Talk Business Magazine January 2016

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

January 2016 £4.50

PITCH PERFECT How to successfully pitch for funding


WILLINGHAM THERE’S A WAY One of the newest additions to the Dragons’ Den, Sarah Willingham, explains what she looks for in a business investment proposition

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87 We love... top tech 88 Hotspots: Plymouth Locations for business stays, meets, and eats in Plymouth

91 New year, new you STRATEGY

11 12 15

Editor’s letter Contributors News & events

45 Twitter, the tropics and 10%

Breathe life into your look on a budget

92 On the road: Mitsubishi L200 Warrior series 5

Boost your business with Rich With

Oliver Hammond’s car review

49 Life after Christmas Keeping your customers engaged

52 Retaining your training



How to make sure your training efforts work

55 Working outside the box Business premises are no longer about the traditional four walls

95 Navigating the computer buying minefield 5 things to consider when buying a laptop

56 A dream come true What should you consider before diving into a business idea?

98 Getting cirrus about the cloud Implementing a successful cloud strategy

SUCCESS 18 When there’s a Willingham, there’s a way The latest addition to Dragons’ Den, Sarah Willingham, gives an insight into what she looks for in a business investment

24 T1C: This foreigner can How one man is helping UK migrants succeed against the odds

27 Up and coming David Humpston, Viewpoint Videos

28 Lessons learned Mark Wright, Climb Online

31 Book reviews


101 I’ve got an app for that

59 Road trip revelations Kimberly Davis on the lessons learned from the USA small business landscape

63 Print and post or send online?

FRANCHISE 103 Franchise news 104 Start smart Nicky Tatley discusses everything you need to know when starting a franchise

Is traditional print marketing dead in an online world?

66 Gazing into a digital future The top social trends for 2016

108 Franchise spotlight Paul Stafford of the bfa talks to Mike Parker of Minster Cleaning Services

69 Super marketing sweep Supercharge your marketing strategy for the new year

70 Embrace the virtues of viral How to make your marketing campaign go viral


FINANCE 33 Financial resolutions for a healthier 2016 Adam Aiken

34 Sowing the seeds of funding success 37 Payroll pitfalls Avoid falling into the common pitfall traps

40 Pitch perfect What to look for when you’re pitching for funding

42 Find the funding for your dream Why you should be at the Business Funding Show

Your questions answered

PEOPLE 73 Walk in their shoes Leadership expert, Deborah Benson asks “Do you really know what goes on in your business?”

75 Ask but you shall receive? Tackling an employee’s request for a pay rise

76 Passing the autoenrolment buck

113 Say auf wiedersehn to international trade issues 116 How would your sales stand up to Brexit? 119 Legally speaking Wright Hassell on changing up a stale team

120 Beating the cashflow conundrum How to ease your cashflow worries

122 Directory

How to avoid passing costs on to your employees


79 The pursuit of happiness Common mistakes businesses make trying to keep their staff happy

82 Are your staff game?


Sales Doctor

How gamification of meetings can aid success

85 New year, old faces Lee McQueen - how do you prevent your best staff leaving?

125 Question of the month: We ask: “Should the Government make it easier for SMEs to fire underperforming employees?”

126 Trash talk Readers discuss the business phrases that annoy them most 9


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DESIGN Louise Salisbury



Que sera, Sarah It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves William Shakespeare

Sid White Joe Christmas


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 2016. 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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hether you believe in fate, or karma, or the flying spaghetti monster, sometimes a story seems so meant to be that it’s hard to believe there isn’t some greater power pulling the strings behind the scenes. Back in her primary school days, when everyone else was occupying their time by trading football stickers or dressing Barbie dolls, Sarah Willingham was wondering what it was that made many of the girls in her class buy the same pencil cases. That inquisitive nature and interest in the mechanics of business bode well for her and, through determination and a little ingenuity, she’s risen to fame and success. Now, as a former restaurant owner and one of the newest Dragons on the popular BBC TV show, Dragons’ Den, Sarah shares her wisdom about what she’s learned on the journey – including how to be a strong, successful mother and a woman in a male dominated world – with you, over on page 18. Elsewhere this issue we’re ringing in the New Year and preparing for 2016 with a look ahead to legislation that will impact on SMEs. Whether it’s Intuit looking at how you can avoid passing on the costs of auto-enrolment to your employees over on page 76, or Data Quarks tackling what a Brexit decision in the possible referendum would mean for UK business on page 116, we’ve got you covered. Finally, something that will be in the news and filling front pages in 2016 will be the migrant crisis in Europe. But beyond the scandalous stats and headline-grabbing images, the aftermath of what happens when migrants do make it to our shores is often forgotten. One man, Rafael Dos Santos, is making it his mission to help UK migrants assimilate into the country and succeed in their business dreams. From learning the language to navigating the myriad of complex tax laws, he’s there to help make the British dream come true. Read his story on page 24. All that is left to do is wish you all a prosperous 2016! 11


The experts

CHANDYCHANDRASEKAR KRISHNAMOORTHY Chandy-Chandrasekar Krishnamoorthy is CEO and co-founder of Data Quarks, an analytics start-up enabling companies to simulate and analyse ‘What-If’ business scenarios, such as the impact of Brexit. Prior to setting up Data Quarks, he worked for Rank Group and Sopra in London. He has worked with leading blue chip clients across the globe to implement strategic decision support systems for their senior executives. He holds a full time MBA from Manchester Business School as well as a mechanical engineering degree.



12 January 2016

KIMBERLY DAVIS Kimberly is a highly accomplished marketing expert, author, business mentor, and speaker. She is founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing - the name comes from Kimberley’s fascination with the 1940’s; the music, the Hollywood glamour, the swinging dance moves, and the optimism. It helps established businesses, SMEs, start-ups, business owners, and employees, and has a very different approach to marketing. Strong opinions and a determination to restore credibility to an unregulated industry have earned Kimberly a reputation as “the antimarketing marketer”.



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



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news U

K businesses should beware of new research conducted by CV-Library, which reveals how 7.7 million of the nation’s workers resolve to get a new job in 2016. The research revealed that more than half of workers (54.1%) plan to make a New Year’s resolution for their career in 2016, while almost one third of professionals (30.5%) admit that going back to work in January makes them feel unhappy with their jobs. It is therefore unsurprising that 46% of those who will make resolutions have ranked ‘getting a new job’ as their priority. This research suggests that 2016 could see 7 million employees on the look-out for new job opportunities. This is certainly worrying news for SMEs, as 2016 has already been dubbed ‘year of the candidate’; operating in

Are trendy beanbags the secret to SME innovation?

SMEs warned about employees’ itchy feet a prosperous job market, arket, these applicants will have more control nt process in the over the recruitment New Year than ever before. With easing, and skills shortages increasing, ore selective candidates being more pply for, with the jobs they apply this could spell real trouble for he nation. businesses across the he findings, Commenting on the Lee Biggins, founderr and managing ary said: director of CV-Library “Businesses need to be prepared ops in 2016. to pull out all the stops k hard to hold They’ll need to work oyees, as well on to talented employees, n the best new as fighting to draw in usinesses in candidates. Small businesses ocus on offering particular, should focus at larger personal touches that n’t provide.” corporations just can’t

More than 7 million workers resolve to leave their jobs in 2016

Contact: uk

Google-style offices revealed to be an unnecessary luxury for majority of SMEs


he secret ingredient to an innovative workplace is not about having trendy or quirky chill-out zones, but rather by being open to ideas and using old-school tools like a whiteboard. These are some of the findings of a survey by business software provider, Exact, of some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs. A nationwide poll of The Supper Club – a membership organisation of founders and CEOs of high-growth businesses – found the three most important tools for nurturing innovation at work are having fast and reliable broadband (65%), whiteboards for creative brainstorms (46%), and widespread high-speed mobile internet access to enable employees to share ideas from anywhere (40%). Only 7% who took part in the ‘Exact Innovation Pulse Check’, said having beanbags, ping-pong

tables, and any other funky break-out area additions, had any impact. The biggest killer of innovation among entrepreneurs who took part, is a lack of encouragement from leadership teams – with 59% saying those at the top need to adopt more of a ‘no idea is a bad idea’ attitude. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that was closely followed by ‘a lack of time to focus on innovation’, with many saying they are too busy on other tasks (57%). Erik van der Meijden, CEO of Exact said: “What we found is that it isn’t necessarily the Google-style offices and latest technology that makes people tick after all. While these things do help, we shouldn’t neglect the importance of old fashioned brainstorming on whiteboards, and supporting staff by getting off their backs.” Contact: 15


news More than half of SMEs have had data-related incidents in 2015 SMEs warned to secure data properly or risk losing customer trust


of organisations have had data-related incidents in the past 12 months, including 16% suffering a data breach, according to new AIIM research. The new report, Information Governance – too important for humans, revealed that 45% of respondents feel a lack of information governance leaves their organisation wide open to litigation and data protection risks. Furthermore, 41% of respondents admit that their email management

is ‘chaotic’, and 22% are reporting a negative financial impact from cases around electronic records. “The sheer volume of data in business is a major asset for most organisations,” said Doug Miles, chief analyst at AIIM. “But without effective information governance, that data also carries a potentially huge risk, both in terms of reputation and the bottom line. Lots of organisations are talking about information governance, but far less are

actually doing it properly – that has to change in 2016.” The severity and frequency of data incidents reported in the research has meant that information governance has never had more interest in it. For 28% of organisations, IG is very high on the senior management agenda, and more than half (53%) have recently launched new IG initiatives. Contact:

DATES FOR THE DIARY Business Junction Networking Events 7 Jan - Lunch in Marylebone 12 Jan - Champagne breakfast in Barbican 19 Jan - Lunch at the House of Lords 22 Jan - Evening in Chancery Lane

Scotland’s Trade Fair - Spring 24th – 26th January, SECC, Glasgow

25 February - Worcester Sixways Stadium

The Aspire 2016 M.A.D. Global Leadership Programme 26th - 27th January, ExCel, London

17 March - Somerset County Ground, Taunton

The Business Funding Show 2nd - 3rd February, Old Billingsgate, London

Sterling Integrity

16 January 2016

The Toy Fair 24th – 26th January, Kensington Olympia, London

WHERE THERE’S A WILLINGHAM THERE’S A WAY The latest addition to the Dragons’ Den line-up, Sarah Willingham speaks with editor, Luke Garner, about what it is she looks for in a fledgling business and how you can achieve success inside and outside of the Den


o paraphrase the now infamous 1992 The Sun newspaper General Election headline - “it’s the person wot won it”. That’s what the latest addition to the Dragons’ Den, the BBC’s popular long-running business investment reality show, Sarah Willingham believes anyway. Beyond the numbers and orderbook, much of the time, she says, it comes down to the person making the pitch and how they engage and instil confidence in their dream to you.

18 January 2016

“The person is what I really look at in the Den. There’s no doubt that people make a business and you cannot have a business without them,” said the Stoke-on-Trent-born entrepreneur. “You can have the best business in the world, but without the right person running it then it’ll go nowhere. “I don’t think you need a business degree to be successful, and what I like about business is that it doesn’t discriminate – you don’t have to have a phenomenal education to go into business and in some cases I think it helps.

“What was an interesting experience though was that I recently I helped to judge the Nectar Small Business Awards, and I didn’t get to meet the people beforehand, so I was only judging the business on paper. I had to be a lot more clinical so it took a different view,” enlightened the mother of four. As is often the case with successful entrepreneurs, they get a head start and show some inkling of business ingenuity in early life, and for Sarah it was no different. To the rest of her primary school class their lunchboxes

Businesses who embrace mums and allow mums to still be mums will get more out of those than businesses who don’t 19


were something their parents filled with sandwiches. To Sarah they were a fascinating story about marketing, trends and sales, more interesting than anything Roald Dahl or Lewis Carroll could throw at her. “I’ve always been fascinated by business, ever since a young age, and in some ways I think I was born to work in it. I remember friends saying towards the end of primary school, that I was constantly intrigued by things such as why we all had the same stuff and same pencil cases. I wanted to know why we all bought the same things. That was the first hint of the businesswoman in me,” smiled Sarah. “However, I wasn’t necessarily born to be an entrepreneur. That came a bit later on, in my mid-20s, when I realised that if I wanted a family then I’d have to call the shots.” Sarah has achieved her dreams of having a successful business and starting a family, but despite becoming a household name she believes she is in the minority when it comes to her gender and level of accomplishment. While the Cranfield University School of Management’s Female FTSE Board report stated that women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has doubled to almost a quarter in the last four years, Sarah says it can still be difficult for women to get the same breaks as men in some sectors of business. She also urges SMEs to employ more women and mothers as they bring certain skills that can’t be found elsewhere. “It (discrimination against women) does happen and, while progress is being made, I don’t think we’re there yet. I’m a believer in the idea that ‘you cannot fight nature – nature will always win’. If a mom needs to be a mom then you need to let her do that. However, businesses who embrace mums and allow mums to still be mums while still working and continuing to contribute will get more out of them than businesses who don’t. One thing mums don’t do is waste time, as any time wasted is time that could be spent with their children, which is a huge advantage for a small business,” explained the newest Dragon, who is actually an alma mater of Cranfield University. Aside from her real family, Sarah has her TV family in the form of Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman and Nick Jenkins, and just like a real family, they have their ups and downs in the heat of battle, but it is

20 January 2016

all very friendly off camera at the end of the day. “Obviously we’re in competition and when a good business comes into the Den we’re uber-competitive,” she explained; “but in the early stages of a pitch we’re very collaborative to get to the bottom of a business. The great thing about having five people with five very different sets of business experience is that we so often ask very different questions that the others might not have thought to ask.” “It was tough for the three new dragons at first as nobody really knew us so we had to really fight our corners. Now though we go out for dinner every night when we’re filming, we laugh together and have fun together, and there’s a lot of respect between us all. We used to play ‘spoof’ (a popular bar game where a player has to guess how many coins are being concealed by other players) but Deborah always

lost so now we rotate it!” laughed the TV star. Despite her achievements, Sarah remains humble, a quality which she believes is key to success and encourages others to consider. This is especially true when looking to round out your staff with knowledgeable people to grow your business, as she explains;

To succeed in business you need to surround yourself with brilliant people. We should all aim to be the most stupid person in the room


“To succeed in business you need to surround yourself with brilliant people. We should all aim to be the most stupid person in the room,” she elaborated. “It doesn’t even have to be people in the same sector. Everybody falls into the same holes and pitfalls in business; if you can find someone who has fallen into it before you and they can say ‘stop, don’t do this’ then it really helps. The more you can surround yourself with brilliant people the better.” Having sold her share in her first restaurant business, Bombay Bicycle Club, in 2007, and gone on to build a successful business empire, being the dumbest

7KHUHƎV D ELJ GLƫHUHQFH EHWZHHQ ULVN DQG DQ HGXFDWHG GHFLVLRQ person in the room could be a near impossible task for the female entrepreneur. Those smarts have come through careful, calculated decisions, just like the hours-long deliberations she makes over each business on Dragons’ Den that are condensed into 60-minute segments for our viewing pleasure. It is in this arena that Sarah says many people misunderstand the decision making process the Dragons – and indeed any investment angel – goes through. “I get asked about risk a lot. A lot of people think you need to be a risk taker to do well, but I don’t agree; it’s risk assessment. There’s a big difference between risk and an educated decision. I start looking at something and say ‘what is the downside?’ If I can’t handle that then I don’t do it, simple as that. That’s how it works in the Den,” she explained. “The reality is, when you’re investing your own money you don’t mess about. You want to ask questions and one of the other Dragons might ask you to hurry up, but you think ‘no, I won’t because if I’m considering this as an investment then I want to make sure I get to the bottom of it’. There’s obviously a limit to how much due diligence you can do in the couple of hours of each pitch, but you try to do as much possible so you can make an educated decision.” The Nectar Business Small Business Awards are an annual, free to enter awards, designed to recognise the hard work of the UK’s small businesses. For more information about Nectar Business and how it can help support your business, visit:

22 January 2016




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The hidden story of the migrant journey European leaders might be erm-ing and aah-ing over the migrant crisis, but one man - Rafael Dos Santos - is taking action to help fellow migrants succeed in their new lives. He speaks to editor, Luke Garner about his humanitarian business start-up hub, This Foreigner Can WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THIS FOREIGNER CAN COME FROM, AND WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION TO START IT? I’m a migrant, and I know what it is like to move countries, learn a new language, and then start a business – it can be very scary. I had been mentoring other migrants, and I understand there

24 January 2016

is a need for local knowledge to be shared in an environment where everyone is in the same boat, so to speak. WHAT DOES THIS FOREIGNER CAN DO, AND HOW DOES IT HELP MIGRANTS GET A START IN BUSINESS? We support migrant entrepreneurs to start, and grow, a business. We achieve this by providing business accelerator training, and soon we’ll have a co-working space where migrants will be able to have a home for their business in a friendly and welcoming environment. As well as desks, migrant entrepreneurs will receive mentoring to help them achieve business success.

WHO DO YOU GENERALLY SEE COME TO YOU FOR HELP? We mainly see first generation migrants, who are legally allowed to work and run a company in the UK. They might be in jobs they would not be in, in their own countries and they usually have skills that are being underutilised. This is a similar situation I found myself in when I arrived in London 14 years ago. I used to work for Microsoft in Brazil, but due to language and experience difficulties, I was working as a kitchen porter. HOW DO YOU THINK THE MIGRANT CRISIS IN EUROPE IS AFFECTING THE WAY FOREIGN NATIONALS ARE BEING VIEWED WITHIN


It’s not just grammar and vocabulary, it’s the accent and the fear people will be judging us by the way we speak THE UK, AND WITHIN UK BUSINESS CIRCLES? I think there’s a big difference between refugees and economic migrants, and they should not be categorised equally. Refugees run from war and terror to save their lives - they don’t have the choice of staying in their country; if they do, they often face death. Economic migrants are free to choose where they are going, and they have skills that they contribute to the economy. I’ve interviewed a lot of Europeans and they don’t consider themselves migrants in London, but they are – French, Italian, German; they’re all migrants in the UK. Just because you are free to come and go does not mean you are any different from those from Asia, South America, or Africa. Unfortunately, the refugee crisis is not helping the situation overall, but one should not forget that Europeans need each other for services. The Portuguese move to France for a better life, Italians move to London for a better life, and Brazilians move to Portugal, and so on – countries would not function properly without migration. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER MIGRANTS FACE IN GETTING WORK IN THE UK OR STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS? I have done research on this personally; I spent the day in Stratford station asking 200 migrants the barriers they faced when launching a business. The top three challenges they said they face are: 1 FUNDING - because of lack of credit history. 2 KNOWLEDGE - a lack of local knowledge (how to open a company, taxes, etc.). 3 NETWORK - lack of (people) network because of the time they have been in the country.

