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
â€œDO THEY KNOW ITâ€™S BUSINESS TIME?â€? Former Ultravox front man and Band Aid producer, Midge Ure divulges his business secrets
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inside 9 Editor’s letter 10 Contributors 13 News & events
STRATEGY 45 Get the buy-in Rich With
47 The seven worst legal blunders SMEs make 50 Blink and you’ll miss it
TECHNOLOGY 99 More carrot, less stick: employee browsing habits Former Dragon, Piers Linney
101 The data-ing game Connect with the person behind the data
How your start-up can avoid being just a ‘flash in the pan’
55 Watch this space Wearable tech for workers
104 Tech review The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley gives his views on the latest tech
57 Making big data smaller
107 Proﬁt? There’s an app for that! MARKETING
The art of app monetisation
110 Re-telling the retail tale 113 I’ve got an app for that
59 Hire expectations Kimberly Davis looks at how to recruit the best employees
63 So simple, so social SUCCESS 16 “Do they know it’s business time” Former Ultravox front man and Band Aid producer, Midge Ure talks marketing, philanthropy, and business lessons
22 A sound future Otone Audio MD, Gareth Thomas reveals his secrets to success
A beginners’ guide to Google+
66 Be card sharp Paul Tuvey of Shutterstock on making an instant impression with your business card
69 Thinking inside the box Choosing the perfect packaging
115 Franchise news 116 Location, location, location Dynamis’ Nicky Tatley on deciding where to open a new franchise
120 Franchise spotlight Paul Stafford of the bfa talks to Dream Doors
for your product
72 Three ways to make customers fall in love with your brand
122 Just can’t get enough How to keep customers coming back
26 Lessons learned Eduardo Ferré
29 Up and coming
75 Are you a helicopter leader?
31 Book reviews
Leadership expert Deborah Benson
77 Old for new FINANCE 33 Back from the brink Talk Money’s Adam Aiken on deciding what a job should pay
35 Travelling down the electric avenue
How would ‘grandparental’ leave laws affect you?
78 Secret diary of an entrepreneur David Lebée of Dayuse 81 Zero to hero Alternatives to zero hours contracts
Cashless digital payments tips
37 Could you make money in pawn? 40 The need for speed How to secure funding quickly
43 Error-free accounts through automation
83 How to ensure a productive review 86 Just dumb enough to succeed? Is leadership easier if you are stupid, but emotionally intelligent?
125 126 128
Sales Doctor Your questions answered
Travel without the hassle Business travel tips
Timing is money How to tell when it is time to get funded
130 Make the right call Moving your telephony into the cloud
133 Legally speaking Wright Hassell on how to safeguard your business during a divorce
89 Don’t sink the relation-ship
Why accounts departments shouldn’t wait to automate
91 We love... top tech 92 Hotspots: Lincoln Locations for business stays, meets, and eats
95 Ones to watch Our favourite timepieces
137 Question of the month: We ask: “Has society become so politically correct that employers are afraid to do things for fear of being sued?”
138 Trash talk Readers discuss the business phrases that annoy them most
97 On the road: Tesla Model 6 Oliver Hammond’s car review
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LUKE GARNER EDITOR Luke Garner email@example.com
DESIGN Louise Salisbury firstname.lastname@example.org
WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Prashanth Muthulingam Prashanth.Muthulingam@symbianprint.co.uk
SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Scott Hartley email@example.com
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it Albert Einstein
MANAGING DIRECTOR Stuart McCreery
Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4681 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodﬁeld Terrace, Stansted Mountﬁtchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. The opinions expressed by guests in this magazine are not necessarily the views held by Talk Business magazine, its publishers, and its owners.
ith the day-to-day of work, family, taxes, and every other stress that modern life entails, it can often be hard to extract yourself from the self-centred spheres that we tend to create for ourselves. Although we don’t mean to display such selfishness, it does nevertheless occur, to the point where sometimes you become impartial, and immune to the world outside of your immediate daily interactions and chores. That’s why, when we watch the news and see atrocities, such as thousands of migrants losing their lives in the Mediterranean, civil war in Syria, or religious persecution in the Middle East, we sometimes have the tendency to think “So what? What can/should I be expected to do about it?”. This is because we’re so over-saturated with such information that we get what our cover star this month, Midge Ure, refers to as ‘charity fatigue’ – being asked to care about everything, all the time, can lead us to turn inwards and shut off. So, when it comes to running your business and helping out in these areas, it can be even more difficult to show concern. When you live or die by profits and margins, there can seem little time to worry about the poor wages of Ecuadorean cocoabean farmers, but if you take just a moment out from the hustle and bustle, you’ll find that getting stuck in with a charity can lead, not only to great PR for your company, but also a wellrounded, worldly, and more understanding workforce, that will improve your bottom line, as well as making you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Midge explains why he helped to start Band Aid all those years ago, and his tips for businesses looking to get more philanthropic, or just looking for a marketing boost. Catch his thoughts on page 16. Elsewhere this month, Shweta Jhajharia explains how to conduct staff reviews properly (page 83), Marielena Sabatier asks whether leadership is easier if you’re stupid (page 86), and Ed Relf warns start-ups how to avoid becoming just another flash in the pan, (page 50). Finally, before you all head off on your holidays, check out Tom Leathes’ top tips for better travelling, on page 126. Happy holidays!
Piers is a technology and communications entrepreneur, with a professional background in the City as a solicitor at SJ Berwin, and an investment banker at Credit Suisse - where he specialised in mergers and acquisitions. Piers left investment banking in 2000 to start an internet business, and has been involved in a wide range of technology, media, and telecommunications ventures as a founder, investor, adviser, and director since. In 2014, Piers was recognised in the Powerlist as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons. He is a member of the Cabinet Office’s SME panel, and was one of the investors on the popular BBC2 television programme, Dragons’ Den.
Rich has worked in a design environment since leaving college. After spending time in editorial, print, and web design, he began freelancing at agencies in London and the Caribbean. He set up his own studio Hoot Creative - last year. Based near Southend, he works with MDs of established businesses and start-up SMEs, who have a problem getting noticed in an overcrowded market. Rich likes Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley, smoothies, photography, and winegums; he is not fond of Brussels sprouts. You can follow him on Twitter @RichGrowCo
Tony is a sales trainer and co-founder of The Sales Doctor. He has more than 14 years’ experience in sales, both B2B and B2C, and has trained more than 1,500 sales professionals in a variety of industries. Alongside his business partner, Tony set up The Sales Doctor in May 2006. He started by cold calling to generate appointments, and within the first year, The Sales Doctor had 56 clients; this has continued to grow year-on-year. Tony’s ethos: you can sell any product or service with the right attitude and a well planned call structure.
PIERS LOOKS AT SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE POLICIES IN THE WORKPLACE ON PAGE
10 August 2015
RICH DISCUSSES STAFF CONGRUENCE WITH YOUR BRAND ON PAGE
TONY GIVES ADVICE ON GENERATING SALES LEADS ON PAGE
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London SMEs set to move further ahead of the rest of Britain Revenues forecast to increase by £160,000 by 2025 in London, compared to £82,000 elsewhere
espite the Government’s summer Budget pledge to put the power into the northern powerhouse, the gap between London’s small businesses and those in the North looks set to more than double in the next 10 years, according to new research by Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr). The research, which surveyed 500 small business decision makers as part of the Everline Small Business Tracker, found that businesses from London are the most optimistic about their growth prospects, expecting revenues to increase over the next ten years by an average of 44% or £162,000 to
£528,000 in 2025. This is twice the turnover expected by small business leaders in the North, who, on average, expect growth of just 33%, or £65,000 to £263,000, in the same period. A fifth expect no increase at all. Business decision makers in the South (excluding London) are the most pessimistic about their growth options, with almost a quarter (24%) predicting zero turnover by 2025. The average small business in this region only expects 33% or £61,000 growth. This is followed by growth expectations of 31%, or £63,000, in the Midlands and 37% or £80,000 in Scotland.
Businesses becoming increasingly contingent
mall businesses are better prepared to handle industrial action and transport strikes than in recent years. That’s according to research by alldayPA, which says 41% of small businesses do have contingency plans in place to enable staff to work remotely, without customers being aware of any disruption. A third (34%) of those surveyed said they had reviewed their business
continuity plans in the last 12 months. This comes in light of The Federation of Small Businesses estimating £600 million was lost in working hours, business, and productivity, during the February 2014 tube strike. 27% of respondents also admitted to investing in remote working equipment and IT infrastructure in the last 12 months. New technology can help businesses grow and boost productivity as well as act as a safety
Media, marketing, PR, and sales were the most confident sectors expecting revenues to increase by 45% by 2025. Russell Gould, COO of Everline, commented: “With the average turnover of small businesses in London already more than 80% higher than that of other regions, it’s clear from our Small Business Tracker that more needs to be done to encourage a similar decade of growth, and instil confidence in our small business network, especially outside London.” Contact: www.everline.com
Survey reveals 41% of small businesses have contingency plans in place net during unexpected interruptions. Reuben Singh, chief executive officer at alldayPA, said: “Smaller businesses have become more aware of the need for contingency plans, whether it’s in response to extreme weather conditions, or strikes. “The mantra for many forward thinking business is ‘never let the customer know’. Outsourced solutions such as intelligent switchboard answering, means no calls are lost, despite staff being away from their desks, with calls rerouted to mobile or home office numbers seamlessly.” Contact: www.alldaypa.com
news Workplace warning as research reveals staff sentiments A third of small business employees don’t like their office or working environment
mall business bosses have been warned to make better use of their office and workplace facilities, or face difficulty recruiting and retaining staff. The caution comes as new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlights that more than a third (35%) of employees working for small businesses want upgrades to the properties they work in. For recruitment, the issue of unsatisfactory offices and workplaces is shown to be a serious one, given that more than nine tenths (93%) of employees of small businesses who work indoors, say that the property plays a major role in whether or not
they accept a new job. In fact, when asked to compare it to other factors, only pay and people are shown to be more important – with the office or workplace outranking progression opportunities (40%), company culture (36%) and benefits, such as gym membership (22%). Paul Bagust, director of UK commercial property at RICS, said: “With numerous industries currently fighting a war for talent, capable staff and skilled new joiners are like golddust for many companies. On that basis, businesses should be doing everything possible to recruit, and retain, the best people.
“It’s disappointing, therefore, that many employers seem to be underestimating – or perhaps not realising – the power of property in motivating, attracting, and keeping staff. A well-constructed, designed, and utilised office or workplace can pay huge dividends for the business that inhabits it.” Contact: www.rics.org/uk
DATES FOR THE DIARY Business Junction Networking Events 6 August - Lunch in Covent Garden Mabel’s 29-30 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London
InnovationArts 3rd August EICC, Edinburgh www.eicc.co.uk
Moda 9th – 11th August NEC, Birmingham www.moda-uk.co.uk
11 August - Lunch in Kensington The Roof Gardens & Babylon Restaurant, 99 High Street, London, W8 5SA
1 October - Bristol M Shed 5 November - Cheltenham Cheltenham Racecourse 3 December - Midlands Cranmore Park www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk
19 August - Breakfast in Tottenham Tottenham Hotspur Football and Athletic Club The Oak Room, 748 High Road London, N17 0AP
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26 August - Lunch in Kensington The Britannia, 1 Allen Street Kensington, London, W8 6UX
Pure London 2nd - 4th August Olympia Grand, London www.purelondon.com
The Great British Beer Festival 11th - 15th August Olympia, London www.gbbf.org.uk Summer in the City 14th - 16th August ExCel, London www.sitc-event.co.uk
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“DO THEY KNOW IT’S BUSINESS TIME?” From popular ‘80s singer to humanitarian, Midge Ure has seemingly done it all. He’s dealt with celebrity egos, ﬁnancial issues, and seen the changing face of brand (or should that be band?) promotion over the years. Our editor, Luke Garner, caught up with Midge to get his business insights from the music industry
16 August 2015
If you want to be the captain of your ship, you need to know how it is navigated
hat do famine in Ethiopia, approximately £115 million, and five weeks at the end of 1984, have in common? Midge Ure of course. The ever-present ‘80s musician, who hit the heights of fame with Ultravox, but is perhaps best known for co-creating and producing Band Aid – the charity single that spent five weeks as number one and raised £115 million for African causes - has seen, done, and experienced almost everything, including both the ups and downs, in the music industry and business. “Perhaps surprisingly, the career highlights for me aren’t the ones people would expect. Band Aid and Live Aid were great, but it’s the ones people don’t see that mean the most to me, for example, when I was driving home in the car after the 24-hour period of making the Band Aid record, and I heard it played on Radio 1. But perhaps one of my best moments was playing old acoustic blues songs one-to-one with Eric Clapton,” beamed Midge. “The lowest point for me had to be when I realised I wasn’t being managed very well. There comes a point where you might have previous success, you might have platinum albums, but you fall down the list of importance for your record label. This is where not having your finger on the pulse can come back to bite you. You’ve got to be prepared to get down and dirty and get involved, and know your business inside out. I can tell you how much is in my tax account right now - something which I couldn’t do 20 years ago. At first, I blindly went along with things, and other people managing my affairs, only to find out I was £500,000 in debt. If you want to be in charge and in control, you need to know what’s going on. If you want to be the captain of your ship, you need to know how it is navigated.” Having hit the heights of fame and been witness to others’ successes throughout the industry over the years, Midge has a unique insight into what differentiates those who make it from those who don’t. “Tenacity is vital for any business owner, and something I see in everyone who succeeds, including myself,” said the 61-year-old. “Part of the reason Band Aid succeeded was that we refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. We didn’t understand the concept of ‘can’t’. People
18 August 2015
were telling us we couldn’t do it, that it was impossible to get so many celebs together and to put this record out, but we believed in it. We had that buzz, the ability to step off the edge, and to not be afraid of failure. I fail all the time, and in fact the failures outweigh the successes in total numbers, but success makes it all worthwhile.” How you look at failure and how you approach it is also an area that Midge believes makes all the difference, especially when the line between success and failure can be such a thin one. A song that flopped when he first started out, is a fitting testament to this. Not only this, but how a business promotes itself, especially in an age of social media and PR, can have a huge effect. So what does Midge think SMEs can learn from the way the music industry does things? “Marketing, PR, and how you promote yourself and your products is an interesting area. I put a record out 20 years ago that failed miserably in a commercial sense. I thought it was a fantastic piece of music, and was very proud of it, but it didn’t gain any traction with the audience at the time. Two years later that song, Breathe, was used on a TV commercial for a watch, and it became absolutely huge,” beamed the OBE recipient. “That’s why poly-marketing is so important. Today, you’re much more connected to your fans and audience via social media. You have to make the most of it, and you have to consider all aspects of what you’re doing on all platforms – whether that be print, television, or social media advertising and promotion. “You need to learn to keep up with the times too,” he said. “I think it would be harder to succeed with Band Aid now, because it used to be that you made a record, put it out, people bought it, and you made money. Nowadays, record sales are pretty much non-existent – you can’t survive on them alone. So you need to learn to cross-promote and find other revenue streams in order to sell your product.” Given his work with Band Aid, Live Aid, Live 8 and other charitable causes, it is no surprise that Midge is a strong proponent of philanthropic endeavours. However, it’s not just something he sees as beneficial to those receiving aid – businesses can gain valuable insight and benefits too.
I believe all businesses have a corporate social responsibility. They all generate income from other people enjoying what they do, the products they create, and WKHVHUYLFHVWKH\RƫHU They provide a service, people pay for it, and that’s great, but it’s then important to give something back
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Tenacity is vital for any business owner. Part of the reason Band Aid succeeded was that we refused to take ‘no’ for an answer
“Everyone who has a conscience should be doing whatever they can to help those in need,” explained the former Ultravox front man. “I believe all businesses have a corporate social responsibility. They all generate income from other people enjoying what they do, the products they create, and the services they offer. They provide a service, people pay for it, and that’s great, but it’s then important to give something back.” While many businesses do indeed donate funds and profits to charitable organisations, many can struggle to get wider engagement from their employees. In this instance, Midge has a few ideas that can help SMEs to create a giving attitude within the workplace. “Rather than give out bonuses or prizes to staff members, why not give the staff a trip to third world country, such as Kenya or Ethiopia? A lot of people think you go on these trips just to give to those less fortunate than yourselves, but actually, you get a lot more back than you give. These experiences can be a real eye-opener, a learning experience. It not only makes people more compassionate, it also makes them more worldly, and gives them a whole new understanding. This then translates into a stronger and better workforce for your business, and a happier group of employees. “It’s not something you can exactly write into a contract, for your employees to give to charity, but in this way you’re providing them with life experiences that money can’t necessarily buy, which is why it trumps a simple cash bonus. “Additionally, it looks great for businesses, and can be excellent PR. Why wouldn’t you want to be seen to give something back? In fact, initially, some of the musicians got involved in
20 August 2015
Band Aid as they wanted to be seen doing something good – they thought it would be good for their public image.” With the news telling horror stories of migrants drowning, civil war in Syria, terrorist atrocities, and more, the public can often become somewhat immune to the terrible things going on in the world. This is an issue that many charities face, but is also something that start-ups looking to promote themselves can fall foul of – namely, over-promotion. “We can all be selfish when we want to. After Live 8 and a glut of fundraising events, we saw something called charity fatigue. People became tired of being asked to give, give, give, and give. We’re all only human, we’ve got our own lives to lead, our own mouths to feed, and so sometimes you’ve got to be careful how much you bang on about it. Verbally bludgeoning someone is not good and won’t get results,” preached the Scottishborn star. “This is also something businesses can trip up on when they’re announcing a new product or service. They are so desperate to get the message out there that they swamp their social media feeds and other publications until people become tired of hearing the same thing over and over, and switch off from the message.” With Band Aid 30 having seen huge success, perhaps there’s still an appetite for a little bit of verbal bludgeoning
from Midge yet. However, those lucky enough to catch him on his current project – the Breathe Again tour – will hear the melodic tones of the former Ultravox, Visage, Thin Lizzy, Slik, and Rich Kids artist. And most would agree that that would be far from a ‘bludgeoning’ experience. Contact: www.midgeure.co.uk
MIDGE WILL BE APPEARING AS PART OF THE ‘80’S INVASION TOUR EARLY 2016, WITH NICK HEYWARD, BIG COUNTRY, AND CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT. TICKETS ON SALE NOW VIA WWW.TDPROMO.COM WIN two tickets to see Midge at his upcoming tour – simply visit our website, www.talkbusinessmagazine. co.uk, and look under the ‘competitions’ tab for details on how to enter.
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A sound future OTONE Audio is a young British company, specialising in portable Bluetooth speakers, home audio, and active noise cancelling headphones. We caught up with managing director, Gareth Thomas, to discover how they’re challenging the big boys of the technology industry
Hi Gareth! What are the biggest challenges you face in growing the business? Gareth: We position ourselves as ‘entry level premium’, meaning the sound, design, and quality compete with luxury brands, but our price is affordable to a much wider audience. Brand recognition, and consumer confidence in the brand is key for us. We put a lot of effort into targeted advertising, but product reviews are equally, if not more, important for an audio product, as people need reassurance before they buy.
22 August 2015
Gareth: The overseas market can be very rewarding if you get it right, but equally can be very time consuming and costly if you don’t do the research beforehand. Finding the right partners locally is vital, as they will be able to advise on local certification, importation laws, and business practices; UKTI offers a very good advisory service which I have found most useful.
The technology market is often a very crowded place to be. What is it that makes your products stand out from the crowd? Gareth: Our design, sound quality, and price point all define what Otone products are about. Unique looks that out-perform competitors at a competitive price.
Although you’ve achieved some success, there must have been a few issues and challenges along the way. What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them? Gareth: I’ve learned that it’s very important who you partner with when bringing a brand to market. You need to find a partner with the right connections, and one that is also willing to commit its own resources to help build your brand together.
Foreign markets can prove hugely lucrative, but what challenges does trading in overseas markets present? How do you deal with foreign laws, language barriers, etc?
With the banks still being reluctant to lend, do you think there are enough avenues for SMEs to get access to funding at the moment? Gareth: There are a number of
funding options out there, so it’s down to the individual business to find what best suits their needs. Having said that, we have found UK Trade & Investment very helpful, especially in guidance and referrals for international distribution. Creativity is something many SMEs say they struggle with. How do you ensure that you keep ideas ﬂowing throughout the business? Gareth: We have a ‘New Ideas Submission form’, whereby everyone is encouraged to submit ideas for a new product, process, advert, lunch venue, etc. – pretty much anything really. That’s then raised at the next monthly meeting, where its individual merits, pros, and cons are discussed. Ideas are the foundation of a successful company, so we need to keep them coming. Once you’ve had an idea and the product is out there, how do you collect user feedback on your products, and then how do you go about implementing improvements to them for future updates
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and new products? Gareth: Every product page on our website has a review button, which enables us to collect useful feedback. We also actively track reviews about our products left on other sites. As part of any product launch process, we seed samples to bloggers and reviews for feedback. All of this information is then evaluated, and changes are made as necessary in order to keep our portfolio fresh and exciting. How important is it to maintain an aesthetically pleasing branding across your business? Gareth: Brand consistency says a lot about your company. The branding can evolve naturally over time, but I believe it sends the wrong message to change it too often, or to be inconsistent across your product categories. Many new businesses fail to dedicate a realistic budget to marketing, as they see it as a luxury rather than a necessity in the early days. Is advertising and marketing is relevant to SMEs? Gareth: When trying to establish a
brand, advertising and marketing it properly is key. Seeing and hearing about a brand gives the consumer confidence in that brand, especially in the first few years of business.
to provide something unique, and offer the customer something they can’t find elsewhere – whether that be a differentiated product, a service above and beyond, or simply specialist knowledge.
