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NOVEMBER 2012

YOUNG GUNS

The explosion of youth enterprise in the UK

IN THE BAG

YUU’s founders on conquering the kids’ market

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Holding all the cards Moo.com’s Richard Moross on how partnerships with some of the internet’s biggest players helped bring the print industry into the 21st century NOVEMBER 2012 £4.50

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CONTENTS

Inside this month... ISSUE 04 NOVEMBER 2012

16 The Elite Interview

Moo.com founder and CEO Richard Moross on taking a punt on print

09 Editor’s letter 10 Contributors 12 News in brief 13 Talking point 14 Book reviews 32 All in the mind

Ian Sanders explains why there’s more to the workplace than bricks and mortar

41 Just say no

Turning down opportunities needn’t lead to financial ruin

47 Borderless business

25 New blood UK plc is getting a much needed infusion of talent from the young folk

How modern digital marketing is blurring the boundaries

55 Songs of praise

Appraisals help employees and business perform in perfect harmony

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59 Learning on the job

At their best, internships are wonderfully reciprocal relationships

62 Back to school

Businesses need to look to the future by investing in education

67 Tech for start-ups

36 Freelance your finance

A part-time FD can provide valuable insight – without breaking the bank

The latest must-have gadgets, hardware and apps for forward-thinking small businesses

70 Reach for the sky

Cloud-based solutions are making storage more accessible than ever

73 Kicking the habit

Technology may be good for your job but it might also be bad for your health

77 Outsourcing – part deux

Another instalment of David Hathiramani’s outsourcing oddysey

82 Franchise in the spotlight

Barrett & Coe is making wedding and studio photography as pretty as a picture

50 Everyone’s a critic Dealing with criticism isn’t easy but it can be used to your advantage

85 A fair game

How a new organisation is redressing the gender imbalance in the nation’s franchises

91 Tied up knots

Unravelling the red tape to understand e-commerce regulations

94 Classifieds 98 Start-up diary

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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EDITOR’S COMMENT

Scan this QR Code to register for your free copy of Elite Business Magazine

ISSUE 04 NOVEMBER 2012 SALES Harrison Bloor – Account Manager E: harrison.bloor@cemedia.co.uk T: 01206 266843 Richard Smith – Account Manager E: richard.smith@cemedia.co.uk T: 01206 266844 EDITORIAL Hannah Prevett – Editor E: hannah.prevett@cemedia.co.uk Josh Russell – Feature Writer E: josh.russell@cemedia.co.uk Lindsey McWhinnie – Chief Sub-editor E: lindsey.mcwhinnie@cemedia.co.uk Kia Ure-Reid – Researcher E: kia.ure-reid@cemedia.co.uk DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Designer E: leona.connor@cemedia.co.uk T: 01206 266845 Clare Bradbury – Designer E: clare.bradbury@cemedia.co.uk T: 01206 266845 Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager E: dan@cemedia.co.uk T: 01245 905805 CIRCULATION Malcolm Coleman – Circulation Manager E: malcolm.coleman@cemedia.co.uk ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager E: sally.stoker@cemedia.co.uk T: 01206 266846 DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director E: scott.english@cemedia.co.uk Circulation/subscription UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: CE Media Limited T: 01206 266 842 Elite Business Magazine is published 12 times a year by CE Media Solutions Limited Weston Business Centre, Hawkins Road Colchester, Essex. CO2 8JX T: 01206 266 849

Young entrepreneurs are aiming higher It’s fair to say that young people in this country get a pretty hard rap. Today’s youth has a reputation of being a bunch of workshy, computerplaying bedroom-dwellers – or worse, following the riots last year. But if you scratch beneath the surface a little, this simply isn’t an accurate representation. The teens and young adults I spoke to at MADE Festival earlier this year were smart, passionate and optimistic about their futures. This month’s special report (p25) looks more closely at young entrepreneurship, speaking to youth enterprise enthusiast Peter Jones and the young people themselves to ask why more teenagers than ever are inspired to start their own businesses. One of the best pieces of advice came from Oli Barrett, who said that young people need to learn not to be despondent when they are rejected, but to get up, dust themselves off and find another door to knock on.

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Our cover star Richard Moross (p16) certainly didn’t take no for an answer. Having been rejected by 10 of the top ad agencies, he set out to launch his own ad agency, armed with little except some like-minded friends and a drive and determination second to none. A short while later, he was offered a position at one of the biggest independent agencies in the world. Sheer doggedness is also a trait possessed by the subjects of this month’s One to Watch: YUU founders Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes had been wanting to set up a business together for more than two decades (p21). With thousands of bags now sold and plans to launch in America next year, YUU is another example of a British brand taking to the international stage. And it is just these kinds of success stories which should help inspire future generations to follow their gut instincts and go for it. There has never been a better time.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved No part of Elite 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. Elite Business magazine will make every effort to return picture material, but is 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 CE Media Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation.

HANNAH PREVETT EDITOR

www.cemedia.co.uk

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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CONTRIBUTORS

Contributors Ian Sanders

Ian Sanders is an author, marketer and Financial Times writer who likes to look at business from a different perspective. In this month’s column he argues we should look to our small, local traders for entrepreneurial role models. Sanders’ latest book is Mash-Up! How To Use Your Multiple Skills To Give You An Edge, Make Money And Be Happier. Recently Sanders has been exploring his inner rebel, sporting temporary tattoos from his latest favourite start-up Tattly.