It takes time to build relationships with suppliers, clients, etc. Migrants face many more barriers that Brits don’t. We don’t have credit history, so it’s practically impossible to get a loan to start a business. We also have to overcome the language barrier. It’s not just grammar and vocabulary, it’s the accent and the fear people will be judging us by the way we speak. We ask ourselves, ‘Do they understand me?’ or think, ‘My accent is horrible, they won’t buy from me.’ It can be very tough. HOW CAN LANGUAGE BARRIERS BE OVERCOME AND WHAT CAN UK BUSINESS OWNERS DO TO HELP MIGRANTS WITH LANGUAGE BARRIERS? A language barrier is more than just being able to say words in a grammatically correct way. English is a complex language, without easy rules to follow. Learning how to pronounce the sounds of the words properly is difficult. When you’re in a different country, you already lose a bit of self-esteem because you’re unable to do simple things by yourself. Then you add the language barrier and it’s overwhelming. However, I do think that British people are very welcoming, and they make you feel relaxed when you do business with them; I have a lot of British entrepreneurs as mentors in the programme, and they are fantastic mentors. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AS OWNER OF THE BUSINESS? Winning the South-East European pitching competition in Istanbul, at the business Angel Forum in 2014 was very special. I felt really proud indeed for myself and for representing

Refugees run from war and terror to save their lives - they don’t have the choice of staying in their country; if they do they often face death the UK. Also, when I was invited to represent migrant entrepreneurs in China at the World Entrepreneurship Forum in October this year. WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU AND THIS FOREIGNER CAN? We will be launching our migrant hub in 2016. Once we have four hubs in London, we want to expand to Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. mi-HUB will be the home for migrant entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in the UK. Once we are established in the UK, we hope to open hubs in other European cities. Contact: 25


Points of view


t the age of 17 David Humpston decided to forgo going to university to tread the more uncertain path as an entrepreneur. Now at 19 David’s business, Viewpoint Videos, has become a sustainable and profitable business. David won the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy award and the Edge Challenge in 2014 and is now looking to grow the video experience company in 2016. WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR BUSINESS, AND HOW DOES IT HELP PEOPLE? We’re a video production company to help people capture and share memorable experiences at leisure venues. We are currently operating in five go-karting tracks, where our system allows the customer to buy a GoPro style action video of their experience and then re-live and share it too. By producing thousands of videos to date, we have reached over 4 million people. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS? If I hadn’t started out in business, I would have looked at going to university. I figured that entrepreneurship provides much more experience of the world, and the worst-case scenario was less debt than university! HOW DID YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY REACT TO YOU STARTING A BUSINESS? My family wasn’t sure whether it was the right decision, but I’m fortunate that I had their support once they realised I’d committed to the decision. Friends just thought it was a bit odd! The support

When starting a small business, people might see it as a ‘hobby’ or ‘project’ and might not take it seriously, especially if the director is young I’ve had since setting up has been great - if you believe in yourself and you demonstrate results, your friends and family will soon see your passion too and become more supportive. I think it’s important to take measured risks...and then work very hard to see it through! WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? Initially, the greatest challenge was to be seen in the right way by clients. When starting a small business, people might see it as a ‘hobby’ or ‘project’ and might not take it seriously, especially if the director is young. This isn’t as much of a challenge now that we have had success with clients and started building a team. Once we had a small team, we were trusted more as a company. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS? Have a go. If you have an idea for a product or service that could be useful for people, ask them if they would benefit from it and what they would

pay for it. Find out what it would cost to produce, then create a small version and test it. Seek feedback on how to improve it and keep going. If you have the motivation to see it through, put in the hours re-iterating/changing your idea and keep seeking negative feedback so that you know where it can be improved. HOW DO YOU EXPECT YOUR BUSINESS TO DEVELOP IN THE FUTURE? We will grow to work with more venue partners over the next few years. There are many other potential experience day activities we could work with such as rallying, supercar, skydiving etc. We are also offering drone video production, which looks like an exciting area for the future. It will be important to grow securely without taking large financial risks or loans. I am fortunate that the support from winning the Edge Challenge has helped me to startup my business. Contact: 27


Mark Wright, winner of last year’s The Apprentice, and director of Climb Online, looks at the seven things he has learned since starting his business, with the benefit of hindsight (and Lord Sugar)

Lessons learned If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough

28 January 2016


limb Online is the London-based digital marketing agency founded by The Apprentice 2014 winner, Mark Wright, and developed in partnership with Lord Sugar. In a short time, the agency has grown from strength to strength, now boasting more than 200 clients across a range of B2B and B2C market sectors, including renowned UK brands, Groupon, Be Wiser insurance, and Company Check. At the brink of celebrating the company’s first anniversary, Mark reflects on the key lessons he has learned in growing his digital empire:


Over-promising may sound impressive at the time, but in reality it sets you up for failure DITCH JACK, BE THE MASTER When developing my initial business plan for Climb Online, I wanted to offer as many marketing-based services as possible, in order to become a full service agency. However, it soon became clear that, in order to really stand out from the crowd, we should focus our efforts in a particular area, ridding the ‘Jack of all trades’ tag to become the master of one. In our case, it’s SEO, online advertising, and web development – and to date, our clients have received some amazing results. CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY There are so many marketing agencies for businesses to choose from, so why should they choose us? In business, it is so important to develop clear USP’s, and here at Climb Online, we have established an excellent reputation for our customer service. Each customer, no matter the size, receives two campaign representatives – an account manager that assists in day-today communication, reports, and monthly meetings, and a technical rep that completes the nitty gritty to achieve the required results. HIGH-FIVES ALL ROUND Growing a start-up into a seven-figure turnover business in just one year has been an extremely challenging task. One thing’s for sure, I definitely would not have been able to do this without my amazing team. Sourcing and selecting skilled professionals is one thing, but keeping hold of them is another. Here at Climb Online, each and every member of the team works their

socks off, but I ensure they never go a day without receiving a sincere ‘thank you’ for their efforts. Each month, we do a staff outing that brings the team together. It ranges from ice skating, bowling, five-a-side football, or go-karting, to just going for a quick pint a couple of nights a week. BE AMBITIOUS If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough. I would not be where I am today without drive and ambition, and although I am extremely excited by the success of Climb Online in 2015, it has only encouraged me to make it bigger and better in 2016. Probably one of the most commonly asked questions in interviews is ‘Where do you see yourself in ‘X’ amount of years’ time?’ As an employer, this provides us with a great indication of an individual’s level of ambition. I regularly ask myself this question, and have a clear indication of exactly what I want Climb Online to represent come 2020. Ultimately, your business will only stand still if you do. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS So many businesses perceive SEO as a dark art that will get you right to the top of Google in a matter of days. This is most definitely not the case and, here at Climb Online, we have always led by the rule ‘honesty is the best policy’ right from the start. Over-promising may sound impressive at the time, but in reality it sets you up for failure, and could damage your reputation as a business. Successfully managing the expectations of clients from the outset ensures they are right on board with you, and understand

exactly how much can be achieved in what time frame. Then, when you manage to over-deliver, they will be nothing but delighted with the results. KEEP UP TO DATE If you work in an everchanging sector, such as digital marketing, it is extremely important to keep up to date with the latest trends and developments. As the service provider, you are the authority, here to guide, lead, and advise. How can you do this to the best of your ability if you are not 100% sure on the latest sector developments? For me, it’s the growing digital landscape and changing Google algorithms; for you, it may be a CPD course or regular webinars. Aside from your own personal development, it is important to take the time to invest in the training and development of your employees too – not only will it maintain their skill set, but will also ensure they feel like a valued member of the team. BE YOURSELF When people go into business, they often try replicating both business plans and business management on other successful companies, or in the way they’ve seen others do it. I’ve always found that being yourself, and putting your own personality into the products, staff, and customers, makes your business unique, fun, and different to the competition. If you try to be that someone else, you will never be as good as them. If you try and be you, you will be the best at that. Learn and listen to others to build within yourself. Contact: 29

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BOOK reviews 4D Leadership Competitive advantage through vertical leadership development by Dr Alan Watkins Our verdict: About the author: Dr Alan Watkins is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. Over the past 18 years he has been a coach to many of Europe’s top business leaders, including helping the GB Olympic Squad prior to London 2012. We say: Today’s leaders need to change radically to meet the challenge of complex organisations in business landscapes that are in flux. This requires not merely new skills and competencies, but a step-change in development in three fundamental dimensions: how you do things, who you are,

Financial Times Essential Guide To Writing A Business Plan How to win backing to start up or grow your business by Vaughan Evans Our verdict: About the author: Vaughan Evans is a highly experienced and engaging speaker who has 30 years’ experience both writing and assessing business plans. He’s also written the top selling strategy book, Key Strategy Tools. We say: Whether you seek financial backing or board consent, this book will give you the critical knowledge you need to get the go-ahead. This book will help you formulate a coherent,

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and how you relate to other people. 4D Leadership is what happens when this step-change in doing, being, and relating takes place. When you move up to the next level of ability and sophistication in these three dimensions, you’ll have unlocked the fourth dimension (verticality) and you’ll receive a significant competitive advantage. Neuroscientist and leadership coach, Dr Alan Watkins draws on groundbreaking research into adult development to present a framework that will transform your ability to excel as a leader. 4D Leadership is the book for: anyone who feels stressed by trying to maintain competitive advantage through innovation; anyone looking to develop a more responsive and rewarding strategy, drive change, and take people with them, and become a truly rounded and four-dimensional leader. 4D Leadership is published by KoganPage, priced at £19.99, and is available as a paperback.

consistent, and convincing business plan, with your backer’s needs in mind. Follow its guidance and your plan will have every chance of winning the backing you need for your business to succeed. As you’d expect from a Financial Times publication, this is the definitive guide for anyone looking for answers to their business plan-based questions. The brand new second edition draws on the specific challenges faced by start-ups, particularly on pinning down perceived market niche and competitive advantage. It is not limited to new business, however, and offers equally practical advice to expanding businesses looking for development capital. Financial Times Essential Guide To Writing A Business Plan is published by FT Publishing, is priced at £16.99, and is available as a paperback. 31














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4 financial resolutions for a healthier 2016 It’s time for New Year’s resolutions once again. Adam Aiken looks at a few basic ones that could quickly pay off for small businesses


ome new year resolutions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Others suffer a slower, but just as inevitable death. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any though, and it probably won’t be hard to find something within your business that you can improve on. CHASE UP THOSE UNPAID INVOICES If you have let things drift in the past, your customers might be used to getting away with paying their bills late. But late-payers can cause problems for you and sometimes, for others further down the supply chain. If you have payment terms that aren’t being honoured, consider writing to your customers to remind them. It doesn’t need to be an aggressive letter – you can even be a little self-deprecating, and point out to the recipients that you’ve been as much at fault for failing to insist on the terms being honoured. Only if that doesn’t work do you need to get tough – follow-up letters

If you have payment terms that aren’t being honoured, consider writing to your customers to remind them

can point out that you will charge ‘statutory interest’ (which is currently 8.5%) if payment isn’t forthcoming. PLAN FOR RATE RISES There are more predictions about interest rates from the ‘experts’ than you could shake a stick at. The truth is that no one really knows; even the Bank of England governor has given out mixed messages in recent months. But one day the cheap money will become more expensive. Many businesses are finding that banks are not lending to them in the first place, and that clearly leads to its own set of problems, but those that do have access to funding need to be wary of any rate rises during 2016. If you already have a loan and it has a variable rate, make sure you know how much higher the repayments will be if it goes up. If you’re looking to take out a loan, it might be wise to move fast – and, again, make sure you know how future rate rises will impact your repayments. CHECK YOUR ENERGY PRICES If you’ve never switched your energy supplier, the chances are that you could get a better deal elsewhere

on a like-for-like basis. A quick Internet search should throw up a number of price comparison services. Alternatively, speak to your existing supplier to see if it can cut your prices. You might get a cheaper tariff in return for agreeing to a fixed-term contract. WATCH OUT FOR PENSIONS AUTO-ENROLMENT The rules on enrolling employees into pension schemes have been with us for a few years, but not all businesses have reached their staging date (the date by which they have to enrol all their employees). This is not something that you can get around – you’ll have to pay into a pension for all your eligible workers, unless they opt out. So, if you have yet to reach your staging date, visit www. and find out when it is. You can then start to make preparations and budget accordingly.



Sowing the seeds of funding success Michael Hammond, founder of Property TV (Sky, channel 238), looks at how to set yourself up for seed funding and investment success

It’s better to have a small piece of a huge pie, than all of a very small one

34 January 2016


The best investors are those who not only help fund the EXVLQHVV EXW DGG VLJQLĆŹFDQW EXVLQHVV H[SHULHQFH


t times, too much emphasis is placed on finding huge chunks of cash to make your business idea fly, when in reality, a well-run business with grounded, yet ambitious leaders, combined with a realistic development flow, and a business that is needed or wanted by the target audience, will soon begin to start turning over small sums of money. All of this, plus a vital pinch of mother’s advice, will set any business in good stead for investment. Initial small-scale turnover won’t seem too significant and certainly won’t put caviar on the table – if that’s what your goal is – but it does do a number of vital things; it helps to validate the business concept, but it also officially raises a flag of ‘open for investors’, whether you like it or not. So when should you and your business be seeking funding, why, and from whom? TIMING IS EVERYTHING Is it the right time for your business to receive a cash injection? Some might say that having the investment in the bank is the most important thing as it shows that someone has literally put their money where their mouth is. Of course, the reassurance and early financial support is vital, simply to maintain a good flow of activity, and fund the core components of any business – mainly staff and offices. You may have started with a rushed or basic website, for example, but having seed funding can add gloss, and attract more customers. In reality, if you’ve found funds from an experienced, good investor, then they will know when the time is right, and how much is required.

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING? There are many ways to fund a business, and it’s inevitable that you’ll have already experienced a few of them. Although I’d never endorse it, many entrepreneurs get into significant debt through credit cards and loans, having decimated the savings account, before turning a profit. Sometimes there are no other ways of starting out, but what’s important in this instance is to make sure that one of your weekly lines of activity involves actively seeking a financial backer. Angel funding or a seed round by a group of investors is usually the first port of call, but VCs have been known to get in from the start. There are many factors which will dictate which route a business goes down, but what is important is that you do your homework on those looking to gain equity in your business. In my experience, the best investors are those who not only help fund the business, but add significant business experience, and help to make solid decisions to guide the business to the next level – something my business, PropertyTV, has benefited from significantly. Opening certain doors and lines of interest is also a key benefit of gaining senior involvement as part of funding a business. On doing a deal, be considerate to the volume of equity you give, but don’t be afraid of handing it over to the right person(s). Put it this way, business owners with 100% equity – or close to it – very rarely turn out to own billion pound businesses. It’s better to have a small piece of a huge pie, than all of a very small one. HOW MUCH? Knowing how much you need is very much influenced by the type of business

and sector you operate in. For gadget and tech brands, development and production line costs can be some of the biggest outlays, but having set out a three- and five-year plan some time ago, you’ll have a good idea of what the funds are needed for, and therefore how much is required. Depending on what stage of investment you are at, don’t be afraid to ask for more than the calculator spits out. In many ways, building a business is like building a property – you certainly need a contingency pot built into any funding round in case of emergencies and over-spend. With my latest business, Property TV, we’ve raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in seed funding from 20 investors, who all have the same vision and goal as I do, but who are completely different with various backgrounds. This is all part of a bigger plan to secure larger sums through other funding rounds. The numbers may accelerate growth and allow for projects to flourish, but don’t ever forget the person or people behind the finance; they must match your expectations, they should understand your vision, and look to not only agree, but to aid, and even add further gloss to what foundations have already been put down. And as you set off on a funding adventure, there’s one final word from my mother that rings so true – don’t be shy. As Brits, it’s easy to be humble about your business, equally so when it comes to burying your head until it’s too late. Tell people what you need, and what you want it for. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And that’s the reality of finding funding for your growing business. Don’t forget it. Contact: 35

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 our January networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 7th Jan 2016 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch in Marylebone Reform Social & Grill, The Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Place, London, W1U 2BE Nearest tube: Bond Street More information and booking:

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Champagne breakfast in Barbican CCT Venues Barbican, Aldersgate House, 135-137 Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4JA Nearest tube: Barbican More information and booking:

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Lunch reception at the House of Lords The Cholmondeley Room & Terrace, House of Lords, Parliament Square London, SW1A 0PW Nearest tube: Westminster More information and booking:

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LOCATIONS OF UPCOMING SHOWS 2016 Worcester Sixways Stadium, Worcester WR3 8ZE Taunton Somerset County Cricket Club, Taunton TA1 1JT Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester GL1 3AX

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.




“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.

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Don’t be made to pay for payroll mistakes Dan Docherty, payroll specialist at Sage UK, looks at the most common payroll stumbling blocks for small businesses, and how you can avoid them


ayroll is an essential cog in the business machine. It is indispensable, a fundamental process you must ensure runs like clockwork if you want to build a winning business. However, like any business function, it’s not always stress-free. Payroll can be complex, and comes with a raft of regulations and administrative pressures. Unfortunately, many small firms still consider payroll as a back-office process that doesn’t necessarily affect business performance – this is quite simply not the case. Payroll is something employers must get right. It’s not just about pay, it’s about people and perception. For instance, in a recent survey conducted by Sage UK, 44% of small business employees revealed being paid late or incorrectly would have a detrimental impact on their job satisfaction. The secrets to success for business owners lie in appreciating the challenges facing payroll representatives when it comes to effective payroll management.

There are a few stand-out issues: ensuring accuracy; treating staff fairly; keeping up-to-date with legislation; and minimising the associated time and costs. So how can you navigate these potential issues and make sure you’re a payroll hero? We’ve broken it down into five key steps:

can be a valuable indicator of pressured periods and trends, as well as shedding crucial light on the entries that are more time-consuming or prone to error. When it comes to payroll software, automated calculations, secure data, and direct links to HMRC can make paying your people a breeze.