A lot of start-ups will struggle to make an early impact, especially when up against established brands. What methods do you see as key for start-ups to get their products noticed? Gareth: You need to be very clear on where you want your products to be seen, and by whom. Decide who your target demographic is, and target them specifically through relevant titles. Obviously these will differ, depending on your product; it might be an age-related product, or one specific to a local region, so do your research, know your customer, and target your campaign so it has the most impact.
Having given your advice, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Gareth: I have to admit, while it’s not a piece of direct advice, I love Richard Branson’s quote; ‘If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.’ I just love the sentiment of throwing caution to the wind, and having a go.
Having ‘been there and got the t-shirt’, what advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own business, from your own experiences? Gareth: In today’s market you need
So what does the future hold for Otone? Gareth: Growth! We’re continually expanding our independent retailer base and, in recent months, have achieved product ranging in John Lewis and Selfridge’s stores. With a strong roadmap for 2016 and beyond, we’re looking to continue to grow our retail presence. Contact: www.otoneaudio.co.uk
Avoid costly legal fees Talk to a solicitor before your issues become problems
At Hodders Law we are on business to help you run your business. In law we see two types of business client, and generally they follow the old fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. THE TORTOISE CLIENTS These are the clients that come to us before they do anything. They get our advice over procedures, the law, the regulations before they act. For example a Company recently called our employment expert Dipti Shah before embarking on disciplinary procedures against an employee who was underperforming. Not only did we give the Company the correct procedure to follow to prevent or reduce the likelihood of costly employment tribunal case, we actually gave the company a blueprint for setting out the details of the poor performance and implementing a plan with the employee to raise their performance levels. The upshot was, there was no costly employment tribunal, the employee’s performance improved signiﬁcantly, and we were left with a happy client, and a happy employee.
Like the company that issued proceedings against a customer for an outstanding debt. Unfortunately, our client issued against the wrong person, and the subsequent cost of unravelling that mistake cost far more than a 1 hour consultation with our Debt Collection team would have cost. At Hodders we also recognise that clients are sometimes reluctant to call their Solicitors because of “being charged for a simple phone call”. Well we have a solution to that as well. Our business helpline service is a dedicated email and phone advice service for our small business customers where, for a monthly fee, they can have access to the business experts, and can call and get the advice they need, without the uncertainty of hourly billing. At Hodders, we have been helping business clients for over 100 years and have the business team to cover all of your legal issues. For more help with:
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Lessons learned Eduardo Ferré, founder and owner of Swimming Nature, looks at seven things he has learned since starting his business, with the beneﬁt of hindsight
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duardo Ferré started his company when he moved to the UK from Brazil 20 years ago and started teaching in his local pool. His innovative techniques and focus on training mean that his company now teaches 4,700 students a week, all over the UK. Here, Eduardo shares some of the things he has learnt as he has developed his award-winning business. HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF AS A MANAGER When I started to grow the business, I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage a team of staff; my talent is swimming after all, and
26 August 2015
management is not everyone’s cup of tea. But I had the gut feeling that I would be able to, and it is really important to go with your instincts. Take advice, but then make your decision to grow, and stick with it. I was able to take the talent I had for teaching students ,and adapt it into being a manager, as well as a teacher. REALISE IT’S OKAY IF NOT EVERYONE SHARES YOUR PASSION I am so passionate about swimming, and helping people swim beautifully and properly. I get frustrated when I hear of companies that simply tick boxes, rather than aiming to get people engaged and loving the sport. But I have
realised over the years that not everyone shares this passion and this is absolutely fine. I think the UK is in a fitness slump, and swimming is one of the sports that is suffering the most, but this is being recognised, and we’ll hopefully start to see an upturn, with pools being used more and children becoming more active. We’re part of UKActive and are committed to making a change, as I think joining bodies and associations that do share your passion is key. STEP BACK AND LET OTHERS SHINE We have an incredible team, and have invested a great deal in training them
Gut instinct is hugely important, but you also need to prove to your customers that what you are doing is the best way
properly, receiving awards for our training approaches. I think it’s hugely important to follow your own intuition, but then, once you have decided the way forward, most of the time it is better to let someone else execute it. They will almost certainly do a better job, if well briefed. We all have different personalities and skills - and that mix is hugely important in business.
MAKE SURE THE BRAND AND MARKETING MESSAGES ARE KNOWN BY THE WHOLE TEAM When we agreed on our mission statement and core messages, ithe whole team agreed on them. Our ambassador is ex-Olympic swimmer, Mark Foster and, while he does get involved in lessons and planning, his role is also to communicate
the younger generations. We live in a digital world, and even if your product or service is not a technology-based one, you need to use it to ensure you keep moving forward.
KEEP YOUR BRAND SIMPLE, OTHERWISE MARKETING JUST GETS COMPLICATED When we first started, we created a range of characters that we hoped would communicate the different levels of swimmer we would be teaching. They are great, but what has been more valuable is to drill down into our core ethos, our key messages, and how to communicate them simply.
our key messages to a wider audience. But before we even started working with Mark, it was important that the team was part of the story.
are bespoke to them. Without the data we store every week, from every lesson, we would not be able to be so strategic in our approach. Gut instinct is hugely important, but you also need to prove to yourself - and your customers - that what you are doing is the best way. The stats help because, if your way isn’t the best way, you’ll know how to improve it.
EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT A TECH COMPANY, INCORPORATE IT Technology and sport are intrinsically linked now. It makes the process more efficient and, in many ways, more fun for
CRUNCH DATA, AND KEEP CRUNCHING IT TO KEEP IMPROVING We’re huge on data - we track the progress of every student and create programmes that
I say hard work, dedication, and utter determination GRHVSD\Rƫ
The budding entrepreneur
rom selling his mum and dad tea at five years old, to running a successful online shop at 13, the now 17-yearold Ollie Forsyth has got business on the brain. Ollie tells us how, at 17, he battled through adversity at school to make himself a successful businessman. He founded Ollie’s Shop at 13 and has now launched a magazine for entrepreneurs as well as a business directory. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION TO GET STARTED IN BUSINESS? I always wanted to make some dosh, and sitting in exam rooms was never my forte. I was always flogging products as a small boy. It started off by selling cups of tea to the parents! Then it was the cooking apples, washing cars around the village, but when I turned 13, I was looking for big bucks. So I started an online gift shop for teenagers - Ollie’s Shop - and I made £13k profit. We are almost growing double each year. I then started my own entrepreneur’s
HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PETER JONES ENTERPRISE ACADEMY HELPED YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS? The PJEA has been massive, and it is incredible to see how some entrepreneurs start from nothing to actually have a business up and going by the following year. There are lots of business academies out there, and if you are unsure of what to do after your GCSE or A-Levels, go to a business school or academy. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE WANTING TO START A BUSINESS? • Follow your idea – I see so many entrepreneurs give up half way, you may faces challenges but that’s business; if you don’t have any challenges, your business will not succeed. You may be told your idea will never work; take that piece of
magazine last November, The Budding Entrepreneur, to encourage entrepreneurs to start their own business; that has really taken off too. I think being dyslexic had an impact; I knew I wasn’t going to work for someone unless an amazing opportunity came around and it already has. I say hard work, dedication, and utter determination does pay off. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM? Being told I was a failure was pretty horrible, being bullied at school was even worse; everyone gets it in school at some point, but it was daily, and I never knew why. You do think to yourself, why me and why not him or her? In the business world, I face challenges daily. How are we going to reach our weekly targets? How are we going to raise this amount of funding? What needs changing in the world that we can improve on? Having faced challenges at school, five people from that school have asked me to join ventures with them.
advice into account, but test the market and see if you can prove them wrong. • If you are a young entrepreneur, try and see if you can get a mentor. Your business will grow a lot quicker if you receive help from a mentor, but make sure it’s someone in the same industry as you. • And finally, have fun. If you don’t love what you are doing, you are only doing it for money, your business will fail as you have no enthusiasm for it. Contact: www.tbemagazine.com www.myenterprisedirectory.co.uk www.ollieshop.co.uk
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BECAUSE ITâ€™S YOUR BUSINESS.
BOOK reviews Mission How the best in business break through by Michael Hayman and Nick Giles Our verdict:
About the authors: Michael Hayman and Nick Giles are co-founders of Seven Hills, the highly acclaimed campaigns firm named as the best corporate consultancy in the world, by the Holmes Report. Michael is a co-founder of Start-Up Britain. Nick works closely with highgrowth firms in the UK, US, and Asia.
We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a free copy!
sometimes cynical, market you need to follow the new rules. Today’s winners have shifted their focus from profits to purpose. Their business are defined by a mission that provides the clarity necessary to lead markets. Drawing on the experience of tech innovators, including Google and Airbnb, Mission reveals the power of purpose, culture, and campaigning in the businesses that are changing people’s lives. It provides a roadmap for finding your defining purpose, honing it into a story that transforms your customers into advocates, and becoming an unstoppable force, with the power to change the world.
We say: According to the authors, business as usual is over. To succeed in this crowded, and
Mission is published by Portfolio Penguin, priced at £20, and is available as a hardback and a paperback.
PI Leadership The 7 Positive Insight Steps To Peak Performance Leadership
this effectively, helping you to find a deeper and more helpful perspective, to bring success and improved results in all areas of leadership. Underpinning this book is a unique and practical leadership framework called PI leadership. This model introduces new ways of thinking and behaving, and delivers proven business strategies to significantly increase your results. This combination of mindset and business strategies is very rare. At the very heart of the book, and everything Tony does, is a firm belief that the way you think will change the way you behave, and this will have the greatest impact on your success and fulfilment as a business leader.
by Tony Brooks Our verdict:
About the author: Tony Brooks is an author at the Leadership Training Workshop. He brings years of experience in leadership training, along with a strong academic background in psychology. We say: Positive Insight (PI) relates to the positive way in which you view yourself, others, and situations. Developing your Positive Insight to motivate, engage, empower, and deliver is critical. It is through this book that you’ll learn how to do
PI Leadership is published by FCM Publishing, priced from £6.50, and is available as a paperback and eBook.
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Back from the brink Good communication and taking advice are crucial if you are trying to bounce back from a business failure, writes Talk Moneyâ€™s Adam Aiken
here are many apocryphal stories about how successful people have reached the top only by having been knocked back along the way. Itâ€™s all well and good if you end up as a Branson or Dyson, but business failure can be upsetting, confidenceshattering,and embarrassing. Once youâ€™ve dusted yourself down and decided to go again, youâ€™ll want to make sure you donâ€™t get bitten once more. But there are a number of legal and moral things you need to take into account.
COMMUNICATION Andrew Tate, an insolvency practitioner and vice-president of R3, the trade association for insolvency professionals, says good communication with creditors can prove vital in generating goodwill. â€œTaking the prior step of writing and explaining the situation, giving the reasons why itâ€™s happened, and letting people know that you regret they might be left in a difficult position, is a good way of trying to keep people on board,â€? he says. â€œYou start off on the front foot when you volunteer the bad news. It can go a long way towards helping resolve the situation as painlessly as possible.â€? Being open with your creditors might also help your relationships with them when you start your next venture, but bear in mind that suppliers who are happy to work with you again might increase their prices â€“ partly because you are a higher risk, and partly because they want to recoup some of the money they lost last time.
Business failure can be upsetting, FRQĆŹGHQFH VKDWWHULQJDQG embarrassing SPEAK TO AN EXPERT Taking advice is crucial, not least because you risk criminal proceedings if you get things wrong. Take the example of Joe Bloggs, who used to run â€˜Joe Bloggs Ltdâ€™ before it went into liquidation. If he starts a new business with â€˜Joe Bloggsâ€™ â€“ or even just â€˜JBâ€™ - in its name, he must tell his old companyâ€™s creditors, advertise it in the London Gazette, and buy the right to use that name from the insolvency practitioner who wound up his previous company. â€œIf people donâ€™t do things properly, there can be dire consequences, and they can find themselves personally liable for all the debts of the new company if that goes down in future,â€? says Tate. You also need to heed any instructions from the tax man. HM Revenue & Customs might ask you to put up a bond of, say, a couple of quartersâ€™ VAT, to act as a buffer in case you run into problems again. BANKING AND CREDIT You need to be realistic when it comes to banking arrangements. Opening a new account following a previous failure might be difficult, as banks can be reluctant to offer even basic facilities. And if you need a credit card machine, that could prove tricky, too. Credit cards offer a charge-back option to customers left out of pocket when a business fails, so youâ€™re effectively asking them to extend you a credit line. For more information, visit www.r3.org.uk
Travelling down the electronic avenue Paul Heywood, managing director and VP of EMEA at Dyn, looks at how UK businesses and ﬁnancial organisations can support a cashless economy
he Payments Council recently announced that cashless payments have overtaken notes and coins as the UK’s most used form of payments. With customers increasingly relying solely on electronic payments, merchants and financial organisations in the UK will need to ensure that their internet-dependant properties (such as websites, mobile apps, and mobile payments) can handle the increased activity in digital banking. Choices around vendors and technologies has never been more critical. The perception is that the Internet often acts like a living, breathing, unpredictable being. Businesses and financial institutions need to review their Internet performance to generate higher degrees of confidence in digital governance. A well-executed technology strategy will support the ability to monitor, control, and optimise online infrastructure for an exceptional end user experience across complex, distributed IT infrastructure deployments. HOW DOES INTERNET PERFORMANCE FIT INTO THE EQUATION? Internet performance is simply meeting customer demands and expectations through secure, reliable, fast, and scalable assets, delivered via the web. Think about traffic: traffic spikes to digital properties
have a notorious history for filling up bandwidth, slowing, and potentially crashing, websites or access to data. This issue resides outside a company’s own network, but it’s still their problem to deal with. This result is unacceptable where data security can be compromised – especially wherever money is exchanged. This includes mobile apps, which need to reliably connect to online assets in order to deliver information to end users.
and updates work properly, regardless of demand, geography, or time. As we continue to move toward a cashless economy, the risk of digital banking suffering downtime or delays needs to be completely eliminated, since there will be fewer alternative payment methods to use as fall backs. If merchants and banks don’t make Internet performance a priority, they risk losing valuable customers through damaged reputation,
If merchants don’t make internet performance a priority, they risk losing valuable customers through , damaged reputation, reliability and trust issues Internet performance tools give a measure of reliance and intelligence, despite the fact that the Internet is an external entity that is unknown without the right tools to interrogate it. Data can be mis-routed and delivered incorrectly when mis-configured or hijacked through malicious activity. Thousands of outages occur every day. Avoiding these scenarios is a baseline security measure. But it does happen, and it directly impacts customer satisfaction. THE CASHLESS ECONOMY AND INTERNET PERFORMANCE Businesses and financial services alike rely on Internet performance to underpin the entire digital supply chain, ensuring that all transactions
reliability, and trust issues. In order to ensure their solutions are consistently available, efficient, secure, reliable, and fast, merchants and financial service companies need to seriously consider their Internet performance. The Internet is full of complexities that cause issues on a daily basis, but businesses that understand the system’s shortfalls will also be the ones who can hedge those issues to create the best possible customer experience, consistently. Internet performance tools provide the monitoring, control, and optimisation necessary to give customers the quality they demand. Contact: www.dyn.com
Secure a fast, fair and flexible business loan Weâ€™ll provide you with quick access to the funding you need.
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Looking beyond historic, filed accounts, credit scores and traditional security
Assesses the business today, track record and its management
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Could you make money in pawn?
hen it comes to raising funds for your business, it can pay to look beyond traditional financing routes, such as bank loans and overdrafts. Unplanned overdraft fees are costly, the process of applying to banks for a loan can be time consuming, and the rejection rate is high. According to a recent SME finance report by BDRC Continental, 40% of small firms have been refused credit from their bank. An increasing number of alternative finance lenders may be more willing to lend than banks, as well as having products more flexible and better-suited to your business needs. There have been lots of discussions around crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (P2P) as the key alternative financing options for small businesses in 2015. However, many small business owners may well have personal assets, items in store, or at home, which could be used to secure finance, free up cashflow, or provide a cash injection to help grow their business.
If you’re not sure which assets you can use to secure capital, you may be surprised to find out that there is a wide range of items you can use as collateral for a loan. In fact, it is highly likely that you already own something in these categories, and are therefore eligible for a loan right now. For example, we lend on: • gold, silver or platinum jewellery • diamonds • gemstone jewellery • luxury and branded watches • designer handbags, clothes, shoes, and accessories • art and antiques • electronics • mobile phones • cars
Mark Harrold, commercial manager at H&T Pawnbrokers, looks at whether a source of alternative ﬁnancing for small businesses that is growing in popularity – pawning – is right for your business
ALMOST ANYTHING WITH A RESALE VALUE A secured loan, also known as an asset or pawnbroking loan, is money you borrow, which is secured against an asset you own. Small business owners can access this type of loan online, via a mobile app, or in store. HOW IT WORKS In general, when applying for a secured loan online, you will need to upload a picture of your asset for a valuation, and the lender will arrange a courier who will pick up your item. Some of you may instead prefer to apply for a secured loan in person. You will need to take the asset to a store
An asset-based loan has the advantage of being quicker than many RWKHUĆŹQDQFHRSWLRQVDV\RXZLOOKDYH DFFHVVWRWKHFDVKVWUDLJKWDZD\
and allow experts to look at your item and confirm the loan amount. In most cases, you will receive the money instantly - although art, antiques, and unusual items may require specialist evaluation. The amount you can borrow varies from company to company, typically up to ÂŁ50,000. The term of a secured loan is six months, but can often be extended if payments are up to date. Repayments can be made at any time during that period, or at the end of the term, depending on what suits you best. Rates vary depending on the amount borrowed, generally ranging from 2% - 10% per month. Hereâ€™s two examples of how asset loans have been used by some of our small business customers to help grow their business: 38 August 2015
â€˘ A West Sussex taxi driver wanted to buy another vehicle, so he used his personal jewellery, which was worth ÂŁ10,000. Once he had bought the vehicle, he was able to generate income and repay the loan. Many types of small businesses can benefit from a secured loan. â€˘ Another customer from the Midlands owns a small jewellery store. The stock was used as collateral for a secured loan to successfully free up funds for a store extension. BENEFITS An asset-based loan has the advantage of being quicker than many other finance options, as you will have access to the cash straight away, which you can then invest in your business however you wish. No credit check is needed when getting a secured loan, as your credit history is not relevant. It is also a flexible way to borrow money, as you can pay it back when it suits you throughout the six-month period (or whatever initial repayment term youâ€™ve agreed), with the potential to extend the term if necessary.
THINGS TO CONSIDER Most of the time, our small business customers pay off their loan and are able to retrieve their assets. However, there is a limited risk as if you are unable to repay the loan. In this instance, should you not be able to pay, the pawnbroker or loan provider owns the asset, and is able to sell it. You should therefore consider the terms and time period of the loan carefully. A good pawnbroker will always try to help you keep hold of your item if possible, although this varies depending on the business. The pawnbroker or loan provider will sell the item in order to recover the debt (loan and interest) as well as any admin charges. If there is any surplus, you will get that money back. If a secured loan isnâ€™t for you, you could still have a look at the items of value you have at home and see whether you could sell them to access capital. One Surrey small business customer recently found some mis-matched cufflinks at home, as well as an old bracelet, which hadnâ€™t been worn in 10 years. Having had them valued, she found they were worth ÂŁ300, which she used for marketing her business. So why not have a scout around and see if thereâ€™s any money hidden around your home that could unlock much needed funds for your business? Contact: www.handtpawnbrokers.co.uk
CONSIDERABLE Asset Based Lending from ABN AMRO Commercial Finance is the smart way to raise greater funding for your business. Working with you, we can help unlock the hidden value of your assets and allow you to grow with conﬁdence. To see how we can make a considerable difference to accelerating your business plans, contact our dedicated team on: 0808 274 0710
ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, Sheencroft House, 10-12 Church Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 3SN
The need for speed Dai Rees, director of Creative Capital, looks at what SMEs should consider when they need to secure funding quickly
or many business owners the adrenaline rush and sense of achievement they feel having secured a new piece of business is what drives them on. In recent years though, this has been tempered by the practicalities of ensuring they have adequate funding in place to service the contract and reap the rewards. Although recent figures suggest a marginal improvement in bank lending to SMEs, high street lenders are still hampered by the after-effects of the financial crisis. In many cases this has resulted in onerous credit control procedures and a lack of available resource to appraise an individual business, the specific growth opportunity, and make a quick, common sense lending decision. For businesses in a hurry, they can find precious time is expended going down traditional routes, only to be declined and have to start the process all over again. These market dynamics have precipitated a rapid growth in alternative lenders who, because they are nimble and SME-focused, are capable of providing a speedy response when all the key elements are in place. WHERE DO YOU START? The first thing is to not be led down any dead-ends caused by a narrow focus on the type of funding you need. You might feel that a loan is whatâ€™s required, but alternative lenders often have access to a range of flexible facilities that can be tailored and combined to suit any given situation. Have an open mind, and find a provider â€“ either directly or through a broker â€“ who is reputable, and who clearly demonstrates flexibility and a hands-on approach to lending. Quickly talk them through your business, the challenges and opportunities you face, and your future plans. They should be able to
40 August 2015
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identify what facility is best suited to your immediate requirement, but also look for opportunities to put in place solutions that support you, longer term. For example, your pressing need may be for ÂŁ100,000 to purchase raw materials. However, you might find that it would be beneficial to create additional headroom, with a ÂŁ300,000 facility that can be drawn down to fund this contract, and the next, and the next. The best providers will analyse your situation and give you the most efficient solution, both in terms of timing and fees â€“ only charging when you actually use the facility.
Other forms of alternative finance will require you to provide a little more detail. With trade finance, the sector dynamics, the product itself, and a businessâ€™ sales performance will all be taken in to account, alongside fundamentals such as confirmation of shipping or packing orders, and insurance. Likewise, a cash flow loan will require additional evidence, such as bank statements, management accounts, and evidence of a sustained solid cash flow. None of these should be onerous, and if they can be supplied quickly, in full, and are accurate, then the provider should be able to proceed quickly.
