclosure should be made in writing to those offered an interview only, and separate to the application form.

It’s important to point out that former criminals are only legally obliged to disclose any unspent convictions at the request of the employer If you were to discover that your employee has a spent criminal conviction, any decision to dismiss, based wholly or partly on this new information, may be seen as discriminatory, and puts you at risk of a claim for unfair dismissal. Unless the offence falls within one of the exceptions to the Act, any spent conviction which becomes known to the employer must be disregarded. So, when can you consider an applicant’s criminal record? One reason would be if the offence is relevant to their role, for example: • Are you employing a bank robber to be a cashier at a bank? • Are you employing someone with drink driving offences to be a long-haul lorry driver? • Are you employing someone who has been convicted of GBH as a security guard? If you’ve any concern that the unspent conviction relates to the work the employee will be required to carry out, a business decision can be made as to whether or not their employment can continue. You may think about how

old they were when they committed the offence, are they remorseful for their actions, and will they be supervised whilst on the job. These things may have an impact on your decision. In certain circumstances, you, as the employer, could become liable for damages if a third party suffers a loss as a result of your employee re-offending. To avoid this, always investigate thoroughly if the offence relates to work they may be asked to carry out. Some roles, such as those which involve working with children or vulnerable adults, will require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check prior to appointment, to ensure the applicant has never committed an offence that would prohibit them from carrying out this type of work. With 20% of the British population now holding a criminal record, employing former criminals may be something to start thinking about.

Contact: www.hrinsight.co.uk

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Help yourself by helping others Andrew Dalglish, co-founder of B2B market research company, Circle Research, examines the hidden benefits of volunteering, for both your business and your employees


ave you ever thought about giving away your company’s time and resources for free? Probably not. Obviously that would be terrible business advice if applied to your customers, but if it takes the form of charity volunteering then it could be a good idea. Not only will you feel a rosy, satisfied glow inside, but you’ll experience hard, tangible business benefits. You’re probably skeptical. Don’t worry, I was at first too. When my company first started a charity volunteering scheme last year, three thoughts went through my mind. The first was that there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is, so why would I do something that would

stretch them even thinner? Secondly, I thought that, even if we did have the time to spare, would picking up litter in the local park really make even a smidge of difference to society as a whole? Third and finally, as callous as it might sound, my primary responsibility always has to be the health of my business (as I’m sure most business owners would agree), so where would the business benefit be in all of this? Twelve months on and I’m a convert. I will be the first to readily admit that I had an outdated view of volunteering and what it could do for me and my business. It seems there’s much more to volunteering nowadays than simply picking up litter and

making a park look pretty. We worked with a volunteering broker (yes, they do exist believe it or not) to shape a scheme that met the objectives of our business as well as those of local charities. This led to us donating our specialist expertise in market research rather than ‘manual labour’. That gave real value to the charities we supported, as it helped them to shape their future growth strategy and inform their commercial planning. And from our perspective the business benefits far outweighed the costs. Not only did volunteering provide a ‘safe’ environment where some of our newer staff could cut their teeth, it also had a boost on staff morale, built a stronger, more cohesive team, and it led to some

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There’s much more to volunteering nowadays than simply picking up litter and making a park look pretty pretty good PR at the same time. In short, it was a genuine win-win situation for all involved. Still skeptical? Well then let me try to persuade you with hard numbers rather than just a personal anecdote. One result of all that donated time was the ‘People or Profits Report’. Using a survey of 200 business leaders and a series of interviews with CSR experts, the report explores how businesses and charities can better work together when volunteering. The vast majority of those businesses we surveyed found that volunteering was so worthwhile that they either plan to maintain the same level of investment going forward (52% plan to do so in fact), or, in many cases, volunteer more (40% of respondents said this). Why, you may ask? Well, while there is perhaps an element of altruism in there, most have been tempted back purely by the business benefits. Just like us, two-fifths of those surveyed (40%) saw a boost in employee morale, almost two-fifths (38%) received positive PR, and one-fifth (21%) found it created a stronger team of employees in their workplace. So maybe you’re tempted by now. If so, you’ll be joining the 63% of businesses which have

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volunteered in the last year. With this in mind, here are five top tips gathered from their experiences, which will help you to build a successful volunteering scheme: 1 CHANGE THE CONVERSATION FROM COST TO VALUE It can be easy to see volunteering as a business cost, but it actually adds huge value in many areas. Use the benefits of employee morale, team building, and positive PR to persuade skeptical colleagues to donate their time and energies into something that will benefit themselves and others. 2 GET DATES IN THE DIARY AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE There will always be an excuse for not volunteering tomorrow, but plan six months in advance, and it can be built around and planned for. 3 HAVE A RANGE OF VOLUNTEERING OPTIONS Employees are all different. That diversity of personalities is what makes your business tick. But you’ll find that some may want to work inside office hours and some outside them, some in

education, some in construction, teaching, or rehabilitation, and so on. Make sure you offer an option that caters for everyone. 4 WORK WITH A BROKER In our study, businesses told us that one of the main barriers to volunteering was time. They also told us that the main benefit of working with brokers was that it reduced the amount of time spent on management. Sounds like a match made in heaven, so utilise their expertise. 5 TAKE ON A CHALLENGE During our research, we found that businesses are much more likely to volunteer in areas that involves working with children, or in projects concerning community spaces, than other areas, as these can be seen as most rewarding by many. However, the most beneficial areas to volunteer in, are those such as rehabilitation and mental illnesses. So don’t just limit yourself to the traditional areas of volunteering; do something different that will really benefit your business, as well as you, and your employees. Contact: www.circle-research.com

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In any gap where someone leaves, you have a productivity loss, but it’s also an opportunity to assess whether you’re really doing things the optimal way

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Stay another day Ben Hutt, CEO of online recruitment marketplace, Talent Party, gives top tips on how to retain employees who have been offered work elsewhere


n all facets of life, the best employees out-perform mediocre ones by a substantial margin. I’m sure we can all think of examples where a star employee sets a team on fire, or does the work of several people all by themselves. They’re worth paying for, holding out for, and fighting for. That’s why, with UK unemployment hitting a seven-year low recently, it is fair to say that employers may start to feel defensive as they prepare to keep talent who may be getting propositioned for new opportunities. Just because an employee has been offered a new role, it doesn’t mean you, as a business leader, are out of options. You just need to know what it will take to keep that employee. Here are a few recommendations on how to counteroffer an employee in today’s highly competitive labour market. UNDERSTAND THEIR MOTIVATION Before offering anything to the employee who has just announced their resignation, try and find out why they want to leave. Ask questions in order to get them talking about their life and priorities. Is it something practical (moving to a new city, or more flexible work hours), something personal (unhappy with their manager or team) or is it about the job or company (taking on new responsibilities or a higher salary)? Without knowing exactly what the issue or opportunity for change is, it is very hard to counter. CRITICALLY ASSESS THEIR NEW ROLE There is a lot of value (and fear) in the ‘devil you know’ argument. Perhaps

the employee doesn’t really know the new company, leader, or team they will be working with. You can create uncertainty in your employees’ confidence of their better future elsewhere, by asking probing questions about their career move.

Remind the employee of all the good work they contributed to the business, and reinforce that they’ll be walking away from something they’ve been directly involved in producing

DON’T GET EMOTIONALLY INVESTED Putting too much skin in the game can lead to irrational offers, and resentment later on. Be very clear with yourself on how far you’re prepared to go, and know in detail what your best alternative to a negotiated outcome is. Set up your best offer, and stick to it. Also be clear in your mind that you could get someone great to start afresh for what you’re proposing.

CREATE PERFORMANCE INCENTIVES The majority of people who accept counter offers leave within six months anyway, so be sure to create a medium term performance incentive that gets you over that hump. For example, create a bonus after 12 months if certain criteria are met. Finally, remind the employee of all the good work and progress they contributed to the business, and reinforce that they will be walking away from something they have DON’T BE HELD HOSTAGE been directly involved in producing. When you’ve ascertained why the However, if the employee decides employee is leaving, counter on that to go, it’s important that you remain point in particular. For example, if calm, and wish them well. You never they are interested in more money, know if they will be happy with their offer more money. If it’s responsibility, new company, and they may want to provide more. You’ll need to exceed come back again. Also keep in mind the offer they have from elsewhere to that hiring a new employee is always ensure winning, but, before you make an opportunity to bring new ideas an offer, you should evaluate the cost and ways of operating to the table, and opportunity of hiring someone that can motivate team members new. In any gap where someone leaves, and spark creativity. you have a productivity loss, but it is also an opportunity to assess whether Contact: you’re really doing things the optimal www.talentparty.com way with the optimal people.

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2 July 2015 GLOUCESTER SHOW Kingsholm Rugby Stadium 1 October 2015 BRISTOL SHOW M Shed 5 November 2015 CHELTENHAM SHOW Cheltenham Racecourse 3 December 2015 MIDLANDS SHOW Cranmore Park

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BUSINESS JUNCTION, LONDON’S PREMIER BUSINESS NETWORK, INVITES YOU TO A FREE NETWORKING EVENT Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our our 4 July 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). 9 July 2015 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch in Smithfield Nearest tube: Farringdon or Barbican The Grill on the Market, 2-3 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9JX Networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at Tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-smithfield-1

15 July 2015 Thurs 8th Aug 8.00-10am

Networking Champagne breakfast in Bankside Networking lunch at the Roof Gardens & Babylon Restaurant at High St. Kensington Swan, Shakespeares Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT Nearest tube: London Bridge 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-in-bankside

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Networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at Covent Garden

Networking in Marylebone 60lunch Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ Nearest tube: Holborn Carousel London, 71 Blandford Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 8AB Nearest tube: Marble Arch Networking lunch at The Happenstance at St. Paul’s More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-marylebone-2

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Networking evening in Westminster Networking lunch21-24 at Dirty Dicks at Liverpool Altitude London, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP StreetNearest tube: Vauxhall 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-evening-in-westminster-1

Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with with the the event event you you would wouldlike liketotoattend attendand andquoting quotingthe thereference: reference:Talkbusiness2/13 Talkbusiness7/15 Now year and and with over 550 independent Nowininitsits14th 12 year 450 member member companies, companies,Business BusinessJunction JunctionisisLondon’s London’sleading leading independent business 80+ pan-London networking events each yearyear including a weekly lunch, a monthly businessnetwork. network.WeWerun run 80+ pan-London networking events each including a weekly lunch, a monthly Philippe Brugnon Champagne breakfast 6 evening events, at different quality central London venues. Champagne Taittinger breakfast and 6and evening events, all atall different highhigh quality central London venues.

