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September 2015 £4.50

ARE YOU A WORKAHOLIC? GET APPY

Take our quiz to see if you’ve got the right work/life balance

The top 10 free apps every entrepreneur should own

Former Dragon, Piers Linney discusses life after the Den and his best investments


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STRATEGY

inside

45 Pedal power Rich With

47 10 packaging trends for the future 50 The art of brand warfare How can you use military strategy to succeed in business?

9 Editor’s letter 10 Contributors 13 News & events

53 Out of sight, but not out of mind Why flexible working is important for your company’s culture

16

55 7 ways to save on your energy bills

MARKETING 59 Hardly the Apple of my i Kimberly Davis looks at why the Apple Watch is failing

SUCCESS 16 Piers de résistance Former Dragon, Piers Linney talks about life after the Den

22 What’s your story? Linzi Boyd on using your brand to create stories and gain an audience

24 Lessons learned

61 So simple, so social A beginners’ guide to YouTube

102 TECHNOLOGY 93 Silicon Valley vs Tech City Former Dragon, Piers Linney asks if London can ever compete

95 4 tips for a slick web presence 96 Tech review The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley gives his views on the latest tech

99 Top 10 free apps every entrepreneur should own 102 Mobile magic Improve the user experience on your mobile website

105 I’ve got an app for that

65 Digital marketing on a shoestring Making the most of your marketing budget

68 Story selling How to unearth stories in your brand

Darren Fell, Crunch

FRANCHISE 107 Franchise news 108 Look before you leap The important questions to ask before taking on a franchise

112 Franchise spotlight

27 Up and coming Paul Venn, Chilly White

PEOPLE

29 Book reviews

71 The leader of a new pack Leadership expert Deborah Benson

FINANCE 31 Is the price right? Talk Money’s Adam Aiken on valuating your business

33 Five top international payment tips for SMEs How to get the best out of currency exchange

35 Go with the flow A guide to cash flow loans

38 A penny for your thoughts? How your social media can help you secure a loan

41 Share the love

73 Plucking people from the social tree

115 Don’t get caught off guard The top 5 legal mistakes new franchisees make

How to recruit great employees via social media

76 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Deborah Charles of Novacroft

79 Teacher’s pet Are you playing favourites with your staff?

80 Are you a workaholic? Take our quiz to discover if you’re overdoing it

83 The light is on, but are they at home? Lee McQueen

ADVICE 119 Sales Doctor Your questions answered

120 Time for a device rethink? Are you thinking the wrong way about your IT purchases?

123 Legally speaking Wright Hassell explains the legal issues around religious garb in the workplace

124 The generation game Web expenses

126 Directory

Top tips for shareholder agreements

68

Paul Stafford of the bfa talks to Right at Home

LIFESTYLE 85 We love... top tech 86 Hotspots: Bristol Locations for business stays, meets, and eats

89 Put your best foot forward Women’s fashion shoes

91 On the road: Audi RS6 Avant Oliver Hammond’s car review

OPINION 129 Question of the month: We ask: “If threatened with a bad review, would you offer a discount to appease them?”

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

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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

SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Scott Hartley scott.hartley@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

MANAGING DIRECTOR Stuart McCreery

Risky business You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take Wayne Gretzky

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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It can often be difficult to walk away from something successful – there is the saying, “you can never have too much of good thing” after all. However, this is a situation many budding entrepreneurs find themselves in on a daily basis; they’re working in a job they dislike, or doesn’t inspire them, with an idea for a business venture, but they’re worried about leaving the comfort and security of a paid job for something unknown and unproven. This is similar to the situation our cover star this month, technology guru, Piers Linney found himself in when confronted with the decision to leave successful TV programme Dragons’ Den. Despite having much success with a number of companies, from ‘Skinny Tan’ to ‘Lost My Name’, he ultimately decided to hang up his gloves (do Dragon’s wear gloves?) and move on to new exciting projects. It was a risk, but as Piers alludes to in his interview, taking risks is something all entrepreneurs that want to achieve anything have to face up to at some point. Delve into Piers’ thoughts, and discover more words of wisdom – including why he believes technology education in schools is vital for the future of the UK tech industry – on page 16. We hear time and time again that the biggest problem startups and SMEs face on a day-to-day basis is a lack of funds that will let them carry out the many weird and wonderful ideas that they have. But don’t worry – a solution is here! Sally Rowland from MoneyPenny takes a look at how you can perform effective digital marketing on a tight budget, on page 65, while the experts at Doodle provide their list of the top 10 free-to-own apps that every entrepreneur should download right now (page 99). Finally, while taking 15 minutes out of your schedule to read this magazine is a great start, many small business owners find it increasingly difficult to unwind and let go of their work commitments – often working 60-plus hour weeks. Take our quiz, “Are you a workaholic?” on page 80, and find out if you’re in danger of overdoing it, and get some useful tips on how to unwind.

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 9


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The experts

HAMISH ANDERSON Hamish has spent most of his career trying to explain complicated stuff in a simple way. He has held various senior roles for some big banks, most recently at HSBC, and also including Merrill Lynch, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, and Schroders, where his clients were a variety of companies, institutions, and asset managers. Hamish took the leap into entrepreneurship and co-founded Money Mover in 2014 to help SMEs benefit from a transparent and cost-effective way to make international payments. At Money Mover, he embraces all aspects of the day-to-day business with enthusiasm, in addition to directing its marketing and development.

HAMISH EXAMINES HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF CURRENCY EXCHANGE ON PAGE

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10 September 2015

ORTIS DELEY

PAUL STAFFORD

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.

Paul is the bfa’s PR manager, a role which gives him ample opportunity to indulge in his passions for writing and business. A diverse background in SMEs led him to focus on communications roles, and has proved to be ideal experience for writing features, articles, and social media updates on the varied franchise sector. When he’s not scribbling in a notepad, he can usually be found reading, or procrastinating about finishing his first attempt at a novel.

ORTIS REVIEWS THE HUAWEI P8 SMARTPHONE ON PAGE

READ PAUL’S FRANCHISE SPOTLIGHT ON PAGE

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news Poor advice results in £6.4 billion loss for UK enterprises Estimated average loss of £20,842 to Britain’s small businesses

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oor professional advice from third parties or consultants has resulted in one in six (16%) small and micro businesses (the equivalent of around 320,000 enterprises) losing money, according to new research by Direct Line for Business. Professional advisers, such as accountants and property consultants, are warned that they could be pursued for losses incurred as a result of giving substandard advice. The research reveals that advisory consultants and other such firms have cost Britain’s small and micro businesses an estimated average of £20,842 in the past 12 months, due to inadequate professional consultancy.

In total, this would equate to a whopping £6.4 billion lost by small businesses as a result of poor advice in the past 12 months. 44% of businesses, whose operations were affected by bad advice, blamed their IT consultants. A third suggested it was poor advice on management issues, while 32% blamed incompetent marketing consultancy. Direct Line for Business warns consultants providing advisory services to consider the reputational and financial impact of poor advice to their own company. Nearly half (46%) of affected companies suggested they were forced to lay off staff because of

Contact: www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk

Half of British workforce fails to take full annual leave

T

he UK’s largest job board, reed.co.uk, is calling on British workers to reclaim their annual leave and increase productivity at work, after research revealed more than half of workers (54%) forgo an average of three days leave each year. Despite a resounding 90% of employees claiming a well-deserved break increases their productivity at work, they also admit to putting in an average of 70.5 hours overtime each year, saving their employers almost £1,000. More than two in five (45%) employees admit to cancelling holiday for work, with a quarter of hard working Brits (24%) claiming they would rather forfeit the occasional day off than leave work undone or fall behind. Diligent workers will also cram in four extra hours of work on average, the week before they take a break.

poor professional advice, while more than a quarter (28%) highlighted that the survival of their business was put in jeopardy. Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business said: “Our research clearly highlights the devastating effect poor advice can have on businesses. However, the impact on an advisory firm that is facing litigation can be just as shattering. For those providing advisory services, it’s important to recognise that issues can occur, and clients could pursue them for compensation.”

Almost half of UK workers admit to checking emails or doing work while away Lynn Cahillane, communications manager at reed.co.uk, said: “The extent to which people are prepared to put in overtime, or even cancel holiday, to get the job done, is a positive reflection of our attitude to work, and testament to how much we value our jobs. However, everyone needs to recharge, so we would encourage everyone to try and take their full allocation of annual leave.

While having a team of hard working individuals is great news for employers, businesses should always be cautious of becoming over-reliant on the heroic efforts of those members of staff who always go the extra mile, and ensure they’re taking adequate time off.” Contact: www.reed.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 13


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news UK pop-up retail sector making huge strides Growth of 12.3% means sector is now worth £2.3 billion to UK economy

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op-up retail is now worth £2.3 billion to the UK economy, according to Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy, a report from Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). Commissioned by EE, it found that pop-ups now account for 0.76% of total UK retail turnover, up from 0.6% the year before - an increase of more than £200 million in sales. The report found that the sector is growing much faster than predicted, with 12.3% more revenue this year versus 8.4% last year, caused by a rise in the number of customers and an

increased average spend. 44% of respondents have visited a pop-up in the past year, and they’re spending £8 per month more than they previously were, at an annual total of £124 per person. Britain is now host to an estimated 10,000 pop-ups, and the sector employs more than 26,000 people. The lines between pop-ups and traditional retail are increasingly blurred, as well-established retailers and online-only brands are using pop-ups to test, and expand into, new locations and product lines.

Rob Harbron, managing economist for Cebr, said: “Pop-up retail is continuing to become an increasingly viable platform, for both people with new business ideas and for established businesses looking to engage with customers in new and innovative ways. Successful retailers increasingly need to offer customers the ability to shop when and where they want. As such, the flexibility of pop-up stores makes the format increasingly attractive.” Contact: www.ee.co.uk/connectedretail

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Sterling Integrity 1 Oct - Bristol M Shed 5 Nov - Cheltenham Cheltenham Racecourse 3 Dec - Midlands Cranmore Park www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk

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PIERS DE RÉSISTANCE

After two years as one of the stars of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, technology entrepreneur, Piers Linney is getting back to his roots. Our editor, Luke Garner caught up with him to discuss his future plans, and to get his top tips for tech entrepreneurs gleaned from his time in the Den

M

ost people will know Piers from his time as one of the Dragon’s on the hit BBC TV show, Dragons’ Den, but he’s been building a name for himself before, during, and since his time on the box. With cloudbased business, Outsourcery, and a charity – workinsight.org – under his belt, he’s long been at the forefront of the technological revolution in the UK. As one of the more friendly Dragons on the TV show (though admittedly it would be hard

16 September 2015

to come across as one of the more intimidating and ferocious panel members when said panel includes Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne), Piers has built a steady stream of businesses that he’s invested in during his time in the Den. Some of the more famous brands include Australian-based Skinny Tan, and Mainstage Travel – the leading clubbing and festival holiday operator in the UK. Both have seen roaring success, but on the flip side, the former Dragon says he doesn’t regret any investments he made

in the Den either. “There were no mistakes made as such, and nothing I wish I had invested in, so it was a pretty good experience overall,” he explained. “I think the biggest success I had was Lost My Name, a full stack digital publisher of personalised content. Google Ventures recently invested $9 million (approx. £5.75 million) in the company, and it is now the best-selling children’s picture book in the UK, having sold well over 600,000 copies in 135 countries. I believe that it will become the most valuable


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talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 18


SUCCESS

You learn that sometimes people just don’t work out and it is best to part ways

business to ever come out of the Den.” With such great tales of triumph, you may be well within your rights to ask why he’d leave such a treasure trove, but for Piers, it was simply time to move on to pastures new. “I am still working with a number of tenacious entrepreneurs that I backed, but I had spent two years in the Den and, as much as I enjoyed the experience, it was time to move on and focus on other commitments,” smiled the former Dragon. “Unless you have done it, it is difficult to comprehend the risk, uncertainty, sleepless nights, and financial and personal sacrifice that entrepreneurs have to make, and I do my best to reduce the burden by sharing my experience and sharing my network.” As any avid fan of the Den will know, the Dragons regularly explain that investing in a business is about more than just the numbers – you’re also

18 September 2015

investing in people. As such, Piers has had to work with a number of people from all walks of life, and with varying personalities over the years, and it is people skills that he believes are vital to the success of any business – especially when it comes to difficult personnel issues. “Business is about people, and your team is crucial to success, but managing human resources can be difficult and personal at first – especially in small companies and startups. Over time, you learn that sometimes people just don’t work out and it is best to part ways. Sometimes, business difficulties or slow progress can lead to good people losing their jobs, and an evolving business may require different skill sets, or can outgrow the capabilities of existing members of the team. Over time, you mature and learn to manage and motivate people for the good of the business and its stakeholders,” he explained. Recently voted as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons on the Thomson Reuters sponsored Powerlist 2015, the TV star hopes to be seen as a role model to inspire those from a similar background as himself. He’s also known for nurturing the

next generation, and this is something he strongly believes is key to ensuring the UK stays at the forefront of industry. “Being honoured in such a way was a proud moment, as was winning the award for Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural Black British Business Awards 2014. I rarely meet people with Caribbean heritage in the professional sectors I have operated in, and I am keen to ensure that the next generation has positive and relevant role models,” said the Midlands-born businessman, whose mother hails from Barbados. “I also feel that teaching technology-based education, such as coding, in schools for the next generation is very important. Software will continue to transform our world, and an understanding of technology and the development of coding, design, and engineering talent is critical to the long-term success of the UK economy.” Despite having fairly humble roots – his mother and father were from a working-class background, and Piers failed his 11-plus exams – the influential Briton made his way up the corporate ladder before deciding to branch out on his own. In fact, his entrepreneurial spark was evident at just 13 years old


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SUCCESS

when, as a teenager, he cut out his local newsagent by going direct to the wholesaler to start his own paper round, planting his entrepreneurial seed by building the paper round up and then selling it off. Later, Piers would leave the lucrative banking industry at the turn of the century in order to start an internet-based business. As one of the first to understand the transformative nature of the internet on communications, he has had the upper hand on many latecomers, but has still had to use his ingenuity to stay ahead of the competition. “I have always been fascinated by technology and the power of the internet,” he enthused. “The convergence of technology and communications is an enormous opportunity, and highly disruptive. We decided almost five years ago to focus on unified communications and collaboration, and we are now the UK’s leading provider of cloud-based unified communications and collaboration solutions using Microsoft technologies. Many existing providers of traditional communications have simply left it too late to evolve.” Although Piers has used his insights to predict where the industry will head next, he also believes that SMEs should take a measured approach when trying to predict the future, and that risk isn’t necessarily bad. “With risk comes reward. You can’t predict the future, but you have to embrace new technologies and the power of the internet to succeed, irrespective of the size of your business. SMEs now have access to technology and fulfilment capabilities that only very large enterprises enjoyed only a few years ago. This is levelling the playing field. There is also a fantastic opportunity for innovative and fast-moving SMEs to partner with large enterprises to create value,” beamed the tech guru. “For example, one of the

20 September 2015

With risk comes reward. You can’t predict the future, but you have to embrace new technologies biggest barriers to growth for any SME these days, is access to finance, especially during the growth phase when angel investors or venture capital funds are unable to follow up. A different approach to risk and reward is required to ensure that UK businesses are able to scale.” Armed with his business knowledge, and insight gleaned from the Den, if he had to start again from scratch, does he think he’d have a better or worse chance to triumph? “You learn something new every day as an entrepreneur, and it can take several attempts to actually succeed in business. Each new venture benefits from

past experience,” said Piers. “I think starting a business is now easier than it was in the past, and there are many useful resources available to help budding entrepreneurs. The key is to keep business and personal overheads low, as fixed costs reduce your ability to take risk.” Some might see it as a risk for the TV star to leave the Den, but with entrepreneurialism coursing through his veins, it’s unlikely this former Dragon’s fire will be extinguished any time soon. Contact: www.outsourcery.co.uk www.workinsight.org


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SUCCESS

People need to understand that before you can sell a product you need to EXLOGDEUDQGƬUVW

What’s your story?

Marketing guru, Linzi Boyd talks about how you can use your brand to create stories and gain an audience and – ultimately – achieve success

22 September 2015


SUCCESS

If money is tight, there is still plenty a business can do to drive sales around a product and tell their brand story

A

n entrepreneur, an international speaker, former owner of two successful businesses – including a footwear brand that has shoes recognised in the Design Museum – and a mother of two children, Linzi Boyd wears many hats (or should that be shoes?). She built up a small fortune from humble beginnings, evolving her former brands through an excellent understanding of branding and marketing, and now she’s looking to pass her hats on to the next generation of entrepreneurs and business owners by sharing her wisdom with them. “People need to understand that, before you can sell a product, you need to build a brand first,” she stated. “It’s all about the story. Building a brand starts with brand DNA, and the core of your business – what it means, who you are, and what you stand for etc. Only once you understand this, can you look to successfully sell a product or service.” From an early age, Linzi was building her business empire. By the age of 24, she’d founded and sold two successful companies. The second, a footwear brand, saw her dive into the unknown, but the lessons she learned have helped shape her teachings to this day. “Many start-ups really struggle to get to grips with their marketing. Whether it is through lack of understanding, or perhaps neglecting it due to cost, many just don’t formulate a clear strategy, and ultimately that will be their downfall,” explained Linzi. “There’s a very blurred space around marketing. Business owners need to use marketing and communications to drive sales around a product. If people understood what branding and marketing can do for their business, they’d come to us sooner. If you don’t understand your brand, you could end up wasting a lot of money marketing something that won’t work.” One of the most important things for small businesses to understand, according to Linzi, is that you don’t just

Linzi Boyd is the author of Brand Famous: How to get people talking about your brand, which is published by Capstone, priced at £14.99, and available as a paperback.

create a product and then market it; it all needs to be a seamless, intertwined thought process. She explains; “95% of businesses I sit with, say to me, “I have this product, I’m going to take it through this channel, and can you help me?” I say, that’s great, but what’s your gap in the market? What’s your passion? What’s your belief? Where do you want to take your product? Only once you’ve answered these questions can you then decide the story that sits around it. We help them to design a story and elevator pitch. When you can speak your story and product into reality, then within 30 seconds people can engage with your brand. Once you’ve done that, then it’s very easy to think about designing a product infrastructure that fits around your story, but not the other way around. You can’t put the cart before the horse, so to speak.” Something Linzi often sees hindering the marketing efforts of businesses is them not allocating enough (if any) time, money, and resources to marketing, as it is deemed superfluous or just not as important as other areas, such as HR or sales. This is a huge mistake, says the international speaker. “If money is tight, there is still plenty a business can do to drive sales around a product, and tell their brand story. Social media is a vital tool these days. It can open up channels to get an engaged audience, and create further channels to sell product through. I’ve seen a number of start-ups be very successful because they got their brand stories right and their social media spot on.” She continued; “You look at some of the top brands out there; AirBnB is amazing, Virgin and Nike and Adidas too. The main thing is that they’re joined up across the brand, and their story is also joined up. They haven’t gone to market selling you a product,

they’ve gone to market to sell you a story, an ideal. Innocent smoothies also did the same – they had a pure story and followed it through.” Despite her roaring success, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. As many people starting out have experienced, there are always mistakes made along the way. “In every area, you’re always making mistakes, but when you do make them, you need to keep a positive attitude and look at them, learn from them and work through them. That’s the difference between success and failure, as there will always be setbacks,” she said. For now though, Linzi leaves any budding entrepreneurs with a parting gift. “A lot of entrepreneurs start out with an idea, but they won’t necessarily have the skills to back up the business, so naturally they look to go on training courses. But sometimes they get obsessed with learning everything, and trying to be a jack of all trades. This is something you should look to avoid,” explained the Leeds-born businesswoman. “Don’t get sucked into going on course after course – decide what learning you do actually need, and then get it. Then get down to actually building your business.” You can catch Linzi on this month’s Fortune Hunter TV show, which provides advice, tips, and more for any budding entrepreneurs. Watch now on Sky channel 192 and FREESAT channel 402.

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 23


SUCCESS

Darren Fell, founder and CEO of online accounting firm, Crunch, looks at the seven things he has learned since starting his business, with the benefit of hindsight

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ots of numbers get thrown around when you work in accountancy, but not all of them are boring tax bills and allowances. How about 13; the number of places we climbed the Top 100 rankings this year? Or 50; our growth in percentage for the last two years? Behind every number there’s a story, and a lesson we’ve learned, so as we approach our seventh birthday, here are seven of the lessons we’ve learned so far.