SET WINNING GOALS: ENSURE ACCURACY AND COMPLIANCE Businesses are liable for their staffs’ pay. As a result, you simply cannot risk payroll going under the radar until something goes wrong. Payroll can be a minefield, where success is rarely acknowledged, but failures can quickly breed distress and resentment among employees. Many workers underestimate the effort that goes into ensuring everyone is paid correctly and on-time, and have little idea of the pressures and difficulties associated with payroll. Bringing payroll into the spotlight, and ensuring the right processes are in place will help to conquer any inaccuracies. The goals of every payroll department are two-fold: accuracy and compliance. Information must be correct so that employees are paid the right amount, and tax obligations can be taken care of on time. For instance, most systems provide information on the number of entries processed. This

As your most important asset, it’s YLWDO WR UHZDUG VWDƫ and ensure they feel like a valued part of the team


TREAT PAYROLL AS A MATTER OF MORALITY: VALUE YOUR EMPLOYEES Precise payroll is also a question of morality. Employees work hard to help your business run smoothly. As your most important asset, it’s vital to reward staff and ensure they feel like a valued part of the team – paying your 37


team accurately is key to achieving this. What’s more, it will help to foster higher levels of employee engagement and deliver significant business benefits, from boosting profitability and productivity to reducing employee turnover and enhancing job satisfaction.


REWARD YOUR TEAM: PAY STAFF ON TIME Failing to pay staff promptly and correctly will have a detrimental impact on your workforce. Your teams must be able to rely on being paid consistently without delays. Failure to do so risks impacting everything from staff morale to employee retention rates, and trust in the financial stability of the company. Payroll can be the lynchpin for talent management. Being paid late or incorrectly – even just once – would cause a third of employees to look for another job, as highlighted by the results of the latest Sage payroll research. What’s more, 50% admitted this would cause

There are tools available to make paying people simpler - so use them!

38 January 2016

can be a demanding and timeconsuming task, with firms spending an average of eight and a half GET CLUED UP: STAY staff hours each month making ON TOP OF LEGISLATIVE payments. There are tools available DEVELOPMENTS to make paying people simpler – so To be a payroll hero, you must stay use them. Investing in technology attuned to developments in legislation. which automates payroll processes For instance, RTI recently introduced empowers you to run your payroll the biggest shake up to PAYE with confidence, and reduces time reporting in half a century, while the and costs associated with back office ongoing roll out of auto-enrolment administration. In the long term, this will have a substantial impact on the will pay dividends when it comes to payroll department. boosting your business’s bottom line. Small business owners should So what is the moral of the story? make best use of the tools at their Don’t ignore the value of good disposal to help them stay clued up. payroll management until it’s too late. Using the latest payroll software can Savvy firms must put payroll at the take the heavy lifting out of payroll front and centre of their business. maintenance and ensure your payday As one of the most powerful weapons processes are seamlessly updated to for enhancing staff morale, ensuring comply with the latest legislation. employees remain engaged, and bolstering your business’s reputation, SAVE TIME AND CUT this is an absolute must. COSTS: EMBRACE INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY Contact: Ultimately, managing your payroll

resentment and lead to a lack of trust in their employer.



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One of the UK’s leading pitching experts, Chelsey Baker, explains what investors are really looking for when you’re pitching for funding

If you have endorsements, customer testimonials, press or celebrity reviews, then make sure you mention them


s one of the UK’s leading business mentors, author of “The Pocket Mentor” and founder of Broadcasting Your Business the pitch, press and publicity programme which has generated millions of pounds in sales and publicity for her clients, I’ve seen firsthand the mistakes people make when pitching and I know at what point they lose the deal. Too many entrepreneurs pitch before they are investor ready which ends up being their downfall. There is so much information available on pitching, yet so many fail to take home the investment they are seeking. Why? Because to win over an investor you first have to understand what they are looking for before you pitch. Here is my top tips on how to avoid the biggest pitching mistakes and win over an investor:


TO GET THE INVESTOR’S ATTENTION YOU HAVE TO WIN THEM OVER FIRST Pitch with personality, charisma and integrity, and then make sure everything else stacks up later on. Convince investors that you are an exciting opportunity and potentially their next greatest investment. Make sure to connect with them emotionally; start by shaking their hand and be authentic. Like it or not they will prejudge you and make a number of

40 January 2016

assumptions about the presentation to come, so establish credibility early on by sharing your traction to date, achievements, awards, your own commitment and past successes.


INVESTORS ARE LOOKING FOR A BUSINESS WHICH IS SUSTAINABLE AND SCALABLE Investors need to see evidence. If you have endorsements, contracts, patents, trademarks, letters of intent, trade press, definite orders, customer testimonials, press or celebrity reviews, then make sure you mention them. Show clear proof of concept, how the business is protected, and impress with evidence of subscribers, followers or fans. Preparation, practice and integrity are key in pitching: knowing your slides inside out will give you more confidence and make you appear far more natural and knowledgeable.


BE CLEAR ON HOW AND WHAT YOU PLAN TO USE THE FUNDING FOR I’ve seen many great pitches fall down at this point. Using the funds to pay off debts or pay yourself is a big no. Investors are primed to look out for reasons not to invest so don’t give them any. They are interested in return on investment (ROI), minimal risk, and tax incentives such as EIS and SEIS. Be realistic and accurate

with your numbers and show your revenue model clearly. Don’t overinflate your financial projections, and explain what your exit strategy is.



Investors have the difficult task of listening to many pitches so stand out by giving a good performance and make your offer attractive and exciting. Investors are looking for motivated, determined and likeable people. Show what problem you are here to solve and express your vision and passion. Leave all the complicated jargon, systems and procedures for the due diligence; instead entice them with your opportunity and potential. If you have a time restraint make sure you prioritise your most important points early on or risk being cut off with key points left to cover. Your ending must be powerful and convincing leaving the investor eager to know more.



Make sure you have solid up-to-date market research; don’t assume that people will love your product just because it’s different or new. Present your research in a way that shows you are not just making wild assumptions and that your ideas will not become quickly outdated or easily copied. It


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worth their weight in gold, so consider who you could get to advocate your business and join your team before you pitch. Prove to the investor that you’ve got what it takes to successfully run the business and overcome challenges. Most investor decisions are based on how strong your management team is, their relevant experience and whether or not they can deliver on your proposed intentions. I’ve taught many entrepreneurs how to master the art of pitching and presenting and, as with most things, the more you practise the better you’ll be. Nobody is born as a natural public speaker, pitching is a skill that needs to be learned, polished, and then perfected. Construct your presentation and evidence wisely before you pitch and you could greatly improve your chances of successfully receiving investment. is important to show how you can achieve growth potential with clear routes to market too.


USE FACTS AND STATISTICS TO WOW, NOT WAFFLE Don’t leave out details of your competition - how well they have done will have an impact on your business. Outline your competitive advantages and USPs to show that your business is not just a passing trend. You are much more likely to get favourable investment terms if you already have regular sales, or at least some sales; telling an investor you haven’t made any sales yet as you need to hire a sales person is another big no.


ADD SOME KEY PEOPLE TO YOUR TEAM An industry expert with a proven track record, experienced mentor or high profile non-executive could be

Chelsey will be speaking about investment pitching at the Business Funding Show on 2nd and 3rd February 2016. Contact: www.broadcastingyourbusiness. com

Pitch perfect 41


Find the funding for your dream


ritish entrepreneurialism is on the up. Last year saw a record breaking number of businesses founded across the UK. According to data provided by Companies House, 2014 saw 581,000 company registrations. This was up from 526,00 and 484,00 recorded in 2013 and 2012 respectively. This is further proof, if any were needed, that SMEs provide the

42 January 2016

backbone of the UK economy. Clearly, the appetite for entrepreneurialism, and owning a business, has never been stronger but, according to BIS’ Small Business Survey 2015, only 15% of SMEs are familiar with multiple finance sources and specific providers. This highlights an alarming lack of engagement from the SME sector when it comes to securing the best finance options to grow their businesses.

WHY VISIT? The Business Funding Show is the first, and only, exhibition exclusively focused on business funding and growth support. Taking place 2-3 February 2016, in the iconic Old Billingsgate, London, the show will bring together two key groups in the UK economy – entrepreneurs and business owners looking for funding, and leading finance and service providers. The event will host market leaders across three


The show will bring together two key groups in the UK economy - entrepreneurs and business owners looking for funding, and leading ƬQDQFH DQG VHUYLFH SURYLGHUV

investment for businesses with a new and interesting piece of technology, to established SMEs looking for the best rate of return on a short-term loan, and everything in between.

Talk Business magazine – turn to the technology section for a flavour of his excellent advice) whose online digital marketing business, Climb Online is currently going from strength to strength, as well as Richard Reed, serial entrepreneur and founder of Innocent Drinks, who is also a founder of JamJar Investments and a proud advocate of new and fresh business ideas in the UK. Charlie Mullins (Pimlico Plumbers), David Buttress (Just Eat) and Lord Bilimoria (Cobra Beer) are among top speakers who will be present to offer guidance to businesses seeking direction. Other speakers at the show include; Bill Morrow (Angels Den), Chelsey Baker (pitching expert), Michael Wilkinson (Crowdcube), Jamie Morrison (HW Fishers), Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO (UK Business Angels Association), Russell Gould (Everline), and many, many more.

WHO ARE THE EXPERTS? The show is packed with some of the leading names in the UK funding landscape today. In just two days, attendees will have the chance to meet dozens of finance providers including: • NatWest • PayPal Working Capital • Angels Den • Crowdcube • Bibby Financial Services • Link Capital • Experian • Ratesetter • UK Business Angels Network • Science and Technology Facilities Council • ESA Business Incubation Centre IS IT FOR ME? • Rockstar Group The Business Funding Show has already • British Business Bank received 7,000 registrations from SMEs, • Enterprise Europe Network and this number is growing day by day. • ICAEW This gives attendees a fantastic, one of a • IPO kind opportunity to share ideas, network, • Companies House and socialise with their business peers. Attendees to the show will also have So, whether you’re in ecommerce, the opportunity to visit the ‘Mentoring retail, fashion, food and drink, digital, Clinic’ for a free one-on-one mentoring marketing, or even tourism and leisure, and advice session, from leading experts there will be a seminar or talk for you. from various industries. Visitors will be Whether you’re seeking to understand given the chance to utilise the wisdom how fresh financing can help you, of mentors, who have successfully consolidate your market, grow into a new overcome the barriers the businesses geography, or gain advice on expanding may currently be facing. It’s also an and financing a new team, The Business opportunity to get an insight from Funding Show will provide you with the specialists on certain critical aspects help you need to take the next step to of your business, whether it be a legal, grow your business. accounting, or funding matter. It’s clear that British SMEs were a During the show, visitors will have key driver in the overall UK economy the opportunity to attend a variety of in 2015, but 2016 looks to be even talks, seminars, and workshops across exhibiting zones: Lending, Investment, and better. Make sure you get your business three stages; Central Funding Zone, Growth Support. off to the perfect start to the year by Show Me The Money, and Growth A unique feature of The Business Funding Bootcamp. With titans of business from attending The Business Funding Show. Show is that this event is the only one of its Make sure to save dates in your across the UK speaking and consulting kind in the UK that features expert advice, at BFS 2016, attendees can gain valuable diary, and book your ticket! opinion, and courses of action to take to find insight and advice from the winner funding for practically any industry, sector, Contact: of the BBC’s The Apprentice, 2014, and stage of business growth. Mark Wright, (featured in this month’s All attendees to the event will have ample opportunity to liaise with representatives of various leading financial TALK BUSINESS READERS CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE institutions to discuss their funding options OF A FANTASTIC EXCLUSIVE OFFER RIGHT NOW – and growth pathways. They will be able to GET 20% DISCOUNT ON PREMIUM AND VIP TICKETS, find out what type of financing may be best SIMPLY BY VISITING HTTP://BIT.LY/TB-BFS20 OR ENTER THE for their specific situation, as well as all the DISCOUNT CODE ‘TALKBUSINESS’ AT THE CHECKOUT. lending options on the market. This could be for anyone from those seeking venture 43

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Twitter, the tropics and 10% Want to boost your brand and business in 2016? Rich With has some practical advice


hether you buy into the whole New Year’s resolution nonsense (surely just a corporate invention to boost gym membership, and lentil sales), there’s no denying that a new year gives you a great opportunity to do something different. These won’t be the only tips for a prosperous New Year, but hopefully they’ll be a little ‘earthier’ than most. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL BRAND Yup, sorry. Hate to break it to you, but I genuinely couldn’t give a flying monkey’s if your personal belief of an ‘holistic approach to business coaching’ is revolutionary (I promise you it isn’t), and neither could anyone else. If you’re longing to go on the business celebrity journey, you have to understand that few business experts were an overnight success. Before you start handing out advice, try doing some actual work instead. Go and improve a business, or increase your own sales massively. Do something that proves

your worth. Look at the most successful business people in the world – they didn’t become experts by faffing about on Twitter, they grafted hard. Once you’ve proved yourself, then you can start down the celebrity road. CREATIVITY AND BUSINESS NEED TO WORK HAND-IN-HAND Look at the most inspiring businesses around at the moment. From Uber to Jamie Oliver, they give their customers a solid customer journey. The user experience is interesting, different, and gives their fans something they won’t get anywhere else. You cannot create an inspiring brand by following the herd and doing the same tired old thing everyone else does. To be unique is pretty much impossible, but you can carve out a respectable niche, and lay your own path. FORGET ABOUT MAKING YOUR FIRST MILLION Before you start shopping for tropical islands, it’s worth noting that many of these companies, although hugely profitable, don’t just want to make

money. Yes, it’s important, but it’s also about improving their customers’ lives first. Whether it’s hailing a cab or making a fabulous dinner for your family, at the centre it’s all about improving the life of their customers in a small, yet important, way. 10% IS RUBBISH If you’re looking for a great offer to give your clients this January, then it isn’t ‘10% off’. A 10% discount is far too dull to make anyone care, and todays clients are savvy enough to realise that a matching 10% rise is not too far around the corner. For the vast majority, 10% isn’t worth queueing early for, it doesn’t instigate brand loyalty, and for that matter, 20% isn’t any better. You need to offer real value – surely it’s worth breaking even now and creating a client base that will stick with you for years, rather than bemoan losing a tenth of your profit for a month? Another New Year, another kick up the bum. Here’s to 2016 being a good one for all of us! Contact: 45


The Doctor will see you now Des Smith, Business Doctor for Manchester East, West & Central, answers some of your business questions from the frontline


e have a saying at Business Doctors: “When is a plan not a plan? When it’s a business plan.” It’s a very common occurrence, so you shouldn’t feel bad if the business plan you produced at the start of your business has not played out like a symphony. The reality of being in business can be very different from the plan you produce at the outset as there are so many unknown quantities. But once you’ve been in business for a while, it’s very valuable to take the lessons you have learned on board, and take an entirely fresh approach to your business plan and write it again, almost from scratch. So how do you ensure, this time round, the plan will represent the reality of the business? The simple answer is to get real and go back to basics. Base your business plan on very real, fundamental questions rather than the kind of thing a bank would ask. First up, ask:

Why am I doing this? The question that is being asked here has nothing to do with keeping up with all your work obligations. It’s all about the end point that you want to get to with your business as a whole. What do you want the business to look like in three or five years’ time? If you’ve a clear vision of the end point, it’s easier to get your head around the things you need to do to get there. What makes your company tick? Many business owners are moved to take

I’ve just looked at the business plan we wrote when we launched and am amazed by how different the reality is from what we expected it to be. Do you have any tips for keeping plans on track?

the plunge and launch their own venture because of a strong desire to work in a company context and environment with just the right vibe and values somewhere they and those around them are happy to go every day and work. You’ll need to understand what’s most important – get back to basics and get selfish for once. Being selfish is another way of saying that you need to focus temporarily on your needs and desires in order to understand them better. A happy company makes for good business.

structure and compare it with the kind of structure that will be needed to sustain a bigger company. New systems, processes, locations, and people can seem overwhelming at first, but once you start to break things down everything will start to look different. Contact:

What do our customers want? It’s time to start thinking hard about your customers. There are big questions to ask yourself and to answer carefully: • What are those that you sell to, buying from you? • What do you do for them that others can’t? • Are their needs and motivations changing? • Are you still addressing what they want as well as ever? There are many examples out there of successful companies that have lost their way simply because they didn’t keep up with their markets, and with the changing needs of their customers. Are you ready to get started? Think about the current business

If you’ve got a question you think the Business Doctors could help with, email 47

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Life after Christmas – customer retention Ian Horsham, divisional director, promotions and incentives, at The Grass Roots Group, looks at how to carry Christmas goodwill into the New Year, and beyond


hristmas and New Year are significant times for brands wanting to win over new customers and retain existing ones. With the festive season already well within the mindset of brands, it is essential that the digital customer remains at the forefront of marketing activity. But while December and early January is a key point in the year to exhibit their assets and make customers aware of the value in their custom, brands need to remember that a year-round approach to omni-channel loyalty schemes is ultimately what will help optimise customer retention. According to emarketer, 65% of marketing budgets are set to be spent

on Instagram and Facebook, proving just how significant these platforms are in terms of directly reaching customers. Brands need to use these, and other digital platforms, tactically in line with their promotional schemes to best communicate with the customer, and gain an insight into their behaviours. With competition so rife at this time of the year, brands must recognise the value of an omni-channel approach, yet understand the balance between bombardment and an optimum level of communication. Although the digital customer demands a stream of tailored, relevant, and personalised information to influence their shopping experience, it’s important that this level of communication is optimised throughout the year, in order to develop the most effective loyalty schemes.