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ne of the biggest headaches for businesses can be finding the right staff when you’ve openings within your organisation. This decision can have an impact for years to come. But this scenario often takes place at the same time as one of your existing employees prepares to leave. It’s important that while you’re busy trying to find the right people for the future, you don’t take your focus off those seeing out their notice periods. It’s tempting to write off someone’s last few weeks as a non-event, but you’re still paying them, and should expect them to behave accordingly. It’s not just the person who is leaving whose behaviour and attitude can change during a notice period either. If they’re part of a team, any lack of effort can rub off on the rest. In my sales business, I find that re-jigging people’s targets can be a useful tool. Telling them that hitting their revised targets during their last few weeks will

make them eligible for bonuses can help keep them fully focused. In an ideal world, someone who wants to leave, would do so straight away. Using a football analogy, it’s a bit like the Raheem Sterling situation at Liverpool; he wants to leave and the club have said “no”, but they probably just want rid of him at a decent price. Leaving him to rot in the reserves might be good punishment for his awful attitude, but it doesn’t help either party - particularly his employers, who face shelling out a fortune every week for an unhappy player. But the contract both parties have signed means Liverpool can keep him until they find a replacement. It’s the same in business - the contract (or notice period) is there to give you some time to find a replacement. If you manage to find a replacement straight away, you can consider a handover period, or just let the leaver go early, but you know you’ve time to adjust accordingly. The good news is that most staff behave properly during their final weeks. Unfortunately, some people hand

their tickets in and think it’s job done. They stop showing effort, stop being productive, and - in the worst cases they become disruptive. If this happens, treat that person as you would any employee. Disciplinary options remain on the table. You might think that sacking someone so near the end of employment will have little impact, but will they really want their CV tarnished so unnecessarily? A word of warning, though - make sure your record-keeping is complete if you do take disciplinary action. You could face a problem if the employee takes you to court and claims you acted simply because they’d decided to leave. It shouldn’t come to this however, and most people who leave do so on good terms. This is in everyone’s interests after all, you never know if your paths will cross again. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.com

The long goodbye Lee McQueen, founder of Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, offers some tips on making sure your soon-to-depart staff don’t become demob happy

,WƎV WHPSWLQJ WR ZULWH Rƫ someone’s last few weeks as a non-event, but you’re still paying them, and should expect them to behave accordingly

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Each month we bring you a selection of gadgets, gizmos, and gifts that we’re going crazy about. This month we’re looking at some amazing fitness and vision tech

The latest piece of fitness gadgetry from Fi FitBit boasts a sleek new design and packs in a whole host of new ne features. From GPS tracking that allows you to see distance, pace, and elevation climbed, review routes and split times, to a heart rate tracker, which provides continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate data, there’s a myriad of ways for you to keep fit and improve your times - whether you’re a serious or casual enthusiast. The fantastic touch screen display allows you to sync to your smartphone, and view call and text notifications, as well as control your music playlist as you work out. Available in black, blue, and tangerine (that’s orange to me and you), it boasts a battery life of seven days and, perhaps best of all, your data logs are recorded and sent to the online app or smartphone, meaning you can track your progress over time and even share your successes with friends and family. PRICE: £199.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.fitbit.com/uk/surge

SUNNYCAM HD VIDEO RECORDING GLASSES PHILIPS PICOPIX Versatility is the word for the PicoPix, due to its small size, powerful output, and USB capabilities, making this projector excellent for business presentations. The PicoPix is able to project a screen size up to an impressive 305 cm (120”), making use of high quality LED technology to project your pictures, videos and presentations in brilliant colours and remarkable contrast. At 55 lumens, it’s going to require a very dark room in order to use the PicoPix for feature length films, but as a portable business tool, there are not going to be many better options on the market. PRICE: £339.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.philips.co.uk

Step into the future with the SunnyCam video recording sunglasses. The SunnyCam allows you to record high definition 720p video, and take amazing photos between your eyes. This allows you to record true point of view (POV) footage like no other product can. Perfect for recording on the move, or when performing any activity requiring the use of two hands, it features three hours’ battery life, easy one-touch controls, shooting speeds of 30 frames per second, and holds up to a 32GB memory card. With a choice of black or white frames, and a myriad of different accessories available - from polarizing ice mirror lenses to car chargers - there’s guaranteed to be a SunnyCam to suit your style. PRICE: £99.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.sunnycamglasses.com

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Recognising, celebrating and motivating people in business for 25 years



Urban Escape 4-man inflatable tent £300

Where else would we start but with the most important item for any camping holiday – the tent? With pegs that bend as you hammer them in with your shoe (as you forgot the mallet yet again), and the confusing instructions, it can be one of the most troublesome activities, and that’s usually when you’ve only just arrived. So take the pain and stress out of setting up with this brilliant inflatable tent, available at Halfords. There are no poles to thread or pull out, so it’s simple to insert the pump and inflate the beams of air that raise the tent. It’s so simple that a child could do it in less than 10 minutes.

www.halfords. com

Helly Hansen Loke & Crew Midlayer jackets £85-£100 www.shop. hellyhansen.com

It’s no secret that the British weather can be more unpredictable than the nationality of a Britain’s Got Talent winner, so when the worst does hit, it pays to have the best equipment you can buy to keep you safe and warm. That’s why we’ve chosen the fantastic Loke and Crew Midlayer Jackets from Helly Hansen. Available in a range of colourful designs to help you show your style, whatever the weather, they’re both waterproof and windproof. The £85 Loke features a front storm flap to keep out wind and rain, along with vents to prevent overheating, while the stylish Crew Midlayer jacket weighs in at just £100 and adds a fleece lined collar and pockets to keep you safe from any chilly evening winds.

Country comforts Maybe you’re tight for money this summer but still want to get away from it all? Or you could simply be frolicking at the festivals? Whatever your reason for getting down and dirty in the UK countryside, grab these excellent items to help ensure a great camping experience – whatever the weather Zippo hand warmer £20.75 www.zippo.co.uk

While we all wish for sun, the British preoccupation with the weather is marked by uncertainty, and for most of us there is nothing worse than cold hands. Gloves of course are the natural remedy, but sometimes gloves just aren’t enough. However, help is at hand with the Zippo Hand Warmer. It’s safe, refillable, and able to keep your mitts cosy for up to 12 hours.

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Coleman Walk About sleeping bag £40 www.halfords. com

Perfect for festivals, this is two products for the price of one! This ingenious bag keeps you warm and snug when you bunker down for the night, yet provides you with a warm cocoon barrier so you can still manoeuvre around your site terrain easily, without having to leave the comforts of your bag. We definitely smell a trend - casual Friday’s watch out!

The story is always the same – you arrive at the campsite with a fully charged phone, but, despite your best efforts, the battery is dead within a day. Instead of messing around with under-powered portable chargers, why not get your hands on this tech lovers dream? With a range of 12km they’re fantastic for staying in touch with friends at festivals (not to mention endow you with Top Gun levels of cool), or alternatively, you can use them to let the children out of your sight, but still have a quick emergency connection with them on campsite. Extremely robust, they come supplied with a drop-in rapid charger and rechargeable batteries.

Cobra MT975 PMR 2-way radios £69.99 www.maplin.co.uk

Aldi portable hammock with stand £34.99 www.aldi.co.uk

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Yellowstone flameless cookset £25 www.halfords. com

With a number of campsites having restrictions on what you can and cannot bring on site especially when it comes to cooking and gas canisters - the Flameless Cookset by Yellowstone is an absolute dream. Especially useful if the weather does turn nasty, as you can safely operate it from the comfort of your tent, with no nasty fumes to worry about, it allows you to create a hot meal with minimum fuss, and in safe conditions. Simply heat and cook food using the water-activated heat pack.

Splish, splash, and splosh in style with these funky, fruity wellies from BOGS. The bright, innovative designs will make sure you stand out from the crowd in any muddy field. They’re also really comfy, so walks through the countryside are no challenge for even little feet.

BOGS Rainboot Batik wellies £55 www.bogsfoot wear.com

When the sun is shining, there’s nothing better to do than do nothing, so ensure you make the most of it! Sit back, relax, and unwind with this amazing portable hammock with stand from Aldi, priced at £34.99. It even includes an integrated drinks holder, allowing you to stay hydrated while barely lifting a finger. It’s easy-to-assemble (it literally took us about three minutes), and is available in blue or green.



Every month Talk Business Magazine takes an open and honest look at the fight entrepreneurs face to reach success. Bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those battling through the day-to-day struggles of the current climate Whether you’re a start-up entrepreneur looking for early guidance, or an established business trying to reach the next step, we’re here to help you on every step of your journey


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hotspots This month we’re heading to Robin Hood’s neck of the woods to discover some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head in Nottingham

AWAY ON BUSINESS COLWICK HALL HOTEL WHERE? Nottingham WHY? Colwick Hall Hotel is a magnificent Palladian-style Georgian country mansion, nestling in sixty acres of parkland, which was once the (rather plush) ancestral home of Lord Byron. The original 11th Century estate is even recorded in the Domesday Book. Located two miles from Nottingham city centre, the exterior charm of this Grade II listed manor is retained inside through its décor. All of the bedrooms are luxurious, boasting palatial designs and rich decorations - from original fireplaces and period furniture, to exquisite bathrooms, many with central baths and beautiful fittings. The venue also overlooks Nottingham Racecourse, should you fancy a flutter or perhaps a team building day out, and this beautiful country residence is reasonably priced for most budgets, with executive rooms available for as little as £69 per night. Conference and hosting facilities are also available should you wish to mix business with pleasure, and there’s no better place to hold your event, than in the truly magnificent Grand Ballroom. Ideal for private dinners up to 90 guests can be seated, and 150 catered for in a grand reception. CONTACT: www.colwickhallhotel.com

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MEET AND EAT SAT BAINS WHERE? Nottingham WHY? This twin Michelin starred eatery offers sumptuous culinary delights with a classic style. Dine in decadence and choose from either the seven - or 10-course menu, which have been designed to offer a journey across the senses - providing contrasting tastes, textures, and temperatures including salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Voted as a Trip Advisor, 2014 Travellers’ Choice Award winner, Sat Bains’ head chef, John Freeman puts on a masterclass in exquisite tastes, offering up modern British cuisine, including mallard from the Clifton Estate, and pork jowl with piccalilli and salted apple. Why not get a peek behind the action and watch John up close? You can really impress your business clients with a seat at the kitchen bench. Positioned right in the centre of the new pastry kitchen, this bench was built to give you a true insight into a busy, professional working kitchen. A truly exclusive experience! CONTACT: www.restaurantsatbains.com

EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS EASTWOOD HALL WHERE? Nottingham WHY? Located just a short drive from the historic city of Nottingham, Eastwood Hall is a stunning conference and events venue and hotel. It combines the historic with the modern to present an unforgettable setting for special events and celebrations, as well as awards dinners and business meetings. There’s banqueting for up to 350 guests, while informal parties can cater for an additional 150, which the in-house planning team will be delighted to help you organise, with a helping hand every step of the way. Set in 26 acres of spectacular grounds, those lush landscaped spaces are ideal for team building events, while the hotel has 36 spacious, flexible meeting and event spaces, with capacity for up to 320 delegates. Stylish conference seating and furniture is provided, and each room is equipped with state-of-theart audio-visual technology too. CONTACT: www.principal-hayley.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 95



Each month, motoring expert, Oliver Hammond checks out the latest in executive travel, helping you to decipher the market for business drivers



ver the years, I’ve come across people who never appear phased by anything, arriving at each business or social function as cool as cucumbers, free of smugness, but everything nevertheless seeming alright in their worlds. I can only conclude that they must drive Audi A6 Ultras. I’d be in denial if I refused to admit that it can sometimes prove tricky to determine whether an Audi saloon in the distance is an A3, A4, A5, A6, or A8. Homogenised, maybe, but they’re all still subtly beautiful. Gaze at an A6 Ultra (from £35,665; as tested £40,980) with discretely facelifted styling, and it may indeed be comparatively ordinary, but I could swear it lowered my heart rate and blood pressure. Audi is responsible for some of the finest interiors in the industry, and the test car’s Lunar Silver Valcona leather seats were so beautifully soft and comfortable that long tailbacks on the notorious M62

were (relatively) tolerable. Predictably, the A6 was a tech-fest inside and although the pop-up infotainment screen and MMI Touch system are now nothing new, they still paint a smile on one’s face. The near perfect interior was only let down by netted, as opposed to conventional storage pockets on the seatbacks, and a boot lid which opened and closed with indignity. The A6’s boot capacity of 530 litres is practically the same as a 5 Series, E Class, or XF, is easily accessible, and increases to 996 litres with the back seats folded down. Fleet-focussed cars like this are all about numbers, and once again, the A6 Ultra instils calmness. Returning 67.3mpg on paper, and mid-50s in real life (judging by my week with one), the 73-litre fuel tank gives an impressive range of circa 800 miles. Emissions are remarkably low at 110g/km and BIK is 18%. Tax band B means £20 per annum from year two. Engines are constantly improving, but I never expected to be bowled over by the 2.0 TDI in the A6 Ultra. It’s an absolute