Lessons learned Surrounding yourself with experts on every business function means you don’t have to become one yourself

24 September 2015

TAKE YOUR TIME WITH RECRUITMENT IT’S WORTH WAITING FOR THE RIGHT CANDIDATE Recruitment is not something to be taken lightly, especially when you’re a tiny company. A recent study found that the average cost of replacing an employee was around £30,000, and on average, workers take 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity. Can you afford to make a hasty decision? It’s important to remember you don’t always need to fill a position from the immediately available candidates. Just like marriage, it’s better to hold out for the right person, rather than jump the gun and have it all end in tears. LEARN WHERE YOUR STRENGTHS ARE A well-marketed business should consider what sets it


SUCCESS

apart from its competitors, and whether this unique selling point is being communicated effectively enough. In our early days, we used to pitch ourselves as online accounting software, but it soon dawned on us our real USP was our combined service – online software combined with a full accounting package. We had such a wealth of knowledge and experience; we should have been shouting about it from the rooftops! And so we did. Now, when talking about our brand, we always make sure to clarify that we offer support, accounts, and software – all in one place, all in real time. KNOW WHEN TO LET GO Tucking yourself away in a swanky office might work for some people, but I much prefer an open-plan workspace – it means I never lose

hard way. Fortunately, our chairman, Michael Van Swaaij (former CEO of Skype), has been invaluable in steering our business away from potential pitfalls. Surrounding yourself with experts on every business function means you don’t have to become one yourself – although it doesn’t hurt to pick up bits and pieces along the way. This is fundamentally a business culture thing – everyone here works on the shop floor, with publicly viewable calendars, and staff are encouraged to think of ways we can improve our systems and processes all the time. With 150 minds thinking about problems, you usually find a solution pretty quickly. SHARE YOUR SUCCESS For me, being able to give back to the people who helped build our business is what being an

CONSTANTLY ITERATE “The times they are a-changin’” sang Bob Dylan in 1964. So you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone. One moment you’re an industry leader, but in the blink of an eye you could be wiped out by a new disruptive technology (don’t believe me? Just ask Blockbuster). It’s for this reason you always have to innovate. In a heavily regulated environment like accountancy though, you have to think about innovation differently. That’s why we split the company into two separate firms, Crunch Accounting, and E-Crunch Ltd. The latter is free of the regulations accountancy firms face, and means we have the opportunity to innovate, and provide the additional services our clients have asked for.

One moment you’re an industry leader, but in the blink of an eye you could be wiped out by a new disruptive technology touch with what’s going on. When you’ve seen your business grow from nothing to hundreds of staff, it takes great restraint not to micro-manage everything (our department heads will know what I mean), but as you grow, it’s necessary to hand over the reins and hire people who are specialists in their field, and can take each department to the next level. It’s hard, but necessary. DON’T THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL Only a fool thinks they know everything. Like any business, we’ve had to learn a few lessons the

entrepreneur is all about. As we grew it just became very clear, very quickly, that the business hinged on a multitude of talented, hard-working individuals. Everyone who has played some part in the growth of our company deserves to be recognised. If you’ve cultivated a great team, you’ll want to make sure the morale is high enough to keep them onboard. It’s why we offer our staff complimentary breakfasts, posh coffee, childcare vouchers, a Cycle to Work scheme, a half day on their birthdays, and a range of free leisure activities – last month we went rock climbing.

ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE BUSINESS Entering a traditional industry with a bang is always going to cause trouble. Right from the start we had dirt flung at us, and it still happens today. It’s only natural to want to go on the defensive, but we’ve been around for long enough now to know that getting into a slanging match isn’t very productive. Constructive criticism is an invaluable resource, but don’t waste time arguing with critics; instead get back to work and silence them. Contact: www.corporationpop.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 25


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SUCCESS

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aul Venn, in 2012, jumped into the crowded market of ice cream. He tells us how he found a niche and expanded on it to become a success. Chilly White started life as Paul selling ice cream on the corners of streets, and grew into a company that sells candyfloss, popcorn, doughnuts, and hot dogs, in vintage themed carts at events. From corporate events to weddings, a friendly uniformed server provides a number of different flavours, making events just that little bit more special, with a fun, unique brand. WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR BUSINESS? We are a fun food events catering business, and we delight our customers at all sorts of events, including weddings, parties, and corporate functions, with our service with friendly staff. Chilly White has developed from selling simple ice cream lollies on the streets and parks, into a successful hire service, serving premium ice cream from traditional 1920’s styled ice cream tricycles at weddings, events, special occasions, and corporate functions. We continue to grow, and strive for scooping perfection. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS? I was motivated by my late granddad who worked for Lyons Maid Ice Cream in the 70s and 80s. He inspired me to work for myself instead of someone else. Like kids in a candy store, I was in awe at the sight of all that ice cream and, from that day, I was inspired to start an ice cream business. The name ‘Chilly White’ derives from the nickname given to the inside of Wall’s ice cream tricycles back in the 50’s, a name filled with ice cream traditions, and so Chilly White was born. HOW DID YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY REACT TO YOU STARTING A BUSINESS AT 29? They were, and still are, very supportive. I started the current business from scratch at 29 years old, however I was business minded from the very young age of 10 years old.

We all scream for ice cream! WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? When I lost everything, including a roof over my head, due to the break up of my marriage, I overcame the situation by being positive and working hard to build, and strengthen the business. Being a member of the FSB was a great advantage, and was my first port of call for support and advice. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS? Just go for it, but be careful, and research the market. Also, get lots of contacts – they are key. It’s also a great idea to join a pressure group, such as the FSB, which is there to provide legal, financial, and employment advice when needed. HOW DO YOU EXPECT YOUR BUSINESS TO DEVELOP IN THE FUTURE? I would like to franchise the business model, and expand into pop-ups all over the country. Contact: www.chillywhite.co.uk

Like kids in a candy store, I was in awe at the sight of all that ice cream

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 27


LATEST releases

SUCCESS

BOOK reviews A Bigger Prize Why working together as a team leads to success by Margaret Heffernan Our verdict:

About the author: Margaret Heffernan is an award-winning chief executive, author, and playwright, and blogs for BNET, Real Business, and the Huffington Post. This is her fourth book, following on the heels of Wilful Blindness.

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!

competing against one another – whether it be for fame, money, or attention. Being on top seems to be everything, but what is it costing us? A Bigger Prize claims that competition often doesn’t work, and that the best do not always rise to the top. So what are the alternatives? In the follow-up to her bestselling book, Wilful Blindness, Margaret has discovered that, around the world, individuals and organisations are finding creative and co-operative ways in which to work together, in order to find success. She shares some of these stories and tips in the book, which will set you on the road towards collaborative success.

We say: The Olympics, X-Factor, The Rich List: everywhere you look, people are

A Bigger Prize is published by Simon & Schuster UK, priced at £9.99, and is available as a paperback.

The Visual Communications Book Using Words, Drawings And Whiteboards To Sell Big Ideas

About the author: Mark Edwards is the founder of Whiteboard Strategies, and has spent 20 years as an independent business consultant. He’s helped companies such as Vodafone, Symantec, and Toshiba to create visual abstractions, illustrations, and diagrams.

prompts to communicate clearly, allowing you to learn to back up your words with powerful imagery for greater effect and clarity. It’s a stylish, yet practical guide to making high-impact presentations by using visual communications techniques. This highly accessible book will teach you how to show, tell, and sell your story, products, services, and ideas more, effectively. It will help you to understand the power of visual communications quickly, and how you can use it as an attention-grabbing presentation medium. It also explains the use of commonly used visual metaphors, such as the tightrope, the iceberg, and the temple.

We say: The old adage goes that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. This book takes this idea firmly by the reins, and uses the art of visual

The Visual Communications Book is published by LID Publishing, is priced at £9.99, and is available as a hardback.

by Mark Edwards Our verdict:

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 29


FINANCE

Is the price right? Although each situation is unique, there are a few basics that help when it comes to valuing a business you want to buy, says Talk Money’s Adam Aiken

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ou’ve got your eye on another business, you’ve got some funding, and you’re ready to make a bid. But how do you value the business you’re targeting? If it’s in the same sector as you’re already in, things are a little easier, as you’ll have a good idea before you start the process on how to value it. If you’re branching out into something new however, valuing the target business might be less obvious. PERFORMANCE AND ASSETS There are three key things that you need to consider when you start to think about buying an existing business – its assets, its cash flow, and its profits. As a rule of thumb, consider initially valuing a privately-owned SME at between three and five times earnings, before interest and taxes. Simply looking at its revenue, however, can be misleading – it might be raking in millions, but if it’s spending millions more, then it’s probably not a sound investment. That’s why profitability needs to be considered too. Ask to see at least the last three years’ accounts. Looking at just the most recent set of accounts gives little perspective, and they might cover a one-off. Three years gives you a longer term view of its operations.

yourself, but if the new business offers a different product or service from what you’re already doing, you might want the existing management to come as part of the deal. The cost of that needs to be factored into your budget. SHAVING COSTS Remember to take off the costs that you’ll be able to lose. For example, the business you want to buy might have a large management budget, covering a fleet of cars or pension contributions. If you are not inheriting that management team, those costs won’t apply in future. SPEAK TO YOUR BANK It should go without saying that you’d do well to speak to an accountant and a business adviser first. “For each type of business, the assets are unique and, while the valuation

approaches taken are often similar, the information those values are based on is different,” says Tomas Freyman, valuations partner at BDO. And don’t overlook the advice you can get from your bank. Unless you’re extremely cash rich, the chances are you’ll be looking for funding from your bank, so take advantage of its expertise at the same time. Your bank manager’s interests are aligned with yours, as you both benefit if things go well. But your bank might also take a more dispassionate view than you, and could be the brake you need if your heart is ruling your head.

MONEY www.talk-money.co.uk

WHAT ABOUT THE MANAGEMENT? You need to consider how important the existing management is to the business. Do they have the skills, vision and experience to make it a success? Again, if it’s simply an add-on to your existing venture, you might be confident in being able to manage it

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 31


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FINANCE

Five top international payment tips for SMEs Hamish Anderson, CEO of Money Mover, looks at how you can get the best out of currency exchanges when trading across borders

The cheapest way of converting currencies is not to convert currencies at all

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n today’s globalised, connected economy, many UK SMEs are already players in the international marketplace. For a company expanding overseas, a crucial consideration is its currency exchange policy, and how it makes and receives international payments. Here are my five tips for maximising your success when doing so:

with your bank in the currencies that you use. Why? Firstly, you take control over how and when you make your currency exchanges. Secondly, as the cheapest way of converting currencies is not to convert currencies, you can hold balances in any currencies that you might need to pay out in the future.

3

RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SPECULATE DON’T ASSUME YOUR BANK It’s a bad habit to hoard currencies IS THE ONLY PROVIDER OF in the hope that exchange rates will FX SERVICES move in your favour. It risks starving Your bank’s online platform is your business of cash, and the rate may convenient, but it’s not transparent, and never actually go your way. Convert it’s unlikely to be the cheapest option. currencies in accordance with your You may only see the transfer rate you’re business requirements. going to get once you commit to the CONSIDER USING payment or transfer, and it’s not unusual CURRENCY FORWARDS to have to put up with spreads and TO LOCK IN EXCHANGE charges, which may represent up to 3% RATES FOR KNOWN or more of the payment amount. A small INVOICES AND investment of time in registering for a RECEIVABLES specialist global payments service will be quickly repaid through cost savings and Using currency forwards to lock in – or hedge – known outgoing payments improvements in your process. and incoming receivables increases OPEN MULTIPLE FOREIGN accounting certainty and reduces CURRENCY ACCOUNTS exchange rate-related volatility. If you frequently receive, or make, There’s nothing worse than issuing payments in foreign currencies, it’s an invoice in Euros when the rate worth setting up currency accounts is 1.15 to the pound, only to be

1

4

2

paid when the rate is 1.40 – which represents a loss of over 20%. The same goes for setting budgets based on accounting reference rates, which vary significantly from actual market rates.

5

SELECT A PAYMENTS PROVIDER THAT MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER Once you’ve made the decision to use a third party FX provider, make sure that it offers you the best tools and services. Also consider the following: • Are the fees and rates transparent? Beware of services that entice you in with ‘teaser rates’. • Does the service allow you to track payments and print confirmations? • Can your accountant log into it, to review and make payments on your behalf, and is access fully audited? Currency exchange and global payments should be an asset for enabling growth for your business, and not an inhibitor. Any SME should not be afraid to explore alternative FX providers to their incumbent bank, as a way of saving money and improving internal efficiencies. Contact: www.moneymover.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 33


FINANCE

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Go with the ow Dai Rees, director of Creative Capital, looks at cash ow loans – an often overlooked form of short-term funding for SMEs, that’s rapidly gaining popularity in the alternative lending market

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et again, the news from the Bank of England does not make good reading. When compared to the second half of 2014, gross lending to small businesses fell by around £500 million to £4.4 billion in the first half of 2015. Look behind these figures to non-high street lenders, and it’s a different, much more positive story. According to research innovation charity, Nesta, and the University of Cambridge, lending by the alternative finance market was worth £1.74 billion in 2014, and is set to rocket to £4.4 billion during 2015.

This rapid growth illustrates the increasing awareness and acceptance of independent, noninstitutional lenders, and a growing demand for forms of finance which offer more flexibility compared to a traditional loan or overdraft. Cash flow loans are a prime example. While not front-of-mind with many SMEs, these facilities are growing in popularity with retailers, e-commerce businesses, and startups who want immediate access to funds as and when they need them. GO WITH THE FLOW A cash flow loan is often the perfect substitute for businesses, which have been declined bank funding. It provides all the speed and accessibility of an overdraft, but has the scale and repayment discipline of a short-term loan. In many cases, SMEs can put in place a 12-month facility, which reserves a pre-agreed amount of cash. These funds can be drawn down and repaid as many times as is required over revolving periods of, typically, two to six months.

Once cash is advanced, repayments are weekly, and cover the cost of the capital loaned and the interest accrued. When the facility is fully repaid, the total cash reserve returns to the preagreed level, and can be drawn again the next time it is required. At any time during the 12-month agreement, the facility can be altered to either increase the reserve, or change the repayment period. This makes cash flow loans a hugely flexible solution for businesses which need ‘cash on tap’ in order to seize new growth opportunities, such as seasonal sales peaks or bulk buying stock at a discount. It also provides much needed contingency to meet unanticipated costs, or to provide a quick cash injection to pay wages or key creditors. The rapid cycling of borrowing and payment makes it particularly suited to cash-generative businesses which know their forecast sales will be able to support the repayment schedule. ITS PLACE IN THE MIX Unfortunately, traditional loans and factoring facilities are often offered

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 35


FINANCE

to SMEs as a means of solving shortterm funding requirements. Neither offer the degree of control that a cash flow loan provides, and can often lock the business into using the facility over the long term, with all the associated inflexibility and costs this leads to. Even in the alternative finance market, where tailored short-term

facilities are much more readily available, it can be the optimal solution for certain businesses. This is particularly the case for SMEs who sell directly to consumers, whether through physical stores or through digital channels. These businesses typically have a wide spread of risk to a large amount of debtors, and won’t have an invoice or purchase order to leverage – putting facilities like selective invoice finance or trade finance out of their reach. START ME UP One of the major benefits of a cash flow loan is its suitability for young businesses, which are struggling to secure funding from traditional sources. The main condition to qualify for a cash flow loan is proof of affordability. Historic trading records and cash flow forecasts will give

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the lender a solid base, from which to judge the serviceability of debt. Some alternative lenders are willing to base their decision on a solid business plan, strong management, and good evidence of projected revenues. This opens up cash flow loans as a means to fund start-ups’ crucial early stages, when a credit history or significant debtor book doesn’t exist. Cash flow loans are also beneficial for smaller businesses, as they are an efficient and cost effective way to ensure there is cash instantly available. Facilities usually involve a fee, which reserves the cash for the period of the agreement. After that, the only costs an SME faces will be the interest charged when the facility is used. Businesses can borrow cash as often as they require, up to the set limit, without incurring any additional fees. The best lenders will allow an SME to renew the facility after 12 months, or let it lapse without any exit charges. A LONG TERM TOOL FOR GROWTH Cash flow loans certainly don’t have the highest profile amongst SMEs, but that is rapidly changing. The time and effort management has to expend trying to secure access to finance means that arranging a highly flexible, long-term solution is hugely appealing. The feedback we receive from clients is that the peace of mind an instantly accessible cash reserve gives them is invaluable. Knowing that they have a ‘pot’ of funding available helps them to make quicker decisions that lead to more growth opportunities. We’re also frequently told how much they appreciate the level of control these facilities provide. Management decides how the facilities will be used, and can shape them to be responsive to their specific needs. It’s clear that cash flow loans will continue to gain in popularity and momentum over the coming months and years, and will play an increasingly important role in helping support the growth of UK SMEs. Contact: www.creativecapitaluk.com

36 September 2015


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FINANCE

A penny for your thoughts? Paul Thomas, managing director of risk lifecycle technology provider, Provenir, explains how your Facebook activity could help you to get a loan

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hen you apply for credit or a loan, you know the financial institution will carry out background checks on you. Our credit score has such an impact on our lives now that we see regular adverts from companies encouraging us to know and manage our score. So the thought of credit and lending companies looking at social media, including your Facebook account, to help them make a credit decision may spark some concerns among many SMEs; what will they look at? What impact will it have? Is this good news for the borrower, or does it only benefit the lender? It might take a bit of getting used to, but there are benefits to lenders and borrowers alike of bolstering information given in loan applications with social media data gleaned from the web. Elsewhere, we see that social media is already used by businesses quite widely. Companies monitor it for marketing purposes, and use information to proactively engage with customers, aiming to improve customer service, address customer complaints and, ultimately, retain business, so is it really a leap for financial institutions to use this information too? SMALL BUSINESSES For the latest generation of new business owners just beginning to create their ‘credit footprint’, social media channels can be a sensible source of data. Today’s tech-savvy business

38 September 2015

entrants engage with these channels readily, perhaps more so than with other traditional channels. Looking at social media activity might, at first thought, appear only relevant to consumer applications, but in fact there is much potential benefit to be gained by small businesses. Fledgling businesses often hit a black spot in the processes, systems, and procedures of banks. Banks can struggle to serve them when it comes to lending. A loan application isn’t treated as coming from an individual, yet the startup business has no financial history to plead its case for funding. Banks stand to lose out if they can’t find a way through this conundrum, as a start-up loan is likely to lead to a current account, a credit card, and a banking relationship that could be potentially lucrative and long term. If lenders were to use the same tools to assess a small business loan application as they use for a consumer, they could stand to make a more accurate, faster decision. As part of this, social media data can provide a genuine demonstration of borrower behaviour that could point to capability and likelihood of meeting repayment terms. Lenders can gain insight into how an applicant spends their time, their lifestyle, habits, career history, aspirations, and the company they keep. As an holistic, fully-rounded view of a potential customer, it is powerful information. RESPONSIBILITY It can also help lenders know their customers better. This is especially

important at a time when the spotlight is on responsible lending. Lenders are sensitive to their part in offering the right product to suit customer needs. They want all the tools they can get to help them reach a decision that sees them lend an appropriate amount, with appropriate repayment terms. Technology is playing an ever more central role in supplying those tools. Sophisticated analytics are part of the kit bag, helping to make the vast and unstructured data generated by social media, usable. However, that is only a part of the picture. There is also a sizable challenge for established financial institutions to integrate this information into their processes and systems. With a technology infrastructure of tightly linked and embedded systems, it can be hard for these institutions to try out something new. Challenger banks and bespoke lenders, on the other hand, are more able to update their systems and procedures to incorporate new approaches. Ignoring social media as a development in credit and lending assessment can leave traditional lenders open to competition from alternative lenders. Small businesses may turn to these newer market entrants if established lenders, unable to identify a risk level, cannot assign capital to them. INTEGRATION For those agencies offering social media data analytics, simple integration with existing systems used by the credit and lending organisations is important. Changing


FINANCE

For the latest generation of new business owners, just beginning to create their ‘credit footprint’, social media channels are a sensible source of data legacy systems is expensive and time consuming. And social media channels exist in a fast-moving industry. Online platforms evolve and change their algorithms regularly. Credit scoring technology incorporating data from these sources is challenged to keep up. Money lending has a very long history, and the tools used today for the assessment of creditworthiness are well established and heavily relied upon by financial institutions around the world. Social media is comparatively new on the scene, but data is king, so it has the potential to firmly establish its place as a decision making tool. For lenders, social media can provide valuable data where traditional sources yield little. Recourse to a predictive credit score generated from analysis of social media data could mean an application that would have been rejected, is approved. This is a significant benefit. Lenders want to reduce the time it takes to grind through the decision mill to reach an outcome. Applications sitting in the pipeline are of no benefit to lenders – they are a drain on resources – or frustrated borrowers. Only time will tell. Predictions underpinned by social media data will be assessed against borrowers’ subsequent proven ability to pay, and this will help lenders understand if this new data source does in fact help them make the right decisions, quickly. Contact: www.provenir.com

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 39


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FINANCE

Should the value of the shares be lower if a ‘bad leaver’ event, such as gross misconduct, occurs?