Jon Card

Jon Card is a writer and journalist specialising in small business and enterprise, and the author of our feature on part-time FDs. He works as a freelancer for The Guardian, John Brown Publishing and is editor of Birmingham Living magazine. He is a proud father of a gorgeous little boy and a big fan of the USA. Following a recent visit to California with his family, Card recommends taking a one-year-old on a long-haul flight, as it stops it becoming boring.

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Emilie Sandy

Aside from dashing between the Cotswolds and London to shoot business types for magazines such as EB and TV stars for the Beeb, Sandy is also a visiting lecturer at a college in Stroud – all while studying for a Masters. Photographing Richard Moross this month marked Sandy’s fourth cover shoot for Elite Business. You know what they say – if it ain’t broke...

David Hathiramani

Hathiramani is one half of the team behind revolutionary suit company A Suit That Fits. The computing graduate is a selfconfessed geek. But when he’s not using his computer wizardry to bring snazzy suits to the masses, Hathiramani does like to unwind by beating his co-founder at table tennis and is partial to the odd jagerbomb – though probably not at the same time.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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News IN BRIEF

Heads have rolled at Apple in the wake of the Maps fiasco. Scott Forstall, head of iOS software, and John Browett, head of retail, have both found themselves out of a job after the glitch in Apple’s new Maps software placed cities in the wrong place and confused road and place names. Forstall, who’s been at Apple since 1997 was the brains behind Maps, so it’s common sense that he should take the rap. It’s a little more unfortunate for Browett - who had only been with Apple for six months, having been poached from Dixons.

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Penguin and Random House announced a merger that will create the biggest book publisher ever seen – it is thought the newly formed company will account for one in four books sold. The company will also have £2.5bn in revenues and almost £175m in profits. The two parent companies behind the publishers – German media outfit Bertelsmann and UK rival Pearson – have agreed to join forces to take on the booming digital books market.   The number of women chief execs of FTSE 100 companies halved in a month to just two after Marjorie Scardino, CEO of FT-owner Pearson, and Cynthia Carroll, boss of mining giant Anglo American announced their departures. Hopefully this will serve as a call-to-arms for other female high-fliers to fight their way in and redress the balance. It looks as though bank lending to small businesses is unlikely to improve any time soon: Ernst and Young’s ITEM Club has found that loans will be in short supply until 2016 at the earliest. The economic think tank says that for 2012 business lending will fall by 4.5% to £429bn – the fourth consecutive annual decline, taking the number of loans handed to businesses to its lowest level since 2006. Red tape has a lot to answer for: research has shown that regulation in the financial services sector is preventing UK companies from growing their businesses. What’s more, the increasing amount of regulation and legislation is leaving them vulnerable to new market

entrants, said Richard Gould, executive director at transformation consultancy Moorhouse. “The UK financial services industry is losing its competitive edge and opening itself up to competition from overseas organisations that are less burdened by regulation and new market entrants who can more efficiently undertake smaller parts of the traditional functions of larger FS organisations.” Online workplace oDesk has revealed in its latest survey that the majority of businesses expect online workers will become an integral part of guaranteeing success within the next ten years. Of those spoken to, 94% felt that in the future teams will be a blend of online and offline workers. Three-fifths also revealed their intention to double their spend on online workers over the next year. Clearly the mobile revolution keeps on turning.

EVENTs National Sales Awards 2012 November 6 Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London W1K 7TN

National Business Awards UK 2012 November 13 Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London W1K 7TN

Entrepreneurs 2012 November 13-16

One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL

www.entrepreneurs2012.co.uk School For Startups – Windows Of Opportunity November 14

Coronet Theatre, 28 New Kent Road, London SE1 6TJ

Mercury Expo November 14-15

Research commissioned by Barclays and carried out by Ledbury Research has shown that fewer shareholders are making immediate exit plans. The number of growing companies that have changed hands – enterprises with growing revenues between £5m and £200m which have had a change in shareholding – fell by 38% between the second half of 2011 and the first half of 2012. It seems the adverse financial climate has produced a more risk-averse attitude to long-term investment.

Mercury House, Foxby Lane Business Park, Gainsborough DN21 1DY

Ever go for a job and wonder exactly what the HR department is looking for? According to research by recruitment specialist Robert Half, 56% feel that work ethic is the most important thing when considering a candidate. Leadership qualities come a close second with 49%. Ambition, often viewed as a businessman’s best ally, came in a paltry third place with only 38% indicating it was relevant. Internal networks and an ability to laugh failed to even make the podium.

Hanover House, Hanover Street Liverpool, L1 3DZ

While a lot of the government’s austerity measures can be said to potentially improve things for private business, new plans to ‘claw back’ employees’ child benefits through their taxes could be something of an own goal. Claims have been made that removing child benefits from any household where a member earns over £60,000, and reclaiming a proportion of benefits through tax from any household with a member earning between £50,000 and £60,000 is simply incentivising people to take a cut in hours and turn down promotions. However, the coalition insists the figures will add up and it won’t negatively impact upon businesses. Only time will tell.

New Start Scotland Exhibition November 15-16 SECC, Exhibition Way, Glasgow G3 8YW

Speed Networking Events November 16

MWB Canary Wharf, Level 33 Citigroup Building, 25 Canada Square, London E14 5LF

Liverpool Connections November 22

The Great British Business Show November 22-23 Olympia, Hammersmith Road, London W14 8UX

School For Startups – Windows Of Opportunity November 27

Portsmouth Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth PO1 2AB

Speed Networking Events November 28

45 Club, The Academy, 21 Gower Street, London WC1V 6HG

Prelude Group – Scaling Your Business Through Acquisitions November 29 The Clubhouse, 11-14 Grafton Street, London W1S 4EW

The Business Growth Show December 4

Cranmore Park, Cranmore Avenue, Solihull B90 4LF

A full event listing is available on our website: elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/events

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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Talking Point

Can we finally ring the death knell for the double-dip recession? While recently there has been much conflicting news about economic recovery, the Office for National Statistics has announced that our economy is at last growing again. But have we really kissed the recession goodbye?

U WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

npack the streamers and fetch back your folding table from the neighbours. If there’s ever some news deserving of a street party it’s this: the recession is over. Technically. Releasing its figures for the last quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced that the UK’s GDP grew by around 1% on the previous quarter. Which is good, surely? Well, opinion is mixed. Focusing on the positives, agriculture and the services industries are displaying some rather healthy signs, showing 2.2% and 1.3% growth on the quarter. Additionally, while the construction sector is still contracting, it is doing so at its lowest rate since the final quarter of last year. What’s more, the power of our success at London 2012 means that faith

YES says Oliver Barber director of Kingsbridge & Carter Property Investment The figures themselves are becoming more positive. We’re five years past the previous peak, which in previous large downturns has been the fulcrum. And, although the press has been full of Armageddon, it’s not materialised and people are bored with it. You can almost sense as you go about your business and talk to people that there’s a positivity just starting to come through that wasn’t there until very recently. Clearly the employment numbers, industrial production numbers, stock market figures and total earnings have not just occurred because we were fantastic in the Olympics. I think the ONS has judged the Olympics added 0.2% to GDP in the quarter, which is good. It was a positive effect but it had far less of an impact than most people think. There’s still a recessionary mindset in place but I think that actually helps the recovery. Looking back at previous recessions we go through a massive shock, then there’s sort of an acceptance that everything’s harder and that acceptance leads to a tougher mindset. People work harder – it’s the old Churchillian thing.

in Brand Britain is still pretty high right now. On the down side, there are some reasons to believe that this could be a statistical aberration. Claims have been laid that the Diamond Jubilee in the second quarter of this year inevitably drove figures down, with the extra days off impacting GDP. This would be further exacerbated by our Olympic success artificially inflating our figures this quarter, potentially producing the statistical leap into positive growth. Additionally, some feel that the knock-on impact of austerity measures has only really just begun to be felt, meaning that it is still hard to draw any firm conclusions from the ONS data. And so the million dollar question remains: is it time to stock up on party poppers and crack open the Veuve?

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No says Dr Rohan Weerasinghe author, international speaker, money and wealth educator This is certainly not the end of the recession. It is simply a rather minor upward pump in a seriously downtrending global and European economy, which is likely to continue for another four to six years. There may have been some minor and positive adjustments, but at this point in time, with the international levels of quantitative easing, it is very much like pumping air into a dinghy that’s riddled with holes. For short periods the dinghy may rise a little but then it will continue to head down. Which is exactly what I believe we will see. As the levels of credit and bank borrowing have spiralled out of control, it is only now that we are seeing the full impact. In simple terms, on a global level there is not enough money being earned to pay back the borrowing. At some point this has to implode. This recent upturn is, in my opinion, just a small bubble of buoyancy in a sinking ship. This recession is not over. There may be a small upend, however, I genuinely believe it is merely a blip. November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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BOOK REVIEWS

The Elite read This Is Lean: Resolving The Efficiency Paradox Niklas Modig and Professor Pär Åhlström

‘Lean’ has become something of a buzzword over the past couple of years. The economic climate has demanded that firms streamline operations to drive as much efficiency as possible. Businesses think they know what lean means – they may even think they operate a lean operation. But in this book, authors Pär Åhlström and Niklas Mohdig challenge the commonly held wisdom that lean is all about efficient use of resources. The key difference between resource efficiency and the true meaning of lean is a focus on values and customer satisfaction, rather than tools and methods, argue the writers. Using lean pioneer Toyota as an example of how the theory works in practice, Åhlström and Mohdig use clear and concise language

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to describe what’s ultimately a rather complex theory. We at EB challenge anyone not to understand the premise of lean and the myriad benefits it offers. Lean, currently the number one selling management book in Sweden, should be mandatory reading for anyone looking to improve efficiency and outcomes within their business or organisation – large or small. The benefits that small businesses have, of course, is that they can embed this kind of thinking from the outset. So what are you waiting for? HP This is Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox, published by Rheologica Publishing, is out now and retails at £12.99

Soul Trader: Putting The Heart Back Into Your Business Rasheed Ogunlaru

Soul Trader is an interesting proposition. Unlike the authors of many business guides, Rasheed Ogunlaru recognises that what drives any new start-up – and causes many an established business to founder – is how much passion and belief you have in it. Which is not to say his book deals in flights of fancy. Instead it encourages us simply to look to what is important in our own lives and let this fuel our work, rather than simply using that work as a way to fund our deeper aspirations. One of Soul Trader’s strengths is its modular nature. Rather than expecting his reader to follow a rigid, progressive

programme, Ogunlaru acknowledges that often you might need more to focus on specific areas and his text is as amenable to approaching when you need a bit of guidance as it is to a cover-to-cover read. Whether you need professional advice on how to identify who your key customers are or you’re feeling out of touch with your creative drive, it’s a resource you’ll want to keep on hand throughout your enterprise’s journey. JR Soul trader: putting the heart back into your business, published by Kogan Page, is out now and retails at £14.99

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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THE ELITE INTERVIEW