Photography: Isabel Carter

Gaze at an A6 Ultra and it may indeed be comparatively ordinary, but I could swear it lowered my heart rate and blood pressure peach, so refined I could barely tell it was running. I’ve encountered noisier petrol engines. In fact, in tranquillity terms, it bordered on hybrid territory. Cocooned from the outside world, and with 190PS and 400Nm laid down smoothly by Audi’s new 7-speed, dualclutch, S tronic transmission, the frontwheel-drive A6 Ultra was no slouch, proving effortless on the motorway, and reasonable fun on twisty lanes, cornering impressively. Its top speed is 144mph, has a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds, and its suspension set up coped well with speed bumps and potholes. It felt remarkably light and the steering lacked the precision and feedback of a 5 Series, the slightly detached experience perhaps alienating keen drivers; but as a middle management motorway cruiser that will leave you feeling refreshed after covering hundreds of miles in a day, I can’t think of better. Contact: www.oliver@petroleumvitae.com

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Let loose on the links Nothing quite says business meeting like a good round of golf. So, with that in mind, the experts at Golf Planet Holidays take a look at some of the best links across the globe on which to sink putts and close deals


t’s always nicer playing golf and talking business in the sunshine, and most of us are only on holiday for a couple of weeks every summer, so that leaves plenty of time to take your clients or your team on a business-building golf trip. And what makes the summer months even more attractive for a corporate golf break is that that many golf resorts offer low season prices. Corporate golf has changed over the years - from being studded with freebies and razzamatazz, it’s become more personal and intimate. After all, it’s far more effective to spend

half a day with a few clients than just 15 minutes with many. Time is precious for everyone, so easy access is important, safety is paramount, and the destination and itinerary needs to be memorable. To have an effective and enjoyable corporate golf itinerary you need to ensure that it’s not rushed and leaves you plenty of time to talk business. Whether gathering in a meeting room (this is tax advantageous), or on the terrace of the hotel, make sure the golf isn’t too tough - it’s best to ensure that your clients’ egos are on a high - and the hotel offers free WiFi.

Smaller, more upmarket parties may enjoy indulging in the delights of the Auberge de Jeu du Paume, which harbours a two-star Michelin restaurant and gardens overlooking the Chateau 98 July 2015


Corporate golf has changed over the years - from being studded with freebies and razzamatazz, it’s become more personal and intimate


POOLE, DORSET WHERE’S BEST TO GO? If you’re looking for super smooth and very easy to get to, The Grove near Watford will impress. With its famous golf course, five-star hotel, and excellent restaurants, The Grove is great for a one or two night trip. For a touch of links golf and southern England scenery, Poole is perfect. Broadstone and Parkstone are traditional golf courses and Harbour Heights Hotel is on the seafront between Poole and Bournemouth, offering lovely views. To really impress your clients (but at surprisingly good value), head up to Trump Turnberry to experience the world-class Ailsa course, which boasts Royal Troon just down the road. Your clients will feel very special in every way. If you’re looking to escape our not-so-balmy shores, northern France works very well indeed, and travelling abroad does give you a bit more of a holiday feeling. Le Touquet ParisPlage - so-named because a lot of Parisians have their second home there - is just 120 miles from London and 45 minutes from Calais by road. Lively, smart, and with several superb courses and restaurants, Le Touquet is a sure-fire winner. If you’re happy to drive a little bit further and/or your clients are internationally based, then Chantilly is just two hours from Calais and 25 minutes from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Chantilly offers a mix of famous

and beautiful golf courses, Chateau Conde, polo fields, racing stables, and a couple of top-notch hotels perfect for corporate entertaining. For big groups, the Dolce Chantilly is ideal, while smaller and more upmarket parties may enjoy indulging in the delights of the Auberge de Jeu du Paume, which harbours a two-star Michelin restaurant and gardens overlooking the Chateau. Bearing in mind we’re looking at summer corporate golf, we don’t want to go too far south, as we want to avoid any overbearing heat. Therefore, try sticking to the western coasts of Europe or the northern half of Europe to be safe. Biarritz in the south-west of France offers smart accommodation, a fine mix of golf, and a real party atmosphere, which meets these requirements. Another winner is the Lisbon coast and there are good flight schedules from many UK airports. The resorts detailed will generally be away from the golfing crowds and offer great summer rates, great facilities and style in abundance, to allow you to achieve a successful corporate golf break. As a general rule, allow at least one night if you’re looking for a UK base, two nights in France, and three nights if travelling further afield. It’s best to play no more golf rounds than the number of nights you’re staying, in order to leave time to achieve the goal of the trip namely to conduct business!



Golf Planet Holidays 01277 284284 www.golfplanetholidays.com

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ince its birth in 2007, iHub has become a highly respected hosted telephony provider for hundreds of wholesalers and resellers. The company offers white label, carrier grade communication through a channel sales model and is the reason thousands of businesses can communicate effectively every day. The idea behind iHub was to create future proof telephony and despite its growth they have continued to be, and are valued for, their engineering and bespoke approach to all things hosted. “iHub was designed by engineering excellence,” says Marlon Morgan, iHub director of operations. “We make sure we build a platform for customer requirements, today and in the future.” With an extremely high retention record, iHub is one of only a handful of UK providers to offer true Geo Resilience; a strategy that uses multiple


carrier interconnects to ensure the highest levels of reliability while avoiding a single point of failure. The company is highly valued by its channel partners for its innovative services and is one of the UK’s preferred supplier for Genband’s smart networking solution as part of a growing portfolio of products. With the help of Gigaset, iHub have been able to tailor its communication solution to suit the needs of the SME market all the way through to global enterprises. “Gigaset have always produced first-class DECT handsets for all kinds of customer environments while their Desk phone pack a lot of features that generate positive feedback from our channel and end-customers,” says Marc De Corny, Head of product development and engineering for iHub, “We love working with Gigaset because they have the same mentality as us and our relationship helps us to go above and

beyond for our customers. In July, iHub will launch NUVIA, a Cloud based platform offering all of the traditional PBX features and functionalitity along with carrier-class Unified Communications services such as presence, instant messaging and collaboration across multiple devices and clients. “NUVIA will offer one phone number that keeps users connected wherever they go. Accessible from desks, smartphones, tablets, or Web browsers; wherever there is an Internet connection,” explains Steve Day, iHub’s CEO. “The new platform is part of a strategy dedicated to providing top quality, bespoke communication solutions to our customers. We know how important it is in today’s society to have a telephony solution that works exactly how you want it to, when you want it and the future for us is to extend that goal to wherever you are and on whatever device you choose.” Interested? Contact Keith at Keith.jackson@gigaset.com


Cloud collaboration


atest estimates by the thinktank Conference Board have revealed that productivity across Britain fell during 2014. This has raised concerns across the UK, with part of the problem attributed to a lack of innovation, and the inability to embrace technological change. Furthermore, it’s the first time since 1992 this figure has slid three consecutive years in a row: 0.1% in 2014, 0.4% in 2013, and 1.5% in 2012. In addition to this, Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, has highlighted that every business needs to become a digital business, embracing technological change, if they’re to maintain a competitive advantage and improve productivity. However, a quiet revolution is how businesses win and keep customers. This could transform the UK’s productivity. With that in mind, in today’s dynamic business environment, what should businesses consider from a technological standpoint as they focus on improving productivity?

MOBILITY AND BYOD ARE THE NORM Tied in with communications and collaboration is the idea of mobile working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). BYOD was driven by businesses trying to maximise the use of employees bringing their own devices to work, and allowing them to work and communicate using their own preferred technology (e.g. smart devices), so that they could work from any location at any time, maximising potential for greater productivity. DIGITAL BUSINESSES In addition, we have the wider trend towards digital. Ultimately this means that businesses need to consider how they can embrace digital, and the power of software to thrive (and in some cases survive), whether it’s transitioning from legacy systems or building from anew. Part of this will involve the cloud, as it’s such a powerful enabler for businesses, and levels the technology playing field among companies of all sizes.

CLOUD ENABLES Typically, cloud technologies enable COLLABORATION IS KEY businesses to become more flexible. Companies that embrace next generation Businesses can easily swap out their communication and collaboration legacy, physical, IT, and communications solutions can create a competitive estate to consume powerful new ‘services’ advantage. The technologies in question instead of ‘technology’, and applications include instant messaging, integrated that can support employees while they are email, video calls and conferencing, working flexibly or remotely. document sharing, and VOIP - all of Further, the benefits of moving which combine to enable productivity. to the cloud should make adopting

How can you increase your workers’ productivity by embracing technology? Piers Linney, former Dragon’s Den investor, and Co-CEO of Outsourcery, explains

Companies that embrace next generation communication and collaboration solutions can create a competitive advantage powerful new applications that only large enterprises could once afford, easier and cheaper, as advantages include subscription, flexibility, fast and easy access to software-as-aservice, access to effectively unlimited storage and computing power, and enhanced security. Considering adopting cloudbased solutions is key to innovation and increasing productivity for UK businesses. These technologies enable businesses to adapt to market conditions more easily, with greater flexibility and scalability that just isn’t available from physical technology solutions that are deployed for individual organisations. Therefore factoring these technologies into their eco-system will help organisations on the path towards increasing productivity - and profitability - in the future. Contact: www.outsourcery.co.uk

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How can SMEs get in on the 3D printing revolution? Simon Shen, CEO of 3D printer brand, XYZprinting, reveals all


he dawn of affordable 3D printing is set to completely upturn the way we do business. The ability to use additive layer manufacturing to create new, more efficient, and more affordable items, no longer requires an investment of tens of thousands of pounds for a single 3D printer. Now, the revolutionary technology is well within the means of small businesses across the country. 3D printing - or ‘additive layer manufacturing’ to give it its technical term - builds items in layers, fractions of millimetres at a time, to form high resolution 3D objects. Traditionally 3D printing has been used to create plastic and metal items, but the range of possible materials, and the 3D printing processes to create them, is broadening.

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Join the revolution Within the next three years or so, we should see the 3D printing of fabrics. This has the potential to completely revolutionise textile, fashion, and home interiors businesses, to name but a few. Perhaps you notice a jacket you like the look of, but the material’s not for you, or the colour isn’t what you’re after. With brands embracing the rise of domestic 3D printers, you could have your perfect cut, colour, and fabric building itself in your living room in a matter of minutes. Fashion brands could also offer bespoke tailoring as the norm, individually printing clothing to fit each customer perfectly. We’re already seeing 3D printed shoe companies making strides in personalised printed apparel. With 3D printing offering everincreasing opportunities for small

businesses, here are five key ways in which all kinds of SMEs can get in on the revolution: 1 PROTOTYPING With 3D printing being vastly more affordable for creating singular objects than employing a third party manufacturer, it is breaking down the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, by enabling prototypes to be created swiftly and cheaply. Speeding up the design process can be invaluable to young companies, and now even the smallest of businesses can afford its own 3D printer to do so. By designing and printing a prototype in a matter of hours, rather than waiting days or weeks for a design to come to life, entrepreneurs can significantly cut down the time they spend working up a viable product.