Share the love What should you consider when discussing shareholder agreements for your business? Ros Miller, consultant solicitor at Keystone Law, explains

W

hether your company has been established for many years, or you are just starting up in business, a shareholders’ agreement should be an essential part of your company structure. Unfortunately, unlike annual accounts or articles of association, it is not a legal requirement for a company to put a shareholders’ agreement in place. In twenty years of corporate practice however, I have rarely worked with a company where I have not recommended that the shareholders consider entering into an agreement to cover how they operate their company and regulate their shareholding relationship, and these are some of the reasons why: HAVE THE CONVERSATION A surprising number of people go into business together without ever discussing fundamental issues

relating to how their company will be operated and managed, and how the shareholders will deal with their shareholdings. To put a shareholders’ agreement in place however, will require the shareholders to consider and discuss many of these points. An experienced solicitor will be able to present alternative scenarios to the shareholders for discussion, and will be able to work with them to record and document their agreed approach. There is a huge advantage to having these discussions at a point when working relationships between the shareholders are good, and the shared approach to the business is positive. In the worst case scenario, the first time that these issues are considered may be when a conflict has arisen – at which point it may be very difficult to reach any sort of agreement about the way forward. CONSIDER HOW DECISIONS WILL BE TAKEN All companies have directors, but a shareholders’ agreement can (and should) specify who has the right to appoint those directors

and, just as importantly, who can remove them. It’s also a good idea to think beyond the directors, and agree which decisions require the approval of all or some of the shareholders. Without a shareholders’ agreement, the board and/or the majority shareholder(s) will have the right to make the important decisions, but sometimes the minority shareholders will want the right to consent to, or veto major decisions – such as issuing more shares, expanding or closing down the business, or making a major capital commitment. This is often the case where a shareholder has made a significant financial investment in a company, but isn’t involved in the day-to-day management. TALK ABOUT MONEY In the spirit of hoping for the best, work out how the shareholders will take money out of the company. If people are employees or contractors, consider including provisions in the shareholders’ agreement that control the level of remuneration, and any increases

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 41


FINANCE

A surprising number of people go into business together without discussing fundamental issues relating to how their company will be operated

in those payments. Also consider who should decide when dividends will be paid, and whether a dividend policy should be included (specifying what percentage of profit should be distributed in any year). This discussion should obviously take place in the context of the company’s likely working capital requirements. AGREE HOW SHARES CAN BE TRANSFERRED For most private companies, where there isn’t a market for the shares, it is common for the shareholders to restrict the sale of shares. Few shareholders would want to have an outside third party imposed on them as a co-owner, and most would want the right to buy the shares of a departing shareholder. It is useful therefore, for shareholders to discuss the degree of restriction they want to place on each other, and to include these rules in their shareholders’ agreement. It is possible, at one extreme, to impose a blanket ban on share transfers – either for a

42 September 2015

specified period, or on an open ended basis. Alternatively, shareholders can agree to give the first right of refusal to their co-shareholders, in which case the shareholders’ agreement should specify the way in which the value for those shares will be agreed, and the detail of the purchase process. Thought should also be given to situations in which someone might be forced to sell their shares. Common examples include death and bankruptcy, but also ceasing to work for the company, or committing an act of fraud or gross misconduct in relation to the company. Should the value of the shares be lower if any of these ‘bad leaver’ events occur? DISCUSS SHAREHOLDERS’ OTHER ACTIVITIES Agree each shareholders’ time commitment to the business, and also what other activities they may be involved in – both while a shareholder, and after they have sold their shares. Ongoing commitments may be different for each

shareholder, and it’s important to be realistic and open about this at the outset. Usually, each shareholder will be bound by the same restrictive covenants once they have sold their shares. These should be linked to the geographical areas in which the company has previously operated, and should be realistic in terms of the length of any restriction. A shareholders’ agreement should also contain confidentiality provisions – ensuring that an exshareholder does not use the company’s information for their own purposes. In summary, with the right professional help, it should be a relatively time- and cost-efficient exercise to put a sensible shareholders’ agreement in place. In most cases, having signed the agreement, it is kept in a file and never looked at again. In those circumstances, the valuable part of the work was done when the shareholders had their initial discussions, raised the issues referred to above, and set some rules about how they would operate the company and hold their shares. In rare cases, where a dispute or difficulty arises between the shareholders, a properly drafted shareholders’ agreement is invaluable, as it should provide a route map through the dispute without having to resort to very costly and disruptive legal processes. Contact: www.keystonelaw.co.uk


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STRATEGY

Pedal power

Our roads are clogged, our atmosphere is polluted and, as a nation, we’re too fat. Cycling will help with all of these problems

I

ride to work every day. It keeps me fit, I get some fresh air, and frankly it’s just a bit of a hoot. But, you see, there’s a bit of a problem with cycling – the branding. I’m not talking about the amazing work Team Sky has done at a national level – I’m interested in the everyday identity of this sport/transport method. Compare this to the Netherlands, China, and India, where cycling is seen as part of the culture. We need to achieve a state of mind where it’s seen as cool to be on a bike. You see, us cyclists are lumped into one of three stereotypes. There’s your MaMiLs (Middle aged Men in Lycra), many of whom clearly think they could be Tour de France contenders if they just shaved their legs. Or the ‘Pavement hooligan’, terrifying old dears on footpaths – presumably while swigging from a can of Special Brew on his way to the benefits office. Finally, there’s the ‘Beardies’ – humus-loving, folk festival-going individuals, usually with their trousers tucked into their socks. Neither I, nor 70% of the other cyclists I encounter on the roads, are any of the above, and yet recently I’ve been noticing a trend

for ‘cyclist-bashing’ throughout the media. Inevitably the problem is portrayed as a ‘them-versus-us’ battle between cyclists and drivers. This varies from the tame to the troubling, all but inciting drivers to run anyone using pedal power off the road. Why has this become so acceptable? Is there a problem with the way we drive in this country, where anyone over the age of 30 can turn into a Clarksonesque expert, who believes their driving is beyond reproach? Westminster University sociologist, Rachel Aldred argues that in the UK, bikes are seen as frivolous; cyclists don’t have to be on a bike, they choose to be, and therefore it becomes a leisure activity that interferes with people on their all-important commute. There’s a prejudiced psychology around cyclists – traits such as jumping red lights are over-generalised, while speeding in a car will be downplayed. This anti-cycling attitude manifests to the point that anyone on a bike is somehow inferior, and it’s acceptable (and even humorous) to drive with menace behind a cyclist and spit insults as they overtake. We need a clear identity to stop

This month, Rich With gets on his bike to see what’s wrong with ‘Brand Bike’ cycling from being perceived as a ‘fringe’ activity. Cyclists are being catered for with incentives, more cycle paths are being built, and there’s more education in schools, but more needs to be done to counter the way it’s portrayed in public. The ‘brand’ of everyday cycling needs drastic reinvention. We need to encourage more people to get on their bikes. Our roads are clogged, our atmosphere is polluted and, as a nation, we’re too fat. Cycling will help with all of these problems, so a drastic rethink is needed to counter the ideology that cyclists are pests. So come on, ride with me! Contact: www.justgrow.co

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 45


STRATEGY

10 packaging trends that will influence future innovations Adrian Whitefoord, co-founder of Pemberton & Whitefoord, examines some of the recent innovations that could change the way you package your products in the future

R

ates of change in consumer expectation are shifting at an unprecedented rate. Consumers want the best value for money, but also need to be engaged and inspired. As technology evolves, consumers are increasingly expecting its integration. Furthermore, as environmental awareness grows in prevalence, more brands are ensuring they tap into innovations and developments. So, here are ten observations and deductions I’ve made, based on current packaging initiatives, that open avenues and possibilities for future innovation.

1 PERSONALISED PACKAGING We are all familiar with Coca Cola’s ‘name’ bottles, which generated huge consumer interest. Similarly, Nutella enables consumers to purchase personalised jars, and Heinz’s ‘Get Well Soup’ campaign returned for a fifth year, enabling consumers to lift a loved one’s spirits with a customised tin of soup. More unusually, Absolut Unique injected excitement into its product recently by producing four million bottles, each with

Diageo recently developed a ‘smart bottle’ for its Scotch whisky, providing the manufacturer with updates regarding the bottle’s opened state a slightly different paint splash design. Digital print technology enabling tailored, bespoke solutions is ever more achievable. This trend will grow in proliferation and sophistication, as consumers demand a greater personal experience from their packaging. 2 DIGITALLY INTERACTIVE PACKAGING Tussock’s Jumper Wines recently developed a pioneering app empowering consumers to create a unique wine gift via a QR code printed on a bottle neck hanger. This meant participating consumers could attach a message (a voice recording, video, or photo). Diageo recently developed a ‘smart bottle’ for its Johnnie Walker Blue Label line of Scotch whisky, providing the manufacturer with updates regarding the bottle’s opened state, and empowering

the company to send targeted marketing messages to its consumers. Augmented reality has also become a novel feature on Pepsi products, Marmite jars, and Cadbury’s chocolate bars. Enhanced digital interaction will satisfy, and better engage, the technically fanatical consumer, with an increasing number of products featuring QR codes, and augmented reality features. 3 21ST CENTURY PAPER PACKAGING Verve Clicquot designed the Naturally Clicquot II Paperfoam packaging, which keeps the chilled bottle cool for two hours, and is recyclable afterwards. Carlsberg is in the process of launching its ‘Green Fibre Bottle’, made from sustainably sourced wood; the bottles are also completely biodegradable. With an accumulating emphasis on

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 47


STRATEGY

To feel better engaged with brands, consumers will increasingly be searching for packaging that articulates its ‘story’, and endeavors to educate the environment, groundbreaking uses for the ecological, sustainable production of paper packaging is inevitable. 4 HYPER-FUNCTIONAL PACKAGING Colgate’s Myanmar toothpaste B2B boxes, when flattened, reveal traditionally illustrated educational posters for children in rural schools. The campaign, ‘Turning education into packaging’, has won several international awards. Aquilequa’s quality presentation box transforms into a tasteful, reusable, wine rack. Also, Hungarian restaurant and bar, Trafiq has designed take-away boxes that flatten into plates, saving on washing up. Packaging with an after-use will appeal to increasingly shrewd, environmentally conscious consumers looking for convenience. 5 CONVENIENCE PACKAGING Origin Wine recently launched the Stormhoek Stack, consisting of four 187ml tumblers that snap apart, providing easy sharing wine. Yowk, launched at IFE 2015, is a ‘perfect soft boiled egg on the go’; the container provides an eggcup, a spoon, and container in which to warm the egg. Robinson’s launched Squash’d in 2013, a super-concentrated cordial in a pocket sized bottle; Vimto, Oasis, and other beverage brands have now followed suit. Convenient packing of products that aid and suit consumers on the go will become more innovative. Portioncontrolled, compact products in easy-toopen packaging will revolutionise the way we eat. 6 EDIBLE PACKAGING WikiPearls has drawn inspiration from fruit skins, using all natural ingredients bound together by electrostatic forces,

48 September 2015

which are also water resistant. Stonyfield Organic uses this technology for its frozen yogurt and ice-cream pearls. UK research firm, Pepceuticals has developed an ‘invisible’ coating for meat, MeatCoat. The product contains ‘antimicrobial peptide properties’ and is made from proteins, carbohydrates, natural lipids, and other compounds. Edible packaging sounds space-age but, by 2016, an increasing number of products will be wrapped in these environmentally mindful substrates. 7 RECYCLED PACKAGING Methods’ ‘Ocean Plastic’ range uses bottles created from recycled plastic collected from our oceans. Ribena bottles are made from 100% recycled PET, and industrial aluminum company, Novelis has announced certified highrecycled aluminum for food and drinks’ containers. Skol has produced beer bottles, and suggest means by which consumers can up-cycle them to make vases, lamps, and clocks. Pioneering packaging manufactured using recycled materials including plastic, cardboard, and glass will become familiar as a greater number of consumers expect brands to take responsible steps towards sustainable solutions. 8 INFORMATIVE AND ENGAGING PACKAGING Manjushree Tea stories enable consumers to read poems and short stories penned by famous wordsmiths (on the outer teabag wrapper), that can only be revealed when in contact with steam. To feel better engaged with (and more loyal to) brands, consumers will increasingly be searching for packaging that articulates its ‘story’, and endeavors to educate.

9 BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING Tomorrow Machine has created a series of futuristic food and beverage concepts called This Too Shall Pass. The series looks at complete sustainability. The ‘packaging’ is made from natural materials; beeswax, sugar, and seaweed, which either peels off or cracks open. All are completely biodegradable, either dissolving or rotting after use. Amazing ecological packaging advances will become less futuristic and more conventional, with dissolvable and watersoluble concepts being adopted by brands. 10 A GOODBYE TO GOOD, BETTER, BEST My final observation is a holistic modification of supermarket private-label structure (which ultimately incorporates packaging), currently characterised by the ‘good, better, best’ hierarchy, the default solution for many years. I anticipate a reassessment of this configuration as supermarket ownbrand principles continue to modify and adjust. I believe this will entail a merging of ‘good’ and ‘better’ with ‘best’, perhaps being redefined to better meet consumer expectation. The alterations will likely result in less consumer choice – enabling longer packaging productions runs for supermarkets, helping them compete on price more effectively with the discount chains. The restructure will require a universal re-evaluation of supermarket own-label packaging design. These reformations may initially aggravate the consumer, but should guarantee lower costs and, eventually, a sustainable supermarket industry and supply chain. Contact: www.p-and-w.com


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STRATEGY

On top of knowledge of your competitor, knowledge of yourself is also essential

50 September 2015


STRATEGY

The art of brand warfare How can you use military strategy to succeed in business? An anonymous, retired SAS Colonel and FreshBritain strategy consultant, gives his top advice

D

espite the obvious differences, the battlefield and the marketplace are surprisingly similar – but what unites them both is strategy. Ultimately, strategy is about winning wars, and is the essential link between politics and tactics. Strategy marries the ends, the ways, and the means. Having a clear strategy is essential as it can deliver clarity from your leadership, as well as an ability to lead and implement tactics with conviction. Nevertheless, companies must always remember that strategy is an art, not a science. This is because the certainty does not exist on the battlefield, and neither does it exist in the marketplace. But, while certainty may not exist, conviction is critical to successfully applying any strategy on the battlefield.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY First and foremost, when developing military strategy, knowledge of your enemy is paramount, and the same applies in business with your competitors. However, on top of knowledge of your competitor, knowledge of yourself is also essential. Without a full and frank understanding of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses, your strategy will be permanently hindered. To fully understand your brand when constructing your strategy, you need to look back to military philosopher, Carl Von Clausewitz. He was a Prussian military general at the end of the 18th Century, who spoke of ‘The Trinity’. He meant it as the trinity of the Government, the military, and the people. In the commercial setting however, this trinity would represent the board, the brand, and the consumer. In the crucible of war, it’s the mix of these three that will determine the outcome and the levels of success. If you fail to understand your brand, then these three components will not work in harmony together and, you’ll not be able to perform in that crucible. PERFECT POSITIONING Once an army, or in this instance a brand, knows the strengths and limitations of both itself

and its enemy, positioning becomes everything. Positioning is the result of the early analysis to understand an army’s place in the battlefield, and moulds the greater part of the strategy. Ultimately, correctly positioning yourself in the battlefield will allow you to maximise your strengths against the enemy, while at the same time supporting your weaker areas. Effective positioning will optimise the performance of your troops. While individuals may develop strategies, we must never forget they are implemented by armies. Positioning will also show you your enemy’s weakest point. This allows you to act with the highest chance of success at exactly the right moment. In theory, the perfect strategy is the one that allows you to win without firing a shot. However, both armies and brands must be prepared to fire when necessary. Essentially, a winning strategy marries together intelligence and self-belief, that is to say, acting on believed knowledge and acting with conviction. The best strategy is one that wins, but the ‘perfect’ strategy probably does not exist. Contact: www.freshbritain.com

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 51


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STRATEGY

Company culture inevitably improves with remote working because, by giving employees the option to work remotely, it creates a culture of trust Jacqui Keep, expert at Powwownow, explains the importance of remote working for company culture

Out of sight, but not out of mind

C

ompany culture has now become a fundamental component of successful businesses. It may not be blatantly obvious on surface value, but it affects our drive, our approach to work, and our dedication to our job, so naturally, businesses are constantly looking to make improvements to it. It has become so important that companies are now transforming the way their businesses are run in order to reach company culture enviable by most, and employers are beginning to prioritise it as an essential part of business models. Naturally, remote working has become integral for improving company culture. The benefit of being able to avoid the horror of transport strikes or delays and having the option to work remotely instead is an advantage difficult to argue against. So, rather than wasting countless personal and work hours in a painful commute to work, it enables staff to stay productive in situations out of their control instead.

Remote working (and flexible working) has subsequently changed the landscape of ‘the office’ and has given employees the freedom to determine their workplace. For staff satisfaction and retention, remote working has become essential for achieving good company culture. Having more options than only an office desk at work allows staff to explore different ways of working, and determine what environment keeps them most productive. With the right to flexible working, working spaces and hours have also become much more fluid. The strict 9-5 desk job is no longer the reality, and remote working has become a part of business models – a change which no doubt has improved both work-life balance and company culture. Technology is at the stage where there are more ways to communicate than just emailing or speaking to someone at a colleague’s desk. With conference calling services and online solutions, such as iMeet by Powwownow, colleagues, clients, and

agencies can now communicate with each other from a range of locations, time zones, and devices. Not only have channels of communication improved, but so has company culture. Formal and informal options for communicating with each other have meant that levels of communication have expanded and become instant. It has also meant that people can stay connected and updated with their work, and finding places to work from has become less taxing. Company culture also inevitably improves with remote working because, by giving employees the option to work remotely, it creates a culture of trust. For good company culture to be established, employees need to have a sense of autonomy, and remote working can create just that. Everyone works in their own unique way, so by businesses acknowledging this, remote working has become a natural fit for improving a company’s culture. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 53


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STRATEGY

Iain Walker, head of SME at E.ON, provides his top seven ways small businesses can save on energy costs

Energise your business

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or SMEs looking to make savings, taking control of energy costs is a simple way to impact the bottom line. Whether your business is operating on a tight budget or if time pressures are holding you back, improving energy efficiency isn’t just better for your green credentials – it makes business sense too. With many small businesses either too busy or lacking the information needed to tackle their energy costs, Iain Walker, head of SME at E.ON, offers seven tips for businesses to take control of their energy usage, and effectively manage the cost.

1

UNDERSTAND YOUR CURRENT CONTRACT By understanding the fine print of any contract, you can make sure you’re not caught out. Know when your deal expires, and when you need to look to renew. Some suppliers still roll customers on to new contracts, and you should look out for that in good time.

Make sure you know exactly what costs make up your bill, and whether those charges can change during the contract – some ‘fixed’ term deals only cover the cost of the energy you consume, and other charges can be passed through later. If you buy your energy through a broker or intermediary, make sure they are registered with the TPI Code of Practice, for your peace of mind.