THE YEAR-ROUND APPROACH A post-Christmas strategy is essential in terms of building the relationship between brands and customers, and setting the foundations for long-term retention that will pay off when it comes to next Christmas. Following up and continuing the customercentric focus after the holidays is crucial. Customers need to be offered incentives and promotions that they can accumulate throughout the year, while receiving more short-term benefits in the interim. This is sure to sustain interest up to Christmas and beyond. The digital customer’s demand for easily redeemable rewards and fast communications does not falter throughout the year, so the key is to give customers something they really value on various occasions. Alongside

Alongside long-term loyalty schemes, experiential rewards are key to enhancing SHUFHLYHG YDOXH DQG EHQHƬW 49


long-term loyalty schemes, experiential rewards are key to enhancing perceived value and benefit, playing a vital part in attracting the digital customer. Failing to accumulate customer interest and loyalty throughout the year may result in a more risky strategy come Christmas, with little to no underlying understanding of how customers will react to promotional activity. UNDERSTANDING THE DIGITAL CUSTOMER Customers need to be immersed in a promotional culture, one that is continuously gaining momentum online and expanding with the evolution of technology and social media platforms. Customers want fast responses and rewards that they can benefit from with minimal effort. Therefore brands need to ensure that schemes, offers, and rewards are simple to understand and easy to claim. Reward reminder emails, points statements, and mitigating complaints quickly are proven ways of maintaining brand engagement. This is all very well but, fundamentally, brands need to understand what could be stopping people from purchasing goods and address it with promotional activity. This is especially significant at

Christmas and during the January sales period, to stay ahead of competition and potentially sway fickle customers. CASH VS NON-CASH BONUSES Brands should consider extending beyond discounting in order to keep customers engaged, and remember that rewards do not need to be contingent with financial gain. With customers facing an over-abundance of offers, both online and in store, discounting doesn’t often hold the same value in the eyes of the customer. Christmas provides many opportunities to offer a variety of rewards, as shown by Ocado, which recently revealed how loyal customers were given a choice of food delivery times amid the Christmas rush. Ultimately, they recognise the value customers place on efficiency and convenience, and economise on this. It’s a working example of how noncash bonuses can target customers more directly. Additionally, customers want to be reached directly via social media platforms, especially when it comes to complaints regarding issues, such as delivery mishaps and website crashes. Customers aren’t always

looking for financial rewards, just reassurance that their queries are taken seriously and their experience with the brand is of the utmost importance. With this in mind, brands should consider a 90-second result in terms of responding to customers. As well as a written response, offering a discount code, which is immediately redeemable, is an effective way of boosting reassurance. This enables an immediate benefit without having to go into stores, and is tailored to what the customer really wants. There is no set formula when it comes to developing an effective year-round promotion and incentive scheme. But, when it comes to targeting the digital customer, brands need to recognise the benefit of non-cash rewards throughout the shopping experience – whether that is online, in store, or in more long-term schemes. Rewards, which offer more than just financial gain, are effective when it comes to developing brand image and customer engagement, especially for brands that pride themselves on the value of their products. Contact:


50 January 2016

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Retaining your training Jonathan Fitchew, CEO of graduate training and recruitment specialist, Pareto Law, looks at how to make sure your training works and is remembered

52 January 2016



hy is it that so much training fails to stick with sales people, and eventually they give up and revert to type - the ‘order taker’, the ‘cup of tea account manager’ or the internal sales person who doesn’t like picking up the phone? How do we make sure that sales training is a valuable investment that has enduring benefits? How do we make the learning, the motivation, and professional attitude last beyond the end of the course? OUTCOME DRIVEN Sales training is not an event. It is a process where learning has to be applied, practised, evaluated, and adapted to achieve success. It starts with an understanding of why we are being trained in the first place, an appreciation of its relevance to your job, and to the goals of the company; specifically what outcomes are we looking for? If you don’t see the relevance you won’t value the learning or put it into practice. If we don’t set a clear training outcome objective then we’ll never know whether the training has had any impact and this determines our view towards training in the future. DESIGN FIT FOR PURPOSE Far too much training is ‘out of the box’ and ultimately fails because it is not designed to meet the needs of the business. These will vary vastly and the idea of sending people selling high value

software on the same programme as people selling consumables seems crazy. If you are unsure as to what type of training you or your team needs, then it is wise to invest in a ‘validation exercise’ or ‘training needs analysis’ to determine what the issues are before designing something. A programme that is tailored to your team’s needs,

If we don’t set a clear training outcome objective, then we’ll never know whether the training has had any impact following an analysis of skills gaps, has a far greater chance of lasting impact than an off-the-peg training course. SALES MANAGERS: GET WITH THE PROGRAMME The role of the sales manager is to coach, motivate, and lead their team, but how can they coach someone when they have no idea what they have learned? The sales person may be enthused by new concepts like

funnelling questions, or trading variables in negotiation. A good manager will be able to build on this by giving feedback and allowing the trainee to practise their new skills in role-play or live selling situations. LITTLE AND OFTEN Training in professional selling is a matter of building value. The sales manager, by getting involved and performing their coaching role, builds the value of their team and hence, his or her own earning capacity. Training has to be seen as part of a process – timely and frequent interventions. Sales people need to be able to try out new skills through role-play, and take on board any feedback from the coach. Follow-up days can refresh the knowledge and fine tune some of the complex points. Accreditation is an effective form of feedback that demonstrates your professionalism to others and to yourself. It can even be used to trigger a promotion or pay rise. Finally – and here’s the real stickability deal – check your outcomes when the new skills have been used in the field. Did you get more meetings? Were conversion rates up? Did you get that existing client to take on the new product? If you don’t ask those questions, or follow these principles, it’s just back to ticking boxes at the end of a training course. Which has more lasting value? Contact: 53








02380 011260


Working outside the box Jason Downes, general manager at Powwownow, explains how finding your first business premises is no longer just about the traditional four walls

The reality is, it’s not all about the ‘what’anymore, it’s about the ‘how’


hen considering what to look for in your first business premises, it’s easy to jump to the obvious and predictable – like finding an office that can fit your employees but has room to grow, or recommending an open plan office so it’s conducive to collaboration. But the reality is, it’s not all about the ‘what’ anymore, it’s about the ‘how’. Entrepreneurs and start-ups no longer need to be in the same office to operate their business. It’s not about what furniture they put in, or what size office they invest in – small businesses have managed to stay ahead of the game by realising how technology can help them stay connected and retain

their top talent. Location-specific offices have almost become redundant with how popular remote working has been for forward-thinking entrepreneurs. As start-ups move away from the conventional white-walled office, and trade it for more flexible spaces like co-working locations, they tend to find that they can continue business as usual – rather than getting caught up with what is the best location for their first business premises. With the Smarter Working Guide to London, both employers and employees can discover the wide range of locations that can help them stay productive and involved with their teams. Cafes, bars, and co-working spaces now offer flexible and bespoke locations to enable people

to work, both short- and long-term in their modern-day offices. Not only do these spaces facilitate remote and flexible working, but it has become one of – if not the most – costeffective options for entrepreneurs and start-ups in particular, as technology has helped create their own virtual offices. Email, instant chat, and conferencing services empower businesses to collaborate and work within and between their teams, so entrepreneurs can manage and communicate with them from any location. This way, businesses can prioritise what is important, such as growing their customer base over dealing with the semantics of what their first office space is going to look like. So what would we recommend you do when you’re considering your first business premises? Leave the out-dated ‘nine-to-five’ office in the past and embrace remote working and the technology available to keep you connected because, whether you work from home, a cafe, bar, or co-working space, it’s not about what location anymore, it’s about how you can manage your employees and grow your business. Contact: 55


Making your idea a reality Alex Wrottesley, geovation hub manager at Ordnance Survey, examines the considerations you need to make before diving head-ďŹ rst into a business idea

There is a place for gut feeling, but data provides solid ground in a sea of uncertainty

56 January 2016




o you’ve had the 1am light bulb moment; you have an idea, you’ve written it down, thought about it from every angle, looked around to see if anyone else is doing anything similar, tried to prove yourself wrong, and you still believe you’ve spotted an opportunity that others have missed. You close your eyes and a voice inside says, “If I don’t pursue this, someone else will and I’ll regret it forever.� Congratulations – you’re about to become an entrepreneur. Your own journey will depend on a multitude of variables (network, skills, and resources for a start) but there are some common factors that are worth taking into account:

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU Think about your motivations – What do you want to achieve? Is it about money? Recognition? What will it cost you? Security? Time with your loved ones? Consider the trade-offs you will need to make. If this isn’t going to make you happier, why are you doing it? Life is short.

BUT YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE Whatever you want to build, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do it on your own. Find someone to join you on the journey. Good business partners complement and challenge each other. If you can’t find anyone willing to work with you, consider again – is my idea really so great? PICK A PATH THAT WORKS FOR YOU Lean methodologies offer a great way to bring products to market in a low-risk, low-cost way. However, not every idea can be prototyped cheaply and tested quickly. Sometimes you’ll need to commit to a plan that requires more up-front investment. Whichever path you choose, remember to always simplify where you can - less really is more. A GREAT PRODUCT IS ONLY THE START Building a great product is important, but it’s not everything. Whatever you build, it has to solve a real customer problem at a price point they can afford. Most importantly, focus on the end-to-end customer experience. Are you responsive

to enquiries? Is your pricing transparent? Do you ship on time? Never underestimate how much value your customers attach to the experience of doing business with you. STICK TO YOUR GUNS. BUT DON’T IGNORE THE FACTS Commitment is commendable, but don’t stick your head in the sand – measure and test everything you can. There is a place for gut feeling – some of the best choices you’ll make will be intuitive – but data (particularly around customer activity and behaviour) provides solid ground in a sea of uncertainty. KEEP GOING WHEN OTHERS STOP Be the last man (or woman) standing. Marshal your resources to give yourself the longest runway possible. Build contingency into everything you do. The longer you’re still in the game, the longer you have to turn your idea into reality. Timing is everything in building business success. Be there when the next wave comes. Contact: 57


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Road trip revelations Marketing expert and founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis takes us along for the ride on her recent road trip across the small business landscape of the US


recently ticked another item off my bucket list when I went on a month-long road trip across America. It was just me, a Chevy Spark the size of a smart car, and the wide open road as I visited Chicago, Minneapolis, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Canyon, Las Vegas, LA, and more. Not only did I see some amazing things, I also met some really amazing people along the way, who are running innovative and inspirational businesses. This month, I’d like to share some of their inspiring stories along with my observations and advice on what valuable business lessons you can learn from these businesses from across the pond.

JIMMY JOHN’S jimmyjohns com Chicago, Illinois You never know where and when you are going to meet someone interesting. Like most travelers, I was tired and hungry when I landed in Chicago. The only thing to eat was McDonalds, and the dining area was tiny. I politely asked a gentleman if I could join his table and he welcomed me kindly. We started chatting. The New Yorker in me had my guard up, and I didn’t want to give him much personal information about who I was or what I did – especially after my experiences on The Apprentice. However, it wasn’t long before we were calling one another ‘friends’, and he was introducing me to his lovely family.

It was on nearly every service area sign, and on every block in every major city. I felt so embarrassed!

A t partt ways, habit h bit lled d me to ask him for As we wentt to ard so we could keep in touch. As I looked his business card at his card, I asked, “Jimmy John’s? What do you do?” He told me that he owns a chain of sandwich shops. I had never heard of them, so my initial thought was that he was a small local shop that I never expected to come across. But, over the next month, as I journeyed over 4,000 miles on my trip, I came to learn that Jimmy John’s is a franchise almost as big as Subway. It was on nearly every service area sign, and on every block in every major city. I felt so embarrassed! My new friend was a great man with great importance and success, yet he was modest and genuinely kind. MY ADVICE: Always be nice, always be prepared, and never make assumptions. You never know who you will meet and where. 59

Images g by y Kimberly y Davis


SHURR ADVENTURES Yellowstone National Park d-wife scientific Justin and Alli Shurr are a husband-and-wife dynamic duo, who are living proof that if you know your stuff, you can start small and build your way up to success. They started out with nothing but a kayak, giving alligator tours in the Florida Everglades. The business exploded and now they are running kayak, hiking, and photography tours from multiple landmark sites throughout the US. What makes them so special? It’s their unique understanding of wildlife, nature, photography, and more. They don’t just take you on a typical tour that loads you on a bus and says, “To your left you’ll see this.” They actually offer an experience that allows you to fully appreciate the changing environment around you. They know everything about the animals, nature, geology, ecology, etc., that surrounds you, and are fully prepared to answer any question you might have. You can’t stump them. Not to mention, they have some jaw dropping stories. Thanks to Justin and Alli, I managed to safely navigate around a giant wild bison, and I captured some amazing photographs, including one of famous geyser, Old Faithful (with a rainbow), and I was able to see the best of the park in the limited time available. MY ADVICE: The website and brand does not reflect the level of extreme quality and care that these folks have to offer. I’ve advised them to establish a brand, build a database of raving fan clients (like myself), and create a website that features the amazing photos they’ve taken, to show people what they can offer instead of just telling audiences via words, because there truly are no words to express the incredible experience they offer.

60 January 2016 016

TThey’ve hey’ve a complete monopoly on the market but they just blend in and look like all the other companies out there ADVENTUROUS ANTELOPE CANYON PHOTO TOUR Page, Arizona You may not know Antelope Canyon by name, but chances are, you’ve seen pictures of it and added it to your bucket list. In fact, a photographer named Peter Lik captured the most expensive photograph ever taken in th the canyon, and it sold for $6.5 million. The canyon is truly a natural wonder of the world. It’ It’s incredible to think that it all started millions of years ag ago from a drop of water. Over the years, that water has ca carved its way through metres of soft sediment, and left th the walls lined with mesmerzing lines and patterns. Antelope Canyon is owned and run by native Na Navajo Indians. You cannot see or experience it wi without a Navajo tour guide present. I confess that, as an American, I thought I knew about the Navajos. Ho However, it wasn’t until I met Carol Bigthumb, Jo Joshua Benally, and their family, that I truly came to ap appreciate their culture and traditions.


What impressed pressed me most was that hat instead of charging you extra (or not at all) for Wi-Fi, they make a little deal with you

n is in the middle of nowhere The canyon nowhere. You’d never know it was there if it wasn’t for the brochure. Carol told fascinating historical stories about how the Navajos hid in these caves to protect themselves, and of how the Navajos still own, and live off, the land to this day. Carol’s company is the only Navajo company which has permission to enter all three of the canyons in the area, including the canyon where Lik took his famous photo. That means, if you want to see these canyons, Carol and her team are the only ones in the world who can take you there. MY ADVICE: I was shocked to find that the company never promotes the fact that they have exclusivity to all of the canyons; it’s not highlighted or promoted anywhere. They’ve a complete monopoly on the market, but they just blend in and look like all the other companies out there. In fact, I almost overlooked them when booking this part of my trip. I advised Carol and her team to focus on this powerful unique selling point, as it will greatly increase their credibility and give them a huge edge over the competition, from other members of the Navajo community.

KIMPTON HOTELS Salt Lake City, Utah, Sedona, Arizona, and Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Driving 4,000 miles can be exhausting. I misjudged all the timings, and there were days I ended up driving for nearly 16 hours. Needless to say, by the time I arrived in Sedona, Arizona, I was ready for some rest and relaxation. When I arrived at the Amara Resort and Spa, it was th the very definition of peace and tranquility. An infinity p pool overlooked a perfectly framed red rock monolith. T The room was modern, and equipped with your own p personal hot tub. The food was exquisite. You truly want fo for nothing here. In fact, I never wanted to leave, so I e extended my one night stay to four nights. I was equally impressed by the Beverly Hills location, w which allowed me to live like a movie star; dining on the rrooftop by the pool, overlooking the famous Hollywood ssign, and networking with VIPs. But what impressed me so much about this forwardth thinking boutique chain was that, instead of charging you e extra (or not at all) for Wi-Fi, they make a little deal with y you. You can either pay for Wi-Fi, or you can fill out a little ssurvey and register with the chain for unlimited access for y your stay. The survey does not only ask you for your basic name aand email, they ask market research questions that really h help them to give you a more bespoke experience, now aand in the future. For example, they ask if you have a p pet and, if so, what its name is. Pets are welcome at K Kimpton Hotels and they know that people connect to th their pets like they are children, so they treat pets as extended family. It’s this attention to detail that made the Kimpton hotel beyond exceptional and impressive to me. Needless to say, I’m a raving fan and will certainly book again in the future. MY ADVICE: If you run a small business, don’t forget the importance of market research and giving your client the most amazing experience. It’s this attention to detail that will be the difference between a forgettable experience and a raving fan. The Kimpton is very much a boutique hotel, and as long as it never stops putting the client first, I’ve no doubt it will continue to grow. Contact: D Download Kimberly’s free eBook Dea ‘7 Deadly Marketing Mistakes You’re Rig Now (and don’t know it)’ Making Right now at www 61


Print and post or send online?


ver the past few months, I’ve been to a series of concerts for the first time in a long while. There have been so many that grabbed my attention, but one in particular was an absolute must – to go and see New Order for the first time, a long-time absolute favourite. The show was a fantastic experience, full of an energy that belied their collective age.

The key lesson here is to consider experimenting with your message online, then go to print with that experience under your belt In particular they unexpectedly played a significant number of tracks from 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies, and the audience just loved it. As I left the show amid an ecstatic

Richard Chapman, founder of Richard Chapman Studio, tackles the question of whether traditional print marketing is dead in an online world crowd, I was immediately reminded of the expression, ‘you’ve got to give the people what they want’. The band certainly had done that. What’s all this got to do with marketing your business, you may ask? Well, this idea of not merely understanding your audience, but surprising and delighting them, is one that has resonated with me ever since. I was wondering about how to combine the idea of selling services using an ‘on-brand’ tone of voice but just saying something different, or saying it in a new way. So, the aim here is to remind your regular customers you’re still there, but to catch their imagination by doing it in a way that they weren’t expecting. UPTURNING EXPECTATIONS I’m really interested when emerging businesses with an incredibly modern look and

reputation (I’m thinking high tech, e-commerce, telephony, and their related genres) use super-traditional marketing methods, particularly print. For instance, if a tech business suddenly produces an amazing long-form brochure showing their achievements to date when their clients have only ever seen them as an app. I recall once seeing a visceral pride on the face of an e-business director when he was finally able to hold evidence of his work in 3D and say ‘We did this!’. Needless to say, it had a real impact with their investors too. By the same token, a classic small- or medium-sized British business – I’m thinking of industrial manufacturing, ceramics, packaging makers, or local retailers, to name but a handful – might traditionally have printed their marketing, leafleting homes, or presenting a (probably very) glossy brochure. But, no more? 63


Is this the era of the emailed newsletter? I’m of the opinion that mindless social media, which says little, probably achieves much the same, but building a database of your customers, and using an e-newsletter to lift awareness of the business and kick-start sales is a different beast. It works and it’s growing fast. I’d just urge a simple approach: problems arise when giving in to the temptation to shout into the online abyss with a stack of offers or products. The rules are different here, and a ‘one message delivered well’ approach tends to win out. WHICH WAY TO TURN? My accountant always says ‘What about your return on investment?’ really quite firmly when I’m pondering investing in some hair-brained new business generation scheme, and there’s not much you can argue with there. The trouble is, when you’re buying advertising space, running a huge banner at a sports event, or printing 2,000 sales brochures for a marketing conference, success is rather tricky to measure. But sales following an e-newsletter

64 January 2016

A brochure stays on your desk or kitchen table far longer than an email, which is one delete button away from terminal disappearance or clever, witty mailshot are far easier to track. And of course, an experiment with an email is considerably less expensive than designing and printing a dodgy ‘let’s please everyone’ type brochure, which can end up satisfying no objective at all. So the key lesson here is to consider experimenting with your message online and seeing how responses go, then go to print with that experience under your belt, or rather, let your message define the medium you choose. So this raises the question: if email shots work so well, why print any marketing materials at all? The quick answer to this is that even in this digital age, people like to touch things. A brochure stays on your desk or kitchen table far longer than an email, which is one delete button away from terminal disappearance. There’s a reason car companies, IKEA, or smaller businesses like Brora Cashmere, print a catalogue – people spend time making these sorts of high price ticket decisions away from a phone or tablet. They actually get out a pen and circle their

choices, or put a Post-it note on the options to discuss them with their families. You can’t do that with an email. A POSTSCRIPT: PAPER NEVER REFUSED INK Here’s some blindingly obvious advice, but given nonetheless in a heartfelt manner from a graphic designer who’s learned this the hard way: be careful what you print. Once you’ve committed to a brochure run, your stacks of copies will sit in your office for as long as it takes to ship them out. Maybe those mountainous boxes prove irritating because of the valuable space taken up, or they become suddenly out of date with an old price list, or when the beautifully photographed staff line-up needs scrapping when personnel dramatically changes. This consideration can be the defining reason to go electronic. If that’s your decision, I think New Order would approve. Contact:


Gazing into a social future Hayden Allen-Vercoe, chief operating officer at social media and digital specialist, Orbital Media, looks at the top social media trends that will impact SMEs in 2016


martphone usage continues to grow; social media continues to gain pace, launch new platforms, and introduce new opportunities. When you’re growing your business – whether it’s product or service centric – ensuring you’re responding to the consumer’s behaviour on mobile and social media is key. Staying ahead of trends can give you a real head start on the competition. Snooze and you lose, as they say. So, with that in mind, here are my top five social media trend predictions for 2016, and what they could mean to your business

More than 65% of consumers are now using social media channels for their queries and complaints

66 January 2016

so you can ensure your online presence is directly responsive to your consumers’ online usage behaviour. What’s more, Google is already penalising sites that are not mobile responsive, so ignoring this criteria will negatively impact on your SEO rankings too.