Turning a page When Richard Moross first founded moo.com, he had a fantastic gem of an idea. But it didn’t work. Customers just didn’t get it. Then, one little pivot was all it took to blow the competition out of the water

F

or the past couple of years, ‘pivoting’ has very much been the order of the day. Just last year economist and writer Tim Harford argued the virtues of trial and error in his book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure. It is true that some businesses may be destined for failure. The product is wrong. The entrepreneur doesn’t have what it takes. The capital isn’t there. But for another business that has all the necessary ingredients, it may be one small pivot or tweak away from success. This was very much true of moo.com, the brainchild of Richard Moross. The first iteration of his business was a bit of a flop. Customers didn’t get the concept, so they didn’t buy his products. The second time round he had customers in 100 countries in the first week. So what changed? A little creative thinking and a lot of hard graft. Moross is used to flexing his creative muscles. Born and raised in north London, the entrepreneur describes his younger self as “more creative than studious. I wasn’t an academic”. Nevertheless, he went through the motions at school, completing his GCSEs, A-levels and attended Sussex University to study philosophy and politics – a course he enjoyed, but subsequently decided wasn’t of much relevance. “Neither of those things are very useful, as it turns out.” But his attention was diverted during his second year as there was change afoot closer to home. “My parents decided to get divorced in that first year,” he explained. “So I went from being quite happy about being away from home to being quite torn between home and college,”

WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT PHOTOGRAPHY: EMILIE SANDY

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he continued. “Throughout my university life I went back home much more often than I probably would have done otherwise.” Perhaps partially as a result of this, Moross didn’t do quite as well at university as he would have liked, scraping through with a 2.2. Back in London full-time and at a loss as to what to do, Moross had a brief stint in programme finance management at the BBC, then was offered an opportunity at start-up sorted.com. Sorted.com, set up by former television producer Andy Auerbach, was a directory of independent local businesses – from coffee houses to book stores. “It was a tool for unlocking the hidden things in your neighbourhood you didn’t know about,” recalls Moross. The business was to be supported by advertising paid for by local companies. Unfortunately, adequate resources weren’t allocated to the ad team (consisting of Moross alone), with a focus on editorial content and the business failed in 2002. But the experience didn’t leave Moross with a bitter taste in his mouth. Far from it. “The sorted.com experience left me enthused about the internet, but unsure about what my role was going to be.” Uncertain about which direction to take, Moross decided to follow his parents’ earlier advice to play to his creative strengths and consider advertising as a valid career avenue. He applied to 30 different graduate schemes – and was rejected from them all. “I still have all of my letters at home to remind me of my failures,” he reveals. By his own admission, he took the rejection

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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the ELITE INTERVIEW

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“I still have all of my letters at home to remind me of my failures�

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

Elite Interview Richard Moross(L).indd 2

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the elite INTERVIEW

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personally and decided that instead he would garner experience by working on projects as a freelancer. So he gathered some friends together who were “interested in being creative and doing different things” and worked with clients on building their brands. This entrepreneurial approach paid off. Midway through 2002, Moross wrote to Amaze, one of the biggest independent advertising agencies in the world, and managed to secure a meeting with CEO and founder Gary Withers. “He basically hired me on the spot,” says Moross. “Gary has built an amazing business by hiring slightly weird people who don’t fit in anywhere else.” It was during his time at Amaze that Moross first conceived of the idea for moo.com. He originally pitched the idea to Withers as an internal project – he would take a desk at the organisation and give the company a share of the business in return for investment. Despite initial interest, Amaze said no. After a bout of recent redundancies, investing in a fledgling business wouldn’t have been the most politically sensitive of manoeuvres. So Moross set out alone. “This was May 16, 2004: my first day as an entrepreneur,” he says. Moross was a little at a loss what to do next, so an introduction to shrewd investor Robin Klein was very welcome indeed. “The more I showed him of my plans, the more he seemed to be keen to be involved,” recalls Moross. A couple of months later Klein invested some seed capital into the business. At this point, the business looked very different to the one that helped put Silicon Roundabout on the map as a centre of technical excellence and innovation. “It was a terrible name, terrible idea,” laments Moross. “The business was called Pleasure Cards. The idea was to create a business card for your social life – to give out at a party, say, instead of in a business meeting.” This card held some information about its owner, but was in fact a key – the receiver would then have to go to the website and type in a code printed on the card to download the rest of the contact details. At this point, Moross had only raised around £150,000, but with that money he built the product, had it manufactured (building the tooling to enable that), creating the software that rendered everything, as well as all of the technology

“People loved the cards, but they didn’t like what they were supposed to be doing with them” that allowed the team to take an order, then print, pack and ship it. “It was amazing economy, if I think about it from that perspective,” says Moross. The site went live in early 2005 – to an unenthusiastic response from customers. “It sucked,” admits Moross. “People loved the cards, but they didn’t like what they were supposed to be doing with them. They didn’t want to have a social network attached to it; they just didn’t get that.” As the months dragged by, business showed little sign of picking up. The company was running out of cash and its coffers weren’t being refilled as the company was only selling two or three orders a day. It was at this time that Moross met with the team at WeeWorld. The Scotland-based business made little avatars to look like its customers, who could then have the images printed on to T-shirts. “We convinced them to pay us to build a service so their customers could put them on a little card,” explains the entrepreneur. The partnership meant a little money was in the budget for the team to hire a developer to build the integration between Pleasure Cards and WeeWorld. “It was really interesting, and brought in some money, but more importantly, we realised there was a bigger opportunity here to do this with lots of different companies,” says Moross. With his new wingman, Steph Magdalinski, at his side Moross flew to San Diego to attend the ETech conference. Magdalinski was already acquainted with Flickr chief software architect Cal Henderson, with whom the pair met to discuss a possible integration. By now, times were tight, so they were forced to share a hotel room. “I woke up in the morning to see Steph’s bare buttocks – that’s one of my favourite stories,” laughs Moross. Luckily, from that moment, the day improved. Henderson agreed to the integration, meaning that Flickr’s millions of customers would now be able to upload their photographs straight to the mini cards. “Flickr was growing very quickly, and I think we felt that with a bit of help, with them marketing us, we could sell millions of these cards.” Moross and his team started building up a pipeline of other companies with which they could build integrations, much to the interest of the investment community. A meeting with Atlas Venture was scheduled, and Moross was left feeling deflated afterwards. “I was flying