2

MONITOR, MONITOR, MONITOR One very simple way to save money on energy bills is to monitor consumption, so you can manage your energy usage and control your costs. By taking control of your energy consumption – the where, the when, and the how much –you can see where savings can be made, and either quantify the success when it comes, or justify any capital expenditure you need. Free help and advice is available online, as is information on energy monitoring gadgets, such as monitors or smart meters, which can talk remotely to your supplier

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 55


STRATEGY

Sometimes, spending a few pounds more RQHQHUJ\HƮFLHQW equipment might save an impressive amount of money in the long run

When it comes to specific businesses, retailers may want to look at more efficient LED lighting (a potential 75% saving on tungsten bulbs), whereas restaurants may want to think about moving from gas to induction hobs, which are up to 50% more efficient than a traditional electric hob and can power up quickly, reducing and provide accurate, live usage data. The the need for them to be on all the E.ON Energy Toolkit for SMEs helps small time. Because of this, they also reduce businesses ensure they are using energy at demand for cooling and extraction in the right time and not wasting it, tracking the cooking areas – a double win. Even really simple steps, like making energy usage and running reports to help sure unnecessary equipment such as customers budget. mobile phone chargers get unplugged, can make a difference, as they use energy even MAKE SURE THE when they’re not charging your phone. NUMBERS ADD UP If you’ve got a smart meter, then you should be getting billed against accurate THINK LONG TERM consumption data, sent remotely to your When investing in new equipment, don’t supplier. If not, make sure you submit just think of the upfront cost, think in your own readings in a timely fashion terms of the lifespan, including factors (with E.ON you can do this over the such as operational efficiency, operating phone, online, or through a mobile app). hours, maintenance, and disposal costs. Sometimes, spending a few pounds PRIORITISE THE THINGS more on energy efficient equipment THAT WILL REALLY MAKE might save an impressive amount of A DIFFERENCE money in the long run. For example, Like everything else in business, modern refrigeration and air conditioning you want to maximise the return on equipment benefits from better insulation investment, and it’s the same with and more efficient components, making energy efficiency. There’s no point savings of 15-20% in running costs fitting solar panels to your roof if most achievable. Similarly, energy efficient of your energy budget goes on heating and hot water – but with the data you’ve lighting can quickly make an impact in areas that see long daily use, such as office gathered from your energy monitoring, areas, and manufacturing areas with long you should be able to effectively target operating hours. the right areas.

3

5

4

56 September 2015

6

RALLY THE TEAM

It’s easy for people to see controlling energy usage as someone else’s job. Yet a huge impact can be made just by turning off lights and turning off computers, which means that everyone can make a real difference. That’s why it’s important to get the whole company involved in taking responsibility for reducing energy usage. You have fire wardens on each floor, so why not an energy warden? Once you’re monitoring energy consumption, you could even run competitions between sites, floors, or between teams. Even simple steps, such as posters near light switches and computers, can help to remind everyone to join in with the energy saving measures.

7

MAKE TIME TO REFLECT

Success breeds success, and when you can see the impact of these changes, either on your bottom line or in terms of improved budget security, you can use it to refocus your efforts. That might just as likely be spotting what hasn’t gone so well, but at least you have greater knowledge to target future efforts. If you’re getting the rest of your company involved in making changes, don’t forget to update them too, so they can see the difference they’re making. Contact: www.eonenergy.com


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MARKETING

Hardly the Apple of my i This month, marketing expert and founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis, looks at the rise and fall of the Apple Watch

W

ise marketers know that when building a company, it’s critical that you separate yourself and your personality from the brand. The reason for this is so that the fate of the business isn’t tethered to your personal health, popularity, circumstances, etc. It’s a dangerous thing to have a business set up in such a fragile way. Yet many hugely successful businesses have made this terrible mistake. Just look at Virgin. The world looks to Richard Branson’s vision and personality to really sell the company. What do you think will happen the day he retires? When he is no longer around, will the consumer market still feel as confident in the Virgin brand? Probably not. Another company that made this same mistake is Apple. The world loved Steve Jobs’ genius and innovative thinking. His powerful sales talks at the launch of each new product captured our imaginations, and helped us to believe that he was driving the way to the future. When it was announced that he was terminally ill, Apple shares dropped by 2%, as it was clear that Apple’s untouchable reign would soon be taking a hit. When he eventually passed away, Apple shares dropped another 5%.

Most tech companies plan four years into the future, so we knew that we’d have Jobs’ vision for a few more years. Well, it has been four years since his passing, and Apple has gone out on its own with the release of the Apple Watch. While at first, many loyal Apple followers still pre-ordered their Apple Watch and stood in long lines to be the first to receive the latest items, it has not been anywhere near as successful as past products. In fact, according to all reports, the sales of the Apple Watch are down a staggering 90%. Why? Well, first and foremost, it has lost Steve Jobs to sell it. But it’s also because this item lacks the innovation of past products. In reality, it doesn’t really do anything that our other tech can’t already do. When I heard about it, I asked, ‘What does it do that my phone doesn’t?’ It seems there is nothing. In fact, it does less. So what is my motivation to buy? If Apple really wants to succeed and stay dominant in the market, it needs to separate itself from any one person. It needs to capture the imagination of the public, and prove that it can consistently create exciting new products. It also needs to return to creating visionary products that lead us into the future.

In other words, call me when the Apple Watch will call my car around like K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. Remember – remove yourself from the brand identity of your company and you‘ll greatly increase your chances of leaving behind a highly successful company. Contact: www.sarsaparillamarketing.com

The world looks to Richard Branson’s vision and personality to really sell the company. What will happen the day he retires?

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 59


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MARKETING

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 looks at video upload site, YouTube

If this key business audience is already tuned into simple stories told with witty video, why not sell your business that way

So simple, so social

T ‘

he Incredibles’ is one of my favourite films. You could even tell watching it, how much fun the film-makers were having. The combination of a cracking story, and the smart style of animation used makes me think of a weird tautology: mid-century digital. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour this weekend. The reason I mention it in the context of YouTube and business social media is because it appeals to everyone. It’s the classic example of a movie parents love as much as their children. Taken to the next stage, if you assume that your typical target customer is a decision making parent, there’s a nigh-on certainty they’ve spent a great deal of their time watching a lot of children’s animation in the past few years. Just hum a few bars of

‘Everything Is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie as a straw poll if you aren’t sure. My logic is that, if this key business audience is already tuned into simple stories told with witty video, why not sell your business that way? Making a film about your business can range from amateur (shot on a mobile phone) to sophisticated (hiring a corporate film-making agency), but either of these approaches, or the manifold options in between, will bring your company to life. And the best part? When you’re finished making it, hosting it online and sharing it with the world won’t cost you a thing. WHERE DID YOUTUBE COME FROM? A classic ‘we made it in our garage’ tech fable, YouTube is that uniquely wonderful thing: a good idea nobody had thought of before. It also, like many

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MARKETING

other good ideas on the internet, does one thing really well, and has never lost sight of that. Since the first YouTube video, ‘Me at the zoo’, was uploaded to the site in 2005, the simple, endlessly appealing concept of being able to upload and share your own video footage has remained incredibly successful. YouTube began as a simple demo site based on Flash video, and was launched to the public in November 2005. Within six months, 65,000 videos were being uploaded each day – and they were embeddable in any website with a simple string of code that the site supplied. That’s a tiny fraction of today’s hundreds of thousands of uploads every 24 hours, but sensational for a new concept in a world only just getting used to broadband internet. Within a year, Google had purchased the site and it was said that by 2007, YouTube had consumed as much bandwidth as the entire internet had in 2000. Today it is ubiquitous, and rarely bettered as a piece of easy-to-use technology. WHAT SORT OF BUSINESS IS IT USEFUL FOR, AND HOW SHOULD I USE IT? I’d encourage businesses of all sizes to use YouTube. The ‘scarefactor’ and huge cost of video is increasingly a thing of the past, given most of us carry around pretty sophisticated HD recorders in our pockets. Telling a simple story about your business with a video doesn’t even have too many rules in my opinion: a simple company update told face-to-face, in your workplace feels authentic, not amateurish. This said, it’s worth taking your time, rehearsing a little, and having a script or outline of what you want to say. A persuasive end result will suggest you’ve taken the trouble to do things in a different way. My other suggestion would be to stick to a specific topic or news update in each film, rather than trying to cover everything your business does at once. Shooting these shorts (and by short, I mean they don’t need to be longer

62 September 2015

The ‘scare-factor’ and huge cost of video is a thing of the past, given most of us carry around HD recorders in our pockets than 90 seconds) could work make your point in moments, as a post on your company blog and could make the difference in or news webpage, be used in a showcasing your expertise. presentation, and be picked up in Another example is closer to website searches. With Google’s home: one of the mainstays of my ownership of YouTube, you’ve business has always been making covered a lot of bases in a half-day information graphics in a report collaboration with a colleague, look good. Graphs, flowcharts, writing, recording, and cutting tables, and timelines are supposed your video. to make the detail more engaging, It would be easy to offer so if they end up looking plain, or advice to ‘pretty companies’ like drag a layout down rather than florists or restaurants, but it’s my increase understanding, the job is feeling that businesses such as a failure. One of our recent clients light industrial, manufacturing, was a start-up who asked us to or those that mend or repair animate some illustrations we’d equipment or machinery done, and tell the story of his new are ideally suited to video. business. Intrigued, we worked Explaining the high quality of with a professional film-maker, workmanship, and detail of and it turned out to be a great way build is always going to look of creating video without actually far more interesting when you filming anything, just using simple see it actually happening, and a animation. With a sound business pricey photo shoot could be out idea, and a great script, guess of date in six months. Making a what? - It worked like a charm. simple video of, in particular, a repetitive detailed motion, and Contact: explaining what you’re doing will www.richardpchapman.co.uk


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THE POWER of the small business brand

N

ow, more than ever, branding has become a critical part of building a successful business and understandably so! In a business climate where the internet, social media and technology create a lot of static, it’s crucial to develop a clear voice and brand message that will cut through the noise and deliver directly to your target market. UK businesses are being forced into creating well thought out brand strategies which connect their customers to their products and service on much deeper level than ever before. We have asked Niall O’Loughlin, Digital Marketing Manager at 99designs to outline 5 crucial steps towards branding success in an already very competitive small business landscape.

FOCUS ON YOUR BRAND DESIGN Your brand is the public face of your business. Whether the primary point of contact between you and the consumer is through brick-andmortar locations or via the web, maintenance of a consistent brand identity is essential. Your brand’s design is arguably the most important factor of your business’ initial success as it provides a visual identity, helps to evoke a positive connection with your target consumer. With so much graphic design talent available online today, reaching your target customer with a new or updated logo has never been more achievable. Get to know your designer(s) and provide them with feedback to achieve the very best design for your business brand.

BE CLEAR AND CONSISTENT Your brand strategy should be clear and compelling to everyone who comes in contact with your product. Remember, a memorable logo design and brand identity will attract new customers and build brand loyalty. Your brand should be represented clearly and consistently in your on and offline marketing activities as well as in your social media presence. It is imperative that your brand messaging is consistent from letterhead, web design to your social media covers. Know your mission, believe your mission, live your mission.

NOW OVER TO YOU Now that you have a logo design that communicates your business’ core competencies, it is time to integrate it into every aspect of your business. The stronger your brand is, the greater your customer loyalty. Ensure full integration of your brand identity on every company letterhead, webpage or t-shirt. These are golden opportunities to promote your new improved brand identity, so use them wisely!

GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE Knowing your target market inside out will help you to fully understand how to evoke the right emotions in your brand design. This is where your brand expertise may need to come into play. Your brand identity will be based upon the concerns, needs, preferences, and lifestyle of your target audience. Therefore, find your niche and focus on it and 1don’t try to be everything to everyone. Do your homework, pay attention to the data, and know your target market inside out. Understanding buying trends and opportunities in your industry is invaluable to your business. Take your time to analyse your target market and tailor your design, sales and marketing activities to your target market to ensure success.

DEFINE YOUR STORY A brand story is more than content and a narrative. The story goes beyond what’s written in the copy on a website, the text in a brochure or the presentation used to pitch to investors or customers. Your story isn’t just what you tell people, it’s also what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends. The foundations of any compelling brand story lay firmly in your company’s mission, vision and values. What are the core competencies of your product or service and how are they going to change your target market’s daily lives? Define your story and keep it relevant. Stay positive, and always make sure your product rationale highlights the benefits of your business to your newfound community.

Niall O’Loughlin is the UK Marketing Manager at 99designs. Follow @niallolock and @99designs for regular updates on digital marketing, small business branding and all things design.


MARKETING

Digital marketing on a shoestring As a start-up, it is vital to get your brand out there, but on a small budget this can be an uphill struggle. Sally Rowland of Moneypenny shares seven tips that won’t break the bank, but will get you noticed

D

igital marketing can get very expensive, but for small business owners it doesn’t have to be; there are plenty of free or cheap tools out there to get you started and get results:

1

SEARCH CONSOLE (PREVIOUSLY WEBMASTER TOOLS) Use this free Google tool to monitor your website’s presence in Google search results. The HTML improvements page will highlight any potential issues Google has found when crawling and indexing your site – for example, duplicate content or missing title tags – identifying simple changes that could be made to optimise your website. It will tell you which sites are linking to yours, and whether there are any usability issues when people view your website on a mobile device. Take note of this, and use it to help improve the user experience, and hopefully, drive your online traffic.

2

GOOGLE ANALYTICS Another freebie, this time giving you detailed insight into your web traffic. For instance, you’ll be able to see where your website visitors have come from, what pages they’ve viewed, how long they were on your website for – all with a view to turning these customer insights into actionable business solutions. It will also tell you other techy, but helpful things, like which piece of content on

help drive your online traffic, as well as boost your SEO efforts. You don’t have to stop there though – promote it on your social accounts too, and encourage your contacts to share it, or perhaps send it out as part of an e-marketing campaign. It’s an excellent way to shout about company updates, and share news of awards, milestones, new staff, or topics that you’re an expert in. Customer service, workplace culture, and keeping staff happy are all great

Having a lively and engaging blog or news section RQ\RXUZHEVLWHZLOOKHOSGULYH\RXURQOLQHWUDƮF your site is the most popular, what percentage of visitors are viewing your site on their mobile, and where they are geographically. This is great when it comes to making future business decisions.

3

CREATE GREAT CONTENT Having a lively and engaging blog or news section on your website will

subjects to focus on. You can also look at individual departments, such as marketing, and share their experiences. If you do this in-house, the only cost is the time it will take you to pull it together. You could also go a step further and try promoting a significant post on Facebook. This will cost you, but can be a great way to target a select audience – and you can set a budget to control any expenditure.

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MARKETING

Nowhere near as popular as Facebook or Twitter, but Google+ is not to be ignored, in part because of its integration with other Google products

4

ARE YOU MOBILE FRIENDLY? Since ‘mobilegeddon’ in April, it’s estimated that some small businesses have seen hits to their website drop by a third. As a result, it’s unsurprisingly become even more important for companies to make sure their website is responsive – that is, accessible, legible, and usable across all devices. Not sure how your website would fare? Fixing this can, however, end up being quite pricey, but don’t despair. Depending on the CMS system you use for your website, you may be able to find a free or cheap plugin to do this for you. Unfortunately it’s not the case across the board, but it is definitely worth looking into before resigning yourself to a hefty bill or poorly ranking website.

5

SETTING UP A FACEBOOK OR TWITTER ACCOUNT It may seem obvious to those using it regularly, but many small businesses still shy away from the free exposure to be gained from social media. If this is new territory for you, start with one account and master the art of updating one before moving on to multiple channels. The worst thing you can do is to create a profile and then not touch it for days or weeks

66 September 2015

on end. Another added (and often underrated) benefit of social media is the networking opportunity it presents. Find accounts that have a similar audience to you, for instance, and start interacting with them – it could open up a whole new world of possibilities. Some key websites to check out include Followerwonk, which will help you find relevant and influential twitter accounts to follow based on keywords in their profile or bio, plus social media scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, which can help you keep everything on track.

search results. Optimise your profile fully, and update regularly with any news, events, and content pieces, engaging as you go with anyone that takes the time to interact with you. Customers can leave reviews on your page too, so it’s an excellent way to spread the word of your work.

7

KEEP AN EYE ON THE MARKET Google Alerts is again a free tool, this time helping you monitor the web for interesting new content. You can track your company name, as well as set up alerts for keywords that you think may be useful or relevant to your business – for GOOGLE+ example, your sector or a description Nowhere near as popular as Facebook of the industry. It’s a quick and easy and Twitter, and possibly not where way to keep informed and up to date, the bulk of your customers will be, without any of the hassle of having but Google+ is not to be ignored, in to trawl the web yourself. large part because of its integration with so many other Google products. Creating a page is free, and will help Contact: increase your visibility in localised www.moneypenny.com

6


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MARKETING

68 September 2015


MARKETING

Good story telling doesn’t end once you’ve told people how your organisation began

Story selling They say content is king, but how do you unearth stories that lead to sales? James Hood, managing director at Convey, gives advice on digging for the valuable information that can turn your audience into advocates

Y

ou probably already know content is king. It’s the reason companies are publishing blog after blog, telling industry-relevant stories in return for a spike in website hits. And although this works in the short term, if you want lasting relationships with your customers, you need to mine for rare gems of information and get your entire company digging, too.

the early days, and why is it a good thing your business exists? You’ll soon start to tap into the reason customers want to buy from you.

KEEP DIGGING Good story telling doesn’t end once you’ve told people how your organisation began. Over time, release new nuggets of information that enlighten consumers. In 1964, Nike was founded with the mission to inspire every athlete, but in A VERY GOOD PLACE 2011, the CEO told a new story TO START on Oprah that made headlines The origins of your company are around the world. The famous a sure-fire way to attract, and ‘swoosh’ logo had been designed connect with, customers who by a college art student who share your passion (or feel your was paid 35 dollars. When the pain). Take Spanx for example. company went public in 1980, Millions of women can now put she was given shares and is, in on a dress without worrying the words of Nike’s Phil Knight, about their wobbly bits. And it’s “doing okay”. all because founder, Sara Blakely once cut off the lower part of IT’S NOT A SOLO her tights and wore them as EXPEDITION underwear, discovering it made If you have a larger, more her appear slimmer. It’s a tale established company, it’s we’ve heard countless times, impossible to work alone but it identifies a pain point for when digging for tales to tell. the consumer, and a solution; Make sure everyone in your something you will do in your organisation knows they have business even if you haven’t a responsibility to pass on thought about it. Ask yourself valuable information that helps what made you get up at 5am in you write news content.