2 1

MOBILE - MAKE IT CENTRIC TO YOUR DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS More than 75% of adults now own a smartphone, 53% of whom check their devices within five minutes of waking up. So, within your digital activity, mobile has to be number one priority. Whether or not you sell online, mobiles play an increasingly important role in pre-purchase research, as 50% of consumers visit a store within one day of conducting their research on a smartphone. Putting mobile first means focusing on the user journey. What works on desktop may not directly translate on to mobile, for example, so think about design, layout, and the amount of content used. Google Analytics can provide free data on the percentage of consumers visiting your site by device type

REVIEWS - THE POWER TO CONVERT TO SALE While possibly not news to many, customer reviews are increasingly having a direct impact on the consumer’s ultimate decision to click the ‘buy’ button. In fact, 85% of consumers say they will read up to 10 reviews before making a purchase. Acquiring and sharing consumer reviews needs to be part of your ‘business as usual’ activity. It’s about having a process in place to secure these and keep them updated. This will not only impact the propensity for a client or customer to take the next step in the journey to purchase, it can also impact your business’s Google rankings.


THE CUSTOMER IS KING As social media becomes an even bigger part of people’s everyday lives, so the level of complaints made via


these channels rises. More than 65% of consumers are now using social media channels for their queries and complaints. With this comes certain expectations and risks for businesses, as 42% of consumers expect a response within an hour – and the conversation may well be public. Your social media channels must deliver strong customer service – they need to integrate with the rest of your customer service channels, while being fully responsive with the demands that come with queries landing on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. If responding with a complete answer instantly isn’t possible, have the communication processes in place to ensure the consumer doesn’t feel ignored. Investing the time to put these procedures in place will help protect you against any risks that unfavourable social media conversation can have on your business. You may actually win business away from your competitors too.


SNAPCHAT AND PINTEREST - THEIR GROWING IMPORTANCE If your target consumer is the youth market, then make sure you investigate Snapchat. With

100 million daily ‘Snapchatters’, 37% of whom are between 18 and 24 years old, this is going to be the channel to watch in 2016. As for targeting a female audience – and specifically mothers – Pinterest goes from strength to strength, with 80% of Pinterest users identifying as females between 25 and 54 years old. These people are also often the key purchasing decision maker in a household. What’s more, with Pinterest’s recent deal with Apple Pay, consumers will be able to buy your products through the network with just one click.


OPTIMISING ORGANIC AND PAID CONTENT Facebook’s algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and more channels are opening their doors to advertising. Ultimately, this means two things; firstly, the quality of your content is going to have to be higher than ever, and video is king if you want to make organic reach work as hard as possible. Secondly, content alone will not drive reach and engagement. Strong quality content and advertising are going to have to work hand-in-hand in your social media activity, to drive

reach and engagement. It is anticipated that social media advertising will reach £15 billion next year, but this doesn’t mean you need deep pockets. Regular boosting on Facebook can make your content work harder, and low cost Facebook advertising can be an extremely targeted and transparent way to grow your Facebook success. More channels will be taking advertising too. With 300 million active users per month and, on average, 70 million photos posted every day, Instagram is the latest channel introducing advertising. The deployment of its advertising strategy can allow small businesses to advertise too, so there’s potential to use this popular channel to work even harder for you. 2016 is going to be another year of significant growth for mobile and social media communication, but with it comes opportunity. Respond to these growing trends and there’s great potential to use digital and social media to grow your business this year. Contact:

With 100 million daily ‘Snapchatters’, 37% of whom are between 18 and 24 years old, this is the channel to watch in 2016 67

! y a d o t r e t n E




ONLINE BUSINESS The Online Business Awards 2016 are open for entries from leading UK online SME businesses

Visit the website Take a look at the category list online and decide which category you would like to enter. Read through the helpful advice on the website to learn how to present your entry. Prepare your submission paper following the outline template supplied. Complete your entry form online uploading your submission paper as a PDF when asked to do so. Pay the entry fee of ÂŁ165+VAT. Make sure your entry is in by January 31, 2016 Media Associate


Super marketing sweep


y now, most brands have invested heavily in content marketing. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it effectively. Just as important as choosing the right ideas to pursue, is picking the right strategy to help you deliver them. Here’s a look at three ways you can be more strategic with your content in 2016, and provide your marketing strategy with a huge boost:

PLAN AHEAD We’ve all experienced writer’s block, when we sit down to put pen to the page - or perhaps, more accurately, fingers to the keyboard. It’s best to know ahead of time what you want to write about, and to come in with thoughts in mind. To best achieve that, you’ll want to set up an editorial calendar, and share it with your entire team. Organise and collaborate ahead of assigning and implementing. In addition, you can keep a long list of content ideas on the side of your calendar. This will reinforce, for you and your team, the notion that thought and organisation is welcomed at all stages in content creation. Your final product will

come across stronger because of the small details and effort you made in preparation. LOOK AT THE DATA It’s hard to come up with a series of new ideas at times, so the best way to overcome these obstacles is to rely on the numbers that you turn to every day. You might not want to share the numbers and data so openly, but they can be a worthwhile indicator of where your audience, and expertise resides. Some key metrics to look at are average session duration and average time on page, both of which let you see how long readers are staying on a story, and on your site as a whole. In addition, look at the list of traffic sources leading people to your content. Once you have an impression of which channels are performing well, you can tailor your future content to meet their needs, and give them more of it. MAKE IT MORE VISUAL We communicate in a number of different ways, and your content should convey that sentiment. Copy is fine, but it can’t achieve everything. With the Internet getting more and more crowded by the minute, you need more than words to make your content

Gerd Mittmann, VP International at Shutterstock, provides his top tips for clearing out the cobwebs, and supercharging your marketing strategy in 2016

With the Internet getting more and more crowded by the minute, you need more than words to make your content stand out really stand out. Try making your content more visual with new ways to visualise your data or insights. Consider how you’re using video – if you’ve tried it before at all. People are sometimes not looking to read, rather to scan, and having visuals and video to represent what you’re doing is a sensible way to reel in an audience you might be missing. Whether or not we writers want to accept it, it’s the visuals that draw a reader into a post, and the copy that makes them stay. Contact: 69


Embrace the virtues of viral Spencer Waldron, UK country manager of Prezi, looks at how you can make your marketing campaign go viral


viral video or message is a marketer’s dream, catapulting a company’s message to the top of Facebook feeds, and even earning airtime or copy space on television and in magazines and newspapers. The ALS Association’s 2014 ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is the most widely known example of a campaign that went viral fast. The idea started as a grassroots concept and, within a few months, more than 17 million people had participated, posting videos of themselves getting doused with ice water (even Oprah, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan got in on the action). By the time the campaign ended, a reported £145 million had been raised for the ALS Association. In a more recent example, the dog feed brand, Purina Puppy Chow

70 January 2016

joined together with BuzzFeedVideo to create a video called ‘Puppy hood’, with the tag line ‘This man found a soulmate in a puppy and it’s adorable.’ The video has now been viewed more than eight million times, and capitalises on the growing power of the Buzzfeed brand and its reach to millennials – the next generation of dog owners. But how can other companies and organisations create a viral message that spreads like wildfire? Here are five tips: STAY POSITIVE Everyone wants to be uplifted in the middle of his or her day, so it is smart to create a message that is positive and relatable for the average person. Aim to inspire people and/or make them laugh. All the better if you can speak to a common experience that everyone shares.

If you want your message to go viral, you need to make sure that other people can share it


TEST Viral messages/videos are difficult to predict and often take companies by surprise, but some advance planning is always a good idea. Look at the messages you send out on your company’s social media channels. Which ones get the most likes? What is the best time of day for your audience to receive messages? Look at your metrics before sending anything out to make the most impact. FOCUS ON AUTHENTICITY The public is bombarded with thousands of marketing and advertising messages each day and most of them don’t seep in. The ones that pack the most punch are those that come from an authentic place, a place of common emotion and aren’t overly promotional. Many of these videos/

messages are also done on the cheap, which is a bonus for entrepreneurs looking to cut costs and still make a splash. MAKE IT SHARABLE If you want your message to go viral, you need to make sure that other people can share it. The key to creating shareable content is to make sure that it works well on multiple platforms. Consider taking advantage of multiple formats when you share your message on different channels – create a prezi to embed on your website, turn that prezi into a video to upload to YouTube and Vimeo, and take screenshots of your prezi to create static images for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The more ways you give people to consume your content, the more likely they are to share it. Another key to shareability is

ensuring that your content works on mobile. People are opening emails and browsing the web on their mobile devices more than ever before. KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING Allow yourself to be accessible to anyone who would like to reach out after your message or video goes live. If you aren’t hearing a lot from your customers, initiate contact instead. Consider posting questions or running polls on your social channels to encourage audience engagement. The more you are able to connect and have a dialogue with your customers, the more likely they will want to share your message with the world. Contact: 71


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Walk in their shoes “Do you really know what goes on in your business?” asks leadership expert Deborah Benson


usiness gurus often demand that bosses ‘walk the talk’, visiting the factory or office floor, exemplifying desired work ethics and behaviour. However, how much more real is it to ‘walk in their shoes’? Just watch an episode of Undercover Boss if you don’t believe that bosses get out of touch with their own organisations, even in smaller companies. Corporate hierarchies generate numerous gatekeepers between bosses and the front-line staff, and even small companies may have one or two between the leader and the team. Often those very gatekeepers don’t want you, the leader, to know what’s really going on. Managers keep things from their leader for a variety of reasons, including to hide their own failings – exposing a problem can feel like exposing themselves to trouble. Occasionally, ause managers hold information back because its gives them a (false) sense of powerr – ’t. they know something the boss doesn’t. m. Both are signs of a dysfunctional team. e I once worked in a company where the senior directors inhabited one specific top floor corridor – not one ff. worked on the same floor as their staff. Secretaries’ offices were between the corridor and each director’s hallowed uty sanctum and they took their guard duty e very seriously. Worse still, no-one else was even permitted to walk along thatt ed. corridor unless specifically summoned. We didn’t know who they were, and we were pretty convinced they didn’tt care who we were. Such isolated ut corridors of power are primarily about ow ego, not about business efficiency. How u much better to be part of the team you lead, visible, approachable, and havingg a direct effect? y Furthermore, when leaders actually n try working on the front line, they can learn so much about their business.

They see where the true heroes work, and often they discover numerous inefficiencies that staff tolerate; machines that don’t work, managers who won’t listen, unproductive systems, important procedures not followed. They also meet their customers and find out what they really appreciate, and what they don’t. Occasionally getting genuinely involved on the coal-face can be highly informative. However, there are other very tangible benefits – staff realise that you genuinely care about their work. Equally, when leaders see how hard staff work, the dedication frequently

exhibited, sometimes by people on zero-hours contracts, it’s a huge motivation to get things working better for everyone. Workers are no longer units of production on a spreadsheet, but loyal individuals doing their best, sometimes in challenging circumstances. So, get out and get your hands dirty occasionally. Try working next to a staff member, and find out what really goes on in your organisation. And if your company is of modest size, and you ‘know and love’ your staff, try walking in the shoes of one of your suppliers or sub-contractors. It may delight or horrify you when you see how others are treated, effectively in your company’s name, or indeed, how they treat your customers or products. Contact:

When leaders actually try working on the front line, they can learn so much about their business 73


Never commit to, or promise an increase that you can’t deliver

Ask but shall you receive? W How do you approach an employee’s request for a pay rise? HR Insight’s Richard Cummings gives the benefit of his expertise

hen an employee requests a salary increase, it can fill you with dread as to how to handle the request. Money is a very emotive topic and, to ensure your team members do not become demotivated if the response is not going to be what they are looking for, it needs to be handled with care.

BE PREPARED Check the current market rates for their job role, and compare the salary offered to other employers of a similar size and industry. Look into what increases they’ve had since joining the company, and how their role has evolved since then. Going into a meeting prepared, should give you the confidence you need to respond to any potential questions. It will also show your employee that you’re taking their request seriously. If they’re a valued member of your team, this should alleviate their concerns in the shortterm, and may deter them from making a rushed decision about their employment while you investigate the possibility of an increase. Never commit to, or promise an increase that you can’t deliver. YOU’LL NOT ALWAYS AGREE THEY DESERVE AN INCREASE It shouldn’t be a surprise to the employee if you don’t feel they’re performing to the standard you require. If you’ve been having concerns regarding their performance, discussions should already have been taking place and therefore a conversation, whereby you

refer to these concerns, should be expected following a request for an increase. During the conversation, provide your employee with honest, constructive feedback, being sure to give relevant examples. It’s always worth asking the employee how they feel they’ve been performing, and why they feel they deserve a pay rise. It may even be that they agree with you that there are performance issues but may be ‘trying their luck’ as personal circumstances have changed, and therefore discussions can be kept to a minimum. WHAT IF YOUR BUDGET DOESN’T ALLOW FOR THE AMOUNT REQUESTED? Try negotiating in order to find a compromise. You’ve already compared both their current salary and their requested salary to current market levels, so look into the salary bands within these levels and consider what’s high, what’s average, and what’s low. Maybe you’re able to offer an increase within that bracket, without breaking your budget. When it comes to discussing the increase with the employee, communication is everything. Explain clearly the company’s position so they understand that, although they are highly valued and you’re doing what you can, unfortunately the business is unable to afford the increase they’re after. Make sure during this process that there’s an open dialogue; the last thing you need is for it to become a battle. Listening is key. Listen to your employee, empathise with their situation, and adapt your communication style as needed. During the discussion, if you can show them that you’re being reasonable, you’re more likely to reach an agreeable outcome for both parties. Contact: 75



uto-enrolment is a topic that is on most small business owners’ radar by now, but we’re still hearing that many are confused and worried about how it’s going to impact their business. In fact, we’ve found that 40% of micro-businesses are completely unaware of the costs that can be associated with auto-enrolment. When we told them it would cost the average micro business £8,900, worryingly, many responded that they’d push the costs on to staff in terms of salary freezes and benefit restrictions.

Passing the auto-enrolment buck

Auto-enrolment will be costly for UK SMEs, but how can you avoid passing this cost on to employees? Rich Preece, Europe VP and managing director of Intuit, explains

76 January 2016


Micro businesses, by their very nature, are vulnerable. To succeed, they need all members of staff dedicated to the cause, pulling in the same direction in order to start, run, and grow the business. If there are issues with salary and incentives, it’s going to be hugely demotivating to all. But bonuses need not be scrapped, and salaries don’t have to be frozen. You can retain, and keep your staff happy by following our simple steps to make auto-enrolment implementation as low-cost and hassle-free as possible. FIND OUT YOUR STAGING DATE The first step for your business is to find out when you must start putting your employees into an automatic enrolment programme and begin contributing to their pensions. This starting point is the ‘staging date’. You can find out your business’ staging date by visiting The Pensions Regulator’s website. The next step will be to work backwards from this date to the present, and create a plan that allows you to hit your deadlines. Assessing your workforce should be a part of this plan, so make sure you have all your employees’ vital information at the ready. Also bear in mind that employees who fall outside the ages of 22 and their State pension age, and earn less than £10,000 per annum, need not be auto-enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. Instead, they will have the option to opt in. GET ON TOP OF YOUR FINANCES From October 2017, the minimum total contribution

Employees who fall outside the ages of 22 and State pension age, and earn less than £10,000 per annum need not be auto-enrolled

to a pension will be 5%, with business owners paying 2% and the remaining 3% coming from the employee and tax relief. However, after October 2018, the minimum total contribution will rise to 8%, with employer’s payment increasing to 3%. As a result, it is more important than ever to get on top of your finances to make sure you have a complete overview of what’s coming in versus what’s going out. This will enable you to plan ahead for the additional expenses you may incur as a result of auto-enrolment. COMMUNICATE THE SCHEME TO YOUR STAFF Key things to remember are: • A pension must be provided for staff by 2018. • Employees can opt out and back in to enrolment. • There are legal ramifications for communicating this wrongly, and fines for not complying. If unsure, consult the Pensions Regulator’s website for further information. REMAIN COMPLIANT Your staging date is only really the beginning of the autoenrolment process. The ‘auto’ in auto-enrolment relates to

your employees not having to worry about doing anything to be included into your pension scheme. The onus is therefore on you to ensure the process goes ahead smoothly. While this may seem daunting, there are a lot of resources available to help you navigate auto-enrolment and ease the administrative task. One of the most important resources at your disposal is your accountant, who can not only take care of your bookkeeping, but also advise you on critical business decisions to get your finances in order, and prepare you to make contributions each month into your employees’ pension scheme. Additionally, ensure you have the right tools in place to assist you in setting up an auto-enrolment process and remind you when to complete certain tasks in order to remain compliant. Armed with the right information and third party support, you can stay ahead of the workplace pensions curve. By drawing on the sources available, you will be able to easily go through the autoenrolment process without passing on the costs to staff. Contact: 77

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The pursuit of happiness


happy, engaged team can make a substantial difference for a business. According to the Workplace Research Foundation, such employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity, and take significantly fewer sick days. It’s perhaps surprising then, that businesses don’t invest more in employee engagement and creating a greater connection with their workforce. At B2B International, we’ve carried out dozens of employee surveys during the past 17 years and discovered several consistent areas of dissatisfaction, which can be put down to staff feeling disconnected from their employers. So, what are the five most common mistakes that management teams are making?