WHAT DO I NEED? So youâ€™ve discussed your situation, the lender has identified the most suitable funding structure, and youâ€™re both keen to proceed. Now itâ€™s all about the detail. Ask your provider for their checklist of what they want, so you can prepare, and ensure the process is not slowed down by any paperwork. The level of detail required will vary depending on the type of facility. For example, one of the quickest forms of finance to deploy is selective invoice finance, which allows companies to raise capital against accounts receivable. As the lender is essentially â€˜buyingâ€™ an individual invoice, they donâ€™t need to undertake detailed checks into your debtor book, credit rating, sector, or financial performance. Instead the decision is based on the strength of your customer. So, if you can provide an invoice for an established, well-rated organisation, then the credit check will most likely sail through. Some providers speed the process up further by not asking for a charge on your house, or a debenture, and instead simply request a personal guarantee to act as an ultimate safety net. To put the speed of this finance into perspective, our record turnaround from initial enquiry to depositing funds in a clientâ€™s account through selective invoice finance, is just 24 hours.
WHAT ABOUT ME? For some business owners, one of the key areas that can affect the speed of access to finance is themselves. Good alternative lenders will always adopt the best elements of traditional relationship banking. A solid, detailed business plan, and a clear sense that an owner-manager is focused and capable will always help an alternative lender to proceed at pace. Developing understanding over time helps build confidence, which can be a key factor in SMEs forming a long term partnership with their funders. This openness and honesty is particularly crucial for those
entrepreneurs who may have had previous issues. Checks into CCJs, debentures, and director histories are conducted by all lenders on every client. They are not invasive, but do take time. Good lenders understand that not all situations are black and white, so itâ€™s best that an SME owner discusses any potential issues up front, to see what effect they may have on the ability to proceed, or the type of finance that can be provided. THE NEED FOR SPEED The alternative lending market continues to grow, and is becoming an important part of the landscape for those SMEs who are hampered by the often laborious, and frequently fruitless, process of securing funding from traditional sources. Itâ€™s essential that owner-managers are aware of all the options that exist, so that when they need rapid access to finance, they focus their efforts on those providers most likely to deliver. That way, when a big contract lands, they can focus on getting the delivery aspect right, rather than expending valuable time on securing the funding needed to grow. Contact: www.creativecapitaluk.com
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Error-free accounts through automation
Mario Spanicciati, executive director for EMEA at ďŹ nancial automation software provider, BlackLine, explains why accounts departments shouldnâ€™t wait to automate
or some reason, when it comes to finance and accounting, practices are often dated. As recently as 2013, around 90% of companies were still primarily using spreadsheets to conduct core finance processes. Given that spreadsheets are not secure, and are vulnerable to human error, this is puzzling. While other departments are reaping the benefits of cloud technologies, finance and accounting has been left lagging, becoming not just out of touch, but a risk to the overall business. You only have to type â€˜Tescoâ€™ into your search bar for an extreme example of the results of financial reporting errors. While we are starting to see an increase in companies looking to automate their financial processes in line with other areas of the business, there are still many CFOs left to convince. Why automate now? Why not wait until an automated close becomes the mainstream before making that switch? WHY AUTOMATE NOW? No business should wait for an error before considering automation. Spreadsheets are not a fool-proof solution for keeping
track of your financial statements, regardless of how on-the-ball your accounting team may be. Manual data entry, in any circumstance, is hugely time consuming and, in an increasingly fast-paced corporate environment, time is everything. Time pressures on accounts teams to get the job done by month end often means mistakes, as accountants work to meet tight deadlines. A recent survey by BlackLine found that only a quarter of financial decision makers have complete trust in the accuracy and security of their companyâ€™s financial data - so clearly there is a genuine need for change, and there is no better time to do so than before your competitors. WHAT WILL CHANGE? The â€˜modern financeâ€™ approach means using automation solutions for finance and accounting processes, in order to make them more efficient, accurate, and secure. As 2015 continues, the concept of a modern finance approach is increasingly recognised by finance departments in the quest for accuracy and simplicity. The
Spreadsheets are not a foolproof solution for keeping track RI\RXUĆŹQDQFLDOVWDWHPHQWV regardless of how on-the-ball \RXUDFFRXQWLQJWHDPPD\EH benefits speak for themselves. An automated process saves huge amounts of time in reconciling your accounts each month, allowing staff to focus on other key strategic business tasks. Staff can see jobs being completed in real time, and are alerted if anything is left outstanding as the deadline approaches. Many automated solutions integrate with a companyâ€™s existing ERP provision, whether on premise or on demand, and are highly secure, further protecting highly sensitive data. To summarise, it is difficult to know when automation will become the norm for all finance and accounting functions worldwide - however, it is certainly the most logical next step for companies looking to be more sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient, and thereâ€™s no time like the present to gain a competitive advantage. Contact: www.blackline.com
Get the buy-in This month, Rich With talks of the importance of your staffâ€™s congruence with your brand
e recently started work on a brand refinement exercise at a forward thinking school. Itâ€™s both a marketing exercise, as well as establishing baselines and consistency across the brand output. One of the initial elements was to undertake a series of photo and video treatments. We wanted both the students and the staff to be engaged with what we were doing, so we held a warm-up workshop for some eager students to boost their confidence in front of the camera. We hoped for around 15 kids to turn up. What we got were 150 buzzing students, excited to be included in the project. If youâ€™re keen to have your brand fulfil its potential, one of the most overlooked, and yet fundamentally important, parts of that process is to get the buy in from your own organisation. Often, the idea of a re-brand accompanies a cultural shift or a refocusing of the way in which the company deals with its clientele. Perhaps moving from a results-based to an experience-based model. Or perhaps there is a necessary re-focusing, due to an industry shift. Management are often eager to make changes to improve the company, but to get this new, or altered, ethos to filter through to the rest of the organisation can present issues. If the company has been operating for a number of years, staff become accustomed to working in their own way. The resistance to change can be understandably awkward for them â€“ it may include using new
technology, or offering new services that are unfamiliar. At the school, we thought it was important for students to feel empowered, and yet there was concern that we shouldnâ€™t alienate less confident members of the community and their children. The students seemed instantly enthusiastic over the whole process â€“ writing their own scripts, performing in their favourite subjects, and even writing and playing their own score for the video. It was refreshing to see such a commitment to the idea of the school brand. Interestingly, it all seemed quite natural to them â€“ that this process was second nature, and they were eager to adopt it. They quickly bought in to the idea of how we were trying to portray the school. And therein lies the answer: if possible, include your staff through all levels of the brand process - ask them for their opinions, their doubts, and their hopes. It should be made clear that, while their opinions are valid, it doesnâ€™t necessarily mean they will get their way. Let them make their own mind up if they want to be involved, but make it clear that these changes have a solid rationale for implementation. The most important aspect is that they should feel empowered enough to make their own choices, and that can ultimately mean whether they stay with the firm or not.
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The seven worst legal blunders SMEs make
t’s no exaggeration to say every start-up needs legal advice at some point – and the earlier the better. Why? Because case studies have shown that not getting a solicitor on board at the beginning can result not just in loss of profits or damage to your company’s reputation, but much worse – how about criminal fines for starters? But there is hope on the horizon. Today, expert legal advice – like so many services – can be secured faster online, and at a fraction of the cost that a high street firm would charge. The following are the most common shout-outs we receive from small firms, on our own legal bidding site, LawSpark:
FAILING TO GET A PARTNER BUST-UP AGREEMENT Friends commonly go into business together, despite the warnings from other friends and family. They’re both so enthusiastic about the business, and on such good terms at the outset, that the idea of falling out seems ridiculous. But often, perhaps a year or two down the line, reality sets in, and one of you wants out. But there’s no legal piece of paper there outlining what the drill is; do you split any profits? Does the ‘deserting partner’ continue to pay the rent until the lease is up? A Shareholder Agreement (for limited companies), or a Partnership Agreement (for partnerships),
Worst case scenario, you could end up spending a period behind bars
Lucy Douglas, owner of LawSpark.org.uk, looks at the common legal mistakes made by entrepreneurs when they start their business
can be drawn up by a lawyer before you even start trading.
NOT GETTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION You’ve probably heard the term, intellectual property (IP) before. It commonly comes up in the design and music industries, but it applies to all creative endeavours. A registered trademark, patent, copyright, and design rights are aimed at preventing a third party from stealing your work and/ or ideas, by copying and reproducing them. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 47
It sounds ridiculously cheeky but it’s not uncommon for a company to receive a legal letter from a company, which may have copied their idea or work, claiming infringement of their intellectual property. Or maybe the letter is genuine, and the start-up didn’t realise an incredibly similar idea was already in production. This can always be checked by getting an IP lawyer to run a check, then make sure protection is in place.
NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO CONTRACTS Another surprisingly common legal mistake busy new companies make, is they often don’t realise how unfavourable to them the contract with their supplier is. Not, that is, until a dispute arises and the other party refuses to pay up. This is when you kick yourself for not ‘reading the small print.’ Contracts are legally binding and, if a small business owner has signed one in haste, then he or she may very well pay for it later. A lawyer can draw up a contract to protect against late payment, non-payment of business debts, or being forced to accept faulty/ replacement goods or services.
HAVING POOR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS Sometimes, business isn’t going well and it’s necessary to get rid of a member of staff, or cut their hours, in order for the company to survive. Or maybe you’d like to change their role, perhaps
48 August 2015
even get them to move to another location for work? Be warned – doing so would considerably alter their contract of employment, and leave the business open to court action by the employee. Employment law ensures businesses must treat employees fairly and follow strict procedures. A lawyer will include terms in an employment contract, which allows the business to make particular changes, and easier to dismiss employees who are under-performing.
NOT NEGOTIATING FAVOURABLE LEASE TERMS If a start-up isn’t operating from the owners back bedroom (and, let’s face it, many do), then chances are they’ve signed up to a business lease. Again, like the third bullet point in our list, commercial leases can be tricky when it comes to the small print. A lawyer can ensure your business isn’t being charged extortionate service charges, paying out a fortune due to repair and decorating clauses, and is protected against anti-social behaviour by other tenants.
UNWITTINGLY OR ACCIDENTALLY BREACHING SECTOR-SPECIFIC REGULATIONS Depending on which sector your business is in, you may be required to comply with specific regulations, such as only being
Contracts are legally binding and, if a business owner has signed one in haste, then they may very well pay for it later allowed to practice when you gain a qualification (we’re thinking law here in particular, but also the education and healthcare industries – such as dentistry or podiatry). Breaching such a legal regulation could prove incredibly costly. Not only would you be fined and ordered to stop practicing immediately, but your reputation would take a huge hit. And worst case scenario, you could end up spending a period behind bars.
NOT CHOOSING TO BECOME A LIMITED COMPANY WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE Becoming a limited company could save a business thousands of pounds. But, many start-ups are put off by the fact it all sounds so legal. They think it must therefore be tricky to initiate, and there will be lots of rules, regulations, and restrictions involved. Setting up a limited company is, contrary to the belief expressed above, actually fairly easy. It’s something many small businesses fail to realise however. Choosing the right business structure can affect how you have to pay tax, and could potentially save you a fortune down the line – it may even make the difference between whether your business survives during hard times or not. Contact: www.lawspark.org.uk
TAKE AWAY THE STRESS AND HASSLE OF BOOKING TRAVEL Travel Management Company (TMC) is designed to take away the stress and hassle of booking travel inhouse. A good TMC can help save a company thousands of pounds in wasted time and bad booking behaviour. Business Travel Experts is a boutique TMC – we become part of your team, and we work with each client as if we were part of your organisation. We work with clients to streamline the booking process and help you to challenge your travel policy. Allow us to police your polices, as it is only through compliance that real savings can be seen. With access to over £3billion worth of buying power, we can negotiate deals that individual companies would not be able to access. • Discounted airfares on most major carriers to numerous destinations. • Preferred rates at over 30,000 hotels across the world, including complementary upgrades, late check out and free WiFi. • Corporate rates on all major
car hire companies across the world. • A network of suppliers, and destination management companies all across the world.
How do you secure better airfare than booking online? Business Travel Experts has a strategic partnership that allows us to use not only the buying power of our clients, but the buying of the UK’s 3rd largest TMC. This means that we can offer discounts on airfares even if it’s not a top route ﬂown by your company.
Why should we use an outsourced company like yours instead of just booking online? Why shouldn’t you? As we only charge a booking fee for the ﬂight portions, we normally generate more savings to offset any costs at booking. However just booking a ﬂight is not where it ends – what about changes, cancellations and delays? We are here for you 24hours a day.
How long does a booking take for me as a traveller to make? Normally, all you need to do is shoot us a quick email with the details, or give us a call and let us know what you need. Once we have this, we then get working while you can go back to doing. We will get all the options put on hold and send them back to you. You can then choose the option you want, seek approval if needed and let us know so we can issue. Simple. Booking business travel should be simple – leave it to the experts!
If you need any help booking travel, or would like to speak to one of the team about using our services, then please call 01264 316 116 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the Promo code TB15 to receive no booking fees for the ﬁrst three months.
Competitors keep you focused on a goal, they help build spirit and camaraderie within a start-up, and they continually force you to innovate
50 August 2015
Blink and you’ll miss it
Ed Relf, founder of Laundrapp, gives his top advice on how your start-up can avoid being just a ﬂash in the pan
flash in the pan; that dreaded, but all too common term that more often than not is the fate of start-ups in Britain today. The cold hard truth is that nine out of every ten start-ups fail, and even the most successful of entrepreneurs has a long trail of failures behind them. The odds aren’t good, but they do improve with experience, and just a little insight. But why do start-ups fail? Why can even the most battle-worn of business leaders, or experienced digital entrepreneurs, still fail? There are plenty of characteristics that make a successful start-up, but no secret formula that can guarantee success; just a number of insights and experiences that can tip those already stacked odds back in your favour. In this new age of business humility and management authenticity, business leaders are more open than ever to share their failures, as much as their success stories. As such, there’s never been a better time to leverage these insights, so you too don’t become the next start-up flash in the pan.
DRINKING YOUR OWN KOOL-AID A recent study noted that 42% of startups failed due to a lack of a market need for their product. Something as simple as conducting non-biased research in the early stages of your start-up can be the difference between making and breaking your business. Don’t fall into the trap of building a product that only you would use – you may end up being the only customer later on!
What is the point of downloads if you aren’t tracking actual engagement? KNOW YOUR METRICS Sounds fairly obvious, right? Wrong! Most start-ups still focus on what could only be described as ‘vanity metrics’. Any good entrepreneur or investor can, and will, sniff these out a mile away. Cumulative growth charts, anyone? In my experience, in any business there will be, at most, three to five key metrics that underpin the entire business model. It is essential to understand them, and focus your teams’ and all your activities around them. What is the point of downloads if you aren’t tracking actual engagement? Buying cheap registrations may be brilliant, but not if they aren’t being converted into purchases. MOVE FAST, BREAK THINGS In this new digital age of rapid product iteration, real-time consumer analytics, and multi-variant testing, it’s essential to test, test, and test again. Gone are the days of kicking failed tests into the long grass – this is the era of experimentation. Celebrate your successes as much as your failures, but learn from them. Fail, but fail fast! Successful start-ups are masters of the ‘build, test, learn’ methodology, and more often than not, it’s the companies that iterate on this cycle that win.
GROWTH OR PROFIT, NOT BOTH Early on, it’s important to understand what type of business you are; are you focusing primarily on growth, or financial profits? There’s no right or wrong answer, however, making this distinction will help – especially if you find your business pulled between the two. Sacrificing early stage financials is a common strategy in high-growth, digital start-ups looking to gain rapid market validation or market share. It’s important to have sight of your key fundamentals, but don’t allow yourself to be constrained by them. KEEP SCRAPPY, BE AUTHENTIC One of the major advantages of being a start-up is the ability to out-maneuver and out-pace your competitors. Often, successful startups forgo structure in exchange for swift execution, team empowerment, and authentic leadership. We’re changing the world here. I’m often asked opinions on competitors in my markets, and I say I love them. Competitors help validate industries. They keep you lean, and they keep you on your toes. More importantly, competitors keep you focused on a goal, they help build spirit and camaraderie within a start-up, and they continually force you to innovate. All entrepreneurs are united by a common desire – namely, to change the world – and competitors play a vital role in keeping the business focused, and keep you asking questions, both of yourself and your business. Contact: www.laundrapp.com
CULTURAL HIRING //
As a buzz-phrase on the recruitment CIRCUIT HIRING FOR hCULTURAL lTv IS nothing new. In fact, some 80% of businesses state that hiring INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE A CULTURAL lT for their organisation now ranks as one of the top deal-breakers in the recruitment process. With evidence showing that happy, integrated employees support business success through higher levels of productivity, increased customer satisfaction levels and improved outcomes, itâ€™s easy to
I built this company in my vision from the ground up. I made it successful. Therefore I naturally assumed it would take individuals with the same traits as myself to continue that process... ...As it turns out, I couldnâ€™t have been more wrong. I couldnâ€™t stand working with myself: I needed individuals who would complement, challenge and engage with one another. Not all stubbornly stick within their comfort zones. (David Thoms, CEO)
see why corporate culture has shot to the top of the hiring priority list. But as a holy grail in the business sphere, a successful culture is still proving hard to build, maintainâ€Ś and hire for. How do we recruit the hRIGHTlTvnANDENSURETHEYSTICK
Corporate cultures, like any other culture globally, are often implied THAN EXPRESSLY DElNED 4HEY GROW organically over time, shaped by that organisationâ€™s expectations, experiences and the values that hold it together and translated into its interactions with the outside world. Culture, simply put, is the sum of a multitude of elements that make companies who or what they are. Recognising the power of culture, some companies have taken to introducing roles such as â€œPeople #ULTURE -ANAGERSv WHOSE CORE responsibility lies in creating and driving this intangible, allusive â€˜X factorâ€™ that may hold the key to success. Others seek to include cultural aspirations in vision statements or company objectives. However, the challenge lies in forcing something that canâ€™t be truly man-made: your organisation wonâ€™t become something simply because you tell it to. Rather than sticking a power statement on it, todayâ€™s business leaders must look to the individual elements that create culture and coax, rather than coerce, the desired results.
CULTURE: BEYOND THE DĂ‰COR
One of the major impacts of the newage culture craze has been a growth INOUTSIDE THE BOXOFlCEINNOVATIONS designed to create this very â€œsocial ANDPSYCHOLOGICALENVIRONMENTvTHAT will breed innovation and success. Recognised pioneers Google took the lead, leaving in their wake a sea of slides, pool tables and beanbag rooms amidst white walls and modernistic furniture choices: individual style statements, designed to echo how each organisation seeks TO DElNE ITSELF (OWEVER WHILE AN environment can support and help embed organisational ideals, culture is very little about what we say or how we look; itâ€™s about what we do. And that starts with the people we employ.
THE THREAT OF HOMOGENEITY When hiring managers set foot into the interview room with the â€œcultural lTvMANTRAINMIND THEMOSTCOMMON faux-pas is to confuse organisational VALUESWITHPERSONALlT)TSTANDSTO reason that we look for individuals we feel we easily build rapport with; particularly in organisations that are team-intensive or demand close, continuous interaction between employees. However in a traditional interview scenario, this puts power in the hands of the interviewer. Rapport is MISTAKEN FOR SKILL AND lT AS HIRING gatekeepers inevitably obtain more information from individuals they enjoy engaging with, and revert to
Culture is very little about what we say or how we look; itâ€™s about what we do. And that starts with the people we employ. hLIKE ABILITYv AS A DECIDING POINT The result is a minion-style empire: candidates employed in the image of the person who hired them. Homogeneity of this nature is not only an ill-advised strategy for hiring: prioritising harmony and conformity will actively become a death sentence to businesses seeking to innovate and grow.
CULTURAL HIRING: NEXT STEPS
In the modern-day business world, a multitude of skill sets are essential if we are to succeed. Similarly, employing a diversity of personalities is key to embedding a successful culture. Despite the common belief that a great culture is one in which everyone â€˜clicksâ€™, we must work alongside individuals we donâ€™t necessarily â€˜likeâ€™ in order to bring together the different ideas, approaches and priorities that drive success and change. It takes just touches of consensus on the core values that really matter to that business to ensure the process is well-oiled enough to succeed. The answer is to abandon the oneman approach to recruitment. Committee or peer-based hiring is still a relatively new practice in some industry sectors, but is gathering momentum as a successful hiring approach. Rather than subjecting candidates to an intense one-on-one
interview with an individual, a multitiered and collaborative approach brings together the combined values of multiple employees to give a more realistic representation of the business culture overall.
To truly implement cultural hiring into business, then, we must look to the individuals we employ; strive towards an unbiased, committee or peer-based selection process and consider the needs of the business, OVERANDABOVEPERSONALlT Taking those elements into account, outsiders can actually hold the key to successful cultural hiring. Able to objectively assess the overall culture of any given organisation, they will identify the key skill or cultural gaps that present opportunities for future growth for the business. As a specialist recruitment partner, Pareto has extensive experience in providing impartial recruitment needs assessment in line with CULTURAL lT AND BUSINESS OBJECTIVES implementing a multi-staged assessment process that focuses on potential, rather than existing skill or ability. With experience across all industry sectors and delivering projects across the globe, Pareto has already played ASIGNIlCANTROLEINESTABLISHINGAND growing successful sales cultures for thousands of clients.
Church Street, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 1AX
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4OlNDOUTMORE about how Pareto could help build a winning sales culture for your business, contact us on the details below...