One of the objectives of a magazine we produced for a hotel group was to show they value staff members and promote from within. While interviewing one of the team, I discovered there was a young man who had started eight years ago in the laundry room and was now head gardener – bingo! THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH One way to get people seeking out your stories is to be generous with the knowledge in your organisation. If you make cakes, share your best buttercream secrets. Run an accountancy firm? Give your views on the Chancellor’s budget. It all helps position you as the expert, and builds a stronger tie with potential customers. For our hotel magazine, we offered advice from interior designer, Kelly Hoppen on creating your own luxurious guest room – relevant, informative, and entertaining. Make your content equally as useful to your audience and boom – you’ll have struck content gold. Contact: www.conveyconsultancy.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 69


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PEOPLE

N

ew job, new company, and you’re the new boss. Where to start? Well actually, it’s best to ‘start before you start’ by getting a few critical ducks in a row in advance. Firstly, if you’ve relocated, ensure your family are settled – you don’t want too may pressures at once. Gather more company information; who does what in-house, key suppliers, local reputation, etc. Also, if possible, have a break between jobs to emotionally download your previous role. From day one, ensure your immediate office management is efficient. Get your IT sorted fast and, if you have a PA, don’t be fobbed off with a temp – you need the best support in the business, and someone loyal who really knows their way around. Animal packs and herds typically kill strangers, so don’t expect to be wildly welcomed; the team may initially be quite suspicious of you. Leadership is founded on respect, trust, and credibility and, as the new boss, your currency of these is low. You need opportunities to gain credibility, so find a few easy wins – projects or ideas that you know you can rapidly deliver, and will quietly exemplify your expertise. Also, prioritise identifying and addressing any significant company risks. However, while you should hit the ground running, don’t rush into action in a burning frenzy to change everything – the only fire you’ll ignite is increasing resistance. Remember that what worked

Animal packs typically kill strangers, so don’t expect to be wildly welcomed; the team may initially be quite suspicious of you

before may not work here. Be open minded, and don’t oversell yourself; let colleagues and those outside come to the satisfying conclusion that you’re alright really, and pretty smart. Trust and respect come gradually, so be authentic, act with integrity and calm authority – your staff are watching you. As trust increases, so will support from your team. And speaking of teams, get to know your top team well, identify their competencies and characters, and show them respect. Try to slowly build influence and alliances in-house and with external stakeholders, and find out who the power-brokers are. Your role may demand new skills, but remember to focus first on learning about the organisation’s culture. It’s a good idea to write yourself a short plan targeting early achievements and identifying your learning needs. Then, expect it to be drastically modified as you learn the real business needs, and the demands on you as a leader. It will also be hard work at first, so it’s okay to work a little late, but not too late, as that suggests you aren’t coping, and staff will get nervous. Coming in as the new boss will be challenging, but it can be exhilarating and very rewarding. With careful preparation and good emotional intelligence, you can be a huge success and even have good fun – if you enjoy a challenge. Contact: www.leadersforleadership.co.uk

The leader of a new pack Dr Deborah Benson, founder of Leaders For Leadership, explains how to impose yourself when you take over a new company

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PEOPLE

Plucking people from the social tree Matthew Singer, VP of marketing at Jobvite, provides his ďŹ ve top tips for using social media to recruitment employees

F

igures suggest that 93% of recruiters are currently using, or are planning to use, social networks as part of their recruitment strategy. In addition, according to Jobvite’s research, 67% of active job seekers use Facebook, 45% Twitter, and 40% LinkedIn to look for jobs. So ask yourself, should social media form part of your business’ recruitment strategy? Social media and employee referral programmes are some of the most powerful tools in the recruitment arsenal when it comes to finding the right candidates. Combined, these elements help you recruit more skilled talent, build a strong employer brand, and save your business a lot of money. These are all vital elements in ensuring your company thrives in the talent war unfolding across the UK. THE VITAL NETWORK Consider for a moment that there are more than 1.4 billion users on Facebook. With that amount of people

and potential candidates, this network should be central to your recruitment efforts. Using referral tools, driven by employee sharing, job seekers will be able to respond to updates from friends, and will be enticed into viewing your company’s profile. After all, it’s more likely that you will find like-minded individuals among a group of friends who will have the same work ethic, and that will fit in with your company culture. Still, to recruit effectively on this platform, you must ensure the company page showcases the employer brand clearly. You also have to post regular updates about what life is like for your employees. This provides a human element to your brand, something that the majority of millennial job seekers find very appealing. Facebook however, is not the only network you should be using. Twitter’s 140 character word limit might seem like a hindrance, but it is a great network to engage with potential candidates. It means that job seekers, even on mobile devices, can easily spot

7RUHFUXLWHĆŤHFWLYHO\ RQ)DFHERRN\RXKDYH WRSRVWUHJXODUXSGDWHV DERXWZKDWOLIHLVOLNH IRU\RXUHPSOR\HHV posts that pique their interest. Using a hashtag will help too. The other influential social network that your organisation should focus on is LinkedIn. This is the most popular network among recruiters, as it is a living, dynamic hub for CVs. The network lets job seekers promote their qualifications, and showcase their own skills, making it an ideal location for a recruiter to peruse. According to LinkedIn, 71% of your followers are interested in working for your company, so gearing your posts towards promoting your company culture and employee brand can pay huge dividends.

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 73


PEOPLE

Whatever you do, don’t forget to connect with your employees and, if you follow them, ensure they follow you back Outside of the big three networks, there are a gamut of up-and-coming platforms suitable for recruitment, including Instagram, Pinterest, and even Snapchat. Although it is great to be present on these networks, it can easily become too much very quickly. Take your time, and focus on establishing a presence on the main platforms and, once you become familiar with social networking and recruitment technology, branch out. BUILD YOUR CONNECTIONS Social networking is all about connections. It’s as much about candidates connecting with you as it is about you connecting with others. To achieve this, use the tools that the networks give you. For example, each of them make it really easy to export email addresses. This will give you access to a huge number of contacts when you want to send out direct communications. The general rule with social networks is that the more you follow and connect, the more you’ll have in return, so remember to connect to the influencers in your industry. Make sure you know what they’re talking about so you can join in the conversation and drive engagement. Whatever you do, don’t forget to connect with your employees and, if

74 September 2015

you follow them, ensure they follow you back. This way you gain their connections in return. One of the key ways of doing this is building an employee referral programme. Hiring through referrals is easier, faster, and cheaper than other methods, with research from Jobvite showing these employees perform three times better over their first three years. This works by encouraging members of staff to share openings on their social channels to their connections, most of whom will not be directly linked to your company, expanding the reach of a post, and creating an exponential number of views. IT’S ALL IN THE PLANNING Once you’ve created your social channels, you have to ensure you have content to share. To do this effectively, you have to plan ahead and schedule content, showcasing a wide variety of things, such as culture, personality, and great work to potential candidates. Automation tools, like Hootsuite and SproutSocial, can help you manage your networks and make it a lot easier to share the content you’ve created. These social media management platforms let you schedule posts for specific times, which means you can schedule job openings to post regularly. In addition, these tools provide analytics on the

engagement of your posts, so you can identify what types of updates are delivering the greatest value. SUSTAINING INTEREST Having completed the above steps, you should have numerous candidate leads. But to ensure you capture the best and most relevant candidates, you need a plan for seamlessly directing your engaged and interested followers into the hiring process. Technology can help you do this most effectively. If you’ve a candidate relationship management tool already in use, you want to be able to feed your social data into the system automatically. It’s vital that the transition between social networks on mobile devices and your application process is smooth. Creating mobile career sites that are compelling will allow you to attract the best talent. Ultimately, you have to take the time to identify the right social channels for your business, and to invest in the right tools to build your social media recruitment strategy. If you implement the right recruitment technology, and an effective social media recruitment strategy, you are well prepared to come out on top in the talent war. Contact: www.jobvite.com


BUSINESS SHOWS

NEXT SHOW:

1 OCT. 2015 BRISTOL

NEXT SHOW:

5

LOCATIONS OF UPCOMING SHOWS 2015 Bristol M Shed, Bristol BS1 4RN Cheltenham Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham GL50 4SH Midlands Cranmore Park, Solihull B90 4LF

At Sterling Business Shows we love helping businesses grow and this is what you tell us... “Exhibiting at any Sterling Business Shows event is not only a pleasure, but gives a great ROI. Sterling have the knack of attracting the right attendees in the right numbers at the right time and we will continue to exploit these opportunities.” Duncan Laker. Welcome Telecom.

NOV. 2015 CHELTENHAM

NEXT SHOW:

3 DEC. 2015 MIDLANDS

“Worcester was my 5th show with Sterling Business Shows, and as always I had a brilliant day. I came away from the show with 4 genuine leads and countless interesting conversations and new business connections. I decided to exhibit with Sterling in order to expand my business into new areas. I have found the shows to be a great return on investment, which is why after the initial 3 show bookings I continue to exhibit with Sterling Business Shows.” Graham Abbey. Factotum Ltd – Exhibitor, Coventry, Birmingham, Solihull, Oxford & Worcester.

Please contact Neil on 01452 222676 or go to www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk

BUSINESS JUNCTION, LONDON’S PREMIER BUSINESS NETWORK, INVITES YOU TO A FREE NETWORKING EVENT Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junctionnetworking is offering all Talk Business complimentary invitation toour onewebsite). of our our 5 September events in Londonreaders which aare all listed below (and on 5 August events which are all listed below (and on our website). Networking lunchin in London Little Venice 3rd Sept 2015networking 12.30-2.30pm

Thurs 1st Aug

The Colonnade,1 Warrington Crescent, Little Venice, W9 1ER Nearest tube: Warwick Avenue More infornation and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-little-venice

Networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at Tower Hill

9th Sept 2015 8.00-10.00am

Champagne breakfast 45 Networking Prescot Street, E1 8GP in Bank Nearest tube: Tower Hill Merchant Taylor’s Hall, 30 Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8JB Nearest tube: Bank Networking lunch at the Roof Gardens & Babylon Restaurant at High St. Kensington More infornation and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-in-bank-1

17th Sept 2015 Wed 14th Aug 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch in Clerkenwell lunch at Freemasons Hall at Covent Garden Nearest tube: Barbican MalmaisonNetworking Hotel, 18-21 Charterhouse Square, EC1M 6AH 60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ Nearest tube: Holborn More infornation and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-clerkenwell-2

ThursSept 22nd Aug 24th 2015 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch at The Happenstance at St. Paul’s Networking lunch in Cannon Street 1A LudgateThe Hill,Courtyard, EC4M 7AA20 St Swithins Lane, EC4N 8AD Nearest tube: St Paul’sNearest tube: Cannon Street The Don Restaurant, More infornation and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-cannon-street-1 Networking lunch at Dirty Dicks at Liverpool Street

Thurs 8th Aug

Thurs 29th Aug

99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA

Nearest tube: High Street Kensington

202evening Bishopsgate, EC2M Nearest tube: Liverpool Street Networking in Park Lane4NR Met Bar, Metropolitan by COMO, Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner More infornation and booking: Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk withhttp://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-evening-on-park-lane the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: Talkbusiness2/13 30th Sept 2015 5.30-9.00pm

Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: Talkbusiness2/13 Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: Talkbusiness9/15 Nowininitsits14th 12 year over 550 450 member member companies, companies,Business BusinessJunction JunctionisisLondon’s London’sleading leading independent Now year and and with with over independent businessnetwork. network.WeWerun run 80+ pan-London networking events each including a weekly lunch, a monthly business 80+ pan-London networking events each yearyear including a weekly lunch, a monthly Champagne Taittinger breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues. Philippe Brugnon Champagne breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.

www.businessjunction.co.uk 020 3667 6776


PEOPLE

Debra Charles, founder and CEO of Novacroft, gives an insight into what a typical week looks like in her business life

Secret diary of an entrepreneur

F

ollowing stints at Apple, and Westinghouse, Debra Charles launched her own business in 1998, investing £90,000 of her inheritance into Novacroft, a smartcard programme and software solution company. Named after her mother’s kennels, the Northamptonshire business is based on Debra’s passion for harnessing technology ‘to help clients get more for less, and make life easier for all’.

76 September 2015

DAY ONE: A CHARITABLE OFFERING Today I met with one of our many prospective charity clients, to discuss our new Ucan-do-it programme, which has huge potential to help the sector reduce spend on administration costs and increase the pence in the pound used to fund the cause charities are fighting for. I do a lot of travelling day-to-day and, in this instance, I found myself talking to the charity’s board about their organisational challenges, and how embarking on a journey with us could help them rise to meet these tasks. By working with clients such as The Royal British Legion, we’re proving that going online can help reduce the amount spent on time-consuming tasks, like processing applications,

as well as open up the opportunity to increase membership, engagement, and donations. DAY TWO: ALL IN IT TOGETHER We hold regular team meetings, which allow the entire company to catch up in one room, and today is no different. It’s important that everyone in the business knows they are appreciated for the amazing things they do, turning vision into reality, and helping us to grow and develop and disrupt markets, so these meetings are key. After updates from MD, David Messiter on financial progress, I gave a talk about our new branding and website, and how vital these are going to be in helping us realise our future vision.


PEOPLE

By working with clients such as The Royal British Legion, we’re proving that going online can help open up the opportunity to increase membership, engagement, and donations We also hear from the ‘Fun Committee’ (having fun is a big part of our culture), which organises sports clubs and socials. HR also provides an update on work we’re doing with Business in the Community, to get even more involved in our local area. We already offer team members four paid volunteering days a year, and raise funds for two local charities - recently by getting involved in the Red Bull Soapbox Challenge, for which the team built an ingenious Nautilus submarine racer. Some team members are mentoring at my old stomping ground, Cranfield University, too. This year, we’re also sponsoring TfL’s 100 Years of Women in Transport initiative, to encourage more women into the industry.

work we’re doing on the user experience of our Ucan-do-it portal, which is where participants in Ucan-do-it programmes go to find out how they can get active, learn, and volunteer to earn rewards from their favourite brands. It’s important that I make time to look further ahead too, because we aim to harness our expertise in integrated systems, cloud-based computing, and big data mining, to play a part in bringing the internet of things to life. DAY FOUR: RISING STARS AND FUTURE LEADERS Today I interviewed a host of potential new team members to help us with our ambitious plans for

the Year. Not long after they arrive, every new team member comes along to a ‘welcome to Novacroft’ meeting, which allows me to talk about our culture, values, technology, and our vision as well as meeting and greeting everyone personally. I see part of my role as actively encouraging young people to consider a career in technology and, as well as doing this through coaching in schools, I love seeing bright youngsters set out on their career in technology with us. DAY FIVE: POWERHOUSE OF THE NORTH To end the working week, I travel to meet with a potential transport client as part of our mission to

I see part of my role as actively encouraging young people to consider a career in technology DAY THREE: INNOVATING FOR TOMORROW I worked from home today, giving myself some much needed thinking time, in my tech-infused house. I’m a huge advocate of technology that makes life easier, such as Skype and conference call systems, which allow me to be connected even when I’m at home. We see ourselves at Novacroft, as problem hunters and solution creators, solving today’s problems, and also innovating for tomorrow. So, as well as continually enhancing our core products and services, we also continually invest in research and development to create game-changing innovations that will open up new and exciting opportunities for our clients. I spent today thinking about the immediate future, and the

growth – we’re currently looking for developers, designers, sales people, and software specialists. We are very focused on finding people who are not only talented, but also a really good fit with our fun, caring, and ambitious culture. I really believe that providing a stimulating, supportive, and fun place to work helps team members to give their best, and gets the best for our clients. Those who join us soon learn that we care passionately about being a great place to work. We are an accredited Investor in People, and I was very pleased that our commitment to employee engagement and development was cited as a key factor when we were named Northamptonshire Business of

support public transport in the north, by co-creating innovative schemes that make travel easier, cheaper, and more rewarding for passengers. I was able to talk about our work with clients such as West Yorkshire Ticketing Company, helping to increase the use of public transport, and to make it easier for passengers to buy tickets. We provided WYTC with the web-portal that enables passengers to apply online for its range of MCards, an element of the region’s £13 million investment in transforming public transport, which has proved a huge hit with residents and visitors. Contact: www.novacroft.com

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 77


PEOPLE

Do you show favouritism - intentionally or not – towards certain employees? HR Insight’s Richard Cummings explains why this might be a recipe for disaster

Teacher’s pet

I

n life, we naturally gravitate towards some and not others, but when you’re the boss, should this conventional behaviour be cause for concern? In my experience, perceived favouritism arises when employees are good performers, happily do what is expected of them, and have similar personality traits as their manager. This often results in the miserable poor performers feeling left out and isolated. Favouritism may lead to perceived special privileges, based on an employee’s relationship with their manager – such as overtime opportunities, or even promotions. This behaviour or treatment may lead employees to believe that their manager’s decisions are based on their relationships rather than performance. Favouritism doesn’t just affect the team members, but also the employee being shown favouritism. It can damage their working relationship with the rest of the team on a personal or professional level. This could lead to feelings of isolation or alienation, which in turn will have a negative effect on the individual and their performance at work. Managers will often be unaware that they are showing favouritism to one particular employee. If this behaviour goes unnoticed by the manager, it can

lead to resentment within a team or department. Less favoured employees may feel, no matter how hard they work, it won’t matter as the preferred employee will always get better treatment, more attention, and greater opportunities. These isolated, unfavoured employees often resent both the favoured employee and their manager, taking less interest in their colleague, and becoming less willing to interact with their manager, resulting in lowered employee engagement. They may also start to reduce their efforts, taking less care with assigned duties, and being more reluctant to volunteer for additional tasks. This could result in lower productivity, more errors, and missed deadlines. So what can you do, as a manager, to ensure that you are not deemed as singling out certain individuals, and treating them more favourably? • Ensure that decisions affecting employees are based on objective and appropriate performance measures. • When making decisions in the workplace, try to consider the ideas and suggestions of as many employees as possible; don’t simply listen to the views of the vocal few. • Work hard to treat all staff fairly, and try to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing

Unfavoured employees PD\UHGXFHWKHLUHƍRUWV taking less care with DVVLJQHGGXWLHVDQGEHLQJ more reluctant to volunteer for additional tasks issues and concerns openly with you. • If you are praising or criticising publicly, be consistent with all your employees. • Provide updates in a clear and concise manner to the whole team, together. • Distribute new projects fairly, and give everyone an opportunity to shine or volunteer. • Manage poor performance from the outset. Maybe add this topic to your next employee survey, and find out if this happens in your business. That way, you can positively rectify it. Contact: www.hrinsight.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 79


PEOPLE

Are you a workaholic? Most people who begin a business know that you have to put in a lot of hours to get it off the ground. But there’s a danger that doing too much, and burning the candle at both ends, can lead to stress and serious illness. Take our quiz to find out if you’re on the brink of a health breakdown. 80 September 2015


PEOPLE

1 IT’S 1AM, AND YOU HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A NEW PRODUCT. DO YOU: a Forget about it, go to sleep, and try to remember it in the morning b Jot the idea down on a notepad you keep by your bed, ready to be worked on tomorrow c Immediately get to work on it – you’re too excited to sleep anyway 2 YOU’VE NOT MANAGED TO GET THROUGH YOUR LAUNDRY LIST OF TASKS THIS WEEK. DO YOU: a Add them to your ‘to do’ list for next week, and enjoy the weekend b Work late on Friday to try to get through the remaining tasks c Work through the weekend until everything is finished

MOSTLY A’S: Peace out! You’re more laid back than Bob Marley in a hammock. You’ve got this work/life balance thing sorted. But don’t rest on your laurels – while it’s good to get away from the office and set boundaries, don’t let it slide into laziness. Give your business the effort it deserves, and give it the best chance of success.

3 HOW MANY HOURS ARE IN YOUR TYPICAL WORKING WEEK?: a 40 or less b Over 40, but below 60 c More than 60 4 IT’S TIME FOR THE FAMILY HOLIDAY. DO YOU: a Leave the laptop at home, divert the phone to voicemail, and ban all talk of work b Leave the laptop at home, but check in with the office regularly for updates c Take the laptop and work regularly – after all, business never stops, why should you 5 IT’S MONDAY AND YOU’VE COME DOWN WITH THE FLU. DO YOU: a Stay in bed all day, get some rest, and make sure you’re fighting fit as soon as possible b Stay at home and work remotely c Go into the office and get on with it – nothing can hold you back

MOSTLY B’S: To quote a certain unruly teenager with a philosophical view of life: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The young, but wise, Ferris Bueller’s advice is perfect for you; you’re not at a critical stage yet, but you could learn to relax, and unwind a little more. A lack of sleep can lead to being ineffective, impairing judgement, and your ability to pay attention – and worryingly, it also weakens the immune system. Not only that, did you know that people who regularly get just six hours or less of sleep each night are 70% more likely to die younger than those who get at least seven or eight hours?

6 YOU GET A CHANCE TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS ON A NATIONALLY BROADCAST TV SHOW, BUT THE RECORDING TIME MEANS YOU’LL PROBABLY MISS YOUR CHILD’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. DO YOU: a Forgo the opportunity. It’s nice, but family always comes first b Try to squeeze both in, even if that means a mad dash home, and being slightly late c Go on the TV show. It’s too good an opportunity to miss, and your child probably won’t remember his birthday when he’s older anyway

MOSTLY C’S: Woah! Just because the world is 24/7 doesn’t mean you have to be! You’re in serious danger of health problems caused by fatigue and stress. According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 428,000 people each year in the UK report work-related stress at a level they believe is making them ill – that’s 40% of all work-related illness! So, take time out every once in a while, and learn to trust your employees to take good care of the business while you’re away. After all, what’s the point in building a successful business empire if you’re not around long enough to enjoy it?