NOT COMMUNICATING COMPANY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES Failing to keep staff informed on where the business is headed can lead to disillusionment. While it can be easy for managers simply to assume their workforce fully understands the shortand long-term goals of the business, our research data actually suggests that poor knowledge of company objectives is a particularly common issue.

Paul Hague, director at B2B International, explains the five common mistakes businesses make when trying to keep their staff happy

Workers who have been with a company for between four and 10 years are most likely WR EH XQVDWLVƬHG


LEAVING HARD WORK AND ACHIEVEMENTS UNREWARDED Many managers say they regularly recognise the achievements of their staff. However, virtually every employee survey we’ve undertaken reveals a different story. A recurring issue among employees is the feeling that they don’t get the recognition they deserve. While initiatives, such as ‘employee of the month’, can help to showcase standout work among teams, our research has found that staff would prefer an immediate acknowledgement of their efforts, such as a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’.


BELIEVING ALL STAFF SHARE THE SAME PASSION ABOUT THE BUSINESS Management teams have a vested interest in making their business an ongoing success, so it can be easy for them to believe their staff feel the

same way. However, recent research from Investors in People revealed that 60% of the UK workforce feels disengaged in their roles, and certainly don’t share the same passion for the company’s progress.


THINKING EMPLOYEES ARE ALWAYS READY TO ACCEPT CHANGE Although change is inevitable within a business as it matures, from our research it’s apparent that management teams often mistakenly believe that employees are always ready and willing to accept it. The reality is it can often breed fear among the workforce, and unsettle staff who are unsure how it will impact them.


NOT TREATING WORKERS AS INDIVIDUALS While many firms believe their staff all have the same likes and dislikes about the company, our research indicates 79


that this is not the case. In fact, there are stark differences between various groups of employees that are often not taken into account. For example, workers who have been with a company for between four and 10 years are most likely to be unsatisfied, while the more recent members of a team are still in the honeymoon period, and often return very positive feedback. HOW CAN YOU NURTURE A HAPPIER WORKFORCE? The key to eradicating these mistakes is to introduce a comprehensive employee engagement strategy that’s founded on effective communication. Businesses can get the ball rolling by putting initiatives in place to keep employees well informed on company objectives or planned changes, such as newsletters or regular company meetings. Providing staff with opportunities to feed their views upwards is of equal importance, and

80 January 2016

Having a workforce that is likely to recommend you as an employer is a key method of securing the best talent frequent focus groups – whether the topic is general or on a specific issue – is an excellent method of allowing staff to have their voices heard. Building a positive, supportive work environment is also key to making staff feel part of the business, and provides them with career direction. By actively celebrating achievement and arranging regular appraisals, as well as training and development opportunities, staff not only feel more valued in their roles, but their relationships with management teams can be strengthened. While starting and maintaining these initiatives is important, businesses should not forget to measure, so they can understand the impact they’re having on staff satisfaction. Together with conducting

online polls, focus groups, and individual interviews, businesses should keep a close eye on the Net Promoter Score – an industry standard metric for measuring loyalty. Having a workforce that is likely to recommend you as an employer is a key method of securing the best talent. One of the most valuable resources for any organisation is its people. Staff wellbeing and satisfaction has been found to directly impact organisational performance and ultimately, success, and companies should be continually looking at how they can nurture a more engaged and happy workforce. Contact:

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Are your staff game? Fay Sharpe, managing director at Zibrant, explains how ‘gamification’ of meetings can invigorate your workforce and increase information retention


uring the course of my career I have had the privilege to work with many clients and brands, helping them grow their businesses, inform their staff and customers, and have used a variety of methods to achieve this. A substantial element of achieving these business goals is ensuring your business is underpinned with staff who feel valued, motivated, and developed. This concept is not new, or rocket science, but successfully embedding information, and positively engaging your staff, is key to achieving great staff engagement.

82 January 2016

Creating a culture and a brand identity that is centric to your people is critical if you want to be a success. The continued growth and evolution of your team must be woven into the fabric of your operations, and the mechanisms to achieve this embedded in your culture. MAKING IT STICK One very successful means to support value creation, improve user engagement, and organisational productivity is ‘gamification’. Encompassing an empathy-based approach, the concept allows participants to experience a ‘gameful experience’, which in turn motivates


and interests those involved, resulting in a longer lasting experience. In my experience, people will have meetings for a variety of different reasons, but they generally fall into half a dozen categories: • Finance and budgeting • Education • Communication • Team building • Sales and innovation • Planning, research and strategy. Each meeting type has the capacity to use gamification to make it more effective. Experiences have shown that if you tell people something, they are much less likely to retain that information than if you show them, which increases engagement by more than 20%. Go a step further and actually involve them, and percentages go through the roof. BRINGING IT TO LIFE The question then, is how can this concept be built into your meetings? Let’s take an example of an annual conference. With a structure relying heavily on communicating messages to delegates, there are a number of ways to engage attendees through gamification. Throwing ideas back through workshops, and using games to overcome challenges can be as simple as identifying questions and

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respondents, by throwing a catch ball in a Q&A session. A league table is another option, involving all participants while you are presenting. With the plethora of interactive reality TV shows absorbing our weekends, why not build some of those ideas into your own award ceremonies by conducting live voting, X Factor-style? Alternatively, you could provide an envelope on each table with information that needs to be matched with other tables, which requires staff to build them together as teams to create the whole story. Recently, I ran an internal coaching session with my sales and marketing team, where I asked a colleague to organise one particular session and focus on gamification. The information to be shared was financially based, with lots of figures which, if presented conventionally, would potentially have become a sea of numbers and disengage our employees. After a brainstorming session, we came up with a new approach where participants were asked to match the numbers against a grid (think financial bingo) to match up goals and actuals. It proved a much more dynamic way to educate, and share information and results. The team really got into it, as it helped to draw out their competitive streak, to better understand the targets that they needed to achieve, and the best ways of attaining them. Such is the success of gamification that the concept is now included in the majority of our meetings in some form. With a full day conference planned, we will be asking our internal candidates to make their own lunch at the venue, as part of a team building exercise – it’s all about giving people a problem to solve in a creative fashion. Contact: 83

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T Lee McQueen, founder of Raw Talent Academy and seasonfour winner of The Apprentice, outlines some basic tricks to help prevent your best staff from wanting to leave

he New Year is a time when, traditionally, there’s an increase in people looking to move jobs. Sometimes people get restless because they see the New Year as a time to make resolutions, and looking for a new job might be one of those. In many cases of course, there’s nothing you can do if someone wants to leave. If he or she is moving away or is starting a family and wants to finish work, it’s out of your hands. But what about those people who simply want to move to a competitor? What can you do to keep them? This isn’t a seasonal issue – it can happen at any time of the year – but now’s a good time to think about what you can do to retain your best people. Ultimately, you can’t stop people leaving because that’s part of life, but you can create an environment that is as attractive as possible for them, without losing control of the business yourself. There are two broad aspects to this – getting the right people in the first place, and then making them feel valued once they’ve joined your business. Your recruitment process is important. Are the people you’re hiring likely to fit in with your culture? Have you checked their references properly, as well as their skills? When you interviewed them, did they seem as though they would embrace the way you operate?

It’s not an exact science, but finding people who will fit in makes it more likely they will want to stay with you. Once staff have joined your business, make sure they feel included. It’s your business, and the decision-making is down to you, but making your staff feel valued has benefits all round. One of the ways I do this is through 360-degree feedback sessions. It can lead to some brutal truths being aired – but in both directions. Feedback is given by the manager, by the member of staff, and by his or her peers. It looks at the employee’s good and bad points, but it also lets the employee give feedback about the company. Having a culture in which people are listened to is more likely to engender loyalty from them. There’s always the chance that someone will tell you one thing, but then go and do something different. There’s not always an ulterior motive for this – someone might be fed up with their job, but chooses to put on a brave face and smile. They might tell you that everything’s fine because, for some reason, they don’t think they can say anything else, and then end up leaving. So it’s impossible to have a system that is foolproof, but if you focus on your recruitment strategy, and implement a system of continual feedback, you’re increasing your chances of retaining your best staff. Contact:

New year, old faces Having a culture in which people are listened to is more likely to engender loyalty from them 85

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Each month we bring you a selection of gadgets, gizmos and gifts that we’re going crazy about. Here are our favourites this month.

The term ‘connected home’ has become synonymous with a lot of tech products, but Motorola has taken this one step further, creating a number of products that work to create a ‘connected world’. Not only are these perfect for those who are hopping on and off planes for work, or heading off on their holidays, but they’re equally useful for everyday use, and capture moments that you would otherwise miss. Motorola’s innovative new Focus 85 HD Wi-Fi video monitoring camera helps people stay connected to their favourite people, pets, and places – ideal for keeping an eye on your business premises while away from the office, or your home when you’re in the office. This hi-tech new addition to the Motorola line up boasts a range of features to make sure you never miss any of the action. From remote pan, tilt, and zoom, which allows for a 300-degree view of the room, to infra-red night vision, this motion and sound triggered recording device offers a whole host of security features to give you peace of mind. PRICE: £74.99 AVAILABLE FROM:

DYSON V6 FLUFFY CORDLESS VACUUM Get your home or office looking clean and tidy for 2016, with this powerful and easyto-use cordless vacuum from Dyson. Powered by the famous Dyson digital motor V6, it claims to suck up as much dust as a corded vacuum, and it is excellent on corralling pet hair and other messes from even the most hard to reach locations. It quickly converts to a handheld for quick clean ups, has a soft roller, so it can be used on even hardwood floors, and it has a ‘max’ mode for those particularly hard jobs. With a cordless run time of 20 minutes, and a plethora of gadgets and gizmos attached, it faces up to almost any task life can throw at it, and will really take the chore out of cleaning the home or office. PRICE: £350 AVAILABLE FROM:

PEBBLE TIME STEEL WATCH Don’t want to shell out for an Apple Watch or simply just fed up with its limited battery life that constantly requires charging? Then why not try the Pebble Time Steel watch? With a promised battery life of up to 10 days from a single charge, it far outweighs the smartwatch competition. The e-paper display drastically minimises power consumption compared to the LCD or LED display of competitors, and is easily visible, even in direct sunlight. Perhaps best of all, the Pebble Time Steel watch is compatible with apps on both Apple and Android, meaning you don’t have to choose a watch that aligns with your phone. PRICE: £199.99 AVAILABLE FROM: 87


Hotspots This month we’re heading out to the far reaches of England, to discover some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head while on business in Plymouth AWAY ON BUSINESS BORINGDON HALL WHERE? Plymouth, Devon WHY? Boringdon Hall Hotel is anything but boring. This stunning manor house hotel sees luxury and style come together with the drama of Elizabethan architecture. Imposing stone towers, secret archways, and curious arrow slits hint at the hotel’s rich history and add to the feeling of grandeur as you enter the property. The luscious rooms and seductive suites at Boringdon Hall are contemporary, rich, and comfortable. The interiors have been carefully crafted to combine tactile fabrics with modern amenities and superior furnishings. Business travellers will be pleased to know all rooms and suites include free Wi-Fi too. The delectable fine dining restaurant, lavish four-poster suites, and idyllic location on the edge of Dartmoor, will make your heart flutter and your mouth water. As an added bonus, and if you’re looking for somewhere to relax, the delightful Gaia Spa development offers a place to unwind and indulge in a range of health and wellbeing treatments. Taking a personalised approach to wellness, Gaia’s treatment menu can be expertly customised to your specific wellness needs, so you can immerse yourself in the ultimate spa experience. Leading the way in the spa revolution, it is perfect if you are seeking an original, refreshing and powerful spa experience. CONTACT:

88 January 2016


MEET AND EAT QUAY 33 WHERE? Barbican, Plymouth WHY? Quay 33 Cafe and Restaurant is located on the picturesque Plymouth Barbican, with views over Sutton Harbour, making it just the place to kick back and relax with good local homemade fresh food, cooked by chef, Dave Morgan. Winner of a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2015, the local produce is particularly well highlighted by the delicious surf and turf, served with sumptuously fresh local scallops and tiger prawns. Quay 33 is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and offers an excellent choice of menus; maybe something simple but tasty for lunch, or even a glass (or two) of wine with nibbles, while chatting to friends or business acquaintances. CONTACT:

EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS PLYMOUTH PAVILIONS WHERE? City centre, Plymouth WHY? Situated in the heart of the city, Plymouth Pavilions is firmly established as a regional centre of excellence and is a multi-purpose venue able to accommodate conferences, arts, and entertainment. Plymouth is a place of culture, and attracts major events including the British Firework Championships, MTV ‘Crashes’ Plymouth (which saw 20,000 people on the Hoe), Flavour Fest, Ocean City Festival, and the annual Armed Forces Day. Theatres, a concert venue, the UK’s largest aquarium, and exploring the cobbled streets of the historic Barbican, make Plymouth a ‘must visit’ destination. Plymouth Pavilions has an enviable list of prestigious events under its belt, from Rotary International to GMB Union conferences, and Sports Personality of

the Year Awards. It offers full support for large conferences through partners at Conference Plymouth, and organises familiarisation trips to Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City. The Arena can accommodate conferences for up to 2,500 delegates, and offers 1,800m2 of versatile space, whether exhibition, banquet, or award ceremonies. They also offer complimentary parking for organisers. The Plymouth Pavilions boasts a multitude of breakout spaces that each offer different styles, sizes, and functions to help you maximise your event potential, including a 750m2 ice rink, which can be converted to exhibition space, with wooden flooring and carpet and Liquid Live – a private bar, plasma screen, and open space, ideal for a VIP reception, private dining, or breakout room. CONTACT: 89


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New Year, new you The New Year is always a great time for a refresh, but money can be tight after the festive season. The answer? Accessorise. It’s the perfect way to add a new feel to the o old suit and shirt combo. So, why not try these ideas on for size?











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any moons ago, pickup trucks were primarily the preserve of horticulturalists, builders, and farmers, wanting vehicles adept at lugging around lawn mowers, bricks, and ovine escapees. Along with so-called Chelsea tractor SUVs, pickup trucks are now decidedly de rigueur, lapped up by adventurous types, and anyone else who relishes sitting commandingly loftily in a rugged, stylish, and imposing vehicle with an extremely versatile derrière. Choice is abundant, from the Ranger, Navara, Hilux, and D-Max to the Amarok, cut-price Great Wall Steed and, of course, Mitsubishi’s legendary L200, recently launched as an all-new Series 5 generation. Frankly, pickup trucks are obliged to remain relatively formulaic in visual terms, with little scope for aesthetic novelty and experimentation, still fundamentally designed as working vehicles. The latest L200 is visually more attractive than ever though, with dynamic, muscular lines, tasteful curves, modern LED daytime running lights, and plentiful splashes of chrome. Mitsubishi has aimed to blend hardwearing plastics and simplistic controls with an enhanced perception of luxury and comfort more akin to an SUV, and the L200’s interior is indeed one of the best of its kind. Comfortable seats, rake and reach steering adjustment, sophisticated damping, piano-black trim, greater noise suppression, and ingeniously useful storage make the Series 5’s cabin a pleasant, functional, and roomy place to be. Warrior trim comes with a decent Sat Nav system, very handy reversing camera, privacy glass, DAB, dual zone air con, keyless entry and ignition, and heated leather seats.

Boldly marketed as the class leader in emissions, fuel consumption, performance, 4WD ability, manoeuvrability, and carrying capability, the ‘big head’ L200 Series 5 is far from all mouth and no trousers. The world’s only pickup powered by an all-aluminium engine with variable valve timing, the new 2.4-litre diesel unit is gruff when fired up, but settles down impressively on A-roads and motorways. I averaged 38mpg after 250 miles’ mixed driving – including plenty of seriously rough stuff – nearly matching the published 42.8mpg (unladen). The manual gearbox is a grower, any initial notches soon paling away. Easy to manoeuvre despite its hefty proportions, the Series 5 corners surprisingly smoothly for a pickup. Admittedly its improved interior and handling can’t trouble SUVs, and it inevitably shudders through potholes and over expansion gaps, but it is impressive by pickup standards, and the Super Select 4WD system allows it to perform well off the beaten track. With a class-leading turning circle, 205mm ground clearance, a larger cargo bed than its predecessor at 1,470mm x 1,470mm x 475mm, and a combined towing and carrying capacity exceeding four tonnes, it’s a tremendously capable workhorse. The grooved cargo bed is a sensible height and can be partitioned for carrying compact loads. Boasting abundant safety technology, including lane departure warning, best in class 173g/km CO2 emissions, and Warrior pricing starting at a very reasonable £23,049, the new Mitsubishi L200 has a heck of a lot going for it, for both wannabe adventurers and bona fide business users alike.

Each month motoring expert, Oliver Hammond checks out the latest executive and business vehicles on offer, to help you to make the right choice for whatever the road may throw at you

Contact: 93

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Find out who’s interested in your business With WOW’s lead scoring, you can see which visitors on your website are actually interested in your business. We’ll rank every lead on your website, so you can save time, chase the sales ready leads immediately and put your cold leads in an email campaign.

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Instead of calling up the company and trying to worm your way past the gatekeeper, WOW gives you access to individual employees email addresses. From there you can email them straight away to start the sales process or use a personalised URL to track their activity on your website.

With WOW’s analytic tools, you’ll get more data than you would even from Google Analytics. So find out where your website traffic is coming from and report on your conversion rates from PPC, email and social media campaigns.

