Talk Business Mini Mag Autumn 17

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Gok Wan talks his career, his brand and his love for business





ix months on from my last letter to SMEs and entrepreneurs not much has changed. We are still embroiled in the mess that is Brexit, uncertainty is still abound in the UK and its future relationship with the EU. In fact, with the continuing influence of President Trump, fear has started to wriggle into our everyday lives. Fear over North Korea and a certain President’s speeches not doing much to alleviate the problems of flexing nuclear muscles. Even with these uncertainties somehow entrepreneurs keep making money and inspire each other to success. Inspiration is what our cover star this month has taken him from a Chinese restaurant to one of the country’s most recognisable fashion designers, Gok Wan. Gok’s inspiration did not come from Richard Branson, James Dyson, or even Michelle Mone, his inspiration came from a bit closer to home, his father. Growing up around a small business owner has given more to Gok than any celebrity, instilling a work ethic that is difficult to match. As well as a childhood being bullied Gok was able to drag himself up and make himself a success. Read the whole, incredible, interview and learn how Gok keeps motivated in his professional life. As for the other articles, Buckworth Solicitors explain what you need to legally look out for when starting up your business. From incorporating your business with The Companies House to what you need to do to start attracting investors. Starting a business is relatively easy, yet knowing what to do and why you do it is invaluable. Dan Hill of Dot London looks at what domain name you should use on your businesses website. A major part of your online brand identity, the domain name should reveal a huge amount of information about your business. So head over to to get the best advice and information from business experts or get in contact today to share your success with Talk Business! Dominic Lill, Editor Sid White, Sales Manager 01279 818 250

Dominic Lill Editor

BARING ALL FOR BUSINESS – GOK STYLE! The Leicester-born fashion expert, award-winning TV presenter and author Gok Wan talks to Angela Sara West about his career, his brand and business tips, ‘getting naked’ himself for his new stage show Gok Wan Naked & Baring All… and how business saved his life.



With his unique look, eye for style and empathetic ear, he’s made his mark on our screens by giving women, and men, the confidence to appreciate their bodies and ‘find their fun’ with fashion. Having taken both the fashion and TV worlds by storm, he’s styled everyone from Damien Lewis to Dawn French, but his extensive knowledge and love of food and cooking has enabled him to expand his expertise across a broader lifestyle remit.

One of my earliest memories is understanding that working really hard can get great results


LOVE business; I’m a bit obsessed with it!” Gok, who grew up living above his family’s Chinese restaurant, reveals. “I spent my childhood surrounded by business and learnt the importance of money, customers and trade at a very early age. One of my earliest memories is understanding that working really hard can get great results.” Growing up with mental health and bullying issues, the multi-talented fashion guru didn’t have an easy childhood. “But the business side of things was a huge motivation and a great detachment from the bad stuff that was happening.” He admits that, had it not been for his father’s business and the work ethic it taught him, things could have been very different. “I probably would have ended up in quite a dark place. Working there from quite a young age was quite a saviour, really.”

In fact, Gok’s biggest business icon is his dad. “He was a huge drive for me. Back in those days, we didn’t have the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar… the role of celebrity was left to actors or singers. Nowadays, because of the power of the internet, you have access to people’s lives and, obviously with Wikipedia etc. you can reach out and search for those people. But when I was growing up, business was immediate. My business icons were people who had done very well; members of my dad’s family, his friends and customers who also had their own businesses. He had quite a large set of affluent people who would come in and we’d hear about the companies they ran and how successful they were.” Such business people fascinated Gok, more from the successful, rather than financial, point of view. “These people seemed very happy, very confident,



very strong‌ and that really appealed to me. It was measured pretty easily by the cars they drove, the watches on their wrists, all of that kind of stuff.â€? GETTING GOK’D! Super-stylish Gok’s pre-TV work involved jobs as a hair and make-up artist in the fashion industry, working on titles such as The Sunday Times Style. “I fell in love with the clothes and then worked as a fashion stylist, doing editorial, advertising and music for many years.â€? Since 2006, his innate ability to relate to people and persuade them to take pride in themselves has resulted in TV transformations where women have “strippedâ€? for the nation to boost their self-confidence. His serial hit Channel 4 makeover series, How To Look Good Naked, paved the way for numerous spin-off fashionfocused shows, such as Gok’s Fashion Fix, and regular slots on ITV’s This Morning. “I never set out to be the Robin Hood of the woman’s body, but the cap fitted very well. Because of where I came from, with my experiences of bullying and self-esteem, I suppose I have a natural empathy for people who don’t like the way that they look,â€? he explains. “So, I’ve kind of fallen into this role, which I enjoy and I’m very thankful for. We’ve made a business out of it in the nicest possible sense‌ we’ve made TV programmes about raising people’s confidence, produced clothing lines including plussized brands, control wear‌ all the tools I’ve used on television as a stylist, we’ve turned into different business projects. I like to think of it as creating solutions for people.â€? Released to critical acclaim, his first clothing collection for Sainsbury’s TU in 2011 broke UK sales records, with his famous red wrap dress selling at a rate of one every 24 seconds. “It was a great dress! Very simple and elegant. It did incredibly well. We produced and sold a huge volume of jeans, too. We’ve been so lucky over the years with our products, whether beauty, body or underwear, swimwear, glasses‌ We’ve always stayed true to our brand and have never tried to move 6