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 81


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PEOPLE

The light is on, but are they at home? Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy, and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, says it’s important to keep your staff engaged for the long term,

F

or many of us, it’s human nature to jump straight into a new job feet-first. Whether it’s a first role or a fresh start somewhere else, it’s normal to start off full of excitement. But after that honeymoon period, how do you help prevent things from going stale for your staff? How do you keep them engaged, and help them maintain their initial enthusiasm? It’s a fact of life that everyone loses interest from time to time. All you can do as a boss is create a work environment in which everyone has the opportunity to be engaged. In my line of work, I make sure people are given projects they’re interested in, and they’re given regular feedback. They’re also incentivised to do their work well, and this helps keep my staff engaged in what they are doing. I’m a great believer in letting people have their say. It’s down to the managers and me to run the business, and there’s always that fine line that shouldn’t be crossed, but that doesn’t mean we are not open to new ideas and letting people know their opinions are valued. Employees who feel they are part of a valued team reciprocate by remaining engaged and inspired, and everyone wins. Other sectors are rife for boredom to set in, if you don’t manage people properly. Take retail, for instance – someone who works on the shop floor for a prolonged period can feel disengaged. But although

working in a shop is different in many ways from working in recruitment, or creative industries, the principle remains the same. It doesn’t matter what sector you’re in, there’s always the chance to spice things up for people. Even at the bottom end of the retail industry, you can encourage staff to have their say at the monthly or weekly briefings. If they think they’re being listened to, and have some input into the running of the business, they’ll feel empowered. If they then see their ideas come to fruition, it should lead to greater pride in their work. If you’re a shop manager, consider giving your team different tasks. Asking someone to sort out the window display might seem a small move to make, but for someone who has spent the past two weeks wheeling trolleys around out the back, it could be a refreshing change. For workers beginning their careers on the monotonous bottom rung, you could always point out that there are plenty of store, regional, and divisional managers who started out the same way. Any manager will likely have spent time behind the till at some stage as well. The bottom line is that it’s a twoway street, and you get the staff you deserve. If you try to engage them in the decision-making process, and tweak their roles every now and again, it can make all the difference. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.com

It doesn’t matter what sector you’re in, there’s always the chance to spice things up for people

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 83


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THE NEW

TRIDENT

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LIFESTYLE

THE DROID STAR WARS PINBALL R2D2 UPCYCLED COFFEE TABLE

Each month we bring you a selection of gadgets, gizmos, and gifts that we’re going crazy about

This is not the droid you’re looking for – but it certainly is the coffee table. It takes 300 hours to make each of these upcycled tables, with blood, sweat, and lots of tears of joy thrown in for good measure – but what a result! The Droid coffee table rolls on its own cool wheels, and features an amazing mini-slide projector (picturing R2D2 in the Death Stars’ sewage), a flashlight, sounds, LED lighting programs, and a fully functional, animated droid on the playfield. While this isn’t on the cheap side, for any company looking to make a statement – perhaps a London creative with a penchant for the weird and wonderful – you’d be hard pressed to find any better statement or talking point for your office. Incredible Hulk and Spiderman table designs are also available. PRICE: £11,500 AVAILABLE FROM: www.smithersofstamford.com

BENQ TREVOLO BLUETOOTH SPEAKER

ZAGG IPHONE 6 SPEAKER CASE

Whether you’re looking for something to provide smooth, bassfilled tunes, or something to take your calls and amplify them – perhaps during meetings – the BENQ treVolo Bluetooth speaker is the perfect choice. The noise-cancelling microphone function allows you to make, and take, calls anywhere, even in noisy spaces, and when the serious stuff has finished, the electrostatic speaker technology, quad amplified electronics, and 2.5-inch sub-woofers mean you can enjoy CD-like quality sound, wirelessly from your smart devices. Away from the plug socket, it will keep running for 12 hours on a full charge, meaning it is perfect for taking with you on the road, to meetings, conferences, or even on your holidays (plus it weighs just 1.2kg so is easily transportable). PRICE: £229.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.benq.eu

Perfect for any music lover who is looking to get the most out of their iTunes library, the ZAGG Speaker Case is a wireless Bluetooth speaker that amplifies calls, music, and videos. The case features a mute button and built-in microphone, plus the speaker can be removed and placed in an ideal listening position for conference calls and other uses (while the case serves as a bumper). A rechargeable 1800mAh battery powers the speaker and provides reliable backup power to charge your phone, making it the ideal companion for any business man or woman who spends a lot of hours criss-crossing the UK’s roads. Alternatively, you can share the power to a micro USB or Lightning device via the universal USB port. PRICE: £99.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.zagg.com/uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 85


LIFESTYLE

This month, we’re heading to Bristol to discover some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head while on business

Hotspots AWAY ON BUSINESS HILTON GARDEN INN, BRISTOL CITY CENTRE WHERE? Bristol WHY? Whenever you stay at a Hilton hotel, you know you’re going to get a certain level of quality, and once again they don’t disappoint. The 167 modern, stylish, and well-equipped rooms are complemented with flexible event space for up to 60 people, and a popular restaurant offering al fresco dining in the warmer months. Each room comes fully equipped with an Apple Mac desktop computer, allowing you to complete those all-important business tasks, and of course, there’s also complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel, with a strong signal still achievable even on the top floors. There’s also a 24-hour gymnasium, as well as a business centre that is open around the clock for guests. Conveniently located for your stay in Bristol, the Hilton Garden Inn is just a 15-minute walk to the lively hub of the Quay, which is packed with bars, restaurants, and other entertainment, should you wish to relax while in the city, or perhaps impress an important client with some contemporary wining and dining. It’s also close to the beautiful Edwardian-style Bristol Hippodrome theatre – perfect for an evening of culture and history. Travel is also a doddle, as it is close to the M4, as well as being just a short walk to Bristol Temple Meads station, and just 20 minutes from Bristol International Airport, with the local shuttle/ express coach service making frequent stops in front of the hotel. CONTACT: www.hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com

86 September 2015


LIFESTYLE

MEET AND EAT AQUILA WHERE? Baldwin Street, Bristol WHY? If you’re looking for a place to wine and dine your business colleagues or guests, or perhaps searching for a romantic location for a special occasion, then look no further than this modern Italian restaurant, which brings the very best of traditional dishes from the regions of Italy to Bristol city centre. Everything is done in the classic Italian way, from antipasti featuring sumptuous bruschetta, to Aquila Carbonara, which is a reconstructed version of the classic dish featuring a salt-cured egg yolk and crispy pancetta, made the Italian way with eggs, not cream. As you’d expect from a place with the Mediterranean at its heart, the wine list is equally as delicious as the menu. With tipples to compliment any dish, why not try the refreshingly fruity 2013 Viognier Mandrarossa from Sicily? The modern, sleek design of the restaurant is complemented by the service given by the front of house team, who are always friendly and accommodating. Additionally, for those with varying dietary requirements, vegan and vegetarian menus are available on request. CONTACT: www.aquila-restaurant.com

EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS THE BRISTOL CONFERENCE CENTRE WHERE? Shirehampton, Bristol WHY? This stunning, eye-catching location will wow and delight your delegates for any meeting or conference, and it is practical too. All the meeting rooms are spacious, and have good natural light, while each room also has access to a wireless broadband connection, and comes equipped with a screen, flipchart, and projector. Located just four miles from Bristol city centre, and easily accessible from junction 18 of the M5, the venue is much more than just a quaint exterior and period decoration – there’s catering available by Sally Walker, with all food prepared in-house, using the freshest of ingredients from local suppliers too. Day delegate rates start from just £32 per person (including arrival drinks and lunch), and there is also free on-site parking available. CONTACT: www.bristol-conference-centre.co.uk

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LIFESTYLE

DOLCE & GABBANA SOFIA EMBELLISHED SLIDE WWW.HARRODS.COM £455 Welcome a dash of sparkling refinement into your office shoe collection with the Sofia Embellished Slide by Dolce and Gabbana. Crafted in Italy, from sumptuous snake-embossed leather, the slipper-inspired shoe is topped with a bow and maxi-crystal embellishment for an ultra-polished finish. Designed with a smooth leather lining and sole, the laid back style will lend instant sophistication to your outfit.

LILLEY WOMENS BLACK LACE BALLERINA WITH DIAMANTÉS WWW.SHOEZONE.COM £12.99 For a blend of comfort and style, complete your outfit with these womens black lace ballerinas, which come with a diamanté toecap design, suede-effect back, and pretty lace detail. A delicate bow adds an extra special finishing touch.

MARQUETTE WISH WWW.CLARKS.CO.UK £90 A stylish re-interpretation of the much-loved Chelsea boot, this equestrian-inspired silhouette comes in taupe leather, and looks good teamed with denim for an off duty look, or re-worked with tights and a dress for a smarter outfit.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO LUELA PATENT PUMP WWW.HARRODS.COM £445 Luxuriously crafted in Italy, this shoe is smartly styled with a soft suede vamp detail, and engraved buckle accent. Punctuated with an eyelet trim, it will see you through the working week in style.

Choosing the right footwear for the office or workplace can be a minefield. Do you go for practicality or style? Flats or heels? Open-toed or closed? Well, let us help you choose the shoes to make your toes proud, with this excellent range of choices from some of the UK’s leading retailers

Put your best foot forward ASOS SAY HELLO HEELS WWW.ASOS.COM £45 Practicality meets style with these comfortable yet stylish ‘mock-croc’ heels from ASOS. Perfect for teaming with denim or equally at home paired with a well-cut suit, these leather look beauties will give you that ‘snappy’ look you’re after, Monday through Friday.

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LIFESTYLE

The sheer pace of this absolutely bonkers car is stunning; it’s like driving a road-going Messerschmitt

On the road

O

ne of the cats in our street has the habit of snoozing on top of neighbours’ cars. Heaven help the poor blighter if it drifted off on top of this one! To the uninitiated, the Audi RS6 probably looks like a tartedup diesel estate, but in actuality, it’s one of the world’s very few options for hurtling a wardrobe, grandfather clock, or family of Labradors to 62mph in under four seconds. Visually distanced from lesser Audis by its beefy wheel arches, imposing honeycomb grille, snorting nostrils, front splitter, rear diffuser, and gaping oval exhausts, the RS6 is intoxicating to behold, while remaining relatively covert. The sophisticated, impeccablybuilt interior is a work of art; my own RS6 would boast quilted Lunar Silver Valcona honeycomb leather, but the test car’s black, diamond-stitched Alcantara and leather seats still looked classy, and helped keep one’s posterior in situ during hair-raising cornering. Besides, they’d be easier to keep clean when transporting a fridge-freezer from the store, or your Great Danes back from a muddy day out at 155mph, which can be delimited to 189mph through the

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

£11,500 Dynamic Package Plus. The sheer pace of this absolutely bonkers car is stunning. It feels every bit as fast as its sensational 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. It’s real neck-jolting stuff, like driving a road-going Messerschmitt. Permanent Quattro, plus a self-locking centre differential, give the RS6 the advantage when laying down its brutal 560bhp and 700Nm via the 275/35 tyres, and 8-speed tiptronic transmission. This cage fighter in a pinstripe suit, as one friend described it, matches Mercedes’ E63 AMG Estate for torque, and is faster than the BMW M5 and Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake. Even without the £1,000 sports exhaust, a wondrous symphony of V8 bellows, crackles, and pops can be orchestrated using the paddle shifts in Dynamic mode. The RS6’s electromechanical steering slightly falls short in terms of engagement and communication, but the car’s composure, grip, and breathtaking speed compensate. It’s a super estate for all weathers. When you’re in the mood for pootling, Cylinder on Demand technology lets the engine run on four cylinders, and the ride quality on adaptive air suspension is insanely

Photography: Isabel Carter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AUDI RS6 AVANT PRICE: FROM £76,625 WWW.AUDI.CO.UK

smooth. The rear seats are comfortable, a doddle to release, and the boot has many useful storage features, but at 565/1,680 litres, its capacity is down on the E63 AMG Estate’s 695/1,950 litres. Drive like a saint, and perhaps 28.8mpg is possible, but covering 600 miles, while trying to make Petter Solberg proud, I averaged 20mpg. At £79,725 as tested, it costs the same as the M5 and E63 AMG Estate, and less than the XFR-S Sportbrake. All the moggies in our street having survived, the RS6 departed after its week with me, having cemented itself as, in my view, one of the very best cars ever made. Contact: www.oliver@petroleumvitae.com

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SPONSORED ARTICLE

Getting smart at home If you regularly dine with pop stars, or enjoy garden parties at the homes of FTSE100 CEO’s or maybe friends with the odd president or two; you may have marvelled at their high-tech smart home. Behind the scenes, your awe might have been inspired by a custom designed system by Tillman Domotics, an innovator in the field of automation in the home, on luxury yachts and high end commercial properties. Set up in 2010, by partners Matthew Tillman and Matt Symons, the founders already had a decade’s experience working for home automation and technology firms elsewhere, but had always believed that something very important was missing in the industry…the customer’s input. Their aim was to create bespoke systems that vary as widely as its customers while including all combinations of audio and visual, lighting, telephony, access control and heating with seamless connectivity to third party services such as remote

I

monitoring and security. At the heart of each Tillman Domotics environment is the notion of simplicity. “The key is building a solution that meets the needs of the customer without forcing them to adapt to the limitations of the technology,” explains Matt Symons, an ethos which means the company is constantly looking at new technologies and techniques to make the smart environments it creates easier to operate and more pleasurable for the customer. With telephony and internet connectivity an increasingly important part, the company typically deploys an integrated mini telephone exchange in most of its projects. This allows for greater integration between things like call transfers, intercoms and access control. In the past, telephony and the tablet technology the company uses for its control interface had been separate. “It was only when we started looking at the Gigaset range and especially the Maxwell tablet that we could see great ways to streamline telephone

and smart home application functions into a single device,” says the co-founder. Maxwell is an android based tablet with full telephony features and integration with Gigaset PBXs. “In essence, any telephony function or smart control feature can be in the same device and with its touchscreen capability, Maxwell is flexible and easy to use.” For example, in one recent project visitors at the property’s gatehouse use a videophone to communicate seamlessly directly to the occupant via the Maxwell who with a touch can also open gates remotely – assuming the guest is welcomed. With strong demand for its services, Tillman Domotics is continuing with its innovative vision, “Life has changed and the way we use technology is probably the major factor in that change so we are always ensuring that our installations are as future ready as possible.” Interested? Contact Keith at Keith.jackson@gigaset.com


TECHNOLOGY

Silicon Valley vs London’s Tech City Bringing the rest of the UK on board is crucial to future growth, says Piers Linney, co-CEO of Outsourcery, and former Dragons’ Den investor

A

s far as tech hubs go, matching the gravitas, influence, and scale of innovation of Silicon Valley is a tall order. However, the continued development of London’s Tech City and the vast growth potential of the north of England leaves me with no difficulty in thinking that, on quality, the UK is well equipped to match, and even outstrip, the US. Despite the rapid development of a number of technology start-ups in the UK over the past few years, the widespread perception remains that, to truly hit the big time, moving to Silicon Valley and focusing efforts on breaking the US market is a necessity. On the surface, such a decision is clearly a logical one; as a firmly established base for tech start-ups, the US offers a larger number of investors with much deeper pockets, and the bigger market makes for more favourable economies of scale.

However, the UK can also rightly be regarded as a hotbed for technological innovation. British consumers are among the most advanced in the world, in terms of their readiness to embrace new technologies, so start-ups are likely to have a large captive audience. London’s status as a financial centre also gives it a level of economic clout that few other countries can match. Combined with the UK’s favourable business regulations, a skilled workforce, use of the English language, and access to the European single market, there are lucrative rewards to be reaped if pursued in the right way. In addition, Europe’s growing status as a continental technology hub, illustrated by the presence of big hitters such as Spotify, should provide some cause for optimism for UK technology start-ups. We need to stop thinking that innovation starts and ends in London: a number of vibrant technology hubs are developing in areas across the UK. The fact that the UK Government is, at last, investing in, and recognising the power of the north in the future of technology, is a promising sign. This approach, while not guaranteed to elevate UK start-ups to the heady heights of Silicon Valley’s finest, will imbue new businesses with confidence, and help them secure the investment they need to make themselves a force in the industry.

Technology start-ups across the UK need not be overly daunted in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. While rivalling our American counterparts will always be a tough ask, the UK possesses the financial muscle and talented workforce to make itself a major force in future years. Key to getting to this position rests, not just on a commitment to increased diversity, but also on a willingness to extend our technological reach beyond London. By bringing the rest of the UK into the fold, closing the gap between ourselves and Silicon Valley may not be as challenging as it once seemed.

Contact: www.outsourcery.co.uk

We need to stop thinking that innovation starts and ends in London: a number of vibrant technology hubs are developing in areas across the UK

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TECHNOLOGY

All presence and correct Stefano Marruzi, VP EMEA of GoDaddy, provides his top four tips for creating a slick web presence

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eing online isn’t a luxury for businesses anymore, it’s a necessity. Surprisingly though, there are still 2.5 million small business owners without a digital presence. Making sure your business has a slick, professional online identity will help you stand out from the crowd and turn your dream into reality. Here are my top four tips to get your business noticed online:

1

GET YOURSELF A DOMAIN NAME This should be the first thing you do. We live in a creative and fastmoving age, so it’s possible that someone, somewhere, has an idea similar to yours. If you’ve thought of the perfect domain name for your website and don’t want to lose it, don’t hang around. Try to make it simple, memorable, and unique. Avoid using hyphens or other symbols, as this adds unnecessary complexity. If possible, include keywords that describe your business to maximise SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and increase your chances of being found. Luckily, the launch of hundreds of new domain extensions means it’s easier than ever to stand out. But consider carefully what sort of extension best suits your business. Plan on expanding globally? You can’t go wrong with .com. Is British identity important to your business? .co.uk and .uk will suit you. Want something truly unique? Then one of the new gTLDs such as .expert, .club, or .plumbing could do the trick.

2

PERFECT YOUR DESIGN Unlike a physical store with set opening hours, your online store is open 24/7, and your customers can visit any time they choose, so the user experience needs to be good. Keep the design and content uncluttered by using plenty of white space, and avoid pop-ups and information overload. Do this by approaching the experience from your customer’s perspective. What is the most vital information to convey? Details such as your location, store hours, and contact details should all feature prominently.

3

CREATE COMPELLING CONTENT Content is a great way of generating interest in your business and driving traffic to your site. Whether it’s a video blog looking behind the scenes of your business, useful tips on how to make the most of using your products/ services, or commentary on general topics that potential customers are interested in, it can make you more discoverable through search engines, and increase social buzz. Don’t simply churn it out though, make sure it’s

Surprisinglyy there are still 2.5 million small business owners without a digital online presence fresh and relevant because stale, repetitive content may actually hurt your brand.

4

THINK BEYOND YOUR WEBSITE Think about the entire digital footprint of your business, not just your website. Using social platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, to update your customers on business news or events can improve customer loyalty and increase sales. You’ll also want to consider your email address, as it is essentially your digital business card. Why not create an email account aligned to your domain name so it identifies you and your business, projecting an image of professionalism, reliability, and trust?

Contact: uk.godaddy.com

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TECHNOLOGY

ORTIS DELEY

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 HUAWEI P8 SMARTPHONE PRICE: £349.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.consumer.huawei.com/uk

The optional shifting keyboard and one-handed layout features were very welcome upgrades for easier use of this size of handset

96 September 2015

W

hen talking about smartphone powerhouses, Huawei’s name is probably not the first to be uttered. It most likely wouldn’t feature in your first five, in fact. But to be fair to this Chinese multinational, it is a monster in networking and telecommunications. It’s the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world, so when they release a flagship device, you should probably pay attention. And I did. Right from the moment I received the package, I was engaged. It had a refreshing design – from its dark colouration to the internal compartments, and use of space – a very good start. It showed a lot of thought, but was this just a distraction tactic?