2QFH WKH SUHVHUYH RI VFL Ƭ fantasies, 3D printing is already making waves in a whole range of businesses

2 RE-DESIGNING AND PERSONALISATION For small businesses producing branded or personalised merchandise, minimum orders from manufacturers may require the purchase of hundreds, or even thousands of one design. As 3D printing doesn’t demand the re-tooling of machinery - instead simply requiring the uploading of a tweaked design - customised products can be created singly. By vastly cutting down the over-production of items, small companies can offer products, and enter markets, otherwise unaffordable. 3 ALWAYS IN STOCK Similarly, the ability to produce products or spare parts locally and individually, is another way small businesses can capitalise on the recent availability of desktop 3D printers. For example, reducing shipping costs and offshore production costs means that businesses, such as garages can afford to print individual spare parts as needed, vastly reducing waste and repair time, and providing a much more streamlined service. Soon, even office equipment could be more affordable if printed on-site. 4 NEW HORIZONS For sectors as diverse as manufacturing and healthcare, the most exciting quality of 3D printers is their ability to create shapes, otherwise impossible to produce. Moulding, drilling, and binding materials, and other manufacturing processes simply cannot make certain shapes, which additive manufacturing masters. We’ve now seen surgeons using an MRI scan to 3D print a copy of a toddler’s heart,

to help them understand how to operate effectively. Shapes only available through 3D printing may be also lighter, more effective, or more efficient than those created by traditional processes. 5 DOMESTIC PRINTERS OFFERING INSTANT SALES All of these are ways small businesses can capitalise on the affordability of 3D printers for use in-house. However, the fact that 3D printers are now available for as little as a regular 2D desktop printer, means that it is not only SMEs that can afford to have them. Domestic 3D printers are now on the rise, and businesses can also make the most of this move into British homes. In our world of ‘next day delivery’, consumers are expecting goods to be in their hands within shorter and shorter periods. Amazon has already patented plans for delivery trucks containing 3D printers, enabling the creation of purchases en route to a consumer. However, the more exciting opportunity - and most interesting revolution on the horizon for small businesses - is for brands to offer their products as downloadable 3D designs. SMEs can embrace the rise of domestic 3D printers and offer their customers access to products within hours, without them even having to leave their home. Importantly, such designs can also be personalised, with colours chosen, branding and images modified, and add-ons readily available. Such a move will change the world of consumer goods manufacturing as we know it, and hugely impact on retail and delivery industries. We can

imagine Amazon shifting towards a marketplace for people to print a whole range of purchases at home, which would completely upturn its existing system of warehouses and delivery services. These are just five ways in which SMEs can capitalise on the rise of affordable 3D printing. The breadth of possibility for creating novel objects quickly, cheaply, and efficiently means innovative SMEs can find countless uses for this amazing technology. Once the preserve of sci-fi fantasies, 3D printing is already making waves in a whole range of businesses - the time to get in on the revolution is now. Contact: www.eu.xyzprinting.com




Tech Review

Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, a gorgeous piece of tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy DYSON AM10 HUMIDIFIER PRICE: £499.95 AVAILABLE FROM: www.dyson.co.uk

I don’t feel I need one in my life, but can’t see any real reason why I shouldn’t have one


rior to this gadget, I’d only ever used a de-humidifier (to cure rooms of damp), so this was to be a very interesting experiment. I wasn’t previously aware that a ‘moist’ environment had advantages over a dry one, but had read up in preparation for our new bedroom friend. As someone who suffers from dry skin and asthma, I was interested to see and feel its benefits. I chose to test it in the bedroom because I’m currently on a break from filming, and it’s where I spend the most time (stop sniggering at the back!). I also felt that I’d be

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more sensitive to any environmental changes up there. I also encouraged as the Dyson AM10 has been certified by Airmid Healthgroup Laboratories and the British Skin Foundation, as being able to relieve the symptoms of asthma and allergies. Outwardly, the AM10, as is to be expected, looks the part: it is definitely a Dyson, and would look great in most rooms. It comes in five pieces - base, water reservoir, head fan unit, plug, and remote. It was a cinch to assemble and, once powered up, could be left to run autonomously or manually


Outwardly the AM10, as is to be expected, ORRNV WKH SDUW LWƎV GHƬQLWHO\ D '\VRQ DQG ZRXOG ORRN JUHDW LQ PRVW URRPV (there are 10 different airflow settings to choose from). Firstly, let’s take a look at the unit’s main features and claims: • It uses a three-minute, two-stage, ultraviolet light cleansing process to kill 99.9% of water borne bacteria. • It is designed to handle areas up to 16m2. • The humidifier constantly measures both the temperature and humidity of the room, in order to calculate the exact amount of moisture required. • It’s capable of up to 18 hours’ continuous use, has a sleep timer, and an ‘auto switch-off’ function. • The AM10 can also be used to cool a hot room in the summer. Dyson claims that this unit projects its ‘hygienic mist and hydrated air evenly and quietly throughout the room’. Now, being posh, I decided to fill the tank using filtered water, and

I suspect that this leads to a longer operating cycle than the stated 18 hours, as I didn’t need to refill it for about a week. The unit needed weekly cleansing and a monthly deep clean lest it begin pumping bacteria into your chosen room. With regard to the Dyson’s operation, we definitely noticed a more humid room. For a week, a sort of moistness hung in the air - much like what you feel when on holiday in a warm, humid location. There was no doubt that there was an appliance in the room either; it was loud enough for my wife to ask that it be turned off, but quiet enough for me to deal with on nights alone. Operation of the unit was simple, and there was no complex set-up. Plus, the dual functionality makes it useful all year round. Dyson has definitely done it again - produced a gadget that offers a very attractive alternative to what’s out

there, but with a designer price tag. I don’t feel I need one in my life, but can’t see any real reason why I shouldn’t have one. Locating one in an office where it doesn’t interfere with peoples’ movement about the space may be an issue (no one likes a fan hog), however, it could lead to a healthier environment.

VERDICT: I love that the AM10 can be pretty much left alone to do its thing, and that maintenance isn’t a bind. I’d like to live with one for longer as I cannot yet comment on its effects on my skin or breathing, but the price tag of £500 is a little too steep for me to consider.

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Time to start buying .porn? Could newly released domain names spell trouble for honest businesses? Daniel Foster, technical director at 34SP.com, explores


ollowing a period of controversy, .sucks, .porn, and .adult are just some of the new top level domains (TLDs) that have been made available to the general public and online trolls alike, as of 19 June 2015. Big brands and high profile celebrities, such as Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo, Kevin Spacey, and Taylor Swift are just some of the big names that rushed to register unflattering domains on their initial release in March. Taylor Swift reportedly bought taylorswift.sucks and taylorswift.porn in the controversial sunrise period,

Some businesses are worried WKDW DOO RI WKH HƫRUW DQG UHVRXUFHV put into marketing strategies to build up a positive reputation FRXOG SRWHQWLDOO\ EH WRUQ down in minutes

when the domains were being sold at a hefty price to brand owners whose trademarks are registered with ICANN’s Trade Marks Clearinghouse. Unfortunately, you don’t have to be a big name brand or celebrity to be in danger from online trolls, who can purchase these domains freely now they’ve come out of this sunrise period. Many businesses, including SMEs, could be in danger from the negative impact that trolls publishing unfavourable content on these domains, in their name, could have on their reputation. And some are worried that all the effort and resources put into marketing strategies to build up a positive reputation could potentially be torn down in minutes. WHERE HAS ALL OF THIS COME FROM? The whole saga has led many to question how long this has been going on, and where it all started. In 2012, ICANN relaxed its rules over domains. Domain registrars were quick to take advantage of this, and now .sucks, .porn, and .adult are just some of the TLDs that will be accessible to - literally - anyone.

A Canadian company called Vox Populi came up with the idea of the .sucks extensions, and ICANN, a not-for-profit company, approved them to become available. ICANN collects a fee each time it approves a new TLD, and then a cut of the registration charge for each individual domain name - which has created a buzz in the news, with some claiming the organisation will be benefitting hugely from the controversial domains. SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED? Realistically, the only way to avoid any issues would be to purchase any questionable domains as soon as you can. UK brands and businesses have no legal grounds to remove any of these domains, or anything published on the site if someone else purchases the domain. So it’s in your best interests to seriously consider this option if you think there is a chance that these domains could be purchased by a third-party and used against you.

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UK brands and businesses have no legal grounds to remove any of these damaging domains, or anything published on the site, if someone else purchases the domain

Most of the domains will be sold for $249 (approximately £162) each, and some deemed ‘market premium names’, which have been described as having a high market value, will start at $2,499 (approximately £1,632). Therefore, it’s not likely to be feasible for most SMEs to collect all of them. In this case, there isn’t much you can do. New domain names will constantly appear on the market - if registrars feel like they can make money, they’ll sell them. But this poses the question - where would this all end? It would be easy for businesses to spend thousands of pounds collecting various domains to protect its reputation, but, with often limited budgets, this has to stop somewhere. Here, it is worth understanding that the whole issue is arguably less of an issue for most SMEs, as they are much less likely to be targeted by trolls than big businesses, brands and celebrities.

HOW CAN THIS EFFECT SEO? There is an upside to a vast amount of domains being created so rapidly. As more and more are created - over 1,300 are set to appear in the next few years - it becomes near enough impossible for search engines (especially Google) to keep up. This means that the large proportion of people who find websites through search will only see a small amount of the TLDs on the net. Here, a .com or .co.uk would be considered a ‘premium domain’, as search indicators will prefer the older and more established domains. Matt Cutts, an engineer in the search quality team at Google, announced in 2012 that Google won’t be favouring any new TLDs over a .com in the future - so these new domains won’t be receiving any special treatment in terms of SEO. What all this means in real terms is the amount of people reaching these domains could be pretty low. So if you’re an SME that can’t afford to scoop up all of the questionable domains, try not to lose sleep.

.SUCKS CAN BE USED FOR GOOD It’s not all bad; amongst all the anguish and heated debate around the topic, these new TLD’s could be used to do some good. Domains like .sucks can be used in a positive way. Take Cancer Research UK, for example, who could register the domain name cancer.sucks. Other businesses such as loan companies could register the domains too, like debt. sucks, or environmental activists could register climatechange.sucks. There are a whole host of ways that these domains can be used positively in future. So, in short, try not to panic. The chances of your business’ reputation coming into grave danger aren’t as big as you might be thinking, unless you are a particularly large brand. And if you do run into any trouble, rest assured you can deal with it in the same way you would any other issue take care of your customers that have legitimate complaints and know that with the rapid turnaround of news and information these days, it will likely be tomorrow’s news. Contact: www.34SP.com

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One to watch? Is it just a fad or the key to your fortune? Wolf Kolb, UK managing director at iCracked, examines whether businesses can cash in on the smartwatch trend

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While having a wealth of data in our pockets is useful, having it on our wrist is even better


Another app allows users to keep close track of time spent doing various tasks at work, which is particularly useful for professionals who charge by the hour


he launch of the Apple Watch has everyone discussing the potential impact on consumers. It is clear that the wearable tech is designed to streamline our digital existences, easing the way we interact with our devices and reducing tech fatigue, common to today’s modern consumer. However, very few have discussed its use and functionality in the workplace, and the possibilities it enables businesses. If the success of the iPhone is anything to go by, adoption of the Apple Watch will be widespread in a matter of months, and businesses need to act fast to take advantage of the opportunity this will provide. I believe the launch of the Apple Watch will fundamentally change the way we interact with technology by making it blend more seamlessly with our daily lives. The days of having a pile of iPhones on the table during meetings will soon be over. Instead we will receive targeted notifications so we are alerted instantly to the things that matter, without feeling the need to keep checking our devices. Ultimately this will significantly enhance the user experience. For example, at iCracked, we have just launched our Apple Watch app for business. It provides our iTechs (iPhone repair technicians) with an immediate notification of nearby jobs and the ability to speedily claim them, schedule meetings with customers, take notes, check inventory to make sure parts are available, and log the completed repair.