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Watch this space
Wearable tech could change the landscape for ﬂexible workers’ communication, says Chris Martin, chief technology officer of Powwownow
ith technology increasingly going mobile, and new platforms to allow both our professional and personal life to be accessible from almost any location, wearable tech has naturally become the next phase in technological progression. During the past couple of years in particular, there has been a growing demand for more productivity tools and greater access to information to be readily available; and wearable tech has only just begun to change the landscape for flexible workers and out-of-office communication. Audio connection via Bluetooth headset is a type of wearable technology that entered the workplace early on. By eliminating the inconvenience of cables, conference calling became a lot more mobile as it enabled people to attend their meetings while driving, taking notes, or pacing around a room without any restrictions – and that was only the start of it. As technology continues to transform the workplace, wearable tech in particular has helped professionals realise that out-ofoffice communication is much more accessible than initially considered, and lugging around heavy computers is no longer a
necessity for flexible workers who choose to work from home, a cafe, or co-working space. More recently, touch payments and loyalty cards have been a trend that has contributed towards the redundancy of countless wallet cards that only weigh you down – only to be used once every so often. Instead, cards to access your local co-working space, and loyalty cards to your favourite independent cafe have moved onto more electronic and mobile forms of technology; subsequently eliminating the association with remote working as being inconvenient or troublesome. Wearable tech has also changed the landscape of flexible working and out-of-office communication, because it increasingly acts like your very own personal assistant. With the new release of smart watches changing the way we stay informed, response times for both flexible and in-office workers have already begun to improve with this new form of wearable tech. Rather than having to recall which of the multiple variations of the same password is used to access our email, in-company messages, etc., you can now get instant notifications by just glancing down at your wrist to get updates on your work and personal lives.
As technology continues to transform the workplace, wearable tech has helped professionals realise that outRIRƮFHFRPPXQLFDWLRQLV much more accessible than initially considered Therefore with technology helping to change the landscape for flexible workers, and out-ofoffice communication, I have no doubt that wearable tech will continue to improve the way we work. By acting as our personal assistant for business and pleasure, we’re already beginning to see an increase in our productivity levels and work-life balance. A compatible version of iMeet Agenday is already being prepared to keep up with this trend of wearable tech, acting as our very own personal assistant. It’s time for SMEs to join the wearable tech revolution. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk
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Making big data smaller Frederic Charles Petit, CEO of Toluna, explains how to use the customer insights available to you effectively
ost consumers are torn about issues surrounding data sharing and privacy. While everyone wants to benefit from the improved and relevant offers and services that sharing their personal data can afford, they also want to protect their privacy, and are concerned about whose hands their data might fall into. Meanwhile, companies place a high priority on their ability to harness data – ranging from point-of-sale to data provided via social media. Business leaders know they must strike a balance between providing consumers with the expected safeguards to ensure trust, and collecting data. So how can they execute this process effectively, without reinventing the entire business operation?
GET CLOSER TO THE CONSUMER Adhering to privacy laws is vital, but that shouldn’t prevent data collection via third parties. Smartphone tracking is already prolific, and data is continually being mined by high-tech media and market research companies. The key to optimising data collection, while respecting privacy, is to get as near to the point-of-purchase decision process as possible, without being intrusive. In retail, for example, ‘what’ data, such as point-of-sale and loyalty card records, can be combined with ‘why’ data, such as recall-based information gained from post-purchase surveys.
A company can never have ‘too much’ data – they just need to know how to use it SUPPLEMENT ‘WHAT’ DATA WITH ‘WHY’ DATA A company can never have too much data – they just need to know how to use it. In most cases, companies have access to transactional data and third-party data, which combined, can paint a deeper picture of the consumer. Coupling data with attitudinal information can help to answer the ‘why’ behind the ‘what,’ driving a business’ decision-making process. Big data does not have to be intimidating, nor does it need to be allinclusive. The goal is obtaining deeper insight and using the available data in meaningful ways. This can be done incrementally to build up an accurate picture of customers.
the crucial layer of ‘why’ data – can be carried out simultaneously in real time. THINK OF PRIVACY AS A VALUE EXCHANGE Despite concerns over data privacy, most consumers are willing to provide information to brands that build trust over time – particularly if there’s an incentive to do so. Amazon is a brand consumers trust with their personal data; sharing recommendations and reviews makes them feel included rather than tracked. As long as consumers feel they’re being rewarded – financially or socially – they’re usually willing to share. Until recently, the discussions on big data have been largely conceptual, but now businesses are actually implementing initiatives to understand what their customers are doing, and then using this data to optimise their marketing campaigns. So now it’s up to marketers to decide whether the wave of big data will be promising or perilous.
REAL-TIME BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Organisations rely on real-time intelligence as the data from consumer interactions now builds at hyper speed. Increasingly, the challenge is keeping up with the ebb and flow of information that Contact: is available. For the first time, analysing and refining ‘what’ data – as well as adding www.toluna-group.com
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Hire expectations This month, marketing expert and founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis, looks at how to recruit the best employees
ow that we are past the worst of the recession, many companies are experiencing positive growth, and are looking to recruit new employees. This is, of course, wonderful news. However, for many small to mediumsized companies, hiring new staff can be a scary, confusing, and unfamiliar process – especially if they’re hiring for the first time.
Employees are expensive, and choosing the wrong one can be a costly, or even fatal mistake, particularly for start-ups. UK employment laws tend to protect the employee much more than the employer, so if you pick the wrong person, it’s extremely difficult to fire them, should they not be up to scratch. With no fear of repercussions, sometimes employees have no motivation to do a good job for you
(though there are of course many different ways to motivate your staff members – but that’s a discussion for another time). This is why, in my opinion, the UK struggles with poor customer service. So, to help you find the right person for the job, here are my top marketing tips:
USE YOUR AD TO PRE-QUALIFY PEOPLE Being 100% transparent in your ad will save you a lot of time and effort on the back end. Give a clear list of responsibilities, required knowledge and, most importantly, the salary you’re offering. Listing the salary helps you to weed out the time wasters who were looking for more money, and the people who aren’t
Employees are expensive and choosing the wrong one can be a costly, or even fatal mistake
qualified. There is nothing worse than getting someone excited to work with you, and then devaluing them before they’ve even begun; it’s just not a good way to start.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS We’ve already discussed salary. When you are clear about the salary, the applicant cannot be disappointed. The same is true with the rest of the details. In addition to the job responsibilities, I also provide employees with a list of my other work ethic and delivery expectations. For example, one of my greatest pet peeves is a late arrival time. When I was performing in the theatre, the director would say that rehearsals start at 6pm. This means, if you want
to change into dance shoes, fill up your water bottle, socialise, and warm up, then you need to arrive early. That’s because practice started at 6pm sharp. The same is true with work. If you are meant to start work at 9am, then I expect you to start work at 9am, not to show up, put your coat down, go to the toilet, make a cup of tea, say hello to other employees, and so on, and then sit down at your desk at 9:30am to start work. Therefore, I make these items clear before an employee starts, so that there are no difficulties later on down the line. If you don’t communicate what you want, then you can’t expect anyone to work to your expectations. Most people are happy to oblige, they just need to know beforehand that is what you expect of them.
What’s the best way to see if someone really wants the job? Try to talk them out of it
ATTITUDE OVER ABILITY Another pet peeve of mine is the ‘computer says no’ mentality. Businesses which rely exclusively on the information contained in an applicant’s CV will never build a loyal winning team. Believe me, having a degree from Oxford or Cambridge doesn’t mean you can’t be mindless, arrogant, and lazy. The most important quality in business is the right attitude – I once went for a job interview just for the practice. I never expected to get it in a million years. It was an interview for a finance job and I knew nothing about the finance industry. On paper, there was no reason I should have been accepted for such a role, yet, I got the job in the end. Why? I later asked my boss. He told me; “I can teach you finance easily. What I can’t teach is work ethic. I needed someone who worked quickly, efficiently, and who had excellent communication skills. And there is no industry that works faster, and communicates better, than music and media.” Figure out what you really need and interview the person, not the paper.
TALK THEM OUT OF THE JOB What’s the best way to see if someone really wants the job and will work hard? Try to talk them out of it. Tell them how it’s going to require extra unpaid hours. Tell them they might need to work weekends. Tell them how please and thank you go out the door when you’re stressed. Whatever the dark sides of the job are, be clear about them. It adds to the expectations and tests their commitment to the job. Even if they say in the interview they still want it, give them a day to consider. If they are still eager the next day, and don’t have any excuses, then you know you have a great candidate for the team. For more information, tips and advice, you can download Kimberly’s free eBook, How To Stop Wasting and Start Making Money From Your Marketing, Right Now, Guaranteed at www.sarsaparillamarketing.com.
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Why on earth would you use it? Because, and here comes a bombshell, Google+ is arguably the most important social media you could possibly deploy for your business
So simple, so social
remember when Google+ was launched, well into the allencompassing supremacy of Facebook, wondering why on earth Google was bothering. It felt like such a huge, rather pointless exercise; the creation of an internet white elephant. Why does the world need a duplicate social network when so many people were embedded elsewhere? I’m still not sure there’s a good answer to that question, but to their credit, Google has pursued the endeavor with its significant corporate heft behind it, with head of social, David Besbris saying recently; “We’re in social - like we’re in everything at Google - for the long haul.” With this continued effort, a number of interesting results have played out. One of its most interesting features is design: remarkably distinctive, it just looks much better than Facebook. The look is uncluttered, ad-free, less anxious to compromise in its need to
please everyone. It has become a standard bearer for the consistent, spare design that Google has permeated through all its services, most notably the mobile operating system, as well as mighty internet behemoths, YouTube and Google Maps. This consistency of style and language means that when you come to use Google+, it feels familiar, second nature. But, why on earth would you use it? Why spend time on the also-ran social network? Because, and here comes a bombshell, Google+ is arguably the most important social media you could possibly deploy for your business. I’d go further, and say that I would recommend that small businesses sign up for this one ahead of all the others. The reason is simple - because Google gives increased emphasis in its search rankings to businesses that register, and regularly use the network, and most importantly, have a great customer satisfaction score in its testimonials.
Each month, social media expert, Richard Chapman, founder of Richard Chapman Studio, takes a look at a different social media platform and examines how you can get the best out of it for your business. This month he looks at the behemoth search engine’s challenger to the Facebook throne, Google+
WHERE DID GOOGLE+ COME FROM? After a series of false starts with social media, Google launched the service in September 2011. Google+ grew exponentially in its first few months, with Google boasting of users in the hundreds of millions, but there was a sense of ongoing engagement tapering off, and lingering questions remain about who is actually using it, and how often. In February 2014, it was disparagingly referred to in the New York Times as a ‘ghost town’, and the paper went on to infer it was a somewhat cynical
If Facebook is for your friends, Google+ is ideally suited for your professional interests. From a user experience perspective it beats LinkedIn hands down
way for Google to know more about people; a service devoid of altruism. But perhaps, expecting such things from a free service offered by a search engine, is asking a little much. It’s clearly far from perfect, but there’s a sense that Google has achieved some really successful services (particularly photo sharing and group communications) within Google+, and that perhaps they’re focusing on those within the overall sphere of a broader service. Indeed, to go further, if Facebook is for your friends, Google+ is ideally suited for your colleagues or professional interests. From a user experience perspective, it beats LinkedIn hands down, as well as having the edge of the ‘Hangouts’ service, to schedule a meeting for staff or clients in different locations. It’s these points of difference from other media, as well as being central to Google’s ecosystem, that make Google+ a worthwhile topic of conversation and debate.
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WHAT SORT OF BUSINESS IS IT USEFUL FOR, AND HOW SHOULD I USE IT? Even if you’re a casual Facebook user, Google+ is the ideal testing ground for different ideas as you start out in social media on behalf of your business. Whether you’re sharing images of your products and services, blog posts, or simply playing around with how to make a successful online profile for your business, this is an ideal way for a small or mid-sized company to establish a presence, tinker, and perfect it. Then, when you’re ready, you can replicate the approach successfully on other social media perhaps on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you’re familiar with Facebook, the principle is the same, with a number of useful twists. Because Google has placed so much emphasis on business search, that message has been heard loud and clear, meaning (for me, anyway) the corporate community is far more vibrant than the everyday social one. In this way, Google+ is beginning to steal a march on Facebook, which has lately noticeably downplayed corporate status updates and related advertising, which was turning off users.
Given their shared ownership, there’s an enhanced link between Google+ and YouTube, meaning businesses uploading regular video content are featured prominently on Google+. This link is an ideal way, in which businesses that have plentiful video, can be even more visible across the network. I’d go so far as to say that a canny business owner could utilise this link to their benefit by going out of their way to create video, especially if it’s not a standard marketing media in your industry. Finally, as any business owner knows, the benefits of word-ofmouth recommendations can never be overstated. Business leaders rely on good advice from those they trust like everybody else, possibly more so. This principle has been taken to its logical conclusion on Google+. Aggregated online as part of your profile, this feedback and star rating form an aura of positivity around your business, all of which appears in a standard Google search. Even if you’re unsure what the point of Google+ is, asking your clients and suppliers to supply testimonials on the service is the best piece of advice I can offer you. Quite simply, it advances your listing up the rankings, and means there’s one more reason a new client will hire your company. Contact: www.richardpchapman.com
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100 Ways to Improve Your Business How Many Of The 100 Things That Successful Businesses Do Can You Check Off Your List? Every business is different, but the basics of running a successful business apply to everybody.
It is much better if you can make a series of small manageable changes, the sum of which lead to a fantastic overall improvement of your business. The chances are that you are already doing many of the 100 things that successful businesses do, which is great.
f you are a business owner reading this magazine, then you probably know instinctively that with all businesses, no matter how big or small, or how successful, there is always room for improvement.
The difference between a successful business and an average one is not a matter of doing anything spectacular, but in doing those simple basic things well.
The problem is that running a business involves a lot of hard work. There are always a thousand and one things that demand your time, while everything around you is changJOHFWFSZĂĽWFNJOVUFT
If you want to improve your business, the last thing you want to do is to turn it upside down and put it through a period of chaos. This is often unnecessary and potentialy disastrous.
As a result most businesses just jog along and get nowhere near reaching their full potential.
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But there are probably still dozens of items that you can take action on, or prevent you making some common mistakes as your business grows.
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Be card sharp Paul Tuvey, European sales director for Shutterstock, explains how you can make an instant impression with your Business Card
66 August 2015
One area of business that has survived the test of time is the practice of handing out business cards
n a lot of ways, business today is done very differently than it was done just a few decades ago. Technology has opened doors to connectivity that many in past generations would never have imagined. Yet, one area of business that has survived the test of time, is the practice of handing out business cards. In fact, technology has made conventional paper business cards even better over time. Design and printing techniques used to be awfully expensive and cumbersome through external vendors. These days, you can get equal quality by using templates and ordering online at a lower price than vendors would charge. This accessibility has changed what’s possible and affordable, bringing lofty features like embossing or foil-stamping closer to hand. Don’t underestimate the power of the paper you use – stronger and thicker paper can help you stand out from weaker competition. Whether you’re deciding to order business cards for the first time, or updating your current ones, there are some best practices to consider and abide by. Here’s a rundown of
the most important factors to keep in mind: HAVE A STRONG CALL TO ACTION The biggest mistake people make when designing business cards is including the information in uninteresting and ineffective ways. At its best, a business card can tell you more than the party’s phone number and email address. Make everything clear and simple to follow, attracting their eye and attention to the area you want them to focus on. Before putting anything to paper, figure out the message you want to convey, beyond the basic information. For example, if personalisation is important to your business, make your first name the focus of the card. STAND OUT WITH COLOUR Many business cards are black and white, without much zest. You can change that perception with ease by adding an accent colour to make a statement. Pick a bright colour to leap out from the background. Splash that colour onto the sections that you want to be most memorable
– on your name, perhaps. The colour you choose should tie back to your company logo and other messaging. Strive for consistency across all of the platforms you control, beginning with that first introduction and business card. GET CREATIVE WHEREVER POSSIBLE You may have noticed that some people’s business cards run vertically instead of the traditional horizontal look. That trend has grown so popular though, that you should keep searching for a new, innovative way to get yours noticed and recalled. One way people have begun to separate themselves is through using both sides of the business card. The other side can have something lighter, like a photograph or artwork to liven it up, or an inspirational quote that resonates with you. It might seem like a small amount of space in which to operate, but small details like that are what make all the difference. Contact: www.shutterstock.com
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Your packaging is in dialogue with your customerso you must ensure it has the right tone of voice
Thinking inside the box Adrian Whitefoord, partner and co-founder of Pemberton & Whitefoord Design Consultants, looks at how you can choose the perfect packaging for your product
ackaging is the face of your brand, your on-shelf advertising. It helps consumers identify your brand and, if executed with precision, culminates in a loyal customer base. Many companies make the mistake of concentrating so carefully on their product, that they overlook the important equilibrium between what is in the pack and how it is portrayed visually. Optimising the packaging
solution for your product is absolutely crucial. Projecting your brand persona is the most direct way of propagating consumer interest. It is instrumental to product performance, and should never be considered as the last link in the chain of bringing your product to market. Obviously, if your product does not deliver, then a great packaging solution is no more than window dressing. However, generating appeal and desirability on a packaging canvas is highly persuasive to ensure impulse purchasing, as well as an enduring consumerbrand relationship. Successful packaging requires empathy between aesthetics and practicality. A design that may look great on a computer screen will not necessary perform on a supermarket shelf; design must always be considered in context. Successful brands are bold with their principles, propositions, and presentation, and are perfectly tuned in to client expectations.
THE BASICS No brand, large or small, should risk falling foul of legal stipulations. Expert advice is generally the best way of ensuring all obligations are fulfilled. Attention to detail from brand managers and creative agencies at an early phase of development can save unnecessary tears later. Owners of smaller brands require forethought to ensure lead times and launch dates are not jeopardised through lack of technical understanding and advice. DO YOUR RESEARCH Research comes in many forms. Specialist research companies can certainly help, whether their methodology is based around traditional consumer groups or online techniques. However, you may require deep pockets. Often the most valuable research technique is simply reviewing your competitorâ€™s strengths and weaknesses. Plagiarism should never be considered as an acceptable
A design that may look great on a computer screen will not necessary perform on a supermarket shelf; design must always be considered in context
solution but you may feel you want to take a similar track to the leading brand (but with a unique tone of voice). Conversely, you may have the opposite view that brands selling in your product area are only performing well because no one is challenging their approach. Consider sector cues and conventions in terms of physical shape, colour, materials used, typography, photography, illustration, and any other weapons that can become part of your brand armoury. For some consumers, recyclability may be a key factor; for others it may be product visibility. Always think about the end user – their needs and expectations are more important than your personal preferences. PICK THE RIGHT MATERIAL Functionality in packaging is very important; is the pack easy to open? Can the product be re-sealed? Is the cap childproof? Functionality can come at a price, in terms of unit cost and ultimately, your retail cost. Ensuring that your packaging is fit for purpose (rather than just the cheapest way of getting your product to market) is fundamental. Picking the right substrate can enhance the desirability of your product from an aesthetic and tactile perspective. Your packaging is in dialogue with your customer, so you must ensure it has the right tone of voice: simple and straightforward? Functional and protective? Sensual and seductive? It’s entirely dependent on your target audience and product positioning.
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USE STANDARD SIZES Size standardisation can be important when presenting your product to retail buyers and brand managers. They’re unlikely to adjust their shelving units to fit your packaging, and it may compromise your brand’s appeal if you don’t consider this. FOCUS ON YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC If you try to gain everyone’s approval, you risk gaining nobody’s, so think vigilantly about your target consumer. If they’re concerned with the environment, aim for an ethical, minimally packaged approach made using recycled materials. If your product is an expensive perfume, your packaging should exude quality and opulence. I’ve seen companies, big and small, fail to consider this, and consequently have observed their hard work come to nothing. LOOK AT PACKAGING TRENDS Would your consumer respond well to digitally interactive packaging elements? If your target market is aged 50-plus, this may not be suitable, however, if you’re aiming for the millennial market, it could be your USP. Augmented reality and interactive QR codes are two innovative means of engaging techsavvy consumers, potentially keeping you a step ahead of competitors. APPROACH A PROFESSIONAL Specialist design consultants’ knowledge and experience is vital to ensure your product packaging is right. They know what will, and will not, work based on years of experience and training, but you need to put in some groundwork first.
Consider how best to promote your product in and out of store. Major retailers will often insist on, or at least recommend, their shelfready preferences. You should think strategically, but not be afraid to make opportunistic and tactical decisions too. I recommend you be completely up front about all aspects, including your budget. Being up front is essential to building a sincere, two-way affiliation. MAKE SURE YOUR PACKAGING REFLECTS YOUR PRODUCT Regardless of your product, your packaging must communicate its values, while simultaneously representing key information and facts relating to it. If your product is food or drink, it has been proven it has approximately 2.6 seconds in which to grab the attention of a consumer. As well as being striking, you need to be clear as to the role your packaging should fulfil. Does your product have a heritage you wish to disclose? Does it have health benefits? Make sure your packaging does its job and provides this information clearly and succinctly. PACKAGE FOR TRAVEL Consider how your product will be distributed. Remember that the safe storage, transport, and protection of your product are imperative. The route to choosing the right packaging for your product may seem daunting but – with expert help along the way, coupled with determination, planning, and good judgment – the benefits will boost your brand immeasurably. Contact: www.p-and-w.com
Three ways to make customers fall in
with your brand Hannah Stringer, head of marketing at Moneypenny, shares her advice on how to attract customers to your brand, and build a long-lasting (and mutually beneﬁcial) relationship
ove. It’s a big word, an even bigger emotion, and has the potential to endure a lifetime. As marketers looking to sell our product or service, it’s the holy grail of the consumer relationship – attracting customers in the first place, then wooing them over time to remain dedicated to your brand. Any business, looking at the way it goes about marketing, has choices. You can go for the quick win – promising the earth and using flashy gimmicks to generate impulsive ‘lustful’ responses. And yes, they
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may satisfy your sales figures for the short term, but will they stand the test of time? The answer is no. What you really want is the security of a long term bond with your customers, based on loyalty, trust, appreciation, and desire. So how can you achieve that? LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT – GETTING NOTICED In marketing, less can be more. Know who you’re looking to appeal to, tailor your approach accordingly, and don’t make assumptions. Do your homework, and understand your
target audience. Find out what they want and need, and talk to them in the language, at a time and in places, likely to resonate most: be it face-to-face (events/ networking), online, social media, printed materials, advertising, or via the telephone. Often a carefully structured mixture of all of these is best. Extol your qualities – be positive, not arrogant; building your brand image and personality with strong, good-looking content, great images, and eye-catching marketing that will set you apart from the competition.