Initial impressions were that Huawei had taken design cues from Sony: the handset is reminiscent of the Z3 in look, size, and feel. I approved of this metallic, premium touch. My warm fuzzy feeling was interrupted however, by the disappointment of the NFC transfer failing. It refused to work with either my Nexus 5 or my S6 (the latter having worked with both Z3 and Nexus 5). Not to worry though, cloud backup took care of that. The P8’s screen houses a 5.2-inch, full HD display, which was nice, bright, and attractive, although it doesn’t quite pop in the same way as the HTC M9, or Samsung’s S6 screens. It runs on Android’s Lollipop 5.0 OS, with its own Emotion UI over the top – which I admit I’m not a fan of. I very much like the stock Android interface and feel


TECHNOLOGY

only minor adaptations are required. The optional shifting keyboard and one-handed layout features were very welcome upgrades for easier use of this size of handset, however, I didn’t get on with the native keyboard – I may as well have been writing in gobbledygook with this phone, and autocorrect didn’t help either. I’ve become used to having a row of numeric keys above my letters without switching for a while now, and the P8’s screen is certainly large enough to accommodate this. There were some nice touches, like the quick access menu from the screen saver – the cover photo of which changed every time you woke the phone – and the tools, like magnifier and mirror (I found myself trying to find the equivalent in the Play Store for my smartphone). You can talk to your P8 and wake it from sleep mode by uttering “Okay Emy”, followed by a handful of commands, including “Where are you?” (The P8 responds with an ‘I’m here’ jingle). However, I could only get this to work when it was right under my nose. This smartphone boasts Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 930 Octa-core

chipset and 3GB RAM, so can handle everything I threw at it without protest, lock-out, or crashing, and the 2680mAh battery gave me a day and a bit without having to put it into any form of performance-saving mode – of which there are a handful of options, including one where you can fine-tune and optimise apps of your choice. This battery did take its time to charge fully, though – almost four hours – but since most people charge their phones overnight these days, that’s not much of a deal-breaker. Sound quality on calls was good, and I never struggled with reception, while the speakerphone worked nicely without the need to repeat myself in conversation. The camera was nice to use and produced good pics. It is feature heavy, including a function called ‘All Focus’, which, like the Lytro Illum, allows you to choose a different focus point in your snap after you’ve taken it. Huawei has also added a marvelously simple knuckle ‘knock-knock’ feature for taking screenshots – the best solution I’ve come across yet.

Huawei have really shown with the P8 that the lesserNQRZQƬUPVFDQQRZFRPSHWH with the big boys VERDICT: I’ve said before that it’s only the flourishes, those little extra things, that separate the leading phones nowadays, and Huawei has really shown with the P8 that the lesser-known firms can now compete with the big boys. I found the phone refreshingly different, intuitive, and not overly stylised. It’s no wonder they are rumored to have been chosen to manufacture the next generation of Google’s Nexus device. It’s not perfect but perhaps under direct Google – or is it Alphabet now – supervision, its next handset will really turn heads.

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TECHNOLOGY

The power of free

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ntrepreneurs recognise that time is one of the only true constraints on their creativity. It is easily squandered, and therefore it is immeasurably precious. Famously, some entrepreneurs even wear the same outfit every day to ensure the smallest amount of time possible is spent thinking about tasks that won’t ‘bring home the bacon’, or contribute to the bottom line. To that end we’ve compiled a round up of the best apps to help you conserve time, work productively, and help you succeed as an entrepreneur.

1

The experts at scheduling app, Doodle provide their top 10 free apps, that will help every entrepreneur to succeed and make life easier

2

The best b ‘to-do list’ app out there. As well as allowing you to manage your own prog progress, the app allows you to share to-do lists with colleagues, and assi assign tasks to individuals. This makes fo for a seamless collaborative e experience, ensuring the team is cconstantly up to speed – saving you from constantly requesting progress reports.

m The modern Filofax. Meeting notes, to-d lists, articles you want to read, to-do ima images, PowerPoints, ideas – all of the can be filed and organised these w within the app, and are accessible o the go. It really is indispensable. on

EVERNOTE Free to download on iOS and Android.

WUNDERLIST Free to download on Android, iOS, and Windows phones.

4 3

Upwo Upwork is the world’s largest online work workplace, making it faster and easier for busin businesses to find and hire skilled freela freelancers from around the globe, at the touc of a button. With the Upwork touch Me Messenger app, you can keep jobs moving wh you’re on the go. The app alerts while yo when jobs have been accepted or you d declined, and it makes it easy to keep in touch with your freelancers. UPWORK Free to download on iOS and Android.

Sick of wasting time endlessly emailing to get that important meeting in the diary? Dood Doodle streamlines the process, allowing you to finalise plans with just one email, mean meaning you can spend more time on what really matters – namely, growing your business b and achieving success. Crea an event online with potential Create dat send it to your colleagues or dates, cli clients, and let them vote on the time th suits all. Once everyone has taken that p part, the app works out the best time f everyone and notifies you. Done! for DOODLE Free to download on iOS.

(Best of all, your colleagues and clients don’t even need to have the app for it to work; the desktop version is available at www.doodle.com.)

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TECHNOLOGY

5

Perfe for conference or long distance Perfect calls, Skype helps you to control your budget if you are dealing with intern international clients, or colleagues on their trave travels. What’s more, you can easily send files of any size during voice, video, or grou calls. Users on Windows and group Ma can take part in group chats of up Mac to ten people free of charge, making the m mobile app a fantastic way to keep in co contact on the go.

6

SKYPE Free to download on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry phones.

LASTPASS Free to download on iOS and Android.

7 If you use a few different email services, then CloudMagic is a must-have app yo It supports Gmail, iCloud, for you. Exch Exchange, and IMAP accounts, among othe and brings together your email others, acco accounts into one inbox. This app will sav you a lot of time flicking between save yo different email services, and will your s simplify your day.

How much time have you wasted tryin to remember which password trying goes with which login? LastPass is a passw password vault and strong password gene generator in one. Once you have your acc account synced with your device, La LastPass will keep track of all your d details for you – no more typing in your mother’s maiden name and hoping for the best.

8

CLOUDMAGIC Free to download on iOS and Android.

You never know when you are going to need to access a document or a video. Drop Dropbox is the go-to cloud storage prov provider – its mobile app means you will alwa be meeting-ready, even when always yo you’re on the move. It also means that, in the catastrophic event that you l lose your phone or misplace your computer, your files are all kept safe and waiting to be re-downloaded. DROPBOX Free to download on iOS and Android.

How much time have you wasted trying to remember which password goes with which login? 10

9 Keep Keeping in contact with business prosp prospects and associates is vital to expan expanding your business. Every time m you meet someone new connect with them on LinkedIn – you never know whe they may become useful. Using when the handy app you can manage your pr profile and share articles establishing y yourself as a thought leader in y your network. LINKEDIN Free to download on iOS, Android and Blackberry.

100 September 2015

Entre Entrepreneurs are always spotting artic on Twitter that may spark articles id or contain invaluable advice. an idea, Wit Pocket, you can save articles you With spo online, but don’t have time to spot re right now, for later. It is also read p particularly useful when on the Tube as, once saved, you can read t article offline. the POCKET Free to download on iOS and Android.

Contact: www.doodle.com


TECHNOLOGY

Mobile magic

T

he most recent algorithm update from Google means mobile websites are now penalised for failing to be user-friendly. This has got many businesses worried about the usability of their mobile site, and how this might affect their position in Google’s SERPS (search engine results pages). In simple terms, user experience (UX) is the term given to a visitor’s journey through, perception of, and experience interacting with, a website. Since the latest Google update, some businesses may have noticed a drop in their rankings on mobile SERPS, as a result of being penalised for failing to have a website that is easy for people to use on mobile devices. Optimising UX not only makes websites more user-friendly, it also has a positive effect on the search engine rankings of a mobile site. Here are my top five tips for providing the perfect user experience.

102 September 2015

1

Chris Bush, head of UX at Sigma, offers his top 5 tips on optimising the user experience for a mobile website

DON’T ALIENATE USERS DUE TO ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES If a business doesn’t understand its audience, it cannot optimise the UX of its site. How UX is designed is heavily influenced by the needs and behaviours of users visiting the site. A website whose target audience is aged 65 and above will be designed quite differently to a website whose target audience might be teenagers, for example. But generally, there are a handful of things that all businesses should bear in mind when creating, or re-designing, a mobile website. The number of people in the UK alone that suffer with sight loss has nearly reached two million, so many businesses might not realise it, but it’s highly likely that their mobile sites will regularly be visited by users with visual impairments. There are a handful of things that businesses can do that will not only make a mobile site accessible, but will generally make all visitors’ journeys smoother, while pleasing Google,

all at the same time. Ensuring any mobile site has small, easy to read sections, broken up by subheadings and titles is one step that can be taken to make it more accessible. Implementing auto-complete drop down bars and search menus, making text larger, ensuring there are only 10-15 words per line, and writing content that is suitable for reading by an 11-12 year old, can also better guarantee a smooth user experience for all visitors.

2

CONSIDER THE TWO MAIN MOBILE DESIGN APPROACHES To have a user-friendly website that will be preferred by Google in its SERPS, visitors’ journeys need to be as seamless as possible. An adaptive layout detects the device and its screen size, and adapts to fit. Generally speaking, there are six common screen widths that a designer will need to bear in mind: this kind of layout is ideal for mobile sites that need to be used in different ways. That is, the different widths will


TECHNOLOGY

Businesses might not realise it, but it’s highly likely that their mobile sites will regularly be visited by users with visual impairments

be specifically designed for a variety of devices, including old desktops, brand new laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even technologies like the Apple Watch – important if a business has a particularly varied target audience that use a multitude of different devices. A responsive layout is one of the most popular design approaches at the moment, since it has been made easier to implement by the introduction of themes accessible through CMS platforms like Umbraco and WordPress. Basically, these layouts are fluid, so there is no ‘jump’ as a window is resized. This layout is also less expensive to develop, making it an attractive option.

3

TOUCH TARGETS SHOULD BE BETWEEN 7-10MM The content of any mobile website should never be smaller than the average fingertip, to ensure it is usable and accessible. If content is too small, and a user is viewing the website on a touchscreen smartphone, for example, it can be incredibly frustrating. Incorrect targets and touch zones also have a growing impact on SEO.

4

DON’T DISMISS ‘PINCH AND ZOOM’ The ‘pinch and zoom’ function of a mobile site shouldn’t really be needed by every visitor - if it is, then the website isn’t

optimised correctly. However, for certain users, such as those who have issues with sight, this function can be incredibly useful when reading content or viewing graphs. So it’s important that you don’t disable this tool.

5

TEST THE WEBSITE By testing the website with a group of people that fit the correct demographic, a business will be able to gain invaluable feedback on the UX of its site. But if it’s not possible to get a test group in the target audience, then friends or colleagues will do – anyone that hasn’t been directly involved in the development of a site will be able to provide valuable feedback on its UX. It’s crucial that the UX of a website is properly tested to identify anything that is preventing a seamless user experience. With the use of mobile sites increasing (smartphone usage has risen from 39% in 2011, to 51% in 2012, and 61% in 2013) the need for businesses to optimise UX on mobile sites is ever-growing. UX can be constantly amended in line with customer feedback and any Google updates, so it’s sensible for businesses to look at ways they can improve their mobile sites sooner, rather than later.

Contact: www.wearesigma.com

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TECHNOLOGY

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 look at improving your productivity with Todoist and Buffer.

TODOIST

BUFFER

PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: iOS, Android THE GIST: Busy, busy, busy. Running a business is very time consuming, to keep track of all the meetings and appointments is incredibly difficult. The traditional diary is a thing of the past; the smartphone can now keep track of your day-to-day work life. However, with the many apps and calendars out there, which is the best one? In the running is Todoist. The to-do-list of smartphones, but it is more than any other to-do-list. You can break down larger tasks into sub tasks, setting individual deadlines for each task. Organise your day through Todoist, and share it with other members of your team, as well as delegate tasks to specific people. You can even share across multiple platforms including web, tablet, and desktop. Prioritise tasks in numerous different colours, and Todoist will automatically synchronise and change across all your platforms. With an upgrade to premium, you can add notes and reminders, making your business organised and exceptionally productive. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.todoist.com

PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: iOS, Android THE GIST: Social media has become a major part of business life, but with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, it is very hard to keep them all updated and relevant to all your business interests. This is where Buffer comes in. At the click of a button, you can add posts to be scheduled to one of your many social media accounts. Just link all your accounts in the easy-to-use Buffer app, set the times and days you want your posts to appear, and buffer up to ten posts at one time. Upgrade to the Awesome plan for $10 (ÂŁ6.40 approx.) a month, and you can manage more accounts, so if your business has multiple Facebook or Twitter accounts, they can be managed through this one app. Also, you can buffer up to 100 posts at one time as well as varied scheduling so your posts will become active seemingly at random times. Buffer is a fantastic tool to help your business manage all your social media.w DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.buffer.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 105


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Visit FranchiseSales.com to find out about buying a sandwich franchise – and more!


FRANCHISE

franchise

news

40,000 and counting for Dream Doors UK’s biggest kitchen makeover retailer celebrates milestone kitchen installation

D

ream Doors is celebrating the sale of its 40,000th kitchen installation since it first began trading in 1999. The landmark sale was made by Katie and Sean Hebdon, owners of the Dream Doors franchise in Chandlers Ford near Southampton. The sale was made to customers, Mr and Mrs Bennion from Romsey, who were presented with a hamper of luxury foods and drink to enjoy in their new kitchen. Managing director, Troy Tappenden has noticed a change in the way kitchens are viewed over the past 16 years, with people becoming more interested in cooking, and keener for their kitchens to look and feel better than ever before. “The transformation of 40,000 kitchens since we first started is a mind-boggling achievement,” he said. “Nearly every single one of our 40,000 transformations will have been completed in 48 hours, and for a fraction of the cost of a full re-fit. That’s why Dream Doors is such a good franchise opportunity: there is an ongoing requirement for people to update their kitchen, but people don’t want the expense or disruption that comes with a full re-fit.”

Contact: www.dreamdoors.co.uk

Innovative ‘School Dog’ project succeeds with the help of franchising New pilot project at a Buckinghamshire special needs school gets tails wagging

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upils at Stocklake Park Special School, Aylesbury, have welcomed their newest classmate – a Labrador-Golden Retriever cross called Patience. Patience will support learning and therapeutic programmes for students, assisted by professional dog handler, Nikki Thorpe. The project, called ‘School Dog’ and run in collaboration with national charity, Dogs for the Disabled, received a grant from the British Franchise Association, helping to fund its first year, thanks to the generosity of individuals and sponsors at last year’s bfa Chairman’s Charity Day. Dogs for the Disabled has been

training assistance dogs to support people with a wide range of physical disabilities for 25 years. However, School Dog is a new venture, using animal-assisted intervention techniques, whereby a dog is placed in a school to work alongside a professional dog handler, teachers, and therapists, to explore the benefits to learning. Head of Stocklake Park School, Gill Mullis, said: “It has been really exciting to see students’ responses to this project. Benefits already seen include students choosing to communicate, and enthusiastically greeting the dog around school, and students becoming calmer when sitting next to the dog. Students have also been motivated to take part in physical exercise, and to have more independence.” The bfa gave a grant of £6,735 to the charity, following donations from the franchising community, which helped fund the first year of the scheme. Fundraising is now underway to secure the project for the next two years. To offer support, visit the school’s JustGiving page (www.justgiving. com/MASKS/) and state your contribution is for ‘School Dog’. Contact: www.thebfa.org

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FRANCHISE

Look before you leap Melanie Luff, franchise expert at Dynamis, looks at the important questions you need to ask before taking on a franchise

B

ecoming a franchisee is an attractive option for those who dream about starting, and running their own business, but are put off by the risks of starting from scratch. With a franchise, you have a tried and tested business model, a designated customer base, training, and a support network from day one. According to the British Franchise Association (bfa), ‘Franchising is a growing industry that 20 years ago had a turnover of just over £5 billion, had 379 different brands, and represented 18,300 franchised outlets’. Now there are 930 franchise brands operating in the UK, and a total of 39,000 franchise outlets – with 92% of them profitable – and an annual industry turnover of £13.7bn. However, investing in a franchise isn’t as simple as it may appear, and there are still a lot of things to consider, so make sure you do your research, and ask yourself a few questions before you hand over your initial franchise fee. FIRST AND FOREMOST, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE FRANCHISE MODEL? With the simple premise that a business is started and then replicated, franchising is a business model that enables people to make the most of a proven successful enterprise.

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The person that started the initial business doesn’t necessarily want to spend all their money on growing it. Instead, they become a franchisor, and look for investors to buy and run the business as a franchise.

This can be anything from marketing, accounting, and workforce regulations, down to shop-front décor, and hiring practices. If you’re not willing to follow the rules, owning a franchise might not be for you.

WILL IT SUIT YOU? Being a franchise owner is a great step into business, but it isn’t for everyone. Conduct a self-assessment to establish what kind of franchise would best suit you. Look at your qualifications, skills, and relevant experience when making a decision; using these will make the selection process a lot easier, and give you a higher chance of success in the long run. Compile a list of potential franchise options and organise them in relation to your strengths.

HOW MUCH OF AN INVESTMENT WILL YOU BE REQUIRED TO MAKE? As with any business purchase, investing in a franchise will require a healthy upfront investment, and some ongoing payments. However, the franchise fee will often cover the majority of the start-up costs. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what is included in the initial franchise fee, so there are no nasty surprises later down the line. Don’t forget that you will also be responsible for taxes, insurance, salaries, and advertising – so make sure that you build it into your budget. Make an accurate reading of your own investment capital and assets to make a realistic estimate of what you will need to spend. You can also estimate your investment costs by matching the amount of funding you will require with your projected returns.

WHAT ARE THE RULES? Before you take on any franchise, make sure that you are aware of the franchisor’s specific rules and regulations. These directives are set in place to maintain the consistency of the brand, their products, and the service that the customer receives (think of it like a duplicate of the original business). Franchise owners often enjoy the perks of being their own boss, but there are limitations. In most circumstances, the franchisees are legally obligated to abide by the brand’s processes and guidelines.

HAVE YOU DONE ENOUGH RESEARCH? Make sure that you research the business that you are buying into.


FRANCHISE

Make sure you’re aware of exactly what is included in the initial franchise fee so there are no nasty surprises later down the line Talk to other franchisees, as they were all in your position at some point. Franchises should offer a support network of franchisors, franchisees, training systems, and managers – so make sure your chosen one has healthy communication between all involved. Market research is key to investing in a franchise: look at the history of the business to give you a better insight, find out where the money is being invested, and whether the returns are satisfying (but don’t just focus on the profits and success stories – the failure rate and pitfalls are just as important). Make sure that you assess the local supply and demand. Look at the market; is it growing or in decline? Who are your potential competitors? Understanding your customers and their environment will inevitably help to determine the viability and profitability of your franchise. Franchises often use a template contract, and the terms of the agreement are non-negotiable. As a due diligence measure, prospective franchisees should always ask for clarification if they are unsure about any points of the agreement.

When researching a franchise, don’t MXVWIRFXVRQWKHSURƬWVDQGVXFFHVV stories – the failure rate and pitfalls are just as important

Contact: www.dynamis.co.uk

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ADVERTISING FEATURE

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

O

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.


ADVERTISING FEATURE

“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


FRANCHISE

Franchise spotlight FA C T F I L E

Each month, Paul Stafford, public relations manager at the British Franchise Association, shines the spotlight on a franchise, and delves into what makes it a success FRANCHISE: RIGHT AT HOME ESTABLISHED: 2011 NUMBER OF UK FRANCHISES: 31 NETWORK TURNOVER: £12 MILLION WEBSITE: WWW.RIGHTATHOMEUK.CO.UK INTERVIEWEE: KEN DEARY, MANAGING DIRECTOR

1

WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND IN FRANCHISING, AND HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR APPROACH AS A FRANCHISOR? I started in franchising in 1994 as a very successful McDonald’s franchisee, winning numerous awards, including the British Franchise Association’s Franchisee of the Year, and a McDonald’s Golden Arches Award (for the top 30 franchisees in the world). Being a highly successful franchisee with a major franchisor allowed me to understand the challenges franchisees face in their business, how to get the best out of them, and how to treat them with respect. This experience has meant we have grown in a measured way, with quality franchisees who are listened to, and have input in to the future direction of the business. Our results in independent franchisee surveys have been outstanding, highlighting the respect we show our franchisees, and the togetherness of the system.

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2

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT AND TRAINING DO YOU OFFER YOUR FRANCHISEES? Our training is best in class, from starting up through to a detailed programme designed to get our franchisees to profitability as quickly as possible. Ongoing training and support is on hand through the life of the franchise, and I remain personally involved in supporting our franchisees. We also hold regular conferences and strategy days with our network, and ideas and experience are shared between franchisees.