Like many on-demand businesses, iCracked works on speed of response in order to ensure quick customer fulfilment, and the Apple Watch will clearly help in boosting customer service. This demonstrates that there is an opportunity not only for businesses to boost employee productivity by kitting them out with Apple Watches and allowing them to take advantage of existing apps (to enable them to work in a smarter way), but also to develop their own apps to improve their own business models. While having a wealth of data in our pockets is useful, having it on our wrist is even better; allowing professionals to access this data even more quickly and easily. When it comes to customer service, every second counts, and it can mean the difference between success and failure for many businesses. If customers have to wait longer than a few seconds for a transaction to be completed or a request fulfilled, they will simply look to a competitor for more efficient service. Access to Apple Watch apps means professionals will be able to work in a smarter, more educated way, in turn allowing them to deliver a better service

to their customers. For instance, finance professionals will be able to provide on-the-spot price estimates, purchase orders and invoices, as well as delivering alerts about money owed to help businesses keep their finances in order. Another app allows users to keep close track of time spent doing various tasks at work, which is particularly useful for professionals who charge by the hour. This provides businesses with valuable data about staff productivity, allowing them to streamline processes and work more efficiently. When it comes to app development, businesses need to think carefully about solutions to business problems in their individual fields. Once they have identified how to create an app to streamline efficiencies, developers need to adapt the enterprise experience to fit a wrist-sized interface. User experiences must be evolved to include voice activation and visual alerts. There is scope to create apps with business ‘dashboards’, or even data analysis tools to send alerts, or allow for queries. This could dramatically boost business. Contact: www.icracked.co.uk

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I’ve got an app for that Each month we bring you a selection of our favourite apps for business or pleasure. This month we’re looking at an app to help you make work safer, Risk Assessor, and MailChimp, which manages your email marketing campaigns



PRICE: £7.99 per month excl. VAT COMPATABILITY: Android and iOS THE GIST: Health & Safety is important for every business, as no one wants to be hit by an unseen lawsuit that could have easily been prevented. This is where Risk Assessor comes in. Risk Assessor creates safety reports through the intuitive app, removing the need for reams and reams of paper in the process of making Health & Safety reports. All you have to do is take a picture of the site, then drag and drop your pre-loaded hazards in the areas of concern in the photo, where you can email the image with the report to your desired location. Additional features include access to the Risk Assessor cloud, where you can create a business hazard library, the ability to make an A4 PDF, personalised with your company address and logo, as well as many others. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.riskassessor.net

PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: Android and iOS THE GIST: Every business needs to be promoted. You can either hire a company to do it for you, or you can take the potentially dangerous step and do it yourself. MailChimp is an easy and accessible way to take control of your email marketing, and adapt it for your needs. MailChimp makes email marketing quick and simple, allowing you to create original and engaging emails, to be sent to your whole contact list. It enables you to keep track of your subscriber profiles, and gives you detailed information about their activity and engagement with your email. The app gives you access to detailed analytics, and allows you to activate campaigns remotely, not interrupting your busy schedule. MailChimp gives you full control over email marketing for your business. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.mailchimp.com

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news One Stop franchisees record impressive growth Like-for-like growth sees 9.4% increase in 2015 so far


ne Stop’s franchise model is reaping rewards for independent retailers, with franchisees showing 9.4% like-for-like growth in the year. Against the backdrop of a challenging market, the figures point to the group’s retail focus and convenience expertise, providing independent retailers with a strong competitive advantage. The percentages relate to all franchisees that have been trading with One Stop for more than a year. Additional likefor-like measures, such as footfall and

New opportunities for Bartercard franchisees

The UK’s largest businessto-business trade exchange reveals new franchise opportunities

basket spend, indicate a similar trend, growing by 4% and 7.4% respectively. Further signs of the positive impact of switching to a One Stop Franchise are shown by the turnover increases pre- and post-refit, with stores experiencing an 18% uplift overall, excluding seasonality. Andrew King, One Stop’s franchise director, commented: “The figures speak for themselves, and support the business decision our franchisees have made in joining One Stop. This is only the start of our journey however,


artercard has revealed fresh opportunities for entrepreneurs as it sets its sights on expanding its franchise network in the UK. The trade exchange, which was established in Australia in 1991, announced the renewed strategic focus as it revealed it is now a member of the British Franchise Association (bfa). The 10-year growth plan will include 30 new franchises and 10,000 new members to help grow and facilitate trading across the UK and Ireland. The business-tobusiness trade exchange is offering prospective franchisees access to a world class support structure, including CRM and accounting, ongoing business and industry training, business networking opportunities, and marketing support, with all the tools necessary to build a thriving and successful business. The announcement follows the recent success of new franchises set up in 2015,

and it’s our objective to ensure that our franchisees’ businesses continue to grow, both in turnover and profitability. Our four-weekly focused BDM business visits, and the enhanced reports we produce, one of our many USPs, help us to plan, build, and deliver long-term, sustainable growth.” One Stop is one of two finalists for ‘Emerging Franchisor of the Year’ in recognition of the early success and strength of its franchise model. Contact: www.thebfa.org

including brokerages in Milton Keynes and Salisbury. Significant growth has already been noted in these regions, with the Salisbury brokerage reporting it’s already exceeded its goal of 100 new members in the region, eight months ahead of schedule. The brokerage has also confirmed it will be moving to a new city centre location, helping to further drive bartering opportunities for businesses in the region. Philip Ciniglio, CEO at Bartercard UK, said: “We’re delighted to announce our membership of the British Franchise Association, helping to further cement our role as the UK’s largest business-tobusiness trade exchange, and expand new franchising opportunities to entrepreneurs across the country.” Contact: www.bartercard.co.uk

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Listen and learn Dynamis’ Nicky Tatley examines how you can engender sharing from your franchisees, and how to utilise feedback effectively

116 July 2015




ne of the key selling points of any franchise opportunity is evidence of strong and consistent franchisor support. Potential franchisees will often choose a franchise over starting or buying their own business due to the ‘safety net’- not only of a tried and tested business model, but also of guidance from the top. Besides strong leadership, savvy prospective franchisees will also be attracted by the notion of a ‘franchise family’, and will want to know what they can learn from their fellow franchise partners. As a franchisor, as well as offering training, refresher courses, operation manuals, stock purchasing benefits, marketing support, and regular correspondence, you will need to engender a strong sense of community. Regular franchise get-togethers, as well as

front end of the business and thereby be aware of any issues or initiatives,� says Mark. He also advocates frequent franchisee/franchisor meetings; “to allow the free flow of information both from franchisor to franchisees but also between franchisees.� Seasoned franchisor, and managing director of The Bardon Group, Nigel Toplis also acknowledges the need for sharing between franchisees, but points out that it’s not always an easy culture to establish within a franchise network. “One of the potential drawbacks in franchising is relying on franchisees to simply share ideas/news/achievements. Most franchised businesses are small businesses and, as such, franchisees inevitably become myopic and focused only on their own business and their own performance, and don’t have the time to simply share,� explained Nigel.

interaction with our franchise partners.� He has found that each new franchisee has brought their own previous experience to the organisation, and is happy to use this to benefit the whole business. “We have one franchise partner who is an IT specialist, and who is now working on our website and digital marketing strategy, and another was a PR manager of a major PLC, and is working with us to develop our PR strategy.� Indeed, when taking on new franchisees, it’s well worth trying to get a balance of skill sets within the franchisee community. A range of expertise can then be filtered down to benefit the whole network. Although one of the key founders of the Window to the Womb franchise network, Mark Witter calls himself a franchise partner rather than anything suggesting hierarchy, and uses that term for all new appointments.

7KH EHVW SUDFWLFDO VXSSRUW WKDW FDQ EH RĆŤHUHG IURP D IUDQFKLVH WR IUDQFKLVHHV LV WKH NLQG WKDW KDV EHHQ LQIRUPHG E\ WKH HYHU\GD\ H[SHULHQFHV VXFFHVVHV DQG IDLOXUHV DOLNH RI DOO QHWZRUN PHPEHUV intranets and chat groups, will allow for sharing valuable experience and advice. Mark Witter, co-franchisor of Window to the Womb franchise group, agrees. “One of the main benefits of a franchise business model,â€? he explains, “is that it is made up of a community of independent business owners, all of whom are facing the same day-to-day challenges to optimise their business. The role of the franchisor is to put in place a culture of sharing, and have specific tools that allow the transfer of good practice from one business to others. At Window to the Womb, we see this as one of our main responsibilities.â€? As well as a monthly newsletter including news, updates, successes and new initiatives, Window to the Womb franchisors pay monthly visits to their franchisees’ studios, and carry out an operational audit every quarter. “This allows us to be very close to the

So, while the connective element of any franchise is a potential strength, the challenge for the franchisor is to encourage the sharing of ideas and advice. As well as regular network meetings, The Bardon Group also tries to glean information from individual franchisees, in order to inform their general directives. “In my experience, one of the most critical functions of the franchisor is to harness successful ideas, actions, activities of individual franchisees and, where appropriate, turn these into system best practice,� says Nigel. “We do this by meeting regularly on a one-to-one basis, with a range of our franchisees to do a business review, and use these meetings to elicit their experiences.� Mark Witter shares this sentiment; “We are learning more about our business on a daily basis from the

It’s a useful title for facilitating trust and cooperation. Partnerships will not work unless everyone involved is content and mutually supportive. So, it seems that the best practical support that can be offered from a franchise to potential and existing franchisees is the kind that has been informed by the everyday experiences - successes and failures alike - of all network members. Franchise businesses are unique in this respect; no other business model has such a cross section of stakeholders, and the role of the franchisor is to create both the culture and the tools to allow the whole organisation to benefit from the skills and experience of each franchisee. Such symbiosis is the bedrock of any successful franchise. Contact: www.dynamis.co.uk

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Dynamic and recession-proof high-street franchise The ZipYard is the fastest growing garment alteration franchise in the UK. With distinctive branding and a well-planned shopfit to minimise square footage for maximum profit, the opportunity provides owners with a business that is welcome in any high street


fficially launched in Britain by The Bardon Group in 2011 growth has been very strong and the company is well on the way to achieving its first target of opening 50 centres in the UK. The business provides a much-needed service and has a real role to play in the rejuvenation of the UK’s high streets. New openings are well supported by local dignitaries including mayors and MPs notably the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne who officially opened the Wilmslow ZipYard in 2013. The Bardon Group runs three other wellknown franchise brands – Recognition Express (est. 1979), ComputerXplorers (since 2005) and Kall Kwik (first franchised in 1979) and has a management team that is long established in the franchise industry. Specifically designed to project a stylish, high quality image, the ZipYard offers a wide range of alteration and tailoring services, all done on site by trained professionals in purpose-built, beautifully shopfitted centres, branded in the ZipYard’s signature eyecatching yellow and black colours. From dress re-styling and taking in or letting out to bridal-wear fitting or formal wear alterations, the ZipYard provides convenient, speedy and cost effective clothing alterations and repairs. The ZipYard franchise package is a total turnkey operation, comprising a complete shop fit, state of the art machinery, computer systems and a comprehensive marketing package which includes regional PR activity. The package includes industrial sewing machines, specialist alteration and repair machinery, a computer, software, EPOS

28 elitefranchise Winter 2015

system, signage, fixtures and fittings, various consumables, starting stock, plus training and ongoing support from the franchisor, and a marketing and PR campaign to launch each centre.

Why choose The ZipYard? Former driving instructor Richard McConnell, 34, opened England’s first ZipYard franchise in Altrincham in 2011, which was followed by a second centre in Wilmslow in 2013. “We did lots of research in the franchise press and online, and looked into a wide variety of franchises,” said McConnell. “The Altrincham ZipYard has exceeded

all of our expectations, and the model is so well thought out that it was easy to replicate in Wilmslow. Our reputation went before us and the customer base in the new ZipYard is building very nicely. “Initially it was my wife who noticed the ZipYard advert and she thought it was a fantastic idea. We did some research and quickly realised that there was no real competition in our area. Most of the time clothing repairs are done as a bolt-on service at dry cleaners. The turn-around time isn’t very good and they don’t offer a very wide range of services. “We went to meet Nigel Toplis, the franchisor, and we visited a centre in Wales.