We all want to feel special, to be cared for and looked after – it’s human instinct. The same is true of your customers
SHOW YOU CARE BE CONSISTENT We all want to feel special, to be cared for and looked after – it’s human instinct. The same is true of your customers, so the way they feel about your brand will largely determine their behaviour towards it, and therefore your ability to move your relationship with them to the next level. Be clear and consistent in your messaging and style and ‘walk in your customers’ shoes’ at every opportunity, to help you deliver the ‘wow’ service that will bolster your bond. It’s amazing how quickly word will spread about the quality of your brand – winning you new friends and ambassadors along the way. A HAPPY FUTURE? DON’T OVERDO IT OR THE HONEYMOON COULD BE OVER So you’ve wooed your customer, and they’re now committed to your brand. Your job is to now stay attractive for the long haul and develop a loyal follower, especially when there’s always the chance that the initial excitement of your union can start to wear off. Continue to surprise, delight, and over-deliver. Keep the relationship fresh, and never take it for granted. The trick is to communicate enough, and in the right way, to keep your customer on board, without being too pushy, or annoying to the point of turn off. Listen to your customers, nurture them, reward them and there’s every chance they’ll be sticking around. Contact: www.moneypenny.com/uk
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Are you a helicopter leader? Dr Deborah Benson, founder of Leaders For Leadership, asks whether you’re leaving the helipad for the right reasons
elicopters are very good at a limited number of things: they can swoop in, land or hover around, and then swoop out again. They’re also good at shifting big loads. Evidently, parents who are always hovering around their kids, over-protective, interfering, and probably preventing the children from developing their own imaginations and competencies, are ‘helicopter parents’. However, a colleague applied the term to a certain type of leader, and that thought resonated. I bet we’ve all known a helicopter leader, but are we guilty ourselves? Let’s take the metaphor further; a helicopter swoops in and creates quite a dust storm, often causing confusion and panic, as does a boss who swoops down disrupting everything, refocussing priorities, shifting team structures and dynamics. It’s worse still if they then hang around, interfering, but not really taking charge. And, just when the dust is settling, and everyone is getting used to their presence, they whizz off again, creating another storm, and upsetting the newly established team dynamics. It can be dispiriting, unproductive, and generate dysfunctional team behaviours. However, helicopters are also
pretty useful at times, especially when you’re stuck in a war zone and need airlifting out. And that’s the challenge of leadership; recognising when you need to swoop in to the rescue, in a situation where your direct involvement is essential and likely to be welcomed. Military pilots don’t zoom around without careful planning, even in a crisis. They know what they’re there to do, what the issues are, and what protocols need to be followed. They communicate swiftly and clearly, focussing on the immediate mission. So a business leader needs the same clarity of purpose. Know why you’re getting more hands on, communicate clearly so staff know why you’re stepping in to support them, and ensure that you really can add value. It’s the boss’ job to carry the heavy loads in a timely, effective manner. The right help at the right time will be much appreciated by staff facing seemingly insurmountable problems. However, unlike the military pilot who is off to the next mission, leaving others on the ground to deal with the aftermath, a leader’s role is to ensure that the right policies and structures are put in place, and the team is empowered and supported to avoid such crises in the future. A good leader realises that
A helicopter swoops in and creates quite a dust storm, often causing confusion, as does a boss who swoops down disrupting everything the need to swoop in should occur less and less as the team develops and their competencies grow. It’s better still to avoid crises in the first place. The good boss is there at the start, establishing the right operating principles, developing staff, and gradually backing away over time, leaving the team confident, competent, and empowered to deliver. Aim to keep your metaphorical ‘leadership helicopter’ firmly parked on the helipad, to be used in dire emergencies only, and remember that needing to swoop in is usually a sign of leadership failure. Contact: www.leadersforleadership.co.uk
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Old for new
efore the General Election, Labour proposed allowing grandparents to share unpaid parental leave. After being asked in Prime Minister’s Question Time in June 2015, whether he would consider this proposal, David Cameron has said he will do so. New legislation to create ‘granny leave’ will need careful thought, particularly because the current right to parental leave depends on various conditions, including having parental responsibility for the child or being named as the father on their birth certificate. Key considerations include: • Whether a definition of ‘grandparental responsibility’ is needed? • Should there be a cap on the number of grandchildren to which it applies, given some employees may have several grandchildren? • Can step-grandparents share the leave? What about great grandparents? If the right to granny leave is introduced, employers can use their experiences of the current parental leave regime. They will, however, need to consider the following: RECORD KEEPING Employers will need to ask for details of employees’ grandchildren to keep appropriate records. To avoid appearing overly intrusive, employers may decide only to ask for details when a request is made.
What would it mean for SMEs if proposed ‘grandparental’ leave laws were introduced? Caroline Yarrow, partner at Bircham Dyson Bell takes a look at the legal side of things
Should there be a cap on the number of grandchildren to which it applies, given some employees may have several?
for parental leave will change as they’ll need to understand how much leave has previously been taken as well as shared. Asking for this information on application forms and/or declarations completed by the employee seems the easiest approach. Employers may want all applications to be submitted to HR for consistency, particularly as getting it wrong could result in an expensive claim for unfair dismissal.
Unless a system of trust is operated, employers may also need evidence of the grandparental relationship. The entitlement to share up to eighteen weeks per grandchild could run across a number of years and (potentially) different jobs. Employers should therefore check with previous employers to determine how much of the entitlement has been shared previously, and therefore how much of it remains. This will be most straightforward when seeking a reference from a previous employer, and should be done for all employees to avoid any inference of discrimination. Employers will inevitably receive reciprocal requests when employees leave.
TRAINING Line managers will need training to understand the new right, and how it relates to other types of familyrelated leave.
APPLICATIONS How employers deal with applications
POLICIES Existing parental leave policies will need updating. Obviously, employers can only plan properly for the new right when they know it is going to become law. However, if it does, the increasing age of the working population, and the already heavy reliance on grandparents to assist with childcare, mean that the possibility of a request for ‘granny leave’ is likely to be a real one.
Secret diary of an entrepreneur
launched Dayuse in 2010, and it has been a family led business from the very beginning. The idea for Dayuse was born in just one evening – at the time I was managing Hotel Amour, when I could see that the demand was there for daytime bookings, but nothing at that stage to meet that demand. That evening, together with my sister and a really good friend, we decided very quickly what the next steps would be, and the rough plan. From there we built Dayuse – I am now managing director of the firm, my sister is the artistic designer, and our very good friend is the business developer. DAY ONE: DOG DAYS It’s important that I know exactly what has been going on throughout the past week to ensure the business is running smoothly, so I am meeting every sales manager to review the
78 August 2015
development of our offering, and talk to every member of the team, thank them for their hard work, and update them on what has been happening in the business. And of course, food is key to effective meetings – my Monday morning habit is to arrive with croissants for the team. Once I have dealt with emails and managed to clear my inbox as much as possible, my next priority is to have job interviews. Finding great people is a key part of the job, and having faith in the people you’re working with is such an essential ingredient in this sector, alongside great customer service skills. Dayuse is expanding quickly, and this can only be achieved through great quality people, and by building upon the values of a family business. Even my dog has a role to play, as he is often brought to the office, adding to the relaxed and happy atmosphere.
David Lebée, CEO of Dayuse, gives an insight into what a typical week looks like running the leading booking platform for luxury hotels during the day Today, I am also taking a closer look at our creative agency for Dayuse’s forthcoming advertising campaign in the Paris Metro and London Underground. BETC is the biggest ad agency in France, and I need to ensure the campaign is on schedule, as we are keen to ensure we celebrate our fifth birthday in the business in style. DAY TWO: THE ITALIAN JOB In 2012, it became very evident that there was a significant market for daytime hotel room use, so we’ve been developing and launching the concept in Italy, UK, US, and Belgium since. Italy is our third largest market (after France and the UK).
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(YHQP\GRJKDVDUROHWRSOD\DVKHLVRIWHQEURXJKWWR WKHRĆŽFHDGGLQJWRWKHUHOD[HGDQGKDSS\DWPRVSKHUH Today Iâ€™m in Italy with Sara Villani, our Italian sales manager. We have just appointed a high-end chic boutique hotel in Rome (Radisson Blue Roma). Although a big part of my role is looking at the future direction and vision for the company, I also really like to ensure I stay close to the business, and still enjoy visiting new hotels and working with their teams to add their hotels to our portfolio. Itâ€™s important for me to personally review our sales orders, and integrate all new customer purchases. DAY THREE: FAMILY MATTERS I spend much of the morning in my office, as thereâ€™s a big meeting to prepare for in the afternoon with one of our investors, Jean Marc Patouillaud from Partech Ventures. Theyâ€™ve been very supportive and they and I are passionate about developing the service and the brand. Having such an opportunity to progress is extremely precious. We all invested a lot in this
growing business and I am determined to maximise its full potential. I get home late and, after a quick meal, I spend a couple of hours with my family. With such a busy schedule my time with them is important. DAY FOUR: KEEPING CUSTOMERS APPY We have established a reputation in the start-up industry for what we have achieved â€“ optimising a new lifestyle service, and making hotels earn additional revenue from assets they already have. However, we still need to keep developing the business. So, on my return to the office, I hold a team brainstorm to generate new ideas to extend our offering, and to discuss further business developments. Currently, we are looking to launch a new website and app to make booking on demand, on the move, as and when needed, even simpler and easier to do. With four out of five
hotel bookings now made online in the hotel industry, itâ€™s vital that we stay abreast of new technology. DAY FIVE: GERMAN EFFICIENCY Finally Friday is here, but there is no time to think about the weekend, as Iâ€™m off to Dusseldorf for the day via train, to meet a German hotel chain with Adrien Gateau from our team. Germany is a new market for us where we will be launching soon, as well as Spain and the Netherlands. Despite it being the end of the week, I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever reached the bottom of my to-do list, and there is always something new to add. But now itâ€™s time to clock off and unwind with a beer with my team to celebrate the end of a very busy week. Next week will be different again, as Iâ€™m flying to Miami where a whole new set of business opportunities are waiting for me. Contact: www.dayuse-hotels.com/en/GB/
ero hours contracts have made the headlines a number of times recently, and continue to feature regularly in the press. Used with care, I’ve always thought that there is a place for this working arrangement, and that it is an improvement on others, such as cash in hand work, where worker rights are non-existent, and risks for the employer are high. Zero hours though, does not mean zero rights! It’s important to note that workers on zero hours contracts still have the same basic rights, including: • To be paid the national minimum wage, including during work-related travel time • To receive annual leave at the statutory level of 5.6 weeks per year, pro-rated to their hours of work • To refuse work when it is offered BENEFITS OF ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS Where true flexibility is a key requirement on both sides, where the employer has sufficient workers to call upon, and the worker is not reliant on a regular income, zero hours contracts remain a viable option. This can be a more cost effective alternative to expensive agency arrangements, or a risky employment relationship. For the worker, there is genuine flexibility with few consequences if they decline work. But what are the alternatives? CASUAL WORKING AGREEMENTS We would recommend the use of casual working agreements, which operate in much the same way as zero hours contracts, with no obligation to provide or accept work. These have similar benefits for workers, but for the employer, the continuity of service is broken between assignments. As with all casual working arrangements, it’s
Zero to hero This month, HR Insight’s Richard Cummings examines the viable alternatives to zero hours contracts, that beneﬁt both the employee and employer
essential to monitor and change the contract where regular patterns of work arise.
but for short-term assignments, this can be a good way of dealing with fluctuating operational demands.
FIXED-TERM CONTRACTS If the resource requirement is genuinely short term - for example, to cover maternity leave - the fixed-term contract can be very effective. The advantage for the employee is that they’ll be entitled to similar rights and benefits as permanent staff. For the employer, they’ll have the security of a contract that will automatically come to an end, normally without the need to give notice, on a stated date.
CONTRACTS FOR SERVICES For projects or assignments that are short-term and require specialist skills, the use of self-employed contractors can be a viable option. Although more expensive, the business can expect the work to be completed within a specified time frame and to a defined professional standard. Errors and overruns should be completed at no further cost to the business, and all work should be covered by the contractor’s insurance. While further controls on zero hours contracts are inevitable, I’d encourage companies to consider the advantages of the alternatives.
AGENCY AGREEMENTS Agencies can provide supplies of workers, to whom the business would have limited obligations, for up to 12 weeks. Those obligations do increase after that time, and agencies will charge fees for their services,
Used with care, zero hours is an improvement on other arrangements, where worker rights are non-existent, and risks for the employer are high talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 81
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How to ensure a productive review
oming from a corporate background, the very idea of a team meeting might make you cringe. Gathering everyone together to discuss the business sounds like a massive waste of time. However, especially in SMEs, leveraging off the collective intelligence of your team, and ensuring that everyone in your team is aligned with the business’ goals, is critical to maintaining smooth operations. In an SME, more meetings mean less time wastage, while in larger corporations that is reversed. However, no matter what size your business, you should be having a full review
and effective way, that also naturally motivates them. But what should you be addressing in a quarterly review with your team members? And what is the purpose of doing this? The ultimate aim is to get your business on the path of efficient, sharp, and fast growth, to keep your business moving forward, and not stagnating. To achieve that, there are seven steps to conducting your review, and addressing what needs to be done: STEP ONE: REVIEW THE PAST YEAR Have everyone look at the last 12 months, and to take stock of what they achieved, what they did
Strategic planning sessions not only give you a better understanding of your team, but also ensure you’re managing your team LQDFOHDUDQGHƫHFWLYHZD\ of the business with your staff every quarter. These kind of strategic planning sessions not only give you a better understanding of your team, but also ensure that you are managing your team in a clear
not achieve, and why. This is an opportunity to reflect on how much of the work you do is just day-to-day, and how much is actually helping to increase the impact of the business.
Shweta Jhajharia, founder of The London Coaching Group, provides seven steps to conducting productive reviews with your team STEP TWO: REVIEW CURRENT POSITION With an overarching review of the last 12 months, you can now look at what is happening right now. Focus especially here on what is still missing, and required. This puts everyone on a solid footing as to where they are, and prepares them to think more clearly about where they’re headed. STEP THREE: SET PERSONAL GOALS In our experience, we’ve found that the drive to succeed in business often comes from the knowledge that success comes with the ability to achieve personal goals. By having your team physically write down their personal goals, you can gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from, what they want to achieve, and how to align their activity in your business so they’re naturally motivated. STEP FOUR: CREATE A PLAN Following the setting of goals, you then want to create a plan. You can choose whether you want to help your team create a plan for their personal goals as well, or you can narrow this down to just their goals
By having your team write down their personal goals, you gain an understanding of what they want to achieve, and how to align their activity in your business so they’re naturally motivated
associated with the business. This requires four stages: CATEGORISE - Take your goals for the next year and group them into categories (travel, family, social life, community, etc.). PRIORITISE - Choose just one goal in each category, and highlight that as the most important one to achieve. ACTIONS REQUIRED - This is the important part. Next to each goal, write down what you actually need to do to achieve it. Get specific, and be realistic. DIVIDE - Now you have a list of actions to achieve over the year. Split those out over the four quarters. If you can, split them out over the 13 weeks of each quarter too. Creating this plan makes it a lot clearer as to what is, and isn’t, achievable over the next year. STEP FIVE: ASSIGN ACCOUNTABILITY Now you should draw up an ‘accountability chart’, detailing the important functions in your business, and exactly who is required for each function. This is an important exercise to do with your team members, so that everyone is clear on their own duties, but also so they know
84 August 2015
who to report to when it comes to other areas. For each function, make sure: • There’s a person who is held accountable for it. • There’s a list of leading indicators (i.e. key performance indicators, or KPIs), that tracks that function’s performance. • There are clear results/outcomes from that function, that directly relate to lines on your profit and loss, balance sheet, and/or cash flow statements. During this process you should also be asking yourself that for each function: • Is there a person in more than one seat? • Are there any empty seats? • Would your rehire the person in charge of this again? These questions will help you make the decisions to ensure the functions in your business are running as efficiently as possible, with the right people in charge of them. STEP SIX: CREATE DEFAULT DIARIES Now it’s time to ensure your team actions their responsibilities effectively. Everyone should draw up calendar for the week with half-hour blocks.
In this calendar, they should block out time for activities that are required every week. They should also include personal goals here. Every person in your company should have a default diary. If it’s easier, you can build these in software such as Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook, and set recurring events every week on their work calendar. With default diaries, your team can plan day-to-day activities around their core tasks, ensuring the business is constantly working towards the ultimate goals. STEP SEVEN: CONSTANT REVIEW Each week, you should encourage your team members to review their plans, ticking off actions they did achieve, and highlighting what they didn’t. The ones they didn’t achieve, they need to consider - is this no longer important or does time need to be reassigned to achieve this? It should not be a long process to do at the start of each week, and it’s worth it in order to leave your team more focused in the right areas of your business. Contact: www.londoncoachinggroup.com
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Just dumb enough to succeed?
86 August 2015
You may be driving a Formula One car, but your team is in a school bus
ou may have heard that emotional intelligence (EQ) is twice as important as intelligence quotient (IQ) for successful leaders, a concept supported by a study from TalentSmart, which found that 90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence. Leaders with a high IQ, but low emotional intelligence often fail to get the best from their teams. While their intelligence ensures they understand ideas and concepts very quickly, they tend to get frustrated when others don’t. Often, they don’t notice how their frustration at others seeps through in their language and behaviour. As I told a client recently; “You may be driving a Formula One car, but your team is in a school bus. You need to slow down to speed up, otherwise, while you may arrive at the destination, you’ll still have to go back to find the bus, in case they’ve taken a wrong turn.” By slowing down and ensuring everyone understands what is required, you’ll speed up success because you achieve your goal as a team. Leaders with a high IQ often have the attitude of “I know the answer, and I’m right”. They don’t listen to the
people working for them, and disempower them by telling them what to do, rather than letting them take the initiative. High IQ leaders have often been given feedback that they need to delegate, but they complain that people don’t deliver, and that it’s quicker to do it themselves. They fail to see the long term value of developing others.
Leadership is easier if you are stupid, but emotionally intelligent, argues Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential Such leaders know how to get results when they have the power of authority and a team they can tell what to do, but they fail to inspire their teams to go the extra mile to achieve their best. On the other hand, leaders who are emotionally intelligent recognise that, by investing in their team’s development, they will reap the benefits in terms of loyalty, effort, and performance. These leaders understand
their own strengths and weaknesses, and are aware of how their behaviour impacts others. They are humble, and curious about what other people think, and they understand that people like to feel valued and respected. But there is hope for high IQ leaders, because emotional intelligence can be developed. Here are some tips: • Ask questions, ask for feedback, and listen to the answers with an open mind. • If you’re feeling frustrated that someone doesn’t understand something, take responsibility. You may not have explained it clearly, so try explaining it in a different way. • Notice how your behaviour affects others – instead of blaming them for their reaction, ask what you could have done differently. • Even if you don’t feel the same way about a situation as someone else, you may have experienced the same emotions, so instead of judging them, tap into your experience to empathise with them. • Communicate an inspirational vision that creates an emotional attachment. Contact: www.inspiring-potential.co.uk
OCT. 2015 BRISTOL
LOCATIONS OF UPCOMING SHOWS 2015 Bristol M Shed, Wapping Road, Bristol BS1 4RN Cheltenham Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire GL50 4SH Midlands Cranmore Park Conference and Exhibition Centre, Solihull B90 4LF
At Sterling Business Shows we love helping businesses grow and this is what you tell us... “Exhibiting at any Sterling Business Shows event is not only a pleasure, but gives a great ROI. Sterling have the knack of attracting the right attendees in the right numbers at the right time and we will continue to exploit these opportunities”. Duncan Laker. Welcome Telecom.