away from that. I think that’s been really important for the business.� THE GOK-OVER Sporting a distinctive look, with thick-rimmed glasses and impeccably-styled hair, did he set out to turn himself into a very distinctive brand? “Yes, I suppose I did. Working as a fashion stylist for many years before I was on television, it was always my job to give people a brand, make them unforgotten and iconic. Whether that was with a pair of glasses, hairstyle or clothes, it was my job to rebrand people and musicians.� When it came to styling himself for TV, he therefore instinctually knew what to do. “I knew how to give myself a certain look to make sure I was going to be remembered. I’ve always styled myself,

Always be available, understand \RXU VWDĆŤ make sure you have a great team around you that feel appreciated.


I’ve never had a stylist. I don’t know whether it was the cheap or clever option!” Was it part of the plan to become a celebrity? “No, never! It’s a bi-product, really, of what’s happened in my life. I’m a fashion stylist by trade and because I now do it within the public sector and people see what I do en masse, people know who I am. But I would never describe myself as a celebrity!”

GOK & HIS WOK…. AND HIS DAD! But it’s not always been about clothes… in 2012, he explored his family’s fascinating roots in his documentary Made in China and presented his own Channel 4 cookery show, Gok Cooks Chinese… with his beloved dad, Poppa Wan. “I really enjoyed it; it was a dream come true! Because I’d spent so many years working in the restaurant, I can cook and know quite a lot about Chinese food. With the skills that I’d learnt over the years presenting and being able to do what I do on camera, it made sense to do it.” He says focusing on food made a nice break from fashion. “Because, bizarrely, there’s less emotion with food. We’re very attached to what we eat, whereas with clothes, there seems to be a lot more emotion and sales involved…. you’ve got to convince people what to wear, how they look. With food, you can pretty much put a bowl of anything in front of them and they’ll give it a go. It’s a completely different medium, but just as fun!” Along with styling titles, Gok has produced cookery books. “I like writing. I’ve written six or seven books. If I’m given an opportunity to write a good book or memoirs or something, absolutely! I would never claim to be a writer… I don’t think I’m particularly good, but I enjoy it and will always give it a good go.”

TRICKS OF THE TRADE… Bursting with business tips, Gok shares the following ground rules. “Firstly, you’ve got to understand your brand, what you’re about. What is your product and USP? What are your competitors doing? What’s out there in the marketplace? Secondly, understand your customer; understanding their psychology is paramount. If you don’t understand their needs, or fears, you’ll never develop your product to the point where you feel you are delivering the highest grade.” He says it’s crucial to be sensible with your business plan. “Make sure your forecasting is accurate and not overly ambitious. I think the more simple it is, the greater the chance of surviving in the very tough world of business.” Building your contacts and your network is equally as important. “Never burn any bridges, understand that if you help people, it will come back to you. Always be available, understand your staff, make sure you’ve got a great team around you and that they feel appreciated and their work is recognised.” He stresses the importance of constantly developing YOURSELF along with your team. “Never think that you always know more than your team. Don’t be afraid of being obsessed with your business… of it being YOU. Because if it’s yours, you’re going to work very hard at it. It’s only like developing your personality… Why would you ignore what makes you happy? Why would you ignore what makes you laugh or cry? You should do that with your business, too.” BARING ALL… BODY & BUSINESS CONFIDENT The man who encouraged people to “get naked” for his TV show now promises to bare all about his own life. What can audiences can expect from the fashion guru’s stage show? “It covers everything from growing up, my relationship with my family, food, my body, where my confidence came from, where it went, the bullying, the anorexia, being famous, business, being on television, fashion... it’s access all areas. It’s kind of a memoir... in 2009, I wrote an autobiography and it was a big move for my career and me emotionally and for my confidence…



I didn’t realise I could write it. I thought back then I’d disclosed everything. I covered six or seven known subject areas, but I’ve since realised I’ve got a lot more to say.” “I suppose the message behind the show is that when life feels very, very tough and dark, you’re in control of the light switch.” A CUPPA FOR CHARITY Gok’s prolific charity work includes raising awareness of child obesity and anti-bullying and fundraising projects for cancer care. “We’re currently producing some films with Stonewall, who are very progressive, so that’s good fun! I really respect how they create awareness of the LGBT community.” Does he think everyone should do their bit for charity? “Charity work is often recognised financially and it doesn’t always have to be. It can be a cuppa with a lonely neighbour or feeding a friend’s dog… I think we all do a bit without realising.”