“Being your own boss is hard work but very gratifying. Having the opportunity to make your own decisions is very satisfying but knowing you can rely on the franchise group gives you the confidence to approach situations with ease and a shared experience” Kevin Old, The ZipYard in Bournemouth

limb. It’s been teamwork from day one.” “I would definitely recommend the ZipYard to other potential franchisees. I’m learning all the time and it’s such a sociable business. I really enjoy talking to the customers and I get such a feeling of satisfaction from seeing how happy they are when their clothes fit properly,” she added.

Marketing Head office provides a wide range of marketing support to the network including email marketing, a comprehensive range of promotional collateral and window posters that are supplied free of charge throughout the year to each centre. All franchisees also have access to a retained PR agency that carries out regular regional seasonal activity on behalf of the ZipYard to raise awareness and generate footfall to the centres.

We were impressed by the professionalism of the franchise. The brand is very strong and the shop fit is amazing, from the fitting rooms to the equipment and layout. They really know what they are doing and can cater for every kind of alteration and repair on site.”

Training & Support All franchise owners have a two-week comprehensive induction programme that covers business practices, computer systems, running a centre, marketing and promotions, and recruitment. Part of the training takes place in an existing centre that is up and running to provide a proper hands-on

experience. Every aspect of the set-up from finding premises to launching and promoting the centre is fully supported by the franchisor. Once up and running the support continues with additional training, business and product development work, on-going business advice and planning, marketing and PR. Jill Phillips, 46, set up the ZipYard in Basingstoke in May 2012 after being made redundant 8 months previously. “The whole team has been fantastic,” said Phillips. “From the training, which was very hands-on, to the huge level of support I’ve had, it’s all been great. Although it’s my business and the buck stops with me, I’ve never felt alone or out on a

Contact: Emma Downes t: 01530 513307 e: edownes@thezipyard.co.uk Total Cost: £38,500 + VAT plus shop fit

Winter 2015 elitefranchise 29


Avoid the cowboys Paul Stafford, expert at the British Franchising Association, explains how to spot the warning signs of a bad franchisor before it’s too late

120 July 2015



ranchising has helped thousands to achieve their self-employment dreams, thanks to a thriving, buoyant community of ethical franchisors. But not all franchises are equal; it’s important for any prospective franchisee to not only understand the great opportunities that are out there, but also the ones to avoid. While bfa member franchisors are committed to the Association’s Code of Ethics, those standards aren’t universal across the entire sector. The old adage, ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’, is apt in most walks of life, and franchising is no exception. So look out for any of the following warning signs when you’re in discussions with a franchisor: PRESSURE Every good franchisor understands that a franchisee is making a serious commitment – in time, emotion, and financially and encourages them to take the time they need to be certain. You’re signing a legal contract committing you to the business for many years, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly - don’t be pressured into it. DISCLOSURE Ethical franchisors are open franchisors. They’ll answer questions, provide financials (see below), and discuss their training and support

commitments. If you feel like something is being hidden from you in conversations (or you find out in your research that it is), then beware.

becoming the first). If you’re denied the chance to speak with people already in the network, ask yourself what the franchisor is afraid they might say.

UNPROVEN A franchisor must prove their business is successful before franchising it - you can’t franchise an idea or concept. Franchisees benefit from someone else having honed the business over time, overcoming the bumps along the way, then providing a model to replicate their success - no proof, no franchise.

DEPOSITS It’s common practice for a prospective franchisee that’s deep into the recruitment process, to be asked to pay a deposit, for example to reserve a territory or demonstrate they’re a serious prospect. That deposit must come with documentation - a deposit agreement, with clearly defined terms - and must not be wholly non-refundable if you don’t

If you’re denied the chance to speak with people already in the franchise’s network, ask yourself what the franchisor is afraid they might say FINANCIALS You’ll be given forecasts on the potential turnover and profit for a franchisee. Make sure those projections are based on numbers that have actually been achieved, by either a franchisee or the company-owned operation. ‘Pie in the sky’ financials, based on no evidence whatsoever, are a sign to re-think your options. NETWORKING A good franchisor will give you access to their franchisees to discuss the opportunity and their experiences (unless you’re

eventually join the franchise. An ethical franchisor commits to refundable deposits, less any reasonable costs incurred (such as a premises survey). LEGAL A proper franchise agreement is a substantial document, covering everything from both parties’ rights and obligations to renewal and sale clauses. If it’s a hundred words in an email, or fits on a single page, it’s not a franchise agreement! Contact: www.thebfa.org

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Make the right call What are the telecoms issues you need to consider for the franchise environment? Dave Millett of Equinox Communications investigates


nterest in owning a franchise is at an all-time high, with the most recent NatWest bfa Franchise Survey highlighting there are now more than 900 franchisors, with 39,000 outlets, and 550,000 employed in franchising. The overall contribution of franchising to the UK economy is £13.7 billion - just under 1% of GDP. This means there are many issues to consider when creating a franchise, or buying into one - and an area often overlooked is telecoms. Firstly, will the franchisor supply the telecoms as part of the deal? They may have negotiated beneficial deals, and have created a solution tailor made for the franchise. The downside is that it may be just another source of income for them, with their supplier paying them commission on the services you use. If you’re locked into using their solution, find out the costs in advance, and benchmark them against the market. Telecoms is typically in the top five costs of all businesses, so over-paying in this area can significantly damage your profitability. Another key consideration is who owns the numbers - you or the franchisor? This is important if you view the franchise as a stepping stone to your own independent business. You spend a couple of years building regular clientele, who know your number, then you want to go your own

way, but the franchisor owns that number, and simply reallocates it to another franchisee. Potentially, a lot of the customers that were going to be a key part of your new business have been lost. If they do own the numbers, having your own one in front of that from the outset may help, but it will be their numbers that are on any material they provide for you. If you have a choice, what are the options? For microbusinesses, a simple inbound geographic number can be set up for around £7 a month, which routes calls to a mobile or landline. For a little extra it can have voicemail. For those businesses worried about presenting a mobile number, it is possible to have a landline on your mobile as an app. Businesses wanting more sophistication are faced with the choice of VOIP or traditional solutions. There are pros and cons to each solution. As a guide, the more sites and greater the likelihood of growth, then the flexibility and scalability of VOIP is advantageous. If you need more sophisticated features, then a PBX may be better. If you’re a retail operation, do you use phone linebased credit card machines or WiFi-based? The former has a higher monthly cost but you don’t run the risk of not being able to take payments if your internet connection fails. Overall, the key for any franchise owner is to be wary. Hopefully, you will have developed a business plan for the company; before you buy or commit to any telecoms, you should ask, does it support my business now and in the future?

Telecoms is typically in the top ƬYH FRVWV RI all businesses, VR RYHU SD\LQJ in this DUHD FDQ VLJQLƬFDQWO\ GDPDJH \RXU SURƬWDELOLW\

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There’s something to be said for elegant web design in a world of templates. That thing is: sales.

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The sales DOCTOR This month, Sales Doctor, Tony Morris gives his expert advice on how to prevent your sales team from over-promising to clients to secure a sale Dear Sales Doctor, My sales team are over-promising on deals to get them over the line, which is hurting our bottom line. How can I train them to be confident in what we offer, and not need to add too much extra value?


his is very common, especially towards the end of the month when the sales team begins to panic about hitting their targets. It’s all about ensuring your sales team truly understand your company’s USP’s and KSP’s, and buy into them; these are two very different things. The difference between a USP and a KSP is as follows; a unique selling point, as the name suggests, is unique to your company and is a key differentiator from your competitors. The sales team need to highlight these and, most importantly, explain what benefits that brings to the customer. A KSP, on the other hand, is a key selling point, and although is not unique to your company, it’s still worth stating in order to add value, which will help them not over-promise to your customers. The sales team needs to really understand what the KSP’s and USP’s are, and how to communicate those to your customers effectively. A great question I always recommend asking is, “What are your top

three priorities when choosing a partner for your business?” Once your sales team has identified what the customer’s priorities are, they can then explain why you are right for them, and back it up with great examples using both USP’s and KSP’s, and the benefits they bring. Your sales team must buy in to your USPs and KSPs, otherwise they will over-promise and underdeliver, just to get the deal over the line. This comes from the top down, whether that’s your MD, SD, or the sales manager, they must reinforce the message on a regular basis, and instil the selling points to your sales team.

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

Your sales team must buy in to your USPs and KSPs, otherwise they will over-promise and under-deliver To learn more about this, and many other areas of sales, I would recommend two open courses being run by the Sales Doctors: Selling Made Easy A one-day workshop on Monday 27 July and Monday 28 September, in London. The investment is £399 per person, however email info@salesdoctors. co.uk with ‘Talk Business discount for Selling Made Easy’, and gain 20% off. The Perfect Sales Call A two-day masterclass on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 July, or Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 September. The investment is £599 per person, but again, email info@salesdoctors. co.uk with ‘Talk Business discount for Perfect Sales Call’ and gain 20% off.

Contact: www.wedosalestraining.com

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Tricks of the trade show Marta Gorka, digital marketing expert at exhibition stand designer, Skyline Whitespace, analyses what you need to consider to get exhibiting at a trade show just right

You may have an excellent product, but if nobody visits your stand, you won’t get a chance to showcase your services


aking the right first impression when marketing your company at a trade show is key for any business, however large or small your company or stand space. Your initial contact with a customer should be perfect. Modern research has shown that the time it takes to assess the displayed information is only a tenth of a second, making it especially pertinent when promoting to your potential customers. Get it right, and the rewards can be great. Get it wrong, and it’s a huge opportunity wasted. A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD Trade shows provide a level playing field to expand a customer base, and grow your business. They provide an opportunity to present your business directly, face-to-face with prospects. Whether you’re a first time exhibitor or a seasoned veteran, a common mistake is not ensuring

126 July 2015

that your stand communicates your product and highlights your company’s USPs. When thinking of exhibiting, there are two major factors to consider: • Should you appoint an agency, that can take care of everything for you, or go it alone with a self-build stand? • Should you hire or buy? With so many options, a good exhibition company will advise you on the best solution for your needs. Some companies can provide the best of both worlds. If you do choose to get help, it’s important that you appoint an exhibition stand supplier that provides value and support on an on-going and consistent basis. Your supplier should always be ready to provide a solution that

matches your exact requirements. In addition to making sure your exhibition stand looks striking and professional, the role of your contractor is to ensure your participation at the event is carried out safely. They’ll make certain that your stand meets Health & Safety standards, that planning and design is carried out in compliance with the law, that a construction phase plan is drawn up, and that all risks are identified. Hiring someone to take care of all of this also means that you can focus on other parts of your exhibiting experience, like staffing, pre-show and at-show marketing, and lead management.


SELF-SUFFICIENCY Often, for many companies, the key design features can ultimately be portability and ease of use. This is often due to lower set-up and dismantling costs. Most portable, lightweight, display systems can be set up without hiring I&D services.

help you develop your trade show marketing strategy. Your stand should be carefully planned from the attendee’s perspective, consistently expressing your business and build brand recognition. You may be promoting an excellent product, but if nobody visits your stand, you won’t get a chance to engage with your prospects and showcase your services. Good stand design will drive more traffic, and give visitors confidence in your products and services.