NOV. 2015 CHELTENHAM
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“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 originally decided to exhibit with Sterling in order to expand my business into new areas, particularly the Midlands, and initially booked 3 shows. I have found the shows to be a great return on investment, which is why after the initial 3 show bookings I continue to exhibit with Sterling Business Shows”. Graham Abbey. Factotum Ltd – Exhibitor, Coventry, Birmingham, Solihull, Oxford & Worcester
Please contact Neil on 01452 222676 or go to www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk
BUSINESS JUNCTION, LONDON’S PREMIER BUSINESS NETWORK, INVITES YOU TO A FREE NETWORKING EVENT Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our our 4 August networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 5 August networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 6 August 2015 12.30-2.30pm
Networking lunch in Covent Garden Nearest tube: Covent Garden Mabel’s Covent Garden, 29-30 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7JS Networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at Tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-covent-garden-8
11 August 2015 Thurs 8th Aug 12.30-2.30pm
Networking lunch in Kensington High Street Networking lunch at the Roof Gardens & Babylon Restaurant at High St. Kensington The Roof Gardens & Babylon Restaurant, 99 High Street, Kensington, London, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-on-kensington-high-street-1
Thurs 1st Aug
45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP
Wed 14th Aug 19 August 2015 8.00-10am
Thurs 22nd Aug
Networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at Covent Garden
Networking at Tottenham Hotspur Football & Athletic Co Ltd 60Champagne Great Queen breakfast Street, WC2B 5AZ Nearest tube: Holborn The Oak Room, 748 High Road, London, N17 0AP Nearest mainline: White Hart Lane Networking lunch at The Happenstance at St. Paul’s More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-in-tottenham
1A Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7AA 26 August 2015 Thurs 29th Aug 12.30-2.30pm
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Networking lunch in Kensington Networking lunch at Dirty Dicks Liverpool Street Nearest tube: High Street Kensington The Britannia, 1 Allen Street, Kensington, London, W8at 6UX 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-kensington-4
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Don’t sink the relation-ship
elationships at work are crucial, and can underpin the success of your business. They can be the difference between having a happy and dedicated workforce with job satisfaction, or creating an atmosphere that makes people want to bail out as soon as they can. But as your workforce grows, it’s important that you understand the boundaries when it comes to interacting with your staff on a social basis. I’ve always been very supportive of employees, who want to take their socialising out of the office, with or without their boss joining in. Nothing is to be gained by erecting unnecessary boundaries that prevent friendships developing. Regular readers of this column will know that I’m a great believer in setting targets. Having agreed-upon aims gives your business and your staff some sort of structure. I’m not suggesting you should have a formal rule over your relationships with your staff, but knowing in your own mind how you should interact with them is its own form of structure. Sometimes a boss can be too ‘matey’ outside the office, which is great fun for the employees, but can become a problem if discipline needs to be enforced on those same people within the workplace. In many ways, professional dynamics are the same as family dynamics. When you’ve got children, they need to know their boundaries. If you let them get away with too much, you have set a precedent, and it can be difficult to rein them in later. It’s the same in your business – your staff will learn their professional habits from you.
At Raw Talent, my personal assistant is someone who has been my wife’s best friend since childhood, so we’re obviously close friends. But there’s mutual respect between the two of us, and we both know where the boundaries are. Of course, sometimes platonic relationships between staff develop into romantic relationships. You shouldn’t be concerned (you couldn’t stop it happening even if you wanted to), and there’s no reason why this should be a problem if you’ve the correct culture ingrained in to your operations. Several years ago, before I was on The Apprentice, I worked in the same office as my thenpartner – who later became my wife. If you’d come into the office, I’d hope you’d never have guessed we were a couple. We both knew the score, and where the boundary was. I’ve never had a situation where things in my social life have had a negative impact on my work. Although that might sound fortunate, it’s been based on mutual respect. I’m someone who ‘likes to be liked’, and I take great pride in the friendships I’ve developed through my work. But understanding the parameters means that professional and social relationships can both blossom without causing problems. It might sound a straightforward philosophy, but following this simple rule is all it takes.
Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, says it shouldn’t be hard to keep professional and social relationships apart
Sometimes a boss can be WRRƍPDWH\ƎRXWVLGHWKHRƮFH – great fun for the employees, but a problem if discipline needs to be enforced
talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 89 91
BEATS STUDIO WIRELESS AND BEATS SOLO2 WIRELESS
Each month we bring you a selection of gadgets, gizmos, and gifts that we’re going crazy about
Immerse yourself in the clear, dynamic sounds of the Studio Wireless, or Solo2 Wireless headphone, wherever you go. With Bluetooth technology, Solo2 Wireless offers the freedom of the headband, and earcups blend with your every move. Durable, foldable, and wireless, this headphone is the ultimate portable listening device. The comfortable over-the-ear headphones are must haves for any music aficionado. Both sets of headphones boast a ninemetre Bluetooth range, along with the ability to take hands-free calls, and a 12-hour rechargeable battery with fuel gauge. Both are available in a range of colours to suit your style too. Studio Wireless was voted ‘Best Bluetooth Wireless Headphone of 2015’ by CNET. PRICE: STUDIO WIRELESS - £329.95 SOLO2 WIRELESS - £269.95 AVAILABLE FROM: www.apple.com
ZUTALABS POCKET PRINTER BT 11AC DUAL-BAND WIFI EXTENDER 1200 With Wi-Fi blackspots in any home or office being the bane of the tech-lovers life, the latest addition to the BT Wi-Fi extender range has done away with the need to worry about where in the house or office you need to be situated, to have a quality Wi-Fi signal. The ease of installation – literally just plug in and a few clicks later it’s ready to go – really does make this one of the most stress free Wi-Fi boosters we’ve ever used. The strength of the signal, and range was a great improvement. Even with multiple devices streaming videos, it coped well. With an RRP of £49.99 it may be a little too pricey for some budgets, but if you’re looking to run multiple devices, and greatly extend your range, then this is one we would highly recommend. PRICE: £49.99 AVAILABLE FROM: www.shop.bt.com
This ingenious bit of tech is only 10.2 cm wide and weighs just 350g, but you should never judge a book by its cover. The Zutalabs pocket printer can print a document anywhere, anytime, at the click of a button, at a fantastic 300 dpi. The diminutive tool moves across the page to print your document once you’ve connected via smartphone, PC, or any Wi-Fi-enabled device, and can print up to 1.2 pages a minute. Best of all, it’s flexible, as you’re not limited to standard paper sizes. The only downside is you’ll have to ship it from the US, as it isn’t available in the UK just yet. However, it’s supported by Android, iOS, OSX, and Windows operating systems, so once you get your hands on one, you’ll never want to go anywhere without it. PRICE: $199 (APPROX. £127) AVAILABLE FROM: www.zutalabs.com
hotspots This month we’re heading to Lincoln, the hidden gem of the east of England, to discover some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head while on business AWAY ON BUSINESS BRANSTON HALL HOTEL WHERE? Branston, Lincoln WHY? Branston Hall Hotel, once a stately home for the Melville family, is now a beautifully restored building housing 53 luxurious guest bedrooms, and a fine country house hotel. Situated just three miles south of the historic city of Lincoln, the hotel sits within 88 acres of stunning parkland and lakes. Branston Hall is a high quality venue; it has been awarded three-star 75% status by the AA, and two AA Rosettes. Visit England also gave it a Silver Award for exceptional quality in all areas, and a Breakfast Award for quality and choice. Adding to the accolades, the two AA Rosettes awarded for food quality and service excellence have been maintained for the seventh consecutive year. The country residence has been awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner for 2013 and 2014 too. Guest accommodation is comfortable and luxurious, and each room varies in design to suit everyone’s needs – from families, to couples looking for a romantic retreat, to business travellers. While relaxing in the countryside, you can take advantage of the sumptuous Simpsons Spa, located within the hotel grounds. Unwind in the pool or indulge in a range of spa treatments to help you relax after a hard day of business. CONTACT: www.branstonhall.com
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MEET AND EAT THE BRONZE PIG WHERE? Lincoln WHY? Owned and run by Eamonn Hunt and Pompeo, an Irishman and a Sicilian who share a real passion for first class food, The Bronze Pig offers contemporary English cuisine, with a strong influence of Italian. Using authentic, fresh, and local produce, they serve up meats and vegetables sourced locally, and fish from renewable sources, in one of the most unique dining venues in the east. From their sumptuous pan-seared scallops with black pudding and lime syrup, to the rich beef fillet, there are a number of menus on offer to suit any taste, and all within the price reach of even the most discernible diner. Their dedication to food is reflected by being awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014. As an added endorsement for their fine food, chef Eamonn actually reached the final of Masterchef in 2012. CONTACT: www.thebronzepig.co.uk
EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS EPIC CENTRE WHERE? Lincolnshire Showground, Lincoln WHY? An incredibly diverse venue, the home of the historical Lincolnshire Show is so much more than just a showground. For 125 years the business has been a pinnacle within the community, providing a meeting place for a whole host of events. Over the years, the venue has evolved into the perfect setting for all kinds of events, from conferences, exhibitions, and charity dinners, to concerts, festivals, weddings, and more. For businesses, the jewel in the crown is the EPIC Centre. The venue has diversified to create a multi-purpose business, offering a wide range of services and events for the region and beyond. The award-winning EPIC Centre is a diverse, multi-functional venue, which is perfect for meetings and events of all shapes and sizes, catering for between two and 1,200 people, with 1,836 square metres of space to utilise. For anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint, the EPIC Centre is the ideal venue, as it is one of the greenest conference centres in the UK. Additionally, the venue is fully equipped with a high quality catering team and AV solutions all on hand. CONTACT: www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk
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How to make the most of your car or van fleet without tying up essential cash flow When a small business makes the decision to provide its employees with a company car, there is a lot more to consider than just the cost of the vehicle itself. How you choose to fund your vehicle â€“ or perhaps your small fleet of company cars â€“ can make a big difference when it comes to the tax advantages that your company could benefit from. There are many ways to fund a company car including traditional outright purchase, hire purchase or lease purchase with a balloon.
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On the road IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TESLA MODEL S PRICE: FROM £54,500 WWW.TESLAMOTORS.COM
Each month, motoring expert, Oliver Hammond checks out the latest in executive travel, helping you to decipher the market for business drivers
Photography: Isabel Carter
ome wonderful quotes on silence have emerged throughout history. I particularly like Wynonna Judd’s “silence is refreshment for the soul” quote, which captures the essence of this car nicely. The raison d’être of Tesla, founded by PayPal’s Elon Musk, is to produce fully electric cars that don’t look like inflated fish, are actually desirable, and don’t run out of juice pathetically quickly. The Model S 85 is an allelectric luxury saloon with a not inconsiderable 362bhp at its disposal, making it a fascinating rival to the usual German trio, plus Lexus and Jaguar. None of them produce a car that can whisk you to three-figure speeds in near silence, though; it’s an incongruous, refreshing experience. The rear-wheel drive Model S 85 isn’t even the fastest variant, behind the utterly insane 691bhp P85D. Déjà vu undeniable, the Model S resembles several other cars from various angles, but it’s a stunner nonetheless, and it was impossible to go anywhere without crowds gathering to feast their eyes on it. The interior is basically an iPad on wheels, dominated by a whopping 17-inch touchscreen. Minimalism and space dictate and the absence of door bins, seat pockets and centre console feels novel, but may prove
frustrating for families. There’s no CD player, either. You do, though, get an additional boot under the bonnet, and space in the back is cavernous. The seats are exceptionally comfortable, although the feel of the leather and the presence of some cheap plastics may disappoint pedants. Genuine usability is the Model S’s USP, the 85kWh battery boasting a range of 265 miles. My little mission saw me drive from Crosby to Hull and back on a single charge, demonstrating the range’s credulity – providing you drive efficiently. Regenerative braking works forcefully and negates the need to brake unless approaching a junction or stopping, and Smart Air Suspension raises and lowers automatically depending on location. It’s a long, wide car, requiring particular alertness on country lanes, but in ‘Sport’, the steering is firm and fairly communicative, and the chassis copes
Charging at Tesla’s ever-expanding network of hotellocated superchargers will replenish the car from zero to 50% in just 30 minutes
well with zestful driving. Starting from £54,500 for the Model S 70D and £77,630 as tested, prices (after the £5k government grant) may seem steep but begin to make sense considering that charging will remain free at Tesla’s ever-expanding network of hotel-located superchargers, replenishing from zero to 50% in just 30 minutes. Fully charging using a standard mains socket would take tens of hours, roughly costing £14.40 on my tariff. Getting a wall box installed will charge the car overnight. The 265 mile range offers genuine scope for commuters, but requires a disciplined charging routine. The Model S isn’t perfect, but as well as being the best electric car out there, it’s a serious prestige car in its own right and certainly is refreshing for the soul. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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More carrot, less stick needed to keep employee browsing habits in check
any businesses have a variety of restrictions and policies on internet use in place, intended to maintain or improve office productivity. However, imposing too many restrictions might just result in less productive and demotivated staff. As workplaces change, a more relaxed approach is needed to get results. There are plainly limits to what staff should or, more importantly, shouldn’t be looking at work. It goes without saying that all content should be legal, above board, and not going to cause offence. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t show it to your grandmother, it’s probably NSFW (not safe for work). You’ve got a duty of care for your employees, so these guidelines and expectations should be clearly set out from the beginning, and sewn into employment contracts. You’ve also got the option of installing firewalls to stop offending content from being accessed on work devices. But, when it comes to accessing content that passes muster, I’d advise against adopting too reactionary a stance on the browsing habits of staff during work time. This is ultimately a question of trust, and achieving the right balance. Your staff are all adults,
and should be treated as such – if you develop a culture where staff are afraid to flick on to Facebook or check their Twitter accounts on occasion, you won’t necessarily drive productivity, but you’ll certainly be able to count on resentment. We all need a bit of light relief every now and then – it’s the virtual equivalent of stretching your legs. Moreover, as business models change, and more staff start to work flexibly from home, or use their own devices, the amount of control you’ve got to peer over their shoulders and monitor their browsing habits diminishes. We’re so connected and technically savvy that, if someone is that determined to break the rules, they’ll find a way. Richard Branson set an interesting precedent with Virgin last year when he announced that staff were free to take as much annual leave as they liked – assuming they could get their work done while they were at work. I’m not suggesting that this would work for every business, but it does throw up some interesting questions about the modern workplace, challenging conventional wisdom about what work means today. Do we measure the time spent working (inputs) or the results (outputs)? If staff are making good use of their
Piers Linney, co-CEO of Outsourcery, looks at how you can implement a social media usage policy that works
We’re so connected and technically savvy that, if someone is determined to break the rules, they ZLOOƬQGDZD\ time and achieving results, is the occasional surf such a bad thing? Increasingly, work isn’t about time spent at the desk, and the prevalent culture of presenteeism in itself doesn’t translate to results. Rather than micro-managing their internet browsing habits, set expectations with staff from the outset, and develop new ways of measuring productivity, setting (realistic) targets for them to achieve. Incentive schemes will do more to boost productivity than a dry policy that infantilises staff. In other words: more carrot, less stick. Contact: www.outsourcery.co.uk
The data-ing game How can you connect with the person behind the data that you collect? Kevin Moran, chief ďŹ nancial officer for Chase Paymentech Europe Limited, explains
n todayâ€™s multi-channel retail world, the balance of power has moved swiftly away from brands into the hands of the digital consumer. Nearly every adult in the UK is now a digital shopper, with many using two or more devices to create their own unique shopping journey. This new reality is having a profound impact on technology and the ecommerce experience. Differentiation has become a key asset for brands nowadays. Right from the very start of a consumerâ€™s online journey, brands are competing to get noticed and to connect with the consumer, on many levels and in ways that matter. A recent Chase Paymentech survey found that better analysis of customer data is considered a priority for e-tailers (with 33% planning significant investment in
this area). However, in a further survey of top marketing executives, only 11% depend on data for customerrelated decisions. To be engaging with customers, you have to be engaged. To create a more personalised and relevant shopping experience, you need a sophisticated understanding of your customersâ€™ activities online. Consumers want messages that are of interest and relevance to them. Retailers that fail to achieve this, risk driving customers away, with 79% of consumers finding it frustrating when a company asks the same questions, or repeatedly markets the same offers to them. To better understand digital consumers, retailers need to collect data about customers from different sources, which might include traditional sources of intelligence such as websites, CRM, transaction
and marketing data, but also new sources of information, such as social media. The data analysis of existing customers can also be an opportunity to find and attract new customers. Taking what you learn about your most profitable customers in terms of their favourite products, channels, and preferences, and applying these lessons to your acquisition strategy may help to better target new customers with a similar profile. In a multi-channel world, shopping journeys are rarely a straight line from product to shopping basket to checkout so remaining relevant is a key necessity. At any given moment, consumers are looking at parallel sources for answers to their specific needs. Try to get one step ahead of the customer, predicting consumer behaviour, and using knowledge of their needs and interests to present the right information, in the right
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way, at the right time. This is crucial, given that 72% of consumers find it frustrating being presented with inconsistent offers through different channels when shopping for the same product or service. A truly relevant and personalised shopping experience requires a realtime view of the customers’ actual behaviour, rather than simply what they have done in the past, using smart decision engines to provide highly personalised messages at any stage of the customer journey. In order to fully achieve this personalised experience, storing payment and delivery details must become standard practice, with the adoption of one-click (or onetouch) checkouts and digital wallets easing the payment process, while encouraging shoppers to use a mobile app instead of a mobile optimised website enables shoppers to stay constantly connected. Using payment data to identify any issues within your payment process can help to better understand your customers’ payment behaviour and allow you to continually enhance the checkout experience in response to your discerning customers’ needs.
But while payment options are quickly expanding, so is the threat that data will be compromised. Securing data at rest and in transit should always be a priority, regardless of payment type. Above all else, digital consumers need to be assured that their payment is going to be safe and secure – no matter which device they shop with. Brands should ensure that their payment pages are not only optimised to display correctly across different mobile devices, but that the branding of payment pages is consistent and seamless with the rest of the site. One effective solution at the initial acceptance process is the use of a hosted payment page that can take the form of either a separate web page or an individual order form hosted on a secure site. Customers enter their confidential payment data directly into this secure environment and the transaction proceeds as usual. Because the payment data is neither received nor stored by merchants, this solution can also help to address PCI-DSS compliance requirements. In our survey, 65% of retailers recognised that hosted payment pages were useful to PCI-
In a multi-channel world, shopping journeys are rarely a straight line from product to shopping basket to checkout
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DSS compliance, yet only 39% of them already use a third party-hosted payment page. ‘Tokenisation’ addresses cardholder data at rest by replacing the primary account number and other sensitive data with alternative identifiers (or tokens). Once completed properly, this means that valuable payment card information is rendered worthless to any fraudster outside the payment eco-system. The use of tokenisation can enable many systems that handle customer data to be eliminated from the scope of PCI-DSS compliance, saving time, effort and scarce resources. However, the chosen tokenisation approach must be compatible with your existing payment applications, business systems and processes, enabling the data to be accessible and beneficial to your business. Card networks such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are committed to tokenisation as a way of stemming the rising tide of costly data breaches – while nearly half of e-tailers recently surveyed by Chase Paymentech recognised that tokenisation is useful in PCI-DSS compliance. Retailers may not be ready to facilitate a huge move to digital payments, but those that don’t keep up with consumer purchasing habits will risk losing market share to their more agile competitors. Contact: www.chasepaymentech.co.uk
Project your journey It is not about the coincidence in life. Itâ€˜s all about the destiny that brings us together. Philips PicoPix pocket projectors.
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Pocket projector with Wi-Fi PPX 3614
Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, a gorgeous piece of tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy CASIO XJ-UT310WN PROJECTOR PRICE: £1,375 AVAILABLE FROM: www.casio.co.uk
There’s something about the way this Casio throws up its image, that is really nice
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hose that know me (or those that read my review for the Optoma M750 projector a few issues ago), will know that I harbour very strong feelings and desires for all things projector-like. Now, if I was a fan of the diminutive Optoma, how was I going to react to the daddy that is Casio’s Ultra Short Throw (UST) beast? The UST models think nothing of small spaces, and can get so close to the wall that ‘it virtually eliminates shadowing on the screen’ – i.e. there’s no room for anyone or anything to pass between the projector and the screen. Out of the box, you get a remote control, YW-3 wireless adaptor,
RGB cable, power cable, set-up guide, carrying bag, and wall mount. Ideal for new builds, due to its versatility, there is pretty much nothing it won’t connect to. It has inputs for component video, computer, HDMI, S-Video, RCA, WLAN, and USB. The unit has a lumen rating of 3,100, which is more than adequate for a small office, and I tested it on an under-lit part of my lounge, which doubles as an office space. At just under £1,400, this is an expensive bit of kit, but you do get the very sexy UST, low running cost – thanks to a handful of eco modes – and a long-life LED-laser light source (20,000hrs). The Casio has a contrast ratio
If I was a fan of the diminutive Optoma, how was I going to react to the daddy that is Casio’s Ultra Short Throw (UST) beast?
1800:1, 16.77 million colours, and needs a minimum distance of 0.06m. It’s simple to use (once you’ve chosen which source to connect); the manual sliding focus is child’s play and, although the menu is clunky, it gets the job done. Now, there’s something about the way this Casio throws up its image that is really nice. Even in mere standard definition, images felt better. In fact, still images were handled very well by this device, and I enjoyed creating a little slideshow for testing. There are five eco modes to choose from (in addition to two non-eco modes), which allow you to account for a variety of
ambient light settings, and power consumption ranges, from 230W on full to 185W on Eco 1 setting. I found that the highest eco setting worked best in my viewing set up, and it came with a nice little bonus – namely that the fan hum was almost inaudible, and power consumption was the lowest possible! That said, the resolution and brightness of the moving image didn’t move me. The 16W speaker is decent enough, though not great if watching movie blockbusters - my choice being ‘Avengers Assemble’. Spoken word presentations sound absolutely fine though, so it has its uses for a business environment.
VERDICT: I thought I’d be more blown away by it, to be honest. As an office projector, it’s good for stills and short clips, and has just enough mobility at 5.7kg to move from room to room. However, the Casio’s power-saving potential is what impressed me the most, and if you are looking to keep down your running costs, this may very well be worth the initial sting in price. In fact, so confident are Casio in this tech, that they offer a five year/10,000-hour warranty.