to New York that afternoon, and I remember during the journey to airport I was thinking it was the most sour-faced meeting I’d ever been in with a VC,” recalls Moross. But it seems the investors may just have had excellent poker faces: “I landed in New York and they called to say they were very interested and wanted to make us an offer.” Not that the deal was quite signed, sealed and delivered just yet. “We spoke to a few other VCs and created a little bit of healthy competition. This is very important for your own sanity and for the price, among other things.” At the end of the process in April 2006, the business had secured investment of £2.75m with Atlas leading, and Index grabbing a slice of the action too. All investors around the table agreed on one thing – the name had to go. And with that, Pleasure Cards bit the dust and moo.com was born. The transformation from wobbly, little-loved start-up to Silicon Roundabout darling was complete. The next few years involved a fair amount of experimentation with new products. “We launched several new products; there were postcards, greeting cards. And they all took off to a degree,” says Moross. And then there were the ones that didn’t take off at all. “Notecards were square cards with a little flap that meant they sat like picture frames on the table,” he explains. “It was interesting, because we thought we were going to be an inventor of new products at the beginning.” But the reality was it would be easier to go into markets where there was already demand, but where moo.com could do a better job. This is one of the principles behind the decision to launch a traditional business card product in 2008 – until that point they had only sold the mini cards, which are half the width. “A mini card is a social little funny thing you put your pictures on and then put it a drawer. This is no use to us because you don’t hand it out and tell people about us, and you don’t use them up so you don’t come back and buy more.” explains Moross. “Whereas a business card is a fantastic product. It’s consumable. You create awareness by handing it out and you use it up, so you’re more likely to buy more.” Another big shift for the business was its focus on the America market. In 2008, the UK was growing faster than the US as a market. So in 2009, Moo sent its VP of operations, Brian Murphy (an American), Stateside to set up a US office and production centre. “Whereas before

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the elite INTERVIEW

“People loved the cards, but they didn’t like what they were supposed to be doing with them”

we were shipping everything from London, we were now having it printed by a US print partner, then checking it, packing it and shipping it off to wherever it was going.” This had a massive effect on the business. “Our margins increased, our return rates and customer queries went down.” Customer satisfaction rocketed. Currently, moo.com’s net promoter score – an independent standard for judging how likely a business’s customers are likely to recommend it – is 75%. Moo.com’s nearest rival in its sector has a score of around 60%, whereas Moross’s firm shares the same score is Amazon, Google and Apple. Not bad company to be in. Now entering its sixth year (in its current form, at least) moo.com is flourishing. Having outgrown its Silicon Roundabout headquarters, it moved around the corner last summer to make room for its everexpanding workforce – 90 of its total 125 staff work from the London office. Moross is notoriously cagey about revenue, but last year it was on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and therefore had no choice but to make turnover public – £12.8m in 2011. Moross vaguely says that the business is continuing to grow and is profitable. Although to what extent is anyone’s guess. But he has a finger in another pie, too: in May this year he was made a non-executive director at Ladbrokes – the betting firm with 16,000 employees, 100 years of history and a global footprint. “It’s a great brand,” says Moross. “It has a spectacular team of people there and it’s an interesting moment for that industry.” Moross says it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. “They were interested in me because I come from the scrappy start-up end of the spectrum, and that’s a threat to them in their market – there are lots of young, digital businesses that are coming onto the scene and lots of established businesses that are getting more scrappy. So I can expose my world to them, and they can expose their world to me. It’s a fantastically reciprocal relationship.” Despite this side-interest, moo.com is still very much Moross’s baby. His passion for and dedication to the business is palpable and he still spends between 50 and 60 hours a week on Moo-related matters. Bearing all of this in mind, it’s wondrous that he manages to get the solid seven hours of kip he says he has every single night. His secret? Not wiling away the evenings at the myriad networking events and parties on offer. “I like to see my friends,” he says. “But I’m not at a party every night. No, I couldn’t do that – it would kill me.”

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ONE TO WATCH

BAGS OF FUN 21

z Company CV

Name: YUU Founded by: Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes Founded in: 2009 Team: Two, plus contractors

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

How do you make a functional children’s product fun? Rather than telling them why they should like your product, help them design the product that they would like

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s a rule, rucksacks have always been a hard item to get children excited about. Their association with the back-to-school shopping splurge and the dwindling remainder of the summer holidays can make an otherwise functional product seem more like shackles. YUUbags, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes, have changed all that. “I remember my brother saying to me, ‘You are never going to get a child excited about a rucksack,’” laughs Forbes. “I’m going to remind him of that soon.” YUU has been a long time in the offing. “We first met working for J Walter Thompson many moons ago, when we were 21,” explains Forbes. Even in the early days of their friendship, they

shared a strong drive to start a business together. “After a few glasses of wine or a few whiskeys we often talked about doing something together.” Eventually, when Forbes’ husband moved overseas, she emigrated. Meanwhile, Hayward continued to work within the advertising industry. “I worked for ad agencies and media agencies and latterly I spent ten years at Viacom and a year working for Channel 5,” she says. Despite the distance between them, they never stopped talking about potential entrepreneurial opportunities. “Gill started nagging me a little bit more,” Forbes says. “She kept saying, ‘We must do something.’ With her experience, she’d learned a really great way to market a product.”