3

HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR TERRITORIES OFFER THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY FOR A FRANCHISEE? Firstly, we will only franchise areas that we feel will work – for example, we are not interested in franchising rural areas. We have minimum territory sizes, based on demographics and purchasing power, designed to work for the franchisee, not the franchisor.

4

WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH TO MAKING SURE THE RIGHT COMPANY ETHOS IS AT THE HEART OF THE BUSINESS? Ethics is at the heart of everything we do. We work on the basis of transparency with our franchisees, all services are purchased on behalf of the franchisee to get the best deal for them, with no benefit to the franchisor. Teamwork, ethics, diversity, and honesty in dealings with our franchisee is in our DNA. As managing director, together with the management team, I practice and enforce these standards every day.

5

WHAT ATTRIBUTES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN YOUR FRANCHISEES? Leadership qualities and the ability to manage a big team. We look for well-rounded people with business skills, organisational ability, the mental strength needed to start up a new business and, very importantly, although you don’t need to have worked in the sector, an empathy with the care sector, as this is essential in a business that looks after vulnerable adults.

Contact: www.thebfa.org


FRANCHISE

We look for well-rounded people with business skills, organisational ability, and the mental strength needed to start up a new business

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FRANCHISE

Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Stephen Attree, managing partner at MLP Law, takes a look at the top five legal pitfalls often faced by new franchisees, and how to tackle them

O

pening a franchise may seem like the ideal way to set up a new business, because it should provide a running start, and is therefore less scary than starting up a company from scratch. However, as with all business ventures, there are a number of important legal issues to be aware of. Franchise agreements can be complex legal documents, and are required to cover several areas of the business to ensure that the agreement is beneficial to both parties. For this reason, there are a number of things that need to be carefully considered so that, as a franchisee, you know what you’re signing up for.

If something is missed out of the agreement, it can be GLƮFXOWWRSHUVXDGHWKH franchise to honour an RUDODJUHHPHQW

DO YOUR RESEARCH Before entering into any agreement, thoroughly research the franchise you are considering. You must investigate how well the company is performing, and gain an understanding of how it interacts with other franchisees. Speaking to them will give you access to firsthand experience and vital inside knowledge, such as how much investment was needed to set up the business, how much assistance the franchisor provided to launch, and how much involvement the franchisor expects to have in the business. By not researching from the very beginning, you could spend time entering into discussions and then realise that you do not agree with some of their proposals. Perhaps you don’t agree with the fees they charge? Or pehaps there isn’t as big a demand for their products as you first thought?

MAKE SURE THE RIGHT AGREEMENT IS IN PLACE When you make the decision to open up a franchise, and the franchisor has accepted your application, a franchise agreement needs to be put in place. This is the most important legal document, when it comes to formalising the terms of the relationship. As the document will cover all aspects of the business, including the duration of the agreement, the fees and costs that will be paid, the territory that the franchisee can trade in, and transferring the business if the franchisee wants to exit, it is often long. Everything agreed between the franchisor and the franchisee must be included in the document. If something is missed out of the agreement, it can be difficult and costly to persuade the franchise to honour an oral agreement that is not referred to in the agreement – even if it was agreed during the discussion stage. Before signing the agreement, make sure everything is as discussed, and that you understand it.

Don’t get caught off guard

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FRANCHISE

WHAT IS THE COST OF SETTING UP A FRANCHISE? When setting up any business, costs arise along the way – including some you hadn’t anticipated. From the very outset, it’s important to have discussions about costs with the franchisor, so you understand the initial fees, and anything you will be required to pay thereafter. It’s likely that you’ll be required to pay a start-up fee to cover the costs of setting up the agreement, carrying out any necessary training, and any professional fees. You will usually also be expected to pay a royalty, which is typically a regular payment based on a percentage of the total sales. In some circumstances, you may be subject to other fees as well, including the renting of the premises if the franchisor owns them, covering the cost of necessary training, and contributions to advertising funds. These fees should be agreed and set out in the franchise agreement. PROTECT THE BRAND’S REPUTATION As a franchisee, you‘ll be trading under the name and trademark of the franchisor. This means that you are responsible for protecting the brand when using its name. If you bring the business’ reputation into disrepute, the franchisor may terminate your agreement, and you could be financially liable for any damage caused. It may be that a member of your staff is behaving inappropriately or using data improperly and, as a result, the brand is affected. In these circumstances, you’ll often be held responsible as it’s down to you to ensure that your employees act appropriately.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY There may come a time when you decide to sell the business, or you’re ready to pass it to a successor. It may seem a little premature to be planning your exit at the start-up stage, but it’s important that you understand your rights and the possible restrictions, so you can plan ahead. As the franchisor will exert great influence over your business throughout its trading period, this control also applies to your departure. The franchisor will usually have to be satisfied with the proposed purchaser, in that they are suitable, and have the necessary training to take over the business. When the sale is agreed, the franchisor may deduct any fees they’re owed from the purchase price. In the event of the death or inability by the franchisee to run the business, the franchisor can agree to allow the company to be passed to a relative or successor, or call for the business to be sold to a suitable buyer. The franchisor may also have the option to purchase the company themselves, or assist in finding a suitable purchaser. Until an agreement is reached, the franchisor has the right to step in

and take control of the running of the business – again, this will be detailed in the franchise agreement. It’s therefore crucial to understand that setting up a franchise does not give you as much freedom as setting up a new business from scratch. There are clear advantages to entering into the franchise business world with the backup of an established brand. You’ll be able to benefit from the franchisor’s brand and experience and, perhaps, require less initial investment. Having said that, you will be subject to more restrictions, and it’s vital you know what you can, and cannot do, so you are not in breach of your agreement. Breaching any conditions could mean your contract is terminated, resulting in the loss of your business, and all of your hard work, valuable time, and money. Contact: www.mlplaw.co.uk

If you bring the business’ reputation into disrepute, the franchisor may terminate your agreement, and you could be ƬQDQFLDOO\OLDEOHIRUDQ\GDPDJHFDXVHG 116 September 2015


ADVICE

The sales DOCTOR This month, Sales Doctor, Tony Morris gives his expert advice on how to reach the right people

Dear Sales Doctor, I’m making sales calls, but just getting passed from one person to another. How do I identify who is the key decision maker at a company, and what do I need to tell them for them to make a decision?

T

his is one of the biggest challenges sales people face when selling on the phone; whether that’s to generate appointments, or to sell a product or service. The first challenge is to understand who the decision maker is. I made this error a few years ago, in my sales training company. I was pitching the MD of the business, and had closed for an appointment, and said to David, “As the MD, I take it you’re the decision maker, correct?”. “Yes”, he replied and I left it at that. When I travelled two hours to meet him, I did an assumptive close by saying, “So, David, which dates do you want to book?” He replied immediately by saying, “Oh no, I would never commit to anything without running it past my business partner.” Inside I was fuming, but as a sales professional, I remained composed. Why didn’t David tell me he had a business partner who was involved in making the decision? Because I asked the wrong question. If I had asked,

aside from David, who else needs to be involved in making the decision when it comes to selecting a sales training partner, then he would have opened up and explained. To answer the second part of your question, it depends on your objectives. The objective of my sales calls to a new prospect is to book a qualified appointment. If I’m struggling to get hold of the decision maker, then I’ll often speak to their PA or a key influencer, and leave a powerful message with the objective of creating an interest for the decision maker to return my call. It will be a simplified version of the opening gambit I had planned, had I got hold of the key decision maker. Let’s say I was calling a letting agent, and had to leave a message with the owner’s PA. I would say, “Please let John Smith know it’s Tony Morris, MD of Sales Doctors, a sales training company specialising in agencies. Please make John aware we have helped over 60 letting agents in London double their rental stock, by showing the negotiators how to gain

I haven’t bored the PA about what I do; I’ve informed them about what I’ve done successfully with businesses like theirs landlord’s details, and how to call them effectively, resulting in valuations, and I’d like to see if we can help his agency as well. My mobile number is xxxx.” The key point to note is I haven’t bored the PA about what I do; I’ve informed them about what I’ve done successfully with businesses like theirs. This is bound to cause an interest, and get my call returned. Download a free copy of Tony’s sales book, The Perfect Sales Call, now at www.salesdoctors.co.uk

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

Contact: www.wedosalestraining.com

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ADVICE

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120 September 2015


ADVICE

Time for a device rethink? Gary Price, product and category manager, at Probrand, examines whether we’re thinking the wrong way when purchasing IT systems

W

ith new technologies coming to market every day, the range of computing devices we can choose to work with appears to be endless. From smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, to emerging technologies such as the Apple Watch, selecting the most relevant device for the job is not easy. As user needs have shifted, so has the range of devices on offer. We’re now faced with new, hybrid product categories such as the ‘phablet’ – a middle ground between the smartphone and tablet – as well as ultrabooks, convertibles, and all-in-ones. Previously, when purchasing a new device, the approach was simply to ask how much you could get for your money. Yet in today’s device-rich landscape, the question should be what are you trying to achieve, and what is the best tool for the job. An inherent obstacle lies in the fact that users are stuck in their ways, and they stick to what they know; they want a 15-inch

notebook because they have always used a 15-inch notebook. Added to this, the decision over what device is best is often influenced by aesthetics – spending more than is really needed on a Mac because it looks nice, for example. Office culture may also see staff push for devices that are far more powerful than is needed for the job. They simply want a device that is better, newer, or shinier than those of their colleagues. Procurement professionals simply cannot afford to think this way. Instead, they need to be more objective and consider the role and needs of the individual, and ask questions such as, “Do they really need that advanced workstation with masses of computing power, or would they be equally well served using a less advanced, and more cost efficient, alternative?” Buying too much power is a common occurrence that happens more than you might think. Buying teams are often under the illusion they’re getting a good deal when they do this. For example, suppliers may offer you a discount on a

bulk order of mid-range PCs or laptops they are trying to shift. This may look like a great deal on paper, and it potentially is, but what if the product doesn’t address the user’s needs? You may end up with the receptionist having huge amounts of computing power that will never be utilised. It’s well worth thinking about how the user will engage with the device. Consider, for example, if the business has a cloud storage facility that allows work to be shared across departments and offsite locations. If so, do users need a terabyte of storage on the computing device? It’s unlikely. With a wealth of devices on offer, it’s crucial that buyers concentrate on what the end user is trying to achieve. Buying over-specified or irrelevant products is a waste of money. Through conversations with trusted suppliers, coupled with careful research, buyers can make smarter purchases that will protect the bottom line. Contact: www.probrand.co.uk

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ADVICE

Legally speaking Each month, the experts at Wright Hassall answer one of your dilemmas from a legal perspective. Here, employment law solicitor, Emma Wellard, examines the highly fraught topic of religious garments in the workplace

Q A

An employee of ours refuses to remove a piece of religious headwear, as she says it is within her rights to wear it. However, I believe it could be a serious health and safety issue as it could get trapped in machinery. What do I do? The Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) prohibits indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief (or lack of religion or belief). Indirect discrimination can occur when an employer unilaterally applies a provision, criterion, or practice (PCP) to its staff, which does or would put a person of a particular religion or belief (or lack thereof) at a particular disadvantage when compared with others who are not of the same religion or belief. Note however, that it is possible to justify the application of a PCP by showing it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. It’s usual for any business, in which machinery is operated, to have a strict dress code so as to minimise the risk of any health and safety issues arising from inappropriate attire, and it’s likely that a formal risk assessment will have been carried out before laying down any such code. If, as a matter of policy, employees are not permitted to wear any form of headwear (other than prescribed protective headgear) then it’s

likely that this would constitute a discriminatory PCP for the purpose of the discrimination legislation, as it would, in effect, cause a detriment to certain individuals sharing the protected characteristic of religion or belief. However, in such circumstances, it may be a justifiable PCP on the grounds of health and safety. In the recent case of Begum vs Pedagogy Auras UK Ltd (t/a Barley Lane Montessori Day Nursery), the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) addressed a similar issue. In the specific circumstances of this case, the nursery was not held to have applied a discriminatory PCP to a Muslim job applicant wearing a jilbab, as it did not oppose the wearing of a jilbab per se (indeed it had other employees who wore jilbabs) – it merely required that its length did not present a tripping hazard. The EAT agreed with the tribunal; if there had been a discriminatory PCP in place, it would have been justified on the grounds that the nursery manager was in an appropriate position to determine what

It is possible to justify the application of a PCP by showing it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim would constitute a risk to health and safety in that particular environment. The approach taken by both the first tier tribunal and the EAT, in terms of what might present a health and safety risk and the assessment of that, is considered to be somewhat broad and so, where the operation of machinery is involved, it may be prudent to undertake a formal health and safety risk assessment on the issue, to ensure that you can adequately justify your position. 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 speaking”

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ADVICE

The generation game

Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses, explains why Britain’s business leaders need the experience of Generation Y

W

hen it comes to developing modern and more efficient workplaces, UK business leaders need to draw on the experience of Generation Y. Today’s workforce is comprised of four cohorts – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Each brings its own specific qualities and insights to the business environment and, without them, we’d lack the ideas and imagination to drive our organisations forward. Whatever the generation, all have had different experiences that can be utilised in a business environment.

the internet, mobile phones, social media, or digital apps. In fact, this group has had its whole experience of the world shaped by technology, and is now bringing that experience into the world of work. Understanding the role of technology in the workplace, and the impact it has on the way Generation Y works is vital. Deloitte recently dubbed Generation Y, “a hidden powerhouse of employee potential – vital to drive global business in tough times, future-oriented, ready to contribute now, and opportunitydriven”. With this in mind, UK businesses need to harness the potential of these so called ‘digital-

*HQHUDWLRQ<LVWKHƬUVWJHQHUDWLRQWKDW has never known a world without the internet, mobile phones, or social media At present, Generation Y’s star is very much in the ascendant; they are the generational cohort born somewhere between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Not only is it considered the most educated and most diverse generation in history – open to sharing ideas and opinions while also being hungry to learn – it’s also the first generation that has never known a world without

124 September 2015

natives’ in order to bring about positive change in their organisations. Firstly, Generation Y’s expectations for technology in the workplace are high. They are looking for employers who are tech-savvy and, ideally, at the cutting edge in their use of technology. At the same time, they have high aspirations for themselves; they’re always aiming to work faster and more efficiently. It’s this mentality that is no doubt driving some businesses to

harness the benefits of technology in their workplaces. What’s more, Generation Y is the ‘mobile generation’. Again their behaviours are starting to influence the workplace for the better. Their intuitive use of mobile apps has helped to revolutionised the workplace – bringing other generations up to date with them. By improving access to information, supporting the streamlining of internal processes, and giving staff a greater ability to multi-task on the move, the workplace has been moved towards giving staff a greater work/life balance. This is certainly something which webexpenses has been witness to and encouraged over the last few years, with the explosion we’ve seen in the tech market. Thanks to improvements in cloud computing and telecommunications technology, we have the luxury of working anywhere, everywhere, and at any time of day – hopping on to our laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and fitting work around other commitments. This used to be the exception, but is fast becoming the rule, largely driven by Generation Y. Take office expenses for instance; this largely arduous and labour intensive process is just one of the latest areas to come under the influence of Generation Y – especially where its need for quick and ready data is concerned. The next generation of software is


ADVICE

To dismiss Generation Y and the behaviours, knowledge, and experience they bring to the table, would be to severely limit the longevity of a business

already helping organisations and their employees to save money and time. Gone are the days when staff had to spend time keeping track of receipts, and seeking approval in person from the financial department of their organisation. New apps allow staff to simply photograph a receipt and submit a claim instantly. Staff no longer have to keep track of lots of paperwork; claims can be submitted on the move and finance departments are armed with the data they need to track and police expenses in real time. Generation Y is having a profound influence on UK businesses and redefining the future of the workplace. By bringing their love and knowledge of technology into the workplace, they are shaping the way businesses operate for the better. With this in mind, UK businesses should seek to embrace the knowledge and attributes of all members of their workforce, regardless of which generational cohort they belong to. However, to dismiss Generation Y and the behaviours, knowledge, and experience they bring to the table, would be to severely limit the longevity of a business â&#x20AC;&#x201C; particularly as members of this group will be the business leaders of tomorrow. Contact: www.webexpenses.com

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OPINION

Hot topics

? Q

If a customer was to threaten to give you a bad online review if you didn’t give them money off for a minor error or fault that you made, would you comply with their demands?

THE NUMBERS GAME HERE’S WHAT THE REST OF YOU THOUGHT:

YES

NO

43%

57%

Each month we ask a selection of business leaders for their views on an aspect of business. This month, we want to know if you’d bow to online review pressures

SANDIP SEKHON CEO AND FOUNDER OF GOGETFUNDING.COM Changing your approach after being threatened with a bad review is selling out. You’re giving up your company procedures to meet a short term goal of not getting a bad review. After all, if you’re a great company, the positive reviews will easily outweigh those negatives.

OLGA GEIKO MARKETING MANAGER AT DESIGNONTEST.COM Once, we had a situation where a client wrote a very negative review and later asked for a refund. The money was returned, but the negative review remained. It hurts, but what can we do? It’s important to be able to see the benefits in these cases, such as showing potential clients that we take negative feedback seriously. GEOFF NEWMAN MD, RECRUITMENT GENIUS A minority naturally think they have to be a squeaky wheel to get some oil. Who can blame them, with some of the awful customer ‘service’ delivered? This has only happened to me a few times, and when I’ve taken the time to speak with them, they often realise their frustration is actually out of context, and directed at the wrong people. Consequently, I believe the best action is to talk to people. But I’d never accept a threat. THERESA O’NEIL SVP OF MARKETING, POWERREVIEWS Negative reviews also provide trust and authenticity, as readers can see you aren’t trying to hide anything. When people read negative reviews, they look to see if the review has feedback that is relevant to them, and how they’d use the product. They will mentally filter out reviews by people who have an axe to grind. MIKE HUGHES MD, PEOPLETECH Many businesses fear being at the centre of a ‘social storm’, where a poor customer experience is seized upon, and shared around the world. Even if there has been a minor error by the company, some consumers know that tweeting the company can get them their desired outcome. Having a policy in place to deal with such a threat is important, but you should also allow each case to be judged on its own merits. The potential damage to your brand and reputation needs to be considered. Sometimes you must be brave enough to let a customer leave if they’re being unreasonably threatening. WHAT DO YOU THINK? TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON TWITTER @TALKBUSINESSMAG *Talk Business magazine does not necessarily condone or agree with any opinions expressed in this article. Opinions are solely those of the named individuals.

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OPINION

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

Need a fancy sounding word to cover a process you do not fully understand? Try synergy MY MOST HATED BUSINESS JARGON

Amy Christophers EDS Sports

Job title: CEO The business: Founded earlier this year, EDS Sports will be shaking up televised sports broadcasting with a free new channel that caters to viewers often left behind by established media. Focusing on the views of fans from a wide range of sports, EDS Sports will provide a lively, fun alternative to traditional television sports commentary, paying particular attention to sports that are often overwhelmed by footballdominated channels. Currently seeking investment, EDS Sports is scheduled to launch on digital and satellite platforms in November 2015.

BANDWIDTH: As a digital media professional, maybe this term should not bother me as much as it does, but I find it really irritating. Any time someone asks me if I have enough ‘bandwidth’ for a task or project, I just cringe inside. What happened to asking people if they are busy? Make them feel more like humans and less like a machines. SYNERGY: Need a fancy sounding word to cover a process you do not fully understand? Or perhaps you are too lazy to think of a meaningful description? Try ‘synergy.’ Any two things can be described as having synergy nowadays. It has become a meaningless catch-all, and it drives me crazy. Use this around me at your peril! LOW HANGING FRUIT: This phrase is not just annoying – it’s downright ugly. It makes me want to squirm. Don’t you mean ‘easy?’ I am not a big fan of easy anyway, so I am suspicious of anyone interested in the ‘low hanging fruit.’ As the great Pele once said, “The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” FUNGIBLE: Not only does this word make me think of fungus when I hear it, but it’s easy to replace with ‘easy to replace.’ It’s a very fungible word.

WANT THE CHANCE TO GET YOUR FRUSTRATIONS OUT?

Contact: www.edssports.co.uk

130 September 2015

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’.


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Talk Business Magazine September 2015  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...

Talk Business Magazine September 2015  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...

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