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So you have an idea for an app. Great! Now how do you turn that into cold hard cash? Paul Jarrett, managing director of Big Orange, examines the art of app monetisation
Only 0.1% of banner ads are clicked on, meaning that they’re more likely to be overlooked in favour of native adverts
Proﬁt? There’s an app for that
o you’ve come up with a great idea for an app, everything lines up and you’re confident that its content and overall functionality is what the world needs. You know it’s going to be a hit among iOS and Android users and feel you’re the creator of the next big sensation. You’ve paid for your Apple or Google Play license and you’re ready to start developing. App owners need to ask themselves what their key goals are. Fundamentally, the key question is: is there any point in spending your time and hard earned money on a great idea if you’re not going to make any money from it in the future? Your business intentions may vary; some may not be seeking profit from their work straight
away, some will be, and there are those who aren’t seeking profit whatsoever (believe us, they do exist). Let’s look at some of the options available to app owners, which can lead to an effective return on investment (ROI). PAID Paid apps are deemed one the most straightforward, but relatively risky, forms of generating ROI. Yet, if successful, distributing a paid app will guarantee that you generate revenue up front as you achieve downloads. When pricing an app in your particular industry, you have to take the mindset of your potential consumer into consideration. Overall, the paid download market is on the decline. The reason for this?
Because there are so many apps out there, which are operating on other models that sway the user with promises of free initial downloads and trials. You have to think realistically; what makes your app so worthy of making members of the public part with their hard earned cash, when they can try a competitor’s app free? The exception to this is business tool apps such as task managers, which are generally viewed to bring value to the workplace. If you’re developing for iOS, you generate 70% of your sales revenue per download, 30% goes straight to Apple. If you decide to sell your app at 99p, you’ll receive just under 70p. However if you were to sell it at £1.29, you’d receive just over 90p. This may seem not seem that much higher at a first glance, but in the
You have to think realistically; what makes your app worthy of making members of the public part with their cash, when they can try a competitor’s app for free?
context of a hundred thousand downloads, you’ll be sure to notice the increase in your revenue streams. You may also be able to charge just that little bit more if you’ve done your marketing well beforehand. More often than not, people will be willing to separate with the additional 20p for the latest must-have app. ‘FREEMIUM’ AND ‘LITE’ VERSIONS According to CNBC, in January 2014 79% of the Apple Store’s revenue in the US was generated via ‘freemium’ apps. Freemium apps are free to download, however, often large sections of their content is accessible by in-app purchases only. Freemium apps are often very popular with downloaders, as they prove to be a risk-free option. From an app owners’ point of view the risk is that users may find that they only need the basic features that come free, but still expect the same level of support. According to The Guardian, the famous Candy Crush Saga had only 2.3% paying users in 2014. However, through these dedicated users (and a huge user base), it still generated some £850 million.
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‘PAYMIUM’ ‘Paymium’ apps are all about charging the consumer both an up front cost, and for in-app purchases. Despite this method of monetisation not being so popular on the App Store (reportedly accountable for 2%), it’s a growing trend, and responsible for generating as much revenue as paid apps. A good example of this model is world destruction mobile game, Plague Inc. It was first introduced as a simple premium app, but as it grew in popularity, its creator, James Vaughan, began to add purchasable items throughout the game play. Despite its ‘paymium’ approach, it is now a huge success, and generating further downloads as we speak. All in all, a ‘paymium’ app needs to offer two things; a great product with even better add-ons. AD SPONSORED - NATIVE & BANNER If your app is well known and achieving a high quantity of downloads, native and banner sponsored adverts will benefit your business model. Native ads are those that appear to be the same content style as a normal blog piece, and tend to have a ‘sponsored story’ mark on the bottom right. These are typically less intrusive to the end client. Banner ads, on the other hand, are perceived as the more traditional method of app
advertising, however are not as effective. Smart Insights noted that only 0.1% of banner ads are clicked on, meaning that they’re more likely to be overlooked in favour of native adverts. REAL WORLD GOODS Another way to achieve ROI is by using your app as a gateway to your main product. This can be applied to a variety of industries where apps are used, as digital extensions to drive brand awareness and traffic to other consumer spaces. A photography app could send users to the frames department on its official website, a cookery app to its cutlery, and a fitness tracker app to its trainers, for example. AUDIENCE/CONSUMER Keeping all of the above in mind, you have to ensure that you’re happy with the messaging of your app and its target audience. When thinking of him or her, you need to put yourself in their shoes and consider what will sway them into tapping that download button. A well rounded, thoroughly thought out app will act as an effective lead generator for consumers and sponsors alike, and will therefore give your app the best possible chance of success! Contact: www.bigorangesoftware.com
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Retelling the retail tale Runar Reistrup, CEO of Depop, explains why your social media manager is now your new store manager
here are two big digital trends currently changing the way that people are buying online. The first one is the move of everything that was previously web-based, to mobile. This change has been a challenge for most of the current successful online retailers, making them wonder how they can get their customers to follow them onto mobile. The second trend is the rise of the social media natives: young consumers who grew up with social media have very different expectations and habits when it comes to interacting with the world around them, which also includes brands and retailers. In turn, the move towards mobile and the shift towards social have given rise to mobile social commerce. This development means that many consumers now do their
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shopping on their phones, using social media or social media-like shopping platforms, abandoning traditional online retailers, who are gradually losing their strongholds. With the status quo of online shopping in flux, there has never been a better time for retailers to get ahead in the game, by embracing, and adapting to, the rise of mobile social commerce. As their customers are becoming more and more attached to their mobile devices, and are increasingly basing their shopping habits around social media, retailers need to stop counting on high street footfall and go where the customers are. The store managers need to make the move from concrete floors to social media. If you are a retailer wanting to stay relevant for the next generation of shoppers, you need to listen to your social
media managers. Theyâ€™re not just here to do your marketing via a hashtag campaign. As your store moves into social media, theyâ€™re probably going to be your best-qualified store managers. The new wave of mobile social commerce is a blessing for any retailer, no matter how big or small, that has a personality and a voice and wants to talk to their customers one-on-one. In an over-commoditised world, buyers want to feel connected to their purchase when buying anything of personal significance, like clothing, accessories, homewares, and other lifestyle items. Other retailers are making the leap from Instagram to new social shopping platforms. For example, Idea Books is a highly specialised vintage bookstore in London. It was one of the first
Retailers need to stop counting on high street footfall and go where the customers are, moving IURPFRQFUHWHĆRRUVRYHU to social media
businesses to see the potential in Instagram as a marketing channel and a way to generate sales. It was also the first vintage book store to discover the potential of Depop, and now has 1.4 million followers. As new technologies are continuously presented as game changers for offline and online retailers, two of the most enduring trends for mobile and social media usage are converging, and creating a new platform that plays to the traditional strengths of retailers. On mobile social commerce platforms such as Depop, the technology is already there and retailers just need to bring their inventory, their brand, and their personality to the table and start engaging in active dialogue with their customers â€“ much like traditional retail has always done. Contact: www.depop.com
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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 are looking at how you can entertain yourself on long journeys and your down-time with the TED and Spotify apps
PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: iOS, Android, Amazon THE GIST: TED is a world famous organisation devoted to the idea of spreading ideas in the form of 18-minute talks, covering a wide range of issues. The talks are run by the best people in their respective businesses, so are incredibly interesting, and incredibly well informed. Whether you are on a long train journey, or have a lonely night in a hotel, you can get out your phone or tablet, and watch one of the 20,000 plus talks available free via the app. You can catch up, and improve your business by watching Amy Cuddy tell you about how your body language shapes who you are, or from Simon Sinek about how great leaders inspire action. But TED provides you with thousands of other amazing talks, and can keep you engrossed for hours.
PRICE: Free COMPATABILITY: iOS, Android, Windows THE GIST: They say video killed the radio star, but with the advent of the internet, it may be streaming that really kills the radio. With 75 million active users listening to 30 million songs, Spotify streaming service is leading the charge. With Spotify’s huge range of songs, it is not difficult to find your favourite artist, or create a playlist with the app. But you can also listen to playlists that other users have created, making your long journeys to business meetings tailored to your tastes, without encountering that one song that really gets on your nerves. If you upgrade to the paid version (£9.99 a month), you remove all the adverts, and can even listen to your playlists offline, so there are no more worries about poor internet signal. DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.spotify.com/uk
DOWNLOADABLE FROM: www.ted.com
news Papa John’s smashes Guinness World Record 300 get a ‘pizza the action’ at 300th store launch celebration
entral London was covered in flour and dough recently as Papa John’s staff broke a Guinness World Record to celebrate the launch of the pizza chain’s 300th store in the UK. Led by Papa John’s founder and CEO, John Schnatter, an army of record-breakers descended on London’s Potters Field Park, beside Tower Bridge, with the aim of setting a new record for the most people tossing pizza dough simultaneously. The event kicked off at 8:00am when Papa John’s employees and volunteers began arriving to take up their spot for the record bid.
A total of 338 participants completed the challenge, comfortably breaking the previous record of 278 people. Guinness World Records adjudicator, Justine Tommey, was on hand to oversee the successful record attempt. She said: “In order for this record to be broken, the attempt must take place in a single location, and participants must toss their portion of pizza dough for a minimum of one minute. At the end of the attempt, each portion must measure at least 30.5cm in diameter. “It was a fantastic effort and achievement by everyone involved. I congratulate them all on their
Dream continues at pace for kitchen renovation franchise Dream Doors opens eighth new showroom of the year
new Dream Doors showroom has been opened in Godmanchester, marking the eighth such opening for the franchise in 2015 alone. The new showroom is located at The Causeway, and was opened in a gala
Champagne ceremony by the deputy Mayor of Godmanchster, Councillor Peter Morgan, and managing director of Dream Doors, Troy Tappenden. Dream Doors allows customers to overhaul their kitchen for a fraction
Guinness World Records success!” After Tommey’s confirmation that a new mark had been set, Schnatter said: “It was a fantastic way to showcase the passion we have at Papa John’s for pizza, and to demonstrate how much skill goes into making pizzas.” The official opening of the pizza giant’s 300th UK store took place the next afternoon, with Papa John himself making a special visit and personally handing out pizzas. Papa John’s has more than 4,600 stores in 37 countries worldwide. Contact: www.thebfa.org of the cost of a full re-fit, by replacing work surfaces and doors to create a completely fresh look. The new showroom will be managed by local resident, Kevin Thornton, who has spent much his career in the wine industry, and believes that he has found the perfect location for Dream Doors. “I’ve lived in in Godmanchester for 25 years, and my wife is a teacher at a local primary school, so I know how important the community is here,” said Kevin. “It’s a beautiful and historic town, and with free parking outside the showroom. I think Dream Doors will go down really well with local residents.” Dream Doors was established in Hampshire in 1999, and now has 63 locally-owned franchised showrooms throughout the country. Contact: www.dreamdoors.co.uk
Dynamisâ€™ Nicky Tatley takes a glance at what you need to consider before deciding where to open a new franchise
Location, location, location
You may not have considered how transport routes, general accessibility, and actual physical barriers might DĆŤHFWWKHGD\WRGD\ZRUNLQJ of your franchisees 116 August 2015
It’s a common mistake to allocate too large an area to a franchisee in the early days of the business
s a franchisor, one of your most important business considerations will be the specific territories – or catchment areas – that might maximise your potential. Most franchises offer geographically defined areas, which their franchisees will have exclusive rights to. This means each franchisee can market and develop their own business within those boundaries, without worrying about competition from any fellow franchise holders and/or other similar enterprises. While this sounds like a simple process, many franchisors are allocating territories without full consideration of the complex factors that will lead to the success of their franchisees, and ultimately themselves. DON’T TRUST YOUR GUT Considering the nature of franchising is based on systematic business processes, it’s surprising how many franchisors depend on paper maps, vague statistical data, and a gut feel. Every decision on territory will ultimately impact a franchisor’s future marketing opportunities. It is a common mistake to allocate too large an area to a franchisee, especially in the early days of the business. This will lead to an area that is under-serviced, and simply mark out a missed opportunity for the franchisor. Similarly, if the area is not scrutinised for significant competition, a franchisee might find themselves struggling for survival right from the very beginning of their journey. Franchisors and franchisees alike need to consider whether a hastily drawn up directory map, stapled to a franchise agreement, is going to be enough for a sustainable business going forward. GET DIGITAL There are a wide range of digital territory mapping tools available to ensure a more scientific approach to area allocation, and the good news is that there are packages to suit nearly every budget. Geographic information systems
(GIS) can vary from simple postcodebased systems to complex packages, which offer detailed business and demographic data at a microgeographical level. Of course, as a franchisor, once you have bought the technology, you have to allocate the proper time to learning how to use and maintain it correctly. For some, an easier and more costeffective option than installing in-house technology, is to employ a territory mapping consultant on an ad-hoc basis. Whichever option you go for, you will now be equipped to identify the specific criteria you need to allocate territories.
footfall, which should also be factored in when defining your criteria. Passing trade is not essential for every type of franchise, but it is vital for retail and fast food outlets.
MAP IT Once all the factors relevant to your franchise have been identified, territories can be mapped out using software which accumulates your chosen spatial units, and any other attributable data, into optimum catchment areas. The results of this process will present the franchisor with a series of balanced areas, which will offer the best market coverage possible, as well as providing DEFINE YOUR CRITERIA Territory mapping services will work out sufficient potential for franchisees. the best use of statistical data for your REAP THE BENEFITS particular business’ area allocation. As a franchisor, the rewards from In terms of spatial information, digital territory mapping are both you may want to focus on particular instant and far-reaching. suburbs, postcodes, or census output From the outset, you will be able areas (areas of similar inhabitants to offer potential franchisees a where specific statistical information fair distribution of prospects and has been gathered). Demographic data can also be tailored potential revenue. With your tailored mapping strategy to your needs. Instead of straight at hand, any future management of population figures, a mapping service territories will be easier, as well as can base territories on the figures comparative performance analysis. for a particular market segment. For Having made the most of this example, a mortgage broking franchise can dictate the number of homeowners technology, you can then use it as a they require in any given territory, and marketing tool, adding serious value to your franchise package. the mapping service can incorporate This in turn, will enable you to this into its calculations. establish the initial franchise fee and Business counts can be made and justify it to potential franchisees. A fee classified by sector (useful for B2B franchises), as can the number of direct can be procured through an assessment and secondary competitors that might of the franchise’s potential ROI, and expenses associated with the exist within a particular area. franchise acquisition. Geographic data can also be scrutinised. Without digital mapping, DON’T LOOK BACK you may not have considered how transport routes, general accessibility, If you are thinking of becoming a franchisor, don’t think of digital and actual physical barriers might territory mapping as a luxury extra, affect the day-to-day workings of but rather as a necessary tool you can’t your franchisees. afford not to invest in. Similarly, service level issues can be So, grab the technology with both ironed out within your tailored plan. hands, and start harvesting your A van-based franchise, for example, franchise gold. may need a territory that allows for a maximum of one hour’s driving per Contact: franchisee job. www.thebfa.org Another important consideration is
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: email@example.com Total Cost: £38,500 + VAT plus shop fit
Winter 2015 elitefranchise 29
Franchise spotlight FACTFILE
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: DREAM DOORS ESTABLISHED: 1999 NUMBER OF UK FRANCHISES: 63 WEBSITE: WWW.DREAMDOORSFRANCHISE.CO.UK INTERVIEWEE: TROY TAPPENDEN, FOUNDER AND MD
WHEN YOU SELECT YOUR FRANCHISEES, WHAT SKILLS AND ATTRIBUTES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? We need candidates to follow our model and have the right values. We have an operational model that works. Follow it and they’ll succeed. What’s more, we often deal with vulnerable customers – and we’re dealing with them in their homes – so we expect our franchisees to be honest and ethical. Above everything else, though, we want to know whether a franchisee is going to work hard. Do they have the right attitude, and are they going to drive their franchise forward? We can train people in most things, but we can’t instil a strong work ethic – that has to come from within.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE YOUR FRANCHISE TERRITORIES ARE FAIR AND OFFER EQUAL OPPORTUNITY? Dream Doors’ primary target market is people aged 50 80 years old, and in social groups ABC1 (affluent, home
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owner, professionals). Using demographic analysis and data from our own website visitors, we map a postcode-based territory determined by age and socio-economic status. We then identify hot spots that are densely populated with core customers, using this data to locate showrooms, and coordinate local marketing activities. Each Dream Doors franchisee has a minimum of 100,000 core customers in a protected territory.
HOW DID YOU CALCULATE YOUR FRANCHISE FEE TO ENSURE FAIR TERMS FOR FRANCHISEES? Dream Doors doesn’t make money out of the franchise fee. It merely covers the costs to find and recruit new franchisees, incorporating all training, initial support, and deliverables.
WHAT DO YOU THINK GOOD INITIAL FRANCHISEE TRAINING SHOULD OFFER? The training should cover all aspects of the franchise, but also be tailored to individual needs
and skill sets. In our case, we have an overview of the model, and then specific product and sales training, held over a two-week period. After that the training is held on a one-on-one basis, in franchisees’ own territories, and customised for them. Moreover, we use our existing franchisees to help train and support new franchisees, as we find peer-topeer support is invaluable.
CAN YOU GIVE THREE KEY FACTORS FOR WHY YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO GROW A THRIVING, NATIONAL NETWORK? Firstly, we have a concept that works, and one that has huge consumer demand. We specialise in kitchen makeovers, which are less than half the price of a new kitchen, and can be installed in just a couple of days. Secondly, we’ve recruited the right people, so have great strength in depth. Thirdly, we support our franchisees; Dream Doors doesn’t earn a penny unless franchisees are selling and making money. We feel that’s the perfect business model to ensure mutual success.
Just canâ€™t get enough Andy Thompson, UK managing director of Anytime Fitness, explains how ďŹ tness businesses can ensure they keep members coming back for more in a booming industry
Each year, 90% of franchises UHSRUWSURĆŹWDELOLW\DQGOHVVWKDQ RIIUDQFKLVHRZQHGEXVLQHVVHV FORVHGXHWRFRPPHUFLDOIDLOXUH 122 August 2015
It’s vital that business deploys some form of trigger to identify when a customer or member may be about to leave
t was reported by StartUp Britain in January that a record number of new businesses were started last year more than one a minute. The figures suggest there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in the UK, and also point towards improved business performance. However, what often goes unreported in these numbers, is the success of franchise-owned businesses in the UK, and the contribution they make to our economy. Each year, 90% of franchises report profitability, and less than 5% of franchise-owned businesses close due to commercial failure - trends which go back more than 20 years. The key to running a successful franchise is two-fold; firstly you must be able to attract franchisees and, secondly, franchisees must be able to build up a strong membership base. Between 2011 and 2014, we have seen a 67% increase in the number of gyms in the Anytime Fitness network. Conversely, the number of Subway franchises increased by just 17.5% across the same period. So how can you ensure that members keep coming back for more? Here are my top tips: SET MEMBERS ON A CLEAR PATH TO SUCCESS The most common reason why gyms (and other membership-based businesses) lose customers is because they become disengaged, typically because the experience doesn’t align with their expectation, or they are failing to achieve the goal they set at the outset. To achieve greater membership retention, it is important to begin a discovery process with each new member to understand what ‘success’ looks like for them. By setting clear, measurable objectives that are achievable, members are far less likely to become disengaged. CREATE A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT Another important factor in ensuring membership retention is creating a strong sense of community spirit. Remarkably, some gym goers in the UK report having little to no communication with staff, and this can have a hugely
negative impact on customer experience. In fact, research reveals members who say gym staff interact with them during every visit are 60% more likely to continue their membership than those who receive ‘occasional’ communication. At Anytime Fitness, we recognise that, in offering members the convenience of a 24-hour gym, we must go the extra mile to ensure that we can maintain a strong sense of community at times when interaction with staff may be reduced. With this in mind, we have incorporated an ‘inspiration wall’ into all of our gyms, which is a dedicated space for members to share tips, provide help and support, and run internal competitions. For example, members may start an internal competition for the highest number of sit-ups in two minutes or the longest recorded plank. However, we also encourage interaction outside of the gym. Only recently we organised a team from our gym in Hemel Hempstead to compete in a local Tough Mudder competition, which was a great way to create stronger relationships between members and staff.
CONVENIENCE AND ACCESSIBILITY Our decision to provide a 24-hour service to our members is a reflection of the changing behaviour of consumers who, due to the proliferation of digital, now expect an ‘always on’ service. Regardless of whether its 2pm or 2am, it is important to provide the same level of quality and service. As already touched on, an important part of this commitment depends on utilising technology in support of human interaction. For example, our gyms have interactive, virtual screens, which offer a range of different classes for people to participate in, individually or with other members. This appeals to lots of people who may attend early in the morning or late at night, and still want to be able to access a range of equipment and services.
IMPLEMENT TRIGGERS TO WIN BACK THE DISENGAGED Last but not least, it’s vital that business deploys some form of trigger to identify when a customer or member may be about to leave. This creates an opportunity to revisit the relationship, find out what is, and isn’t, working, and DON’T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE hopefully re-establish that individual as OF CUSTOMER SERVICE regular, fully engaged member. This may seem simplistic, but the One way to do that is to use the power of good customer service data you receive from each customer’s cannot be overlooked when it comes activity (log-ins etc.). All of our to membership retention. Regardless customers benefit from being able to of business size or sector, customers access any of the 2,700 gyms in our expect the basics to be done well. From international network, which means we our point of view, that means having can track all of the physical interactions staff who are helpful and welcoming, they have with the brand. By analysing showers and toilets which are clean, and this data, we can identify customers equipment which is well maintained and who haven’t been for more than three easy to use. We also provide members or four weeks, and either send a followwith additional benefits, such as free fruit up, personalised email or give them a on Fridays, which is a simple enough call. Using the feedback we get from initiative but can make a big difference to them at this point helps us to reassess customer satisfaction. the objectives and goals set out during We try to think about every single their initial discovery process, and interaction with members, and hopefully helps them get back on track. encourage each of our franchisees to Following these steps will help to do the same. Whether communication ensure you have a happy customer base is via the website, social channels, or in that returns time and again. the gym, it’s important to remember Contact: that it only takes two or three negative www.anytimeﬁtness.co.uk experiences to alienate a customer.