I’m always busy! But I enjoy it and like it that way. I love work!

THE BEST BITS… Award-winning Gok has gained many gongs. His proudest moment? “I’ve been really fortunate and had several in my life. But my proudest is when I managed to retire my parents, buy their house for them and close their business, buying them out… that was a really big moment in my life.” Any regrets? “Do you know what, I don’t have any. My businesses have done very well and I’m very proud of them. I’ve also learnt a huge amount. If I could give advice to my 16 year-old self, I would say that everything in business is achievable if you’re willing to put in the graft.” 8

Workaholic Gok recently launched another company, his fabulous Fashion Brunch Club, offering fizz, brunch, Q&A and catwalk shows. “I’m always busy! But I enjoy it and like it that way. I love work!” He’s also planning a new arm to the business, teaching women in business about branding and confidence. His final message? “Life is massively short. You’ve got one opportunity to make the most out of living, so don’t go to bed tonight thinking, “Should I have given something a go?”, wasting time worrying about it when, in fact, you SHOULD have given it a go!” Gok’s new stage show, Gok Wan Naked & Baring All, kicks off in Norwich this autumn and takes in 18 theatre dates around the UK. Gok’s Fashion Brunch Club: To find out more, visit


Getting the legals right for my startup: what is important?

M When setting up a startup, it is important to focus resources where they are really needed. The legal piece can seem huge, complicated and daunting. This article explains the bits you can do yourself, and the bits you should get help with.


ost startups will operate through a limited company – it has limited liability meaning that if the business goes bust, your assets are protected; it is taxed on profits at a current rate of 19% and startup reliefs (in particular for investors) are based around it. You can incorporate a company online at Companies House. It costs £12. Top tip: you must set a share capital. Choose 10,000 ordinary shares with a nominal value of £0.01 each. Show the nominal value as paid up and nothing as unpaid. If you prefer, we will incorporate the company for you – we don’t charge for the service. Once you have incorporated the company, you will receive lots of post. There are two letters you must not lose: (i) a letter from HMRC enclosing a form you complete when you start trading, and (ii) a letter from Companies House with your online authentication code. Put them somewhere safe.


The purpose of solicitors is to identify risk, and reduce or remove it Logos, graphics, website content and sourcecode contain intellectual property rights (referred to as “IP”). IP is a valuable asset and must be owned by your company. However, IP created by anyone other than an employee of your company belongs to the creator, even if you pay them. In order to take ownership of the IP, the creator must sign an IP transfer agreement. It is hugely important that this is done correctly. The contract that a business has with its customers is the most important document it will ever draft. The temptation is to copy from a competitor or download a document from the

internet. This is never advisable. The purpose of solicitors is to identify risk, and reduce or remove it. Every business has slightly different risks. These risks are handled via the customer contract. Always get it drafted by a solicitor. Startups looking to attract investment from angel investors will need to qualify for SEIS and EIS. These are schemes that give investors an income tax refund from HMRC calculated as a percentage of their investment. Under SEIS, the refund is 50% of the amount of the investment; under EIS the refund is 30%. In addition, investors must hold shares for at least three years, but then (assuming the company still qualifies) they pay no capital gains tax at all on any gain made on sale. The rules of the schemes are complex and certain steps need to be taken to qualify. Speaking to a solicitor is vital to ensure that no mistakes are made that could preclude the company from qualifying.

BUCKWORTHS Buckworths is the only law firm working exclusively with startups and high growth businesses. We hold regular free seminars on startup law in London and Manchester. Further information can be found at, and 020 7952 1723. 11


It’s all in the name – Choosing the right domain name for your business Dan Hill, Head of Dot London, has some useful advice on how to choose the ideal domain name for your business.


our domain name isn’t something that should be taken for granted. A good domain name can attract customers as much as a bad one can scare them off. It shouldn’t be your last thought or something that you’ll eventually get around to. Choosing a domain name is as important as choosing your company name Your domain name is a major part of your online brand identity, marketing strategy and a way for people to find out who you are. You need to choose a name that best fits your business, is simple to find and can be easily promoted. With the introduction of the new domain name extensions, such as Dot London, you can venture beyond the conventional ‘.com’ or ‘’ choices. The new suffixes give you the chance to own a domain name that best suits your brand and allows you to be a bit more creative, original and innovative with your online identity.