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk


ONE TO WATCH

By this stage Hayward had a huge amount of experience of working with other people’s brands and business models – suddenly, she began to feel that she’d rather be lining her own pockets than those of her bosses. “And it was just a lightbulb moment: why am I doing this for other people when I could be doing it for myself?” By this stage, Forbes had already begun to ponder on an idea that would eventually grow into the YUUbag. One of the product’s key features is the YUUfun pack, an assortment of goodies including, among other things, coloured pencils, an A4 pad and a magnetic snakes and ladders set. Forbes explains this concept came from her times abroad with

countries – it quickly became integral and translated to other elements of the brand. “It allowed us to personify our bags,” Forbes continues. “We gave them names; we’ve got the pink bag – the HUUG bag – and we’ve got the bag with the bugs on called BUUZ – they’re all double U.” When producing a physical product, it’s usually only so long before capital becomes an issue. Fortunately, the YUU partners were very lucky in this respect. “The development costs were pretty much negligible because my next-door neighbour happens to be a product designer, only one of a handful in the country who works purely on travel goods,” Hayward says. “We approached him with a revenue share idea.” But, fortuitous though this was, the pair needed to raise funds to begin to place orders and design their website. Here, again, they were very lucky. “When I was made redundant and Viacom closed down its sales operation, I knew a day in advance of anyone else that this was going to happen,” Hayward says. She happened to have her employment contract in her desk drawer; she made some excuses and headed straight to the bank. “I went in with a healthy salary but was only going to have a healthy salary for 24 hours more.” She took out a loan. This wasn’t their only help with finances, as Forbes joshingly relates. “I used my divorce settlement,” she says. Hayward laughs at this. “That’s the benefit of having a nice wealthy ex-husband,” she agrees. “I wish I’d had one of those.” Eventually drawing on help in the form of short-term loans from friends and family, the project made it to its launch. But even then they were still working on things right up to the wire. “It came together about five minutes before the first TV ad came out and the website went live.” But the payoff was almost instantaneous. “When we sold the product after launching, literally five minutes after, we were astounded,” she remembers. “We were ringing each other asking, ‘Was that one of your friends buying that one?’” To say the product has captured people’s imaginations is something of an understatement. A glance at the ‘Who loves YUU?’ testimonials section of their site gives a taste of the sort of glowing praise the product receives, something which is emphasised by the extensive list of awards the product has won. However, perhaps the best example is the team’s recent appearance on Dragons’ Den.

“When you’re a kid, the first thing you do when you get a new bag is you put stuff in it” 22

her children. “I used to always give them a fiver, let them go to WH Smith, pick up little bits and bobs and put it in their backpack,” she says. This was a key inspiration in the creation of the YUUbag. “When you’re a kid, the first thing you do when you get a new bag is you put stuff in it,” continues Hayward. “So we thought, ‘Why don’t we just sell the whole bag filled with the stuff?’” But neither of the partners wanted to prejudge what children would expect from the product. Hayward explains: “We had the principles of what we thought the bag would be, but we were very much: ‘This is about kids; let’s not assume we know what kids want.’” They entered a very intensive research and development phase; giving children free rein, the entrepreneurs asked what features they’d want in a bag. “We had all these ideas like a desk and a secret compartment and a lot of the kids actually put that in their backpacks,” comments Forbes. “It kind of confirmed really what we wanted to achieve.” While the entrepreneurs’ marketing backgrounds were undoubtedly important in these design considerations, it was when it came to branding that their experience proved invaluable. Core to the business’s principles was that it was all about putting children at the centre of the process. “We wanted to find a name that was talking about them,” Forbes says. “Which is how we came up with the idea of YUU.” While the spelling was a necessity dictated by their desire to build an international brand – the word ‘you’ would mean little outside of English speaking

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

Going into it the partners were far from lacking in confidence. “Initially we felt they couldn’t really rip our product apart,” remarks Forbes. “How could they? It had sold 13,000 units and we had good turnover.” But when actually standing only a few feet from the Dragons, it couldn’t have been more different. “All of a sudden that completely dissipates,” she continues. However, their familiarity with their figures won the investors over and suddenly they found themselves at the centre of bidding war. They eventually sided with


ONE TO WATCH

a joint offer between Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones, feeling they best understood what the brand stood for. “It was a great experience but not for the faint-hearted,” says Hayward, before joking: “Anyone with a heart condition – just don’t send them in.” While their sales have been very healthy since their launch, their encounter with the Dragons has marked the beginning of a new stage in YUU’s journey. The pair have very big dreams and this new investment is a useful launchpad.

“We want to be the one-stop shop for kids out and about globally,” says Forbes. Given that the YUUbag was developed with international markets in mind, the duo’s expansion plans hardly come as a significant surprise – the launch of the brand over in Australia is scheduled for the first quarter of 2013. And as long as these entrepreneurs continue putting the things kids want at the centre of their products, it seems the world is truly within their grasp.