WHAT ABOUT STORAGE? Many frequent exhibitors choose to purchase and re-use their exhibition stand time and again. When exhibiting in this manner, it’s important to also consider your stand storage. Are you planning to store it yourself, or will you require your contractor to do it? Getting your stand supplier to store your stand can be really convenient and cost-effective. Note that contractors based close to major exhibiting halls will charge less for delivery and installation - just make sure they own a secure warehouse. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY An excellent way to attract more visitors to your exhibition stand and communicate your message is to add technology. Use interactive displays to enable two-way communication between your brand and your potential customer,

Self-build solutions are the most cost-effective way of displaying your graphics, and delivering a professional look at the same time. They take minutes to set up, giving you more time for finishing touches. Pop-ups come in many sizes, and they make for great standalone displays, or can form part of a larger display. If you do opt for a smaller display or stand, it’s important to remember that all the design rules still apply. One of the most important things is to grab attention, no matter the size or budget. Portable display systems can be put almost anywhere, and if you purchase from a reputable supplier, they come with durable, high quality graphics that can be easily changed whenever your branding or products change. Investing in a quality modular system should allow your stand to grow with your business, with just a small amount of investment, year-on-year. PLAN AHEAD It’s best to start planning for your exhibition at least four to six months before the show. Together with your marketing team, set realistic objectives, and choose an exhibition stand that is eye catching, and will

Hiring a stand for your ƬUVW H[KLELWLRQ JLYHV \RX DQ HFRQRPLFDO ULVN IUHH VROXWLRQ WR WHVW \RXU PDUNHW LOWER BUDGET? HIRE A STAND If you’re new to exhibiting and unsure about the investment, or if you simply don’t attend shows often enough to justify purchasing a display, stand hire can be a great option. Hiring a stand for your first exhibition gives you an economical, risk-free solution to test your market. Hiring also offers ultimate flexibility, creativity, and cost effectiveness. You can modify the look and size of your stand as often as you want, making sure it always fits your marketing efforts and exhibiting space. You also won’t have to worry about the cost of storage. This is particularly convenient for international exhibitors, and some exhibition companies can even provide a global hire solution to save international shipping costs and ongoing costs of ownership.

consider bespoke video, animation, and themed/branded digital games to tie in with existing campaigns that can capture data, and allow valuable databases to be created to follow up after the show to generate business. Integration of social media within an exhibition stand environment is always a great idea, pre-show and post-show, to create a buzz and draw potential visitors and most of the time these methods are free. Contact: www.skylinewhitespace.com

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128 July 2015


Safe and unseen Malcolm Newdick, managing director of Riverbank IT Management, explains how to move your IT to the cloud safely


verything is moving to the cloud - photos, music, even the humble car tax disc has gone online. The tide of change is clear to see. But many businesses have serious concerns that moving their IT to the cloud will mean losing control and weakened security. It doesn’t have to be like that. Here are my five steps to help you get a truly successful outcome:

IT in the cloud, it enables its team to work from anywhere that has an internet connection. • Reducing costs: the accountancy practice that moved to the cloud. It swapped expensive capital expenditure for a monthly rental. It never has to buy another server and have predictable monthly costs.

then give you a way to access your new cloud servers.


WHERE ARE THE COST SAVINGS I’M SUPPOSED TO SEE? Working in the cloud can certainly deliver cost savings. Paying per user, per month, for a service is great for start-ups and small businesses. They know their IT is going to be reliable, and exactly how much

Many think when you move to the cloud, your data disappears to some unknown location, managed by unknown people. Not true!


WHY MOVE TO THE CLOUD? There have to be clear business benefits. What are you going to get out of your move to the cloud? Here’s a sample of the success that other businesses have achieved: • Multiple offices: the recruitment company with offices in Maidenhead and Manchester. Everyone has access to a single system, so no more emailing files or complicated links between offices. When they want to open office number three, the IT is already in place, and it’s a painless process. • People working anywhere: the legal firm with a team of home-based lawyers around the country. By putting its


WAIT A MINUTE! WHERE’S MY DATA? Many think that, when you move from office-based IT to cloud-based, your data disappears to some unknown location, managed by an unknown group of people. Not true! The Riverbank data centre, for example, is in Reading. Knowing that your cloud data actually resides in a physical location can be a real comfort.


WORK IN THE SAME WAY Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to mean a disturbance in working practices. You might be able to just flip your current IT infrastructure into a data centre. Your IT provider will

it will cost. But remember that the cost grows as you grow and it can become significant.


HAVE A PLAN IF IT ALL GOES WRONG! You need to know what to do if things go wrong. If an employee leaves, you need to know that you can remove your confidential data from their phone and other mobile devices. You need to know, in advance, that you can manage the data and the devices it is stored on. Then, when the crisis occurs, you will be glad that you have a business-quality service. So when you make the move, make sure it’s the right move!

Contact: www.riverbank.co.uk

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Legally speaking This month, Rebecca Harmer, solicitor at Wright Hassall, looks at the issues when paying opposite genders of a different skill level differing compensation


I’m considering paying a more skilled and experienced male employee more than a female one doing the same job. Is this gender discrimination? On the face of it, your proposal to pay a male employee more than a female employee, both of whom are doing the same job, is discriminatory. Women are entitled to enjoy contractual terms, which are as favourable as those of a male comparator. A male comparator is someone who carries out ‘like work’, ‘work rated as equivalent’ or ‘work of equal value’. Women have an implied ‘sex equality clause’ in their contracts of employment, which operates so that any less favourable term(s) are replaced with the equivalent, more favourable term(s) of a man’s contract. However, there are provisions under the Equality Act 2010 that do, in certain limited circumstances, allow employers to implement a pay differential, providing it can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a ‘legitimate aim’. There is no list of legitimate aims; each claim is judged on its own peculiar circumstances. MATERIAL DEFENCE The 2010 Equality Act, which incorporates the rules governing equal pay in a Statutory Code of Practice, states that ‘a woman doing equal work with a man in

the same employment is entitled to equality in pay and other contractual terms, unless the employer can show that there’s a material reason for the difference, which does not discriminate on the basis of sex’. The situation you outline implies that both employees are doing ‘like work’ meaning that both are entitled to equal treatment. To depart from the principle of equal pay, you must prove a ‘material defence’ i.e. that the male employee’s additional skills and experience are of such practical importance to the business, that it justifies a higher rate of pay. You’ll need to prove that the pay gap has nothing to do with gender, otherwise your female employee could bring a claim. JUSTIFYING A GENDER PAY GAP You should consider any gender pay gap, however justifiable, a temporary measure. Not only must you keep the situation under observation, but also ensure that your female employee receives training to improve her skills to the same standard as those of her male colleague. Even if you believe your actions are justified,

You should consider any gender pay gap, KRZHYHU MXVWLĆŹDEOH D temporary measure you’re on thin ice, and more likely to face a claim where the onus will be on you to provide a ‘material factor defence’. Of course, you’ll only face a claim if your female employee makes a point of finding out if there’s a pay difference. Be aware that employees now have six years in which to bring an equal pay claim before an ordinary court and, if they find in the employee’s favour, you’ll need to pay back pay up to a maximum of six years. Unless you decide that you’re on very firm ground, I’d suggest paying both colleagues the same - it’ll be cheaper than fighting, and potentially losing, an equal pay claim. Contact: www.wrighthassall.co.uk Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine. co.uk with the subject line “Legally speakingâ€?

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Too close for comfort? With long-haul travel budgets still under pressure, today’s premium-economy concepts may be the perfect compromise between cost and comfort, says Travel-Analysts’ Andrew Samson


ew things in life spark pangs of jealousy quite like taking a peek through the curtain from economy class into business class. Yet, despite the return of growth to the UK economy, business chiefs are still being forced to turn right as they board their aircraft, instead of left. For the lucky few who’ve experienced the good life in business - or even first - class on long-haul routes, the prospect of a downgrade to

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economy will, quite literally, be most uncomfortable. The good news is that the news isn’t all bad though. First introduced by in-flight innovator Virgin Atlantic in 1992, the ‘premium economy’ concept is fast becoming a key differentiator for airlines competing on long-haul routes. With serviceorientated carriers, such as Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines launching premium economy products in 2014, changes are clearly afoot. The premium economy concept, at

first glance, may have limited appeal however. When compared to modern business or first class long-haul concepts, the flat bed, automatic lounge access, limousine transfer and increased bag allowance are clearly absent. Scratch beneath the surface though and you’ll soon realise that the gap between economy and premium economy is vast, so vast in fact that any association with the word ‘economy’ seems totally unjust. Depending on who you choose to


A downgrade to premium economy is also the perfect statement for companies wishing to reduce their carbon footprint fly with, today’s premium economy products will give you up to 42 inches of legroom, up to 21 inches in width and up to 130 degrees recline. Significantly, this allows the base of most premium economy seats to rotate as the chair reclines, which greatly improves comfort. Compared to most long-haul economy configurations, where a seat pitch of 31 inches is de rigueur, premium economy seats are typically 2-4 inches wider too. The extra width means that you’ll never be more than

WHICH AIRLINES OFFER THE BEST PREMIUM ECONOMY PRODUCTS? As a rule of thumb, ‘three class’ airlines, which fly a combined business/first product instead of separate first and business cabins, have more scope to push the boundaries of premium economy into business class territory. With massive variations in seat specification by airline, route, and even aircraft type, it pays to do your homework. Websites such as seatguru. com are a great place to start checking

The cost comparison between business class and premium economy will be of specific interest to the retrenchment focused executive. Business class is typically three- to five-times the cost of premium economy. It is little wonder then that demand for premium economy is expected to rise dramatically during the next 18 months. A downgrade to premium economy is also the perfect statement for companies wishing to reduce their carbon footprint. Without dipping

Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll soon realise that the gap between economy and premium economy is so vast that any association with the word ‘economy’ seems totally unjust one seat away from an aisle - and you’ll never have to say “excuse me” twice to visit the toilet ever again. But the benefits don’t stop there; wider seats permit larger in-flight entertainment screens. What’s more, with the addition of adjustable foot rests, laptop power sockets, and adjustable lumbar support in every seat, several of today’s premium economy products actually out-class business class concepts from the 1990s. Throw in priority check-in, a smaller cabin with dedicated cabin crew, and improved menus (served on ceramic plates with proper cutlery), and premium economy starts to become a very compelling proposition when compared to standard economy.

before you book anything. For example, if you’re heading to New York and you’re prepared to fly via Paris, British Airways’ OpenSkies Prem Plus product offers a 47inch seat pitch. By comparison, a standard British Airways World Traveller Plus seat from Heathrow offers 38 inches of pitch. HOW LARGE IS THE PREMIUM? Booked well in advance, premium economy is generally 80% more expensive than an equivalent economy fare. Closer to the departure date, the increase can be as low as 40%, depending on your economy fare class. Be warned though - playing the waiting game can be a risky strategy, as premium economy cabins generally tend to fill up early.

into the complicated science behind fuel burn and weight, most business class flat-bed concepts occupy slightly more than 1m2 of floor space, compard to 0.5m2 in premium economy and 0.3m2 in economy. So the next time you’re planning a long haul trip, be sure to include premium economy in your price comparisons. When you peer through the curtain at the start of your flight and see people shoe-horning themselves into their economy accommodation, you’ll be very glad you did. The premium is most definitely worth it. Contact: www.travel-analysts.com

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Dodging the drought What steps can you take to avoid the summertime cash flow blues? Group sales director of Ultimate Finance, Nick Smith gives his top tips



hat’s not to like about summer? Well, if you run a business it can be a tricky time as far as cash flow is concerned. The fact that it’s the holiday season means that paying invoices promptly may be less of a priority for people who are more focused on sun, sand, and sangria. And for the same reasons, you may take your eye off the ball as far as chasing payments is concerned. So here are some timely tips to help make sure you avoid a cash flow drought over the next few months, as well as some ways to get some more substantial funding if the situation requires: LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE: • Speed up your invoicing - are you invoicing at the start of the new month, instead of at the end of the old? And why not invoice at regular intervals throughout the month, or even as soon as a job or transaction is completed?