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The sales DOCTOR This month, Sales Doctor, Tony Morris gives his expert advice to novices on how to get started with selling
Dear Sales Doctor, I’m completely new to sales, and don’t have any leads. How do I go about making some?
ead generation is one of the most important components of successful sales. My starting point is my top 100; these are a list of all the friends and family that I have. These are often forgotten, and are an easy place to start. It’s not always the people on the list that are your leads, it’s their connections. A great example of this is my best friend of 29 years; Gavin was the first person on my list. He worked for a large US bank where there was no real opportunity; however, his sister worked for a blue chip retail company that was an ideal lead for my training company. She wasn’t the right contact, but she was able to introduce me to the head of HR, and it is now a client. They say everybody knows 1,000 people; just think about all your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and family members. Another key is to target the right leads. If your company hasn’t done this already, you need to grade your clients. You should look back at your company’s client base, and grade them into four levels:
GRADE A – these are your ideal clients, and you have to decide what that means to you. For example, they might pay the most, have a shorter sales cycle, be easier to covert, you enjoy working with them the most, etc. GRADE B – these are your bread and butter clients. These are the ones your company tends to do most business with, and must be targeted. GRADE C – These are your one-off clients. They’re the ones that are unlikely to buy again from you, and have minimal opportunity to cross-sell your other products/services to. GRADE D – These are your dead clients (though not literally!). These are ones you want to avoid like the plague. They are ones that spend the least, and probably create the most problems. You probably have some in mind as you’re reading this. One of the clients I took on at the start of my sales training company paid me the least, and was by far the most demanding. They took up so much of my time, and for very little reward. It was only when I grew, that I
My starting point for leads is my friends and family. These are often forgotten, and are an easy place to start was able to move away from them and invest my time more wisely, targeting the right type of client for my business. To develop your sales skills and abilities, I would strongly recommend reading sales books and watching videos; there is no need to reinvent the wheel. To get a copy of my sales book, Coffee is for Closers, email me at email@example.com
NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk businessmagazine.co.uk
Travel without the hassle Tips and tricks to make the most of your business adventures, from Tom Leathes, CEO of hotel recommendation app, Top10
nlike executives at bigger corporate firms, small business leaders donâ€™t necessarily have a crack team of PAs to organise the different parts of business travel. In many cases, theyâ€™ve simply got to book hotels and flights for themselves, as well as working out how to cram as much as physically possible into carry-on bags - and itineraries. Nevertheless, in a world of smartphones and rapid technological innovation, there
masters. There are also handy apps, like TripList, to make sure youâ€™ve got everything you need while youâ€™re there. PLAN EFFECTIVELY You donâ€™t actually need a PA to handle your travel plans. These days, there are many apps designed to remove the pain from planning, and keep your itinerary on track. THE HOTEL Choosing a hotel neednâ€™t be painful, but most people visit more
In bigger cities, independent boutique hotels like the Ace Hotel in New York can actually be cheaper than the big chains, and pack a lot more character. THE FLIGHT Never underestimate the power of forward planning when it comes to booking your flights. A well-timed, well-priced plane ticket makes all the difference when youâ€™re travelling for business â€“ especially when you want to perform at your best on arrival. When looking for plane tickets,
When looking for plane tickets, delete internet cookies on \RXUEURZVHUĆŹUVWĆ‹VRPHVLWHVZLOOUHPHPEHULI\RXĆŽYH YLVLWHGEHIRUHDQGZLOOKLNHXSSULFHVDVDUHVXOW have never been more ways for entrepreneurs to go it alone and get things sorted without the stress. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your business travel: PACK LIKE A NINJA The last thing you want to be doing between meetings is rifling through a crammed suitcase for that elusive notebook. Be realistic with your packing â€“ if youâ€™re only in town for a day, chances are you wonâ€™t be spending any time in the pool, spa, or Jacuzzi, so you probably wonâ€™t be needing that spare pair of goggles. For the ultimate packing tool, search for â€˜ninja packingâ€™ on YouTube and learn from the
126 August 2015
than 35 websites before choosing a place to stay. Thatâ€™s a huge waste of your time â€“ and the problem we built Top10 to solve. Our app uses your preferences to recommend just 10 hotels in each location, vastly cutting back the time it takes to make your decision. When youâ€™re not sure where to rest your head, the standard default can simply be to book out a familiar chain hotel. Nevertheless, this kind of hotel is unlikely to give you a sense of place - you could be anywhere in the world. For repeat business travellers, something less clinical can be good for the soul, allowing you to enjoy the experience of travelling, and get a sense of the country youâ€™re staying in.
be sure to delete internet cookies on your browser â€“ some sites remember you if youâ€™ve visited before, and will hike up prices as a result. There are a number of apps that can assist you in the flight booking process, so itâ€™s worth having a look to find the format you prefer. If youâ€™ve got multiple flights to organise, apps like Wunderlist are great for getting your to-do lists in one place, helping you to stay on top of the tasks at hand. SHOW JET-LAG WHOâ€™S BOSS Jet lag can lose you countless hours of productivity, leaving you drained while travelling, and even more exhausted by
the time you’ve made it back home. While there’s no cure-all just yet, there are ways you can lessen the blow ahead of time: if you’re travelling long distance, try slowly shifting your meal times and bedtimes, if possible, a few days before you’re set to depart. Resist the urge to stick to GMT hours while you’re abroad. You won’t be doing yourself any favours, and you may find that dinner options are rather thin at three in the morning! Although not yet available, help is on the way: start-up, LumosTech is developing a ‘smart sleep’ jet lag eye mask, which, once available, might help reduce the red-eye back home.
Business travel needn’t mean endless weak FRƫHH and airconditioned exhibition spaces
ENJOY YOURSELF If you’re breezing through a city for work, it can be easy to forget where you are in the world, and what the city or country has to offer. But business travel needn’t mean endless weak coffee and air-conditioned exhibition spaces. Wherever possible, make sure to step outside the confines of the conference room - which tends to look the same wherever you are – and see the sights. A quick wander can be as good for the mind as an evening stuck cramming for the next day’s meeting, so it’s definitely something to consider – you might even find the solution to that problem you’ve been stuck with all week. Contact: www.top10.com
Timing is money
any people use their personal finance to start a company. Credit cards, savings, or redundancy money are often used to support the growing business throughout its first months or years. The lucky ones move past this point and into the stage of self-sufficiency. Having survived the hard years, it can be difficult to voluntarily put your company into debt, but there are times when external finance is the only realistic way forward. STARTING FROM SCRATCH You may have a great idea, boundless enthusiasm, and a castiron business plan, but before you cash in your savings, be aware that grants are available to help startups. The downside is that there are countless schemes, each with their own criteria and process, so getting your hands on the cash is likely to be complicated and stressful. The UK Government website has a resource to help you find funding relevant to your location and business type. Get started as soon as possible so you can afford a little patience.
Sophie Koenig, content marketing executive at FundingKnight, examines how you can tell when it is time to get funded
128 August 2015
A PLAN FOR GROWTH A vision for your companyâ€™s future expansion is an asset not every company owner has. Longterm planning is characteristic of high-performing SMEs with common strategies, including product diversification, improving productivity, and restructuring. Long-term thinking gives you time to look at the details, conduct the analysis, and work out a timetable. It might seem ideal to drip-feed long-term projects from your
own accounts, but the reality is there are always demands on cash, and deadlines months or years into the future are easy to push to the bottom of the pile. External finance enables you to get the work done quickly, and start capitalising on the benefits. By planning in advance, you have the time to shop around and get a good deal. Go to two or three lenders and compare their offers. Bear in mind bank loans can take up to six months to come through, so start as early as you can. Banks are the best place to start looking, but there are many alternative finance options available for those they turn down. For example, equity-based crowdfunding is a quick way to raise finance, although you will have to give up a proportion of your business in exchange. THE SLOW SEASON IS LOOMING Many businesses are seasonally based, and the down-times can be very quiet. Closing everything down for a few months isnâ€™t possible for every company. The good news is youâ€™ll know exactly when things are going to be quiet. By reviewing previous yearsâ€™ bank statements, you can work out how much youâ€™ll need, and when youâ€™ll be able to pay it back. Prepare your plan and application documents in good time to allow the lenders to consider your options, and to allow time for a â€˜plan Bâ€™ if youâ€™re turned down. If this is during your busy season, that may work in your favour, as your bank balance will be glowing a healthy green in front of the credit adviser.
The bad news is that banks donâ€™t like roller-coaster cash flow profiles, even in companies that are overall profitable. If youâ€™ve some tangible assets, such as your own building, you may be able to negotiate. If your slow season is very slow, a payment holiday might be a good idea. In this case, look for a responsive lender whoâ€™ll take the time to understand your company and its requirements. YOUR BIGGEST CUSTOMER ISNâ€™T PAYING ITS BILLS UK SMEs are being squeezed from both sides. Suppliers are less willing to re-negotiate terms with smaller customers, while persistent late payment of invoices is an increasing problem, especially for those whose books are dominated by a few large customers. If a company is profitable and well run, cash flow glitches should not be a trauma. There are various methods by which you can borrow against the value of your unpaid invoices. Invoice discounting is the traditional form of this, but it is usually aimed at larger companies, and generally works on longterm agreements so itâ€™s not ideal for sudden scrambles. Invoice trading is a modern, cloud-based version of this concept, whereby companies can source finance against individual invoices as and when the requirement surfaces. If this is a situation youâ€™ve found yourself in before, or one you can envisage happening in the future, investigate the providers in advance. Although the process can be very quick, the set up may take longer, so itâ€™s best to be prepared.
AN OPPORTUNITY YOU CANâ€™T REFUSE An entrepreneurial mindset includes being open-eared at all times. The ability to identify and capitalise on an opportunity is one of the key characteristics of a successful business owner. Many opportunities will be beyond your companyâ€™s ability to self-finance, but this should not be a reason to disregard them. For opportunities which are not time-sensitive, your approach should be similar to any longterm plan. Take the time to do the research, and work out how best to capitalise with minimum disruption. This preparatory work will serve you in good stead when coming to make the loan application. However, many opportunities have a short expiry date: a large order comes in out of the blue, or a supplier unexpectedly discounts key stock. In these instances, bank finance may be too slow, but most forms of alternative finance can turn around a loan quickly. For example, with crowdlending, the loan money could be paid to you in as little as three weeks from the start of application. Of course, external finance is not suitable for every occasion, and opportunities may not be worth the risk. If you do have the time to spend with a credit adviser, try to view this as an opportunity to troubleshoot your plan with an expert. Ultimately, lenders do want to lend, and the best will try to help you into a position whereby they can. Contact: www.fundingknight.com
Make the right call
James Passingham, founder and CEO of communications integrator, Foehn, outlines some of the aspects that organisations should consider when moving their telephony into the cloud
130 August 2015
loud, or hosted, telephony has become a viable and attractive alternative to traditional telephone systems for many businesses, partly because of the cost savings that can be made, but also because the cloud element means that businesses can often achieve more for less. Cloud communications, hosted VoIP, hosted PBX, hosted telephony; these are all platforms hosted by a service provider, accessed over the Internet, or
by a direct connection to the service provider. The main difference compared with traditional telephony systems is that instead of paying for upfront hardware and installation, all costs are covered by a low monthly fee and priced on a per-user basis. However, not all cloud telephony services are of the same standard and specification, and itâ€™s important to consider the needs of your business, some essential technical aspects, and how a cloud telephony service should be best procured.
Think beyond the immediate cost savings, and look at how new features and functionality might support your company’s development
THE COST For many businesses, reduced costs are one of the primary reasons for switching to a cloud system. A major advantage of cloud telephony is that it flexes with a company’s changing requirements. However, cost should only form part of the decision making process, and you may find that your choice of system has more to do with how it can improve aspects of your business, such as even better customer service, and more streamlined internal communication. Think beyond the immediate cost savings and look at how new features and functionality might support your company’s strategy and development. THE HIDDEN EXTRAS On the face of it, from a cost point of view, most, if not all cloud telephony services on offer will save your business money. This is because it’s generally a lower cost alternative to having onsite systems (that also take up room), and contending with upfront payouts. However, dig a little deeper on the standard service and price quoted and you may find that there are actually hidden costs for additional features, such as IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) and voicemail that will bite, and quickly escalate at a later date. Don’t be tempted to invest in features and functionality that your business and staff really do not need either. Not every company needs all the bells and whistles. Some companies are bamboozled by the jargon, dazzled by the sales pitch, and the opportunity to have new and exciting features, but if not used, they are simply a dead tool and a waste of money. A scan of the telecoms market will quickly reveal that the range of pricing per seat for cloud telephony varies considerably. While some providers are only offering basic connectivity, others provide useful extra features that are included in the price. Buyers should be looking for cloud telephony solutions
that offer one price per user, per month, and with all relevant features included. The advice is to do your homework first, and understand with absolute clarity what’s included in the standard price and the cost of any add-ons. THE CONNECTION As you’re likely to be saving money with hosted telephony, use some of those savings to get a proper line – especially if you’re running off ADSL and telephony is critical to the business. THE SOLUTION Some companies have more complex telephony requirements than others, so be aware of the ‘one size fits all’ scenario. A provider may claim that they understand your business requirements and can deliver the right solution, but if you’re looking to replace a sophisticated on-site system, can they really live up to a complex technical specification and solution? Can they go to multi-level IVR, hunt groups, queues, and granular management capabilities, especially for larger organisations? A true acid test is to ask for credentials in the form of case studies and testimonials – what complex solutions have they supplied previously, and how happy are their customers? THE PEOPLE ELEMENT Although cloud technologies are, by their very nature, less people intensive, the knowledge, skills, and expertise of a cloud telephony provider can prove invaluable at the outset, and ongoing. It may be the case that a company already has its own highly capable resource, but for businesses without, or with only partial cloud expertise, the human element is important. An outsourced service is often one that benefits from the human intervention and economies of scale that a cloud telephony provider can offer – better system design, skilled problem solving, faster resolution, etc.
Also, from a logistical perspective, does the provider offer fast and easy access to dedicated technical staff? If so, is this during normal business hours, or do they match your business timings? A provider may have a great technical team, but if your system is down when they’re not around, it can prove costly. TRAFFIC WATCH Mix voice and data only if you know what you’re doing, and don’t fall into the trap of assuming that ‘Voice Over IP’ is just more data. Be sure to ask the provider about quality of service, or look to a bandwidth management solution to ensure uninterrupted traffic. FIREWALL AND ALG It’s important not to assume that your company’s firewall will be OK because you can access the Internet. Check that your firewall is supported, and that you can turn off any nasty Application Layer Gateway (ALG) technologies if necessary. If you don’t, your system can become unpredictable, and this can cause issues, such as one-way audio, and connections coming and going. SITE SECURITY All businesses using the Internet need to be cyber secure, and understanding the risks and protecting against them is now more important than ever before. Some companies and organisations – for example, those holding customers’ private data – often need higher levels of IT security to ensure that systems cannot easily be compromised. An understanding of the risks will help to determine requirements, such as dedicated lines or secure transmission. Ultimately a company’s risk is its own, and steps should be considered and taken to avoid potentially damaging breaches. Contact: www.foehn.co.uk
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Legally speaking This month, Justin Creed, partner at Wright Hassall, looks at how to safeguard your business during a divorce
I’m getting a divorce, and my spouse is trying to take half of my business, although I built it myself and it was already successful before we married. What can I do? This is a common question from business owners, and with good reason. Although it seems reasonable to expect an asset like a business to be ring-fenced, this is not the case. The principle of equality (established by White v White) is the starting point for any settlement. However, a judge has the discretion to depart from this basic principle following an assessment of needs, when it becomes clear that an equal division of assets is not fair, particularly where children are involved and where the assets in question are relatively modest. It might be some consolation to know that judges are not, on the whole, inclined to instruct the sale, or take assets out, of a business – not least as businesses provide an income stream, on which future maintenance payments may depend.
of your business, as well as the level of income you derive from it. If you own the business outright, and your spouse is involved, then there is more likelihood the assessment will include some of the value from the business. If you cannot agree, then it is likely that court proceedings will follow. Take note if your spouse is employed by, or otherwise involved in, the business; do not assume that you can sack them – that way lies a potential claim for wrongful dismissal.
DON’T TRY TO HIDE ASSETS There is some limited action you can take to protect your current financial position – particularly important if your business’ financial position is closely combined with your personal finances – such as lowering your credit card limit, but only take this sort of action TAKE LEGAL ADVICE EARLY with legal advice. It will count It’s now mandatory to consider against you if the court believes mediation at the beginning of you are unfairly restricting your court proceedings. This will spouse’s access to money. give you and your spouse an Don’t be tempted to hide any opportunity to negotiate a fair, assets. Judges take a dim view of sensible split of assets, which may spouses who deliberately hide include some of the collateral in money and other assets. The court the business. To an extent, the has the power to prevent asset outcome of mediation will depend transfers taking place, or cancel on the type, structure, and value them if they’ve already happened.
It’s important WKDWWKHƬQDQFLDO VHWWOHPHQWLV DJUHHGYLDDFRXUW order, making it OHJDOO\ELQGLQJDQG HQIRUFHDEOH Neither should you seek to hide personal assets within your business. In certain circumstances, judges can ‘pierce the corporate veil’ and gain access to those assets. FUTURE PROTECTION It’s important that the financial settlement is agreed via a court order, making it legally binding and enforceable. This will prevent your spouse from making a future claim against you (Vince v Wyatt), which could be very significant if your business continues to thrive. Contact: www.wrighthassall.co.uk Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine. co.uk with the subject line “Legally speaking”
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134 August 2015
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Has society become so ‘politically correct’ that employers are afraid to do things for fear of being sued?
THE NUMBERS GAME HERE’S WHAT THE REST OF YOU THOUGHT:
Each month we ask a selection of business leaders for their views on an aspect of business. This month, we want to know if you feel people have become too sensitive
JANE WHITHAM DIRECTOR, CREAM CONSULTANCY We’re a PR and marketing communications company that bills itself as ‘straight talking’. Easy to assert, but I agree that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to speak up, particularly around age and gender. Recently, we tried to recruit for an admin role and wanted someone with a mature outlook. JobCentre Plus castigated us over our use of ‘mature’ – apparently it’s ageist. We’d advertised that we wanted someone with a minimum of two years’ experience in a similar role. Again we were rapped over the knuckles by public sector bodies – we were discriminating against 16-year-olds. It’s little wonder that business owners have lost the confidence to speak out, or to simply be themselves. I think we need to apply some common sense, and follow our instincts. The world of business is complicated enough without tiptoeing around.
JANE SUNLEY CEO OF PURPLE CUBED It’s important for employees to be aware of cultural norms and what is and isn’t acceptable – as well as understanding the legal aspects. The ‘raw’ behaviours and attitudes one demonstrates at home may need to be tempered for the workplace. Employers should ensure employees are clear about the behaviours and professionalism expected; that company culture is embedded, and diversity awareness issues are raised. Respect for an individual’s background is earned through mutual understanding; recognising similarities and exploring differences. Employers should encourage openness within teams. This generates a deeper level of trust, removing hostility, and creating respect and strong relationships. This will also help to prevent issues from escalating, due to miscommunication. ANONYMOUS I’d say so, yes. It seems that you can’t say anything without offending someone, somewhere, these days, and getting yourself into hot water. Innocent comments can be blown out of all proportion. This is especially true in places like Twitter, where people get hounded by ‘Twitter bullies’ until they’re pressured into quitting their jobs – or being forcefully removed. This leads to mistakes and miscommunication, as people are afraid to say what they think or mean. I think that, while there is a need to protect sensibilities of a religious or gender-based nature, it is getting out of hand, and on the whole it is bad for business.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON TWITTER @TALKBUSINESSMAG *Talk Business magazine and its staff are in no way linked to, condone, or agree with any opinions expressed in this article. Opinions are solely those of the named individuals.
Trash talk Each month, we ask a different business man or woman the everyday phrases that ‘drive them up the wall’ in the business world, and why
I’m not sure there’s any place in a serious business environment for hemp underpants and crystal balls MY MOST HATED BUSINESS JARGON
Chris Futcher Cavendish Wood
Job title: Founder The business: Since leaving the Royal Marines, I’ve worked for the past 15 years as a business consultant for various blue chip companies. I’ve also founded several successful businesses, including Cavendish Wood – a new business consultancy bringing years of experience and expertise together to offer a vibrant proposition to clients. We specialise in digital business transformation, covering the whole lifecycle, from business analysis, through design, to implementation and handover. Contact: www.cavendishwood.com
RUN IT UP THE FLAGPOLE: This is actually an American cliché for presenting an idea, when you’re not sure of the reactions you’ll get. But to me, it makes no sense. It’s totally outdated and frankly, it sounds strange. If you’ve an idea, the best thing to do is to present it to management or peers and see if you get a good response. No flags or flagpoles needed. Giving staff the freedom to present ideas and concepts is essential for any business, to promote innovation and create a feeling of value for staff. THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER: The concept is a sound one; don’t let avoidable mistakes happen, but I don’t like the image it conjures up. It’s a strange expression that has no place in a business environment. There are better ways to get ideas across without talking about throwing infants about the place. HOLISTIC APPROACH: A way of saying that you’re taking into consideration all aspects of a business, issue, etc. To me, it sounds like a ‘hippified’ and spiritual expression, and I’m not sure there’s any place in a serious business environment for hemp underpants and crystal balls. In a highly competitive market, you have to stay sharp, smart, and attuned to your clients’ needs. The ‘holistic approach’ should be kept for private meditation sessions. LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD: It’s a way for saying that everyone benefits from the same advantages and opportunities. Nevertheless, I don’t think it makes much sense considering that this, in reality, doesn’t happen in any game that I know of. I understand the concept of fairness behind it, but in any business transaction, I believe that it is healthier, and of more benefit for all players to use clear, simple words, and leave the metaphors for the ‘happy hour’.
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138 August 2015
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Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...
Published on Aug 3, 2015
Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...