“The vision is that we want to be the one-stop shop for kids out and about”

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ANALYSIS

Inspiring a generation The jobs market for young people is tougher to navigate than ever before. But many are working on creating their own futures 25

WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT

E

nterprise in the UK has had a real shot in the arm in recent years. And it certainly hasn’t been from the banks. No, it’s been from the surging popularity of entrepreneurship among young people. One look around September’s bustling MADE Festival demonstrated the passion and engagement of a generation inspired to make a difference – a far cry from the lazy troublemakers we often see depicted in the national press. It’s safe to say that starting a business is seen as a far more credible career option for young people than it ever has been before. “I certainly think that the culture for entrepreneurship has changed,” says Michael Hayman, founder of PR agency Seven Hills and the brains behind MADE. Hayman says this change is being driven in part by the UK’s dire economic state – and the career challenges that creates. “The fact is for a lot of young people there just aren’t a lot of jobs about. We’ve got the situation where there are just under a million unemployed 18-24 year olds, and many of those people are going to have to realise that as there aren’t jobs they can take, they’re going to have to make them.” The increasing visibility of entrepreneurs helps too, says Oli Barrett, co-founder of StartUp Britain, creator of Tenner (a competition where school children are loaned £10 and are challenged to make money) and dubbed as the ‘most networked

man in Britain’. “Shows such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice do make a big difference,” he says. “They get people talking and thinking about business.” These shows also showcase what it means to be successful – something which, historically, we in the UK have not been very good at, says Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, the country’s largest independent plumbing company. Having left school at 15, Mullins started his company in 1970 – it now employs 200 people and turned over £17m last year. “People often say to me that I’m always in the paper, showing off my money and my motor, but if it encourages youngsters to be successful, what’s wrong with that?” Barrett agrees that there is no shame in being transparent about what motivates us. “If I don’t get out of bed in the morning thinking about how much money I’m going to make that day, I shouldn’t pretend otherwise,” he explains. “Likewise, if buying my third Aston Martin is actually a life-fulfilling experience for me then why not pass that on because it will connect with some people, won’t it?” Nor should we be despondent about the number of young people who say that they want to be in the public eye, argues Barrett. “I think people are unduly depressed by kids saying they want to be famous. All they’re really saying is ‘I want to be someone, I want to do something with my life. I want to make my mark on the world’.”

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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ANALYSIS

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One young person determined to make a splash as a teenager was Gary Martin, now 23. Martin started his own business at 13, made his first million at the age of 17 and now runs a number of successful, highly profitable businesses. Martin credits his success to the people who inspired and supported him in his formative years. And, while the list includes the usual suspects such as Richard Branson, one of the most influential people in his life was his father. “My father was a big teacher for me,” Martin says. “You need someone who can teach you the tricks and show you the path. As great as it is learning about the big guys, you do need someone who can look at you as an individual.” Even now, Martin counts his advisors and board members of his main business, Martin Construction, as trusted mentors. “I’m smart enough to realise the skills I don’t have and that I haven’t seen everything. So I try to surround myself with people who have lots of expertise and have done this before. I’m always looking for grey hair to bring into the business.”

“As great as it is learning about the big guys, you do need someone who can look at you as an individual”

Gary Martin

Zoe Jackson, 23 Founder of Living The Dream and StartUp Loans ambassador

“Mentors are important to me. I have a couple to whom I’m really close and speak with regularly and there are others I can go to occasionally”

I started Living The Dream when I was 16 to raise money for my own performing arts training. I put on annual showcases for young people, providing affordable access to the arts. I did that throughout my A levels and my degree and then, when I graduated just over two years ago, I decided to set up a school of performing arts, which included things like classes and after-school clubs and shows. Then this year we launched our dance company, which does flashmobs, events and music videos, and our charity. I do lots of other things too, and got involved with Virgin Media Pioneers about a year ago, which meant various different opportunities to meet Richard Branson. Then I got selected by him to represent his Control Shift campaign and together we launched a dance app on Virgin Media’s TiVo. Through that I got involved with Start-Up Loans, for which I’m now an ambassador. I think the media, especially since the riots, have tended to show young people in a very negative light. What I hear from our students and other young people is that this perception

in the media makes them feel really negative about themselves and stifles their confidence and belief in being able to achieve great things. That’s what Living The Dream is all about: it’s trying to break those stereotypes. Mentors are important to me. I have a couple to whom I’m really close and speak to regularly and there are others I can go to occasionally to get great advice about strategy and turning Living The Dream into a global brand. You have to be very forthright about asking for help. When I was at university, I sent out 200 letters to celebrities saying, this is my company, I need some support, advice and money. Actor Alan Rickman wrote back to me and invited me for lunch, which was just amazing. He has stayed in touch and given me ongoing advice since. I think that’s proof that if you put yourself out there, people are generally flattered that you’ve asked for their help and good things can come of it. In the beginning, as a 16-year-old blonde girl, it was sometimes hard to be taken seriously. But my confidence has grown so much over the last four or five years. I think it’s all down to that. If you’ve got the confidence, you can make people believe in you and your ideas – no matter what age you are.