Would you like to see how WOW could work for you? Visit or call us on 0844 880 2899


Navigating the computer buying minefield

Daniel Mitchell, director of Lifeline IT, examines the top five things you should consider when purchasing a laptop for an employee


espite the increasing popularity and growth in sales of tablet devices, computers still remain essential when it comes to both business and personal use. While a tablet may make a great viewing platform, computers are still seen as superior when it comes to getting down to business. With increased mobile working, laptops continue to remain very popular, with 300 million sold globally last year alone, and the major manufacturers are focused on keeping them relevant with innovations in functions, features, and efficiency. But the downside is an overwhelming amount of choice, and it can be a minefield trying to navigate your way through the myriad of brands, prices, and technical specifications. How much power (RAM) should you choose? What weight should it be? How are you going to be using it? What’s the best option if you’re on a tight budget? Should you prioritise processor and RAM

over graphics and speakers? The list of questions is seemingly endless, and can cause real headaches for the non-tech savvy. So to help make the choice a little easier, here are my top tips on the five key things to consider when buying a laptop for an employee: 1 MAC OR PC? The common perception is that Apple is the brand of choice for music, video, and image, and that PC is best as a business machine, which is not entirely accurate. However, you should consider if you want to buy into the welldeveloped Apple infrastructure of hardware and software, including iPhone and iPad, that all ‘plays together nicely’, or whether your employee needs to use mainly Windows applications, such as accounts software in their role? It is perfectly possible to run Windows applications on a Mac, but it requires additional software and configuration, which will add to the price. One tip is to work with your employee to devise a list of their

Don’t get distracted by bundled software and nonessential items, such as higher grade speakers and sound cards key and everyday tasks to see whether Mac or PC is the more suitable option. Also consider how the new laptop will work with other employees and clients’ tech. 2 POWER When it comes to how powerful you need your laptop to be, again what it is being used for is your biggest consideration. Are you looking for a basic specification laptop for browsing the web and email, or a more powerful machine that will be required for photo or video editing? What the machine will be used for will help determine the likely 95


power requirements. While there is no need to go for a superpowerful piece of equipment if it is only running basic programmes, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, a low-spec laptop that’s short on power can be hugely frustrating to work on, and slow down productivity. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of the machine. Its specification and system memory will determine the capability and suitability of the laptop, so be sure to check this out. Remember, while memory can normally be upgraded, processor upgrades are often impossible, so it’s worth bearing this in mind at the outset and spending the bulk of your budget purchasing the best you can afford, or need. Consider investing in models with SSD (Solid State Drive), which will make the laptop quicker and more adaptable. 3 SCREEN SIZE Screen size is also a key consideration, and is quite a

personal decision – but also remember the laptop may be passed on to another employee at some stage. My advice is that, if portability is most important – i.e. if it is going to be used while staff are on the road – you may be better going for a more compact, lightweight laptop with an 11-inch screen.However, if you’re looking for a laptop that is basically a desktop substitute, then a standard 15-inch screen, or larger, is more appropriate, but remember that bulk and weight is likely to be significantly greater. 4 WARRANTY AND AFTERCARE Although it can be much maligned, I would always consider the added value of a longer manufacturer’s warranty and the general aftercare available. There are likely to be less user serviceable parts on a laptop, and repairs can often be more costly than desktops and more difficult to carry out yourself.

Extra cover may well be worth investing in when you make the purchase, particularly if there is a replacement service while your laptop is in the ‘shop’. 5 BUDGET As with most things, you really do get what you pay for when it comes to buying a laptop. A £200 model will be slow from the start, and will only get slower, while a more expensive model will last up to five years - maybe more if taken care of well. Spend time choosing wisely and make sure you shop around. Compare the key specifications, and don’t get distracted by bundled software and nonessential items, such as higher grade speakers and sound cards. Remember that this is essentially a business tool, and while snazzy added extras may look great, are they actually going to help you do the day job? Contact:

Remember, while memory can normally be upgraded, processor upgrades are often impossible, so bear this in mind at the outset

96 January 2016

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

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Getting cirrus about the cloud Simon Yeoman, general manager at Fasthosts Internet, provides ďŹ ve top tips for implementing a successful Cloud strategy

Whether or not businesses are ready for the cloud isn’t the right question anymore

98 January 2016



t’s no secret that we’re all using more cloud-based technology than ever before. Rather than denying the fact, or trying to halt progress, it’s time for businesses and consumers to embrace the technology, the efficiencies offered, and celebrate how it can make our lives that little bit easier. What we’re seeing now is a change from cloud-based solutions being used purely to boost workplace proficiency, to businesses relying on cloud solutions for critical functions, such as web hosting, customer relationship management, and ecommerce. In the latest Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) report, 78% of businesses confirmed they already use more than one cloud-based service, and half of those surveyed are expecting to move their entire IT estate to the cloud in the future. The IT landscape is already very different for businesses, now that all departments and individual users have the ability to circumnavigate the IT department. Whether or not businesses are ready for the cloud isn’t the right question anymore. What’s more relevant is how businesses can get the best results from the cloud, and how these solutions are regulated. Answering these questions is the basis of any cloud strategy. Below are five key things that will form the basis of your cloud strategy: 1 CORPORATE EDUCATION Everyone wants the same thing – a secure, flexible, faster, and cheaper solution. If you can present thoughtful use-cases packed with examples of how the cloud has already positively impacted your workplace, and use online materials to show how it

could positively influence it in the future, the cloud will speak for itself. Depending on the current complexity of your business’ IT infrastructure, it may be best to advise a phased approach to implementation. Cloud services can often be bolted on to existing on-premise systems, so key individuals can start to see results before fully committing – a reassuring way of testing the water. 2 FEATURES It’s vital that you understand your business objectives and consider how cloud solutions can underpin these. Try not to be swayed by jargon, and relate each of the core features back to a business objective. Before committing to any solutions, or when evaluating existing services, consider which features are actually relevant to you, if the payment and contract terms suit your needs, and whether the product meets your business’ growth and usage levels. 3 FUTURE-PROOFING Make sure that the solutions you choose have room for growth. Most, if not all, businesses plan to grow, and this should be reflected in your cloud strategy. If a tool you have chosen has limits – for example, the number of sessions, log-ins. or the amount of data storage you can have with them – and you’re already close to this, it may not be for you. Or, if your business fluctuates between busy and quieter periods, you might want to consider solutions that offer you the freedom to scale up and scale down as you require. Remember, many businesses are in a constant state

of flux. and the specification required now may not remain the same, so make sure the provider can expand (or decrease) to meet your needs. 4 TECHNICAL SKILLS Having identified the cloud services that would help you to meet your business objectives, it’s important to honestly asses the workforce that you have internally, both in terms of numbers but also skillsets. With the changing nature of IT, it may be that you can use your existing team for more niche, on-premise tasks, while outsourcing others, such as the set-up phase, or maybe even a particular element or two in full. It’s worth discussing the levels and hours of support that you are entitled to with any vendor, to make sure that the solution is a good fit with your business plan. 5 POLICY Internally, how you regulate the cloud will probably depend on the type of work you do, and whether you store customer data. Businesses normally fall into two camps – some lock down employee actions by permissions, while others implement policies to safeguard the business. Regardless of who has permission to sign up to cloud services, accountability is key. Encourage employees to research solutions fully, including security precautions, and guarantees made by the provider and, if necessary, ask staff to prepare a brief business justification for more senior members of the team. Contact:

Most, if not all, businesses plan to grow, and this VKRXOG EH UHƭHFWHG LQ \RXU FORXG VWUDWHJ\ 99

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I’ve got an app for that Each month we bring you a selection of our favourite apps - for business or pleasure. This month we look at one of the most useful apps you can have on your phone - Google Drive - and accounting app, QuickBooks.



PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: Android, iOS THE GIST: Google has been on a mission to create useful and reliable software free for anyone to use over the past few years, and they certainly have succeeded with Google Drive. As soon as you create a Google account, you get a plethora of benefits; Google Drive is the storage aspect of your account. Drive is a fantastic way to store and organise all your files - with 15GB of free storage space across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos you should have enough space to store thousands of documents in an easyto-access area. Instantly uploaded to the cloud, files can be accessed on your mobile device or on your computer. Even when you are not connected, accessing your files is simple, and when creating new files offline, they are automatically saved when connection is established. Scan important documents with your camera, and save as various file types, as well as the ability to print files from your mobile device. All in all, Google Drive is a tool that every business could, and should, have. DOWNLOADABLE FROM:

PRICE: Starting at £7 per month COMPATABILITY: Android, iOS THE GIST: Managing your accounts can be a pain; we all know it. Working with numbers certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea, which is why most entrepreneurs would employ a dedicated accountant. However, even accountants would like a simpler life, which is where QuickBooks comes in. QuickBooks is an integrated payroll system that is quick and easy to set up, using information from other UK business to create a seamless online accounting programme. The home page sets out your income, expenses, and profit (or loss), in a digestible design, notifying you of any overdue invoices and payments. Included in the features is a system to connect to your various bank accounts, and it will flag up any transactions that need your attention. The mobile app enables you to view and edit customer information, as well as creating and sending invoices when you are on the go. With unlimited free support and automatic backups included in the price, QuickBooks is a resource that streamlines the accounting process for any business. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: 101

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news Papa John’s franchisees win Scottish Asian Business Award Brothers scoop accolade for Outstanding Achievement


apa John’s franchisees, Zulfiqar Haidar and Iftikhar Haidar have won the Outstanding Achievement category in the tenth Scottish Asian Business Awards, held at Glasgow City Hotel. The awards aim to showcase the achievements, determination, and hard work of Asian businessmen and women at the forefront of their

industries in Scotland. Zulfiqar runs three Papa John’s in Glasgow with his brother Iftikhar, and has recently opened a fourth store in Paisley. He commented: “Our new Paisley Papa John’s store was selected specifically due to the area’s high unemployment. We work with our local job centres to help bring the long term unemployed back into work. “By training new recruits, we give them a skill set, and offer them a real future by creating a win-win situation. All we require is enthusiasm and, in return, we offer extensive one-toone training in store, backed up by Papa John’s excellent online training programme. So, with the right dedication and effort, any member of staff can

make their mark and have the chance to become a supervisor or manager in one of the stores. We are delighted that our work has been recognised in this way and look forward to creating more jobs for the local community as we grow.” Anthony Round, business development manager, Papa John’s said: “We’re particularly proud of the achievements of Zulfiqar and Iftikhar and their team, and will continue to support them in their future plans for expansion in the region. The potential business and demand for Papa John’s is such that I know they are already looking at potentially opening a fifth store in Scotland soon.” Contact:

End of an era at HSBC as franchise director retires


t’s the end of an era at HSBC’s franchise unit as franchise director, Lorna Smith QFP is taking the opportunity of early retirement after 39 years with the bank, the last 18 as a highly regarded member of the franchise team. Andy Brattesani, HSBC’s UK head of franchising, said: “Lorna’s energy, enthusiasm, and commitment will be hugely missed, but this is the right time for her personally after nearly 40 years of exceptional service.” He confirmed that the existing HSBC franchise team are remaining in place and will pick up Lorna’s clients to ensure

a smooth handover, adding; “We have had another record year in our lending across the sector in 2015, with strong plans to continue to grow alongside our franchise clients, who have ambitious growth plans for us to support.” Lorna said: “Although I am looking forward to doing more travelling and enjoying my spare time, I will miss the franchise industry and all my great clients and contacts, as well, of course, as my HSBC colleagues. I’d like to thank the industry for making me so welcome over the years, I have really enjoyed working in such a varied and vibrant sector.”

Lorna Smith calls time on almost 40 years of service Contact: 103


Start smart So you want to start a franchise? What do you need to know before you start? Dynamis’ Nicky Tatley explains


f you’re running a solid, successful small business, your thoughts for future growth may well turn to franchising. And they would be good thoughts – the franchise industry is thriving. According to a recent report by the British Franchise Association (bfa) and Natwest, the contribution of franchising to the UK economy has grown by 20% in the last five years, despite the overall economy shrinking due to the recession, and four out of five franchises are profitable within their first two years. However, not every business is suitable for franchising, and you need to be sure you’re not going into it for

104 January 2016

the wrong reasons. The bfa is clear on this, saying: “The first thing to understand is that franchising is not a tool to fix a bad business. It’s not there to provide injections of income from other people to underpin a failing elsewhere.” What needs to be established from the outset is that your business works, is profitable and, most importantly, transferable (i.e. easy to replicate in different locations using a consistent system, brand, and quality). Once you’re sure that your business can indeed be franchised, there are a few vital things to get sorted. Here’s what you need to do:

GET ‘FRANCHISE READY’ If you’re going to teach potential franchisees exactly how your business works, you’ll need to hone all aspects of it so there are clear guidelines to follow. Everything from marketing and staff training to branding and customer relations will have to follow a strict protocol. At this stage, any imperfections and inefficiencies will need to be ironed out, and relationships and terms with suppliers consolidated. You’ll also need to create a universal operations manual – a vital part of a franchisee’s toolkit – that will constitute a guidebook to running the franchise, including


If you choose to expand your franchise network to numerous locations, using mapping technology will be invaluable

company policies and best practices. Even if you don’t end up starting a franchise, this process will streamline your existing business and be a very worthwhile exercise.

franchise, you need to think carefully about how that will help the growth of the business as a whole. Picking a location relatively close to the master business, where you already have brand recognition, but SORT OUT THE LEGALITIES that won’t damage the sales at your Compared to the US, franchising in existing premises, is a good move. Europe is not heavily regulated. This This will enable you to manage is the cause of much debate, but the logistics easily. bottom line is that, if you enter into If you choose to expand your a franchise agreement in the UK, franchise network to numerous you’re relying more on trust than locations, using mapping technology legal imperatives. will be invaluable. There are a To be considered reputable, UK wide range of digital territory franchisors have to produce a disclosure mapping tools available now to document and agreement that falls ensure a more scientific approach in line with the European Franchise to area allocation, and the good news Federation’s Code of Ethics (although is that there are packages to suit this is not a legal requirement). nearly every budget. Franchisors registered with the bfa Geographic Information Systems will be expected to comply with this (GIS) can vary from simple – so sensible prospective franchisees postcode-based systems to complex will be looking to select franchisors packages, which offer detailed from this cohort. business and demographic data at a To draw up your franchise micro-geographical level. agreement, you’ll need to employ a lawyer who specialises in them BE HIGHLY SELECTIVE – the bfa has a useful resource. Finding the right franchisees is the The rights and obligations of both biggest challenge for a franchisor. franchisee and franchisor will be According to the bfa, new franchisors clarified, and terms including fees, have conversion ratios of serious exclusivity, training and support, enquiries to appointment of period of agreement, as well as exit approximately 10:1, and it claims procedures will be set. that ‘established franchisors have It’s worth noting that this is not an a conversion ratio, which is often agreement between equal business higher than 50:1 sometimes higher partners. You, as the franchisor, are than 100:1’. responsible for a whole network This makes sense when you and that sometimes means you have think that you have to find a person to prioritise that network over the with the right skills and experience interests of an individual franchisee. to run your business and, more Your agreement should stipulate this, importantly, who fits with your and you should also take steps to ethos and outlook. legally protect your brand/trademark It’s worthwhile making a list of and set up a post-termination all you’re looking for (as well as restrictive covenant. deal-breakers) when setting up the interview process. PICK THE RIGHT LOCATION In order to find your dream When choosing where to place a franchisee, you’ll have to cast

your net wide: attend franchise exhibitions, advertise in established franchise magazines and on reputable websites. If you’ve existing franchisees, you could even ask them for referrals. CONSOLIDATE YOUR BRAND If you’re going to franchise your business, your brand will become your most valuable asset, and you will need to protect and strengthen it. ‘Brand’ means not only the decorative style and logo of your business, but also its ethos and relationship with customers. It’s a risk to entrust that brand to a new person, so you’ll have to be sure to set crystal clear guidelines on how the business should appear and function.

Franchising is QRW D WRRO WR Ƭ[ D bad business BE SUPPORTIVE Finally, if you’re going to be a good franchisor, you’ll have to be willing to put on your nurturing hat. No franchisee is going to represent your business well without extensive training and consistent support. Be prepared to spend plenty of one-on-one time with your chosen candidates, and always keep lines of communication open. It’s also vital to enable a communication network between all franchisees – they’ll gain support and learn from each other. If you can foster the feeling of a franchise family, you’re on the right track for success. Contact: 105


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


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

28 elitefranchise Winter 2015

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Emma Downes t: 01530 513307 e: Total Cost: £38,500 + VAT plus shop fit

Winter 2015 elitefranchise 29


Franchise spotlight FA C T F I L E

Each month, Paul Stafford, public relations manager at the British Franchise Association (bfa), shines the spotlight on a franchise, and delves into what makes it a success FRANCHISE: MINSTER CLEANING SERVICES ESTABLISHED: 1982 (FRANCHISED IN 1992) TYPICAL START-UP COST: £28,225 + VAT AND WORKING CAPITAL NUMBER OF FRANCHISEES: 36 franchisees operating 42 territories WEBSITE: INTERVIEWEE: MIKE PARKER, MANAGING DIRECTOR

WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS? Minster Cleaning Services delivers a reliable, high quality, and value for money office and commercial cleaning service to thousands of organisations across the UK. We provide each client with personnel, equipment, and management systems. Each contract is self contained, and managed by a franchised regional branch office. In addition to daily office and commercial cleaning, our services include carpet cleaning, window cleaning, floor treatment, washroom services, and janitorial supplies.

IS IT FAIR TO SAY COMMERCIAL CLEANING OFFERS SERIOUS SCALABILITY FOR FRANCHISEES? Our most successful franchisees are now turning over £1.8 million, and heading towards £2 million annually. Additionally, our average branch turnover is now over £800,000. These are substantial businesses generating attractive income streams for our franchisees.

AND IT’S A SECTOR THAT’S ALWAYS IN DEMAND? One of the attractions of the commercial cleaning sector for us as WHAT LED YOU TO franchisor, and our franchisees, is that FRANCHISING, AND it is pretty resilient to economic cycles. SPECIFICALLY TO MINSTER? We have been growing around 8% I was headhunted into Minster from year-on-year over the last few years – HSBC. Minster appealed as it was a well above the country’s background long-established business, which had GDP growth rates. Given we are a great potential for growth. mature franchise operating in a mature

sector, growth is strong, and remains good for us and our franchisees. WHAT’S THE MOST SATISFYING THING ABOUT BEING A FRANCHISOR? Seeing our franchisees achieve great success through working in partnership with our head office support team. AND THE MOST CHALLENGING? Managing change throughout the business. Some franchisees wish to move faster than we plan, and others much more slowly. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO MANAGE THE SUPPORT NEEDS OF A NETWORK OF DIFFERENT FRANCHISEE PERSONALITIES? Not too tricky really. All of our support is available to all franchisees all of the time – we don’t run a clock

Ours is a people business. Our most successful franchisees are brilliant at engaging with people across their whole business

108 January 2016


against usage. Our network respects this approach. Franchisees and their teams use it in accordance with their current business need. IN A COMPETITIVE SECTOR, WHAT KIND OF MARKETING SUPPORT DO YOU PROVIDE YOUR FRANCHISEES TO HELP THEM STAND OUT? Some – though far from all – of our support includes a newly (and responsively) designed website, which is optimised on an ongoing basis. We run dedicated ‘pay per click’ campaigns, which have been generating great and increasing results in terms of new enquiries, plus centralised offline mailings, which are carefully monitored and optimised. Referrals are also very strong, which helps across the network, and we encourage those through various head office initiatives. WHAT TRAITS MAKE A SUCCESSFUL MINSTER FRANCHISEE? People who are driven and energetic, with a track record of success from a commercial background. Above all, ours is a people business. Our most successful franchisees are brilliant at engaging with people across their whole business. Minster’s core values are to be reliable, consistent, trustworthy, flexible, friendly, and great value. We look for franchisees that share those values as experience shows us they’re likely to be successful with us. Contact: 109

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The Sales DOCTOR This month Sales Doctor, Tony Morris gives his expert advice on how to build relationship with potential customers quickly and effectively

Dear Sales Doctor, I know selling is about building relationships, but some people I just don’t seem to click with. What can I do to build a rapport with others?


ne of the aspects that makes sales interesting is everybody is different. To be a great sales professional, you need the ability to be able to build rapport with all walks of life. We naturally gravitate towards people that behave like us, however we don’t always have the luxury to choose who we work with. Famed Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung identified four different behaviour types and labelled them in colours and descriptions: 1 Red, which he labelled as fire These behaviours are direct, competitive, tenacious, stubborn, and obnoxious, and therefore have to be dealt with accordingly. They’ll clash most with harmonious behaviours (green). 2 Yellow, which he labelled as extrovert These behaviours are energetic, friendly, outgoing, positive, upbeat, and have short attention spans. They’ll clash most with the analysts (blue). 3 Green, which he labelled as harmonious These behaviours are gentle, kind, supportive, polite, calm, and selfless. They’ll clash most with the fire behaviour (red).