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• Make it really simple for people to pay you - offer a range of payment methods so your customers can choose the one that suits them. Make sure every invoice features a ‘due by’ date that’s displayed prominently too. • Offer discounts for early payment - some customers will settle invoices early if it saves them money. It might be worth a try to see whether it works, and to gauge whether it’s cost effective. • Create a collections policy keep on top of your sales ledger, and operate a system of reminders that become gradually more serious and formal as invoices become increasingly overdue. • Keep track of what you owe pay your invoices right on the due date - unless, of course you can get a discount for paying early, in which case, take the discount. • Extend your payment times there may be some suppliers you have a particularly good


relationship with that you can ask about spreading your payments or extending your due dates. GETTING EXTRA FUNDING LOOK BEYOND THE BANK Even if you do all the things suggested above, you can still find yourself experiencing cash flow difficulties. Often, ironically, this can be the result of success. What do you do, for instance, if you land a big new contract and need to make a substantial outlay for materials, stock, equipment, or extra wages? In that situation you need a cash injection - and fast! The first port of call for most SMEs is their bank, either for a loan or an overdraft. Banks don’t always look on small and medium-sized businesses very favourably, especially since the credit crunch. That doesn’t mean they won’t lend to you, just that the application process can be frustratingly lengthy, the terms may not be especially favourable, and that some of their conditions can be tough to meet.

account, to use as you see fit, within 24 hours of issuing an invoice. The fees are quite modest and the company providing the finance can also take over your credit management - so instead of wasting time chasing invoices, you can leave it to the experts and concentrate your efforts on building your business. Another bonus is the fact that the facility can even include bad debt protection, so you are covered against the risk of a client failing to pay entirely. OTHER WAYS TO SAVE YOUR PRECIOUS WORKING CAPITAL If you want cash to acquire equipment or vehicles, then ‘asset finance’ is often the best option. The finance provider purchases the items on your behalf, then you make fixed


Contact: www.ultimateďŹ nance.co.uk

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS THAT ARE BECOMING MORE MAINSTREAM The financial world, however, is changing, and there are a variety of providers beyond the banks, which specialise in alternative financial products specially designed to help SMEs that are hungry for cash. One of the most popular is ‘invoice finance’, a facility that is rapidly overtaking the traditional bank overdraft or loan. As the name suggests, this is a way to release the cash you have tied up in unpaid invoices. The arrangement is relatively quick and easy to set up, and means that you get the money in your

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Business Doctors: A growth story With individual Business Doctors now operating across the UK and still expanding into further territories, the company is looking to expand internationally too

s a national business support network dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses achieve their growth vision, Business Doctors has achieved huge growth by helping others to grow. Providing hands-on support to help SMEs across a spectrum of industries throughout the UK, Business Doctors has maintained steady growth itself through the recessionary years, and is now thriving by filling a gap between the big four consultancies, which generally lack interest in SMEs and lone business growth consultants, who may well be very talented but lack the quality stamp and infrastructure that Business Doctors provides.


With individual Business Doctors now operating across the UK and still expanding into further territories, the company is looking to expand internationally too. With three offices in South Africa already, the company is currently targeting Australia, New Zealand and the US for further expansion. Boasting a huge array of quality standards, Business Doctors is Cogent Gold Standard approved, achieved ISO9001 in 2012, a SFEDI Centre of Excellence, accredited by the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, an accredited partner of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, approved to deliver mentoring services by Mentors Me, approved to deliver services under the GrowthAccelerator programme, a Winning Pitch funding partner, a Grant Thornton funding partner, has worked closely with Liverpool Vision, St John’s Innovation Centre, and Business Growth Hub Manchester, and is also CPD accredited. The company also recently published a book, Breaking Big: The Business Doctors Nononsense Guide to Achieving Breakthrough Growth for Your Business. Co-founder Matthew Levington says: “Our success

comes from a hands-on approach. From strategies for sales and boosting profits, to advice for effective people management, accessing finance, and acquiring other businesses, Business Doctors delivers proven solutions, all geared towards helping SMEs achieve controlled and sustained growth.” “Unlike traditional consultants, every single Business Doctor is a nononsense, commerciallyminded do-er, who is committed to helping businesses up their game, no matter what sector they are in. Demand for business support is at an all-time high, as businesses that have weathered the recession are now looking to grow and are seeking help. Every hour of every day, there are important decisions to be made, and opportunities to explore, that make the best use of a company’s people and its commercial prospects. Those who are capable of making the right calls for the right reasons will see their businesses thrive – and enjoy the ride. And those who don’t, very probably won’t. “Business Doctors do things differently by turning the focus firmly on you, the leader in the hot seat. If they can truly help you, they know the business will thrive.”


A range of experience

Business Doctors helps dreamscape double Warrington-based digital “Before long, my shortmarketing company, comings as a businessman Dreamscape is celebrating after were outstripping my skills doubling turnover and profit in as a designer and marketer. the three years since calling in Cash flow was a problem, Business Doctor, Kevin Cook. despite the level of demand Thanks to its clientfor our services.” centred business strategy, Bernard’s business the creative marketing epiphany came when a organisation has recorded a client recommended 210% increase in turnover, Business Doctors, which and a 250% profit increase led him to contacting local during the last three years, Business Doctor, Kevin Cook, and has doubled its staff. who runs Business Doctors Dreamscape founder, Cheshire from offices in Bernard McCabe launched Congleton. Kevin first visited the full service agency in Dreamscape for a half-day 2004 as a one-man operation, strategy session, and then after working on contracts worked with the business #TVExpo with big name brands, over the following months including Mercedes, Price to help implement an Waterhouse Coopers, Nissan, agreed business plan. Peugeot, and the NHS. Bernard says: “Within Dreamscape grew quickly, six months we saw a huge www.thamesvalleyexpo.co.uk with staff increasing to four to difference in our business. cope with expanding demand. The business built up a cash However, starting a reserve, and we saw profits business was proving a rise. Within 18 months we complex challenge for had rebuilt the business Bernard. He explains: and were growing again, “Clients were beating a path and quickly. But this time, to our door. But what soon we had a plan, a vision, and became clear was that, while goals to achieve.” I was a skilled marketer, I “I’d urge any SME looking wasn’t, at that point, a skilled to grow, and to actually enjoy business person with a being in business, to speak long-term plan. with Business Doctors.”

Business Doctors’ success is built on only taking on the most experienced individuals to operate in its territories throughout the UK. Each Business Doctor runs their own Business Doctors business, as well as helping other businesses to thrive. Paul Dawkins recently launched Business Doctors Hampshire. A former mission director for the European Space Agency (ESA), Paul was previously an engineer and change management practitioner, who studied for an MBA at Munich Business School, which led on to a successful international career in satellite communications and the space sector. However, after years based in Germany and the Netherlands, he made a permanent move back to Hampshire with a plan to help local companies achieve their business ambitions. “I’ve commercial experience that I’d like to share with likeminded business owners,” he explained. “This is about giving something back. My career experiences, from the Royal Air Force to the ESA, have led to some unique opportunities in high-tech startup businesses, and equipped me with a unique way of looking at things.” With genuine interest in both start-ups and established SMEs, his focus is on change management, leadership, and proposing solutions that overcome barriers to growth. @thamesvalleyexp This isn’t the first time that Paul has been involved in business support - he previously ran his own small company providing management consultancy and business solutions. Business Doctors co-founder, Rod Davies said; “Paul thrives on problem solving and helping people, and is highly motivated by the power of change, which will be of interest to forward-thinking SMEs in his Hampshire territory.” Contact: www.businessdoctors.co.uk


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Hot topics

? Q

Is it ever okay to bend the truth in order to get a better deal for your business or to close a sale?


13% NO


Each month we ask a selection of business leaders for their views on an aspect of business. This month, we’re discussing whether telling a white lie is ever okay

MANDY BEAL DIRECTOR, ANGLESEY PAPER COMPANY I feel strongly that it is never OK to bend the truth in any business dealings. Too many companies and sales staff employ devious tactics to obtain orders, which leads to bad feelings and distrust of companies as a whole. If more companies, from small independents to the corporate banks, used fair, ethical, and honest trade for every single transaction, the country’s finances would be in a healthier position. LIZ BARTON MANAGING ASSOCIATE, CRIPPS Sales patter is generally considered to be acceptable in law, but deliberately deceiving isn’t. The consequences of what you say (or don’t say) will depend on the context, particularly who you’re dealing with and - if you’ve a written contract - what it says. If you are dealing with a consumer, you need to tread carefully as this area of law is highly regulated. If you’re dealing with another business, then generally you have more freedom, but because of the way most contracts are drafted, you could still end up in trouble if your sales puff ends up either as being treated as a ‘representation’ included within a contract, or if you don’t accurately disclose any issues (like ongoing litigation for example). ADAM GILLET DIRECTOR AND SALES MANAGER OF FANFINDERS I’ve met many people over the years who have done very well for themselves, for short periods of time, by bending the truth and promising the world to customers, then not delivering - none of them are still in business today. If you bend the truth, you’ll get caught out eventually. When that happens, the chances are you’ll end up with either no client, no job, or even no business at all. Is it worth the long term risk for short term gain? I’d say not. JUSTIN TOOHIG FOUNDER, PAINTBALLING LTD Bending the truth to make a sale might have worked for travelling salesmen twenty years ago, or for those that plan to be out of business shortly, but for those who want a long and successful business, a good reputation and a loyal customer base are worth much more than a short-lived sales hike. Thanks to Internet reviews that can hang over your business for months or even years, it’s now more important than ever to treat your customers with the basic respect and decency that they deserve.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON TWITTER @TALKBUSINESSMAG *Talk Business magazine and its staff are in no way linked to, condone, or agree with any opinions expressed in this article. Opinions are solely those of the named individuals.

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Trash talk Each month, we ask a different business man or woman the everyday phrases that ‘drive them up the wall’ in the business world, and why

Can you go into the supermarket and get a loaf of bread for free? No, you wouldn’t, VR ZK\ VKRXOG DGYLFH EH DQ\ GLƪHUHQW" MY MOST HATED BUSINESS JARGON

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Job Title: Founder The business: Emma Holmes is The Launch Queen. She loves to help people take their passions and knowledge, and turn them into online, leveraged businesses. She works with everyone from those starting out to those pulling off £50k-plus launches.

Contact: www.the-launch-queen.com

PASSIVE INCOME: There is this assumption that passive income means that you get money from doing nothing, that there is no level of involvement from you whatsoever, that you can just kick back and watch the payment notifications rocking on in. My opinion? It’s a bit of a myth! I like to look at the best way to maximise your income as ‘leverage’. You take your time, and you leverage it with the ability to sell whatever it is that you created in that time, over and over again. CAN I PICK YOUR BRAINS?: Read here: “Can I get lots of advice from you and not pay you a penny?” People often approach those who provide advice in various formats, whether that be faceto-face or online, and ask the dreaded question, “Can I pick your brains?” No! Can you go into the supermarket and get a loaf of bread for free? Would you go to the hairdressers and get a hair cut for free? No, you wouldn’t, so why should advice be any different? SIGN UP BRIBE: Eek! This is one that I hear bandied around a lot. It’s really important, when you’re building a business, to have a database of people who are interested in what you do and what you have to offer. But people are now cagier than ever about giving out their email address, and therefore I recommend that you have a fabulous free resource to offer in exchange for it. I like to think of it as a little present, a gift for being part of my crowd; I am not trying to bribe anyone - that sounds so underhand and sleazy! DAY IN, DAY OUT: Busy working on this day in, day out? So, every day then? It’s one of those phrases that is overused and over-complicated. I’m a great believer in keeping things simple and never over-complicating any thoughts or processes. Just say what you mean - we don’t need it to sound more grand. WANT THE CHANCE TO GET YOUR FRUSTRATIONS OUT?

Tell us the insane phrases that wind you up, and you could feature here - simply email editor@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk with the subject line ‘trash talk’.

142 July 2015

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