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ANALYSIS

“It’s about improving their employability by helping them get off their backsides and do stuff” Duncan Cheatle, non-executive director at Start-Up Loans

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Martin is an example of an entrepreneur who didn’t feel the need to go to university. His father persuaded him to give it a shot, so he attended Ulster University in Northern Ireland for two weeks before he decided he needed to get back to running his business, which was already thriving. But higher education and entrepreneurship aren’t necessarily at odds, with plenty of universities running increasingly successful entrepreneurship societies. Indeed, Oxford Entrepreneurs claims to be the University of Oxford’s largest society. And lots of entrepreneurs are forming the ideas for their businesses while at university and putting medal to the metal when they leave (see case study on James Eder). After all, there is arguably no better time to start a business than immediately after a degree finishes – with little likelihood of having amassed many assets, there is minimal risk involved. Duncan Cheatle, serial entrepreneur and a non-executive director at StartUp Loans, set up to lend more than £81m to entrepreneurs aged 18-24 has just launched the Rise To club. Rise To is about inspiring young people to have the enterprise spirit. “If you get through school and university and you’ve got nothing but average grades to show, you’re not employable,” he explains. “It’s about improving their employability by helping them get off their backsides and do stuff.” One of the ways Rise To and StarUp Loans plan to help young people is by connecting them with entrepreneurs who have already set up their own businesses. “It’s all very well having Branson doing the inspirational piece, but what we absolutely need is people in their 20s who are doing it, who are sharing their stories,” says Cheatle. The general consensus is that the future for young entrepreneurs in the UK is bright. Hayman, who is involved with Peter Jones on the Tycoon In Schools scheme, is certainly optimistic for the future of young entrepreneurs in the UK. “The level of enthusiasm and optimism among that group is absolutely unbelievable,” he says. “It stands in stark contrast to the perceived wisdom that what we’ve got is a nation of young people who are about to give up.”

James Eder, 29 Co-founder of thebeansgroup.com and StartUp Loans ambassador I started studentbeans.com back in 2005 when I was 22, just a few weeks after graduating from the University of Birmingham. I wrote a business plan as part of my degree where I actually came up with the idea for studentbeans.com and after graduating it made sense to set it up. I co-founded the business alongside my business partner and brother, Michael. He came up with the name of our website; the name studentbeans.com is based on the idea that our website is as essential to student life as a can of baked beans – a staple part of the student diet. We are now called The Beans Group (www.thebeansgroup.com) and have recently launched a site called morebeans.com, which is focusing on life after university. Our initial start-up loan request was rejected by the bank and in the end we received a low-interest loan from The Prince’s Trust. We were part of The Prince’s Trust Business Programme, and the advice and support from them in the early days was invaluable. It was not just about the funding, but the additional support structure. At first, we just had a holding webpage saying ‘coming soon’, but the money helped us to print promotional materials and get the website up and running.

“At university while friends were partying and sleeping, I worked as a brand manager for Yellow Pages, did work placements in the Philippines and Colombia and organised events on campus” I’ve been inspired by lots of different things and different people and I always knew I didn’t want to follow the crowd. From a young age I always got involved in different things, for example Young Enterprise at school. At university while friends were partying and sleeping, I worked as a brand manager for Yellow Pages, did work placements in the Philippines and Colombia and organised events on campus. All these opportunities lay the foundations for my next steps, I knew I wanted to run my own business and do something that really makes a difference.

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ANALYSIS

Peter Jones Entrepreneur, investor and youth enterprise enthusiast Serial entrepreneur, millionaire businessman and star of Dragons’ Den, Peter Jones is arguably one of the fiercest proponents of youth enterprise in the UK. He has worked tirelessly with young people, government and businesses to raise the awareness of and viability of entrepreneurship among young people. He has worked with Oli Barrett on the Tenner scheme, and he launched the Peter Jones Academy in September 2009. His latest foray into youth enterprise is Tycoon In Schools, a loan scheme among schoolchildren which launches on November 5, 2012. “I came up with Tycoon In Schools as a result of trying to find a way to really help kids start a real business at school,” says Jones. “There are plenty of initiatives in schools today that relate to starting a business but there hasn’t been one that provides start-up capital to the tune of £1,000,” he explains. “I wanted to raise the bar and introduce a new competition that I could be really involved in and grow over the years to come.” Jones isn’t alone in his ambition to improve attitudes towards early entrepreneurship: prime minister David Cameron has already pledged to offer

support for every school in England to run its own business. But are these just hollow words? Jones says not. “I definitely think the imbalance is being addressed, but until we have entrepreneurship education from five to 18, we are severely limiting the number of young people leaving school and starting businesses.” Indeed, Jones has been campaigning for years to make enterprise a core component of the British education system with a GCSE in the subject. “I’ve even written Britain’s first ever qualification in enterprise and entrepreneurship in the form of BTEC, levels II and III, but I look forward to the day when David Cameron calls me and asks me to write the GCSE and A-level. I won’t stop pushing for this to happen – it has to.” Despite the fact there may be much more work to be done, Jones says change is afoot – at least in terms of the prevailing attitude towards entrepreneurs. “That’s down to a combination of factors, especially TV programmes like Dragons’ Den, that have raised the profile of enterprise and made it a very real and credible alternative to becoming an employee of someone else’s company,” Jones posits. “I said back in 2005

that business is becoming the new rock’n’roll, and I do think people’s perceptions of becoming an entrepreneur have changed a lot over the last five years.” This means that there has never been a better time to start a business, he argues. “I definitely think starting your own business is more viable today than it ever has been before,” Jones says. “There is more help and advice open to young people than there has been in the past and the advent of the internet and social media not only makes it easier to find out how to start up your own business, but also how to gain international profile and market yourself much more quickly, cheaply and effectively than ever before.” But this doesn’t necessarily mean success and riches will follow, he warns. “There is no single winning formula that can guarantee the success of your business,” Jones says. And a massive cash injection is no silver bullet, either. “Money most definitely isn’t the magic ingredient to setting up a successful business. You need a good idea, a committed team, huge