4 Blue, which he labelled as an analyst These behaviours are reserved, good listeners, keep themselves to themselves, professional, and crave detail. They’ll clash most with the extroverts (yellow). As a sales professional, the key is to identify the behaviour you’re dealing with, and adapt to that person. This technique is called matching, which is derived from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) where you need to learn to match the person you’re speaking with. On the telephone, you need to match their tone, pace, volume, formality, and their language. They say in NLP, if you can see the world through John Smith’s eyes, you’re more likely to get John Smith to buy from you. In your question, you mention you don’t ‘click’ with certain people. It’s likely that the people you don’t click with will have the opposite behaviours to you. As an example, I’m an extrovert (yellow), and I find it most challenging to build relationships with analysts (blue). When I sold software many years ago, my key decision makers were software engineers and technical architects; they were extreme blues. Therefore, I had to seriously adapt to their behaviours

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

to make them comfortable dealing with me. My meetings were very formal, detailed, and technical, with no banter whatsoever. Therefore, to build rapport with them was very different to how I build rapport with fellow extroverts. Once I was aware of this, it became easier to click with more people, as I began to understand what the different behaviours looked for from me.

WIN the complete Sales Doctor guide to sales:

To enter, simply email and tell me a time where you have built rapport with a complete stranger and the techniques used. The best answer will win all five of Tony’s books. (Please include your name, company name and phone number.)

Contact: 111

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Say auf wiedersehn to international trade issues You can successfully trade internationally, whatever the size of your business, say the experts at FSB


ome businesses are daunted by the idea of trading internationally, but it is easier and cheaper than ever before. Brits traded £32 billion of goods online with overseas buyers and sellers in the last year, via online trading platforms such as eBay, Etsy, or their own website. The trend is only going in one

direction, with the majority of those already exporting goods overseas from the UK expecting sales to increase significantly in 2016. The Government is also investing significantly in supporting UK businesses to start exporting. The ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign aims to inspire an additional 100,000 UK exporters to sell goods and services abroad by 2020. Attracting customers from abroad, and accessing new markets has never been easier or more supported, but there are risks to be aware of when trading overseas. TAKING THE RISK OUT OF THE PROCESS If you’re trading with a company overseas, there are inexpensive services you can use to check that the firm you are supplying to is not in danger of going bust, and that it regularly pays bills on time. Just as when trading with another company in the UK, it’s a great idea to check them out with a credit referencing service, many of which offer basic access online for free. These services can help protect your business as you can: • Make sure the company is genuine - so you don’t trade with a phantom company that will run off with your exported product.

• Find out if it has reported financial results in line with local regulation – ensuring the company is compliant and reputable. • Check that the company is in existence where it claims to be – a firm may try to buy your stock from one market where it is on sale cheaper to resell elsewhere. • Uncover any information that is available about how promptly the company pays its bills – cash flow kills companies so maximising chances of prompt payment is vital.

When importing items from overseas, it may EH PRUH FRVW HƫHFWLYH to use an international payments provider

THINK ABOUT THE PAYMENTS PROCESS Many small businesses use credit cards for purchases overseas, but there may be significant charges for each transaction, and the exchange rate offered by your bank may not be the most competitive. When issuing an invoice overseas, the exchange rate may fluctuate significantly from the time of issue to the time of payment. When importing items from overseas, it may be more cost effective to use an international payments provider, many of which have more competitive rates than the 113


banks. In addition, companies can fix the interest rate for a period of time so, if a currency is at an annual high and they know they will trade with them again in the future, it may be worth fixing the rate. PACKAGING AND SHIPPING Trading overseas will mean the cost of transporting items to your customers increases significantly. It is important to factor in these costs to your pricing strategy or risk losing money. In addition, it is pertinent to research how long it will take to deliver your product or service to different markets. Import regulations, duties, and processing times will vary from country and country. It is crucial to do your research before you start selling abroad to avoid disappointing customers or costing yourself money when shipping. Being transparent is a benefit when encouraging repeat trade; if you aren’t upfront about additional charges, customers will quickly become disgruntled. Tracking services are great as they

allow you and your customer to know exactly where their goods are in the distribution process. TRADING OVERSEAS CAN BE A BRILLIANT WAY TO TARGET NICHE AUDIENCES What may be a niche market in the UK may be a major market when you look at global demand. A perfect example is the demand for arts and crafts goods, which flies under the radar when it comes to mainstream retailing in the UK. Globally there is huge interest for craft materials, and firms are exporting to take advantage of huge demand, especially in North America, for knitting and crocheting. UNEXPECTED PLACES AND FAMILIAR FACES You never know when you start selling abroad where demand may come from, and it could come from unexpected places. Did you know that Clarks shoes were in huge demand from the reggae industry in Jamaica, inspiring books and songs about their popularity? In growing

It is pertinent to research how long it will take to deliver your product or service to GLƫHUHQW PDUNHWV

economies you still have the chance for ‘first mover advantage’, building a customer base, and getting a foothold before the larger global corporations move in. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU TURN ON THE TAP Before you consider ‘turning on the tap’ to overseas sales, consider whether you have the capabilities to meet demand. Meeting customer expectations is vitally important, and being as transparent as possible about order fulfilment is essential. If you have limited stock or capacity to meet large orders, clearly signpost this on your website. In addition, ensuring you have a mechanism to respond to enquiries, which is regularly monitored is vital to building customer engagement. CULTURAL CONNECTIONS The growth of Internet trading and globalised businesses could convince a business operator into thinking each market can be approached in the same way. In many markets, trade is still built on personal relationships and face-to-face contact. In markets such as India and China, face-to-face connections are extremely important. Devoting time to these interactions reinforces you are genuine about building a long term relationship rather than just a transactional quick deal. While this may seem expensive, there are many sponsored trade missions supported by the likes of UKTI, or you could investigate a local market partner to help build ‘on the ground’ relationships. Contact:

114 January 2016


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How would your sales stand up to Brexit?


ith a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union due to take place before the end of 2017, many British businesses will be wondering what impact ‘Brexit’ could have on their sales. The EU contains around 508 million citizens, and half of all UK exports go to the EU – that’s a lot of potential customers, and a huge amount of potentially lost sales. No one knows for certain what the effects will be if the UK exits the EU, but let’s look at some of the different ways in which it could affect your company’s sales. UNCERTAINTY RULES The European Union is currently the UK’s biggest trading market, meaning that the potential impact on sales could be sizeable. Although the UK is increasingly trading with developing nations in other parts of the world, eight of the UK’s top 20 export destinations in 2014 were within the EU. Germany is a particularly important partner, with the UK importing £56 billion worth of goods from Germany last year, and exporting £30.8 billion. Any business that

116 January 2016


Although the UK is increasingly trading with developing nations, eight of the UK’s top 20 export destinations in 2014 were within the EU

exports internationally will understandably be concerned about the impact Brexit could have on their sales, and on their relationships with customers, not just in Europe but in the rest of the world. After all, a Britain that is outside the EU may be less attractive as a business destination to other major economies in the world. Indeed the US has already said a Britain outside the EU would find it more expensive to export goods to the world’s largest economy. ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN Whatever relationship the UK may form with the EU as a non-member, it’s unlikely that British businesses will enjoy the full, preferential access that they currently get to the single market. They could face tariffs, which would push prices up and subsequently damage sales. It’s also likely that they would become more complex to deal with, which may put off customers who can instead choose to buy from other EU nations. Additionally, it could also impact on travel costs and phone charges between the UK and the EU, which would further push up the price of doing business with the UK. RELATIONSHIP ISSUES The political fallout of Brexit could have an effect on UK businesses that export to

the EU, as customers and consumers may view Britain’s actions as petulant and refuse to buy British. It could also affect relationships with European customers and partners if the UK left the EU and, instead, started building political and economic relationships with countries like China and India, especially if they rivalled the bloc’s own agreements. CASHING IN ON THE SEEDS OF DOUBT? Referendums create uncertainty, and competitors of UK businesses in EU countries will be trying to exploit this uncertainty in the market. A date for the referendum has not even been set yet, and exiting the EU would undoubtedly be a long and complex process, but competitors will already be beginning to plant seeds of doubt, hoping to snatch business from their UK rivals in the event of Brexit. The potential effects on sales could therefore begin to be felt before the referendum has even taken place. BUT THERE’S A WHOLE WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY OUT THERE On the positive side, Brexit could create opportunities for your business to enter new markets and increase its sales in the rest of the world. The fastest-growing economies

in the world are in Asia and Africa, and leaving the EU would give the UK more freedom to negotiate trade deals with these countries, encouraging businesses to be more creative in their selling in order to take advantage of the opportunities that these emerging markets offer. UNPRECEDENTED AND COMPLICATED The whole issue of Brexit is surrounded in uncertainty and complexity – after all, no country has ever left the European Union before. The impact would also very much depend on the exit model that the UK adopts; for example, it could leave the EU but remain a member of the European Economic Area, as is the case with Norway. In any case, UK businesses need to be prepared for these different scenarios. Any effects on sales will have a domino effect on other areas of your business, like operations, marketing, and HR, so businesses need to analyse and understand what the potential impact of Brexit could be for them. This is a complicated process but, with the right tools in place to help, you will be better placed to prepare for any negative outcomes and take advantage of opportunities in alternative markets.

ChandyChandrasekar Krishnamoorthy, CEO of business intelligence startup, DataQuarks, discusses the possible effects of Brexit on sales for British SMEs

Contact: 117

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Legally speaking Each month, the experts at Wright Hassall LLP answer one of your dilemmas from a legal perspective. Here, employment lawyer, Rebecca Harmer looks at changing the team when it becomes stale

Q A Although it’s frustrating when employees don’t perform as expected, there may be some straightforward reasons for this, which are easily resolvable

I’ve an employee who is okay at their job, but isn’t getting the results I want, and I think someone else can do better. Can I simply terminate their contract? You are describing performance issues, and your first task is to understand why your employee is not performing. Terminating their contract is an action of last resort, and you’d need very good reasons for doing so in order to avoid a claim for unfair dismissal - if they’ve been employed for more than two years. Of course, if you’ve simply recruited the wrong person to the job in the first place, then no amount of performance management will overcome the deficiency.

MANAGING UNDERPERFORMANCE INFORMALLY First, create a plan of action, agreed by your employee, of where and how they need to improve over a set period of time. This should be reviewed regularly by informal discussions. You also need to make clear what will happen if there isn’t a noticeable improvement.

TAKING THE NEXT STEP THE FORMAL APPROACH It’s crucial that a record is kept WHY IS YOUR EMPLOYEE of any reviews with the underUNDER-PERFORMING? performing employee. The It’s critical to understand why your absence of an audit trail makes employee is not performing as well the disciplinary process that as you’d like. Once you’ve done that, much harder, not least if you find you can decide on your next steps. yourself having to defend a claim Good communication is crucial: for unfair dismissal. You should does the individual know what’s have a disciplinary policy setting expected of them? Does their job out the requisite steps; if you don’t, description match their duties? you need to take legal advice before Is their workload too high? Your proceeding. The consequences employee may also be grappling of getting a disciplinary wrong with personal issues, which are are both expensive and timehaving a detrimental effect on their consuming. The Acas Code of performance. Although the latter is Practice on conducting disciplinary not directly your responsibility, you hearings is an excellent starting may be able to help by temporarily place, and recommends the adjusting their working conditions, following formal assessment at the such as hours worked. start of any disciplinary process:

• the performance problem • the required improvement • the timescale for achieving this improvement • a review date • any support that the employer will provide to assist the employee. If, at the end of the process, there’s no significant improvement in the employee’s performance, then steps can be taken to start the process of dismissal. DON’T RUSH IN Although it’s frustrating when employees don’t perform as expected, there may be some straightforward reasons for this, which are easily resolvable. What you must not do, under any circumstances, is act precipitously, such as dismissing your employee, without following the proper procedures – that way lies the tribunal. Contact:

Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine. with the subject line “Legally speaking” 119


Beating the Cashflow conundrum John Davies, director of Just Cashflow, takes a look at how it can help ease your cashflow worries


round 10,000 new businesses start up every week, and almost all are faced with the same question: “Where are we going to get the finance to help establish and grow our business?” Those that have done their research are even more concerned, because they know that cash flow issues are the number one reason why businesses fail. The problem is that traditional banks typically don’t look at businesses, unless they have at least two years’ trading history. Even when finance is provided, it is difficult to get a card, and banks prefer the discipline of a charge card that has to be repaid in full every month - not ideally suited to

120 January 2016

managing cash flow issues. Many business owners use their personal credit cards to cover any cash shortfalls. However, mixing up your personal and business finances can lead to all sorts of complications, especially when trying to get an accurate picture of how the business is performing, and when you come to file your end-ofyear accounts and tax returns. Against this background the BusinessPlus MasterCard from Just Cashflow has been launched. The £10,000 pre-approved credit line made accessible on the BusinessPlus card can be used to help with day-to-day cash flow, and has flexible repayments. Just Cash Flow PLC director, John Davies, explains: “We want to help businesses succeed by


providing them with a flexible funding solution at the time they most need it.” The BusinessPlus card from can help businesses manage their cash flow by providing a line of credit as and when they need it. It could be the expense of a delivery van breaking down, a sudden need for temporary staff, or an opportunity to buy stock at a discounted price - you simply ask for the required amount to be made available on the pre-paid card, and you can then immediately pay the bill. You might decide to repay the money the next day or in two months’ time - it all depends on your cash flow situation. You can apply and have the card approved the same day. John adds; “It is important for businesses to have same-day

access to funds to cover inevitable bumps in the road, and to take opportunities. There often isn’t time to arrange additional funding when a crisis hits or an opportunity presents itself. “It’s also important to be able to separate business and personal finances. In the past I have fallen into the trap of using personal cards to help address business cash flow issues, and experienced all the problems and confusion this causes. “UK businesses need help to invest and grow, and the BusinessPlus MasterCard card from Just Cashflow is designed to do exactly that.”

&DVK ƭRZ issues are the QXPEHU RQH UHDVRQ ZK\ businesses fail

Contact: 121


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Hot topics

? Q

Should the Government make it easier for SMEs to fire underperforming employees?




Each month, we ask a selection of business leaders for their views on an aspect of business. This month, we want to know your thoughts on the ease of firing

JANE SUNLEY CEO OF PURPLE CUBED While I’m sure that most business leaders would welcome any relaxation of UK employment law, if you hire right, make sure people know exactly what’s expected of them, and how they’ll know they’re doing it, then monitoring their performance; there should be no need for further legislation. Probation periods are there for a reason, so review carefully, and correct shortfalls as and when they occur. There are so many people who have extended probation periods, then scrape through and later cause issues with poor performance. It’s therefore important to be very clear from the outset, never sweeping issues under the carpet or ‘moving a problem’ without really good reason. The real issues arise when people move roles within an organisation and then underperform and, protected by their length of service, in order to deal with the situation unpleasant disciplinary measures ensue. Perhaps this is an area where the Government should look at relaxing the rules instead?

PHIL FOSTER MD OF LOVE ENERGY SAVINGS I think the first question that an employer should ask is, ‘Why is the employee under-performing?’ Is it a lack of motivation, lack of skill, or is there something that is happening in their personal life that needs to be addressed? There could be a whole host of reasons that are your duty as an employer to unearth before you simply choose to fire them. The current guidelines do state that an employer has to have ‘investigated the situation fully before dismissing’, and I think this is a fair point. If you’ve hired someone, you clearly saw something in them that they could bring to the businesses, try and find that again.



ANONYMOUS I don’t think it needs to be easier. We already have the ability to apply probation periods, and extend them if necessary, so if you can’t figure out if someone is right for the role in that time, then it is your own fault. If it was easier, I think the system would be open to a lot of abuse, and we’d see workers being taken advantage of a lot more often.

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. 125


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

If you’re not authentic, does that make you false?


Cliff Findlay Latitude Solutions

Job title: Managing director My business: Latitude Solutions is a straight talking B2B marketing and brand development agency, based in London. Latitude Solutions works alongside clients as a creative partner and brand advisor. Our goal is to create sales-focused brand development that delivers long term results. Contact:

AUTHENTIC: Authentic, along with my other examples below, is one of the most over-used words in business. So people aren’t authentic? If you’re not authentic, does that make you false? How do people use this as a descriptive for their company? How do you even have an ‘authentic conversation’? Does that mean that others don’t? It’s all poppycock! SYNERGISTIC: In a nutshell, this is a big word that means ‘working together’. It describes one of the absolute basics to success in business. It’s what business is all about. Would you even be able to work in a way that was not synergistic? Answers on a postcard please. EXPERT: There are millions of business people in the world, and apparently millions of experts. What is an expert? How do you; a) qualify, and b) state that you are? Nobody is an expert – there is always more to learn as the business world constantly evolves and changes. Expert today, outdated tomorrow. HOLISTIC: My absolute most hated word in business. Used more often than not by companies trying to show they work with, and alongside, others as a whole to build a better company. Again, isn’t that just business? How else can you work? It’s been swiped from health manuals looking at the human form, and is now abused on a website not far from you by companies which have adopted it to show they are ‘connected’, and that they understand the ‘bigger picture’. Like ‘expert’ and every other term I’ve listed, it has been over-used to a point where now it means absolutely nothing.


Tell us the insane phrases that wind you up, and you could feature here – simply email editor@talkbusinessmagazine. with the subject line ‘Trash Talk’.

126 January 2016

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