1. Be short The shorter you domain name is, the more memorable it will be. If it’s a long and complex name you run the risk of customers mistyping or misspelling it, so the fewer characters your domain name has the better. Also try not to use any hard-to-spell words which might be difficult for people to remember or share. From a practical perspective, having a short and snappy domain name is very useful when creating your marketing collateral as it looks a lot more user-friendly on posters and flyers. Leading international conference venue, ExCeL London:


2. Be brandable

3. Use keywords

The new domain name suffixes have given businesses a lot more web addresses to choose from so you don’t have to opt for one that might detract from your brand identity. Your domain name should match your brand so choose one that doesn’t need explanation. Additionally you can now strengthen your brand’s association with London by having a Dot London domain name, whether you’re a local business or one that’s looking to trade abroad. A brandable domain name should be unique, catchy and memorable.

A good domain name should give people a strong idea of what your website is about and using keywords can help you achieve this. Try using keywords that people would enter when searching for your business, but don’t be too clever or cryptic as it might confuse them. Test it out on friends to ensure that it sounds appealing and makes sense to others. Together with quality content and good user experience, keywords in your domain name can potentially help you rank higher in Google.

London-based gin brand, Half Hitch:

Solar-powered mobile charging and Wi-Fi access Ford Smart Benches:

A brandable domain name should be unique, catchy and memorable With the increased need for businesses to have some form of digital presence, a catchy and memorable domain name is essential. Your domain name is your identity on the web so it needs to match your brand. Check what domain names are available and ensure that you choose the one that you feel will offer benefit to you and the future of your business.

Add the power of London to your web address, visit www.



Identity matters Regardless of its size, every company has a brand, and it’s important to understand that branding is a lot more than just a logo


our brand is the promise you give to your customers about your products or services, and how well you deliver this will ultimately create your brand reputation. If you repeatedly deliver your promise to customers they come to trust your brand, and in the long term this will allow you to charge more for your products and services. THE IMPORTANCE OF VISUAL IDENTITY Branding has many stages, and for this article, we are going to focus on creating the right visual identity. By now you will understand your unique value proposition, and why this is so important to your customers, so it’s now time to display and reinforce this message with a strong visual identity. LOGO Your logo is central to your identity and over time your audience will begin to associate your brand with your logo. It’s important your logo displays the right image for your company and we’d always recommend employing a designer to get this right. Your logo should be simple, memorable, versatile and most importantly relevant. Think about where your logo will be used both on and offline, it will need to perform well across all formats and all sizes, from a small thumbnail on social media to printed billboard or a graphic on a van.


FONTS Crafting the right font is an important part of a brand’s design. Typefaces convey their own meaning and visually reinforce the tone of your message. Serif fonts are more traditional and easily read, sans-serif fonts are more contemporary and it’s important to think of your audience personas when choosing the right combination. Getting this right will help make your brand more memorable and appealing.

COLOURS Colours play a huge role in the perception of a brand and we have a strong psychological attachment to colours. It’s no accident that large corporations have a specific palette of colours across their brand. Blue conveys trust, loyalty and is used by many financial institutions. Green is fresh natural and environmental, black is strength, power and often perceived as very classical.

IMAGES Supporting imagery is a great tool to portray your brand’s personality and instantly tells people what you are all about. In an increasingly social world how you use and display images is key, choose images that fit your style, and applying a specific filter to all your images adds consistency building a very unique identity.


A product is what you sell. Your brand is what people buy.

CONSISTENCY It’s vital that you are consistent with your branding across all mediums. This continuity makes your brand feel more dependable and helps with consumer trust and recognition. This applies to all aspects; colours, fonts, straplines, and your tone. The way you display your images should be the same across all your visual assets from stationery through to how you present yourself on social media. Developing a set of brand guidelines will illustrate to designers, advertisers and employees how to keep consistency and avoid any brand dilution. You should consider your brand identity from the very beginning and although you might not have the same budget as the McDonalds’ or BMWs of this world, it’s important to understand the principles of branding are the same for all businesses big and small. Learn from large companies and see how they project themselves with their choice of colours, fonts, messages and images.

SYMBIAN CREATE At Symbian Create we help clients to start their own stories. We encourage you to be an integral TEVX SJ HIZIPSTMRK ]SYV FVERH (SQQYRMGEXMRK ]SYV TVSQMWI IǺ IGXMZIP] ERH [SVOMRK XSKIXLIV we will deliver a memorable brand identity – perfect for your startup business. 01279 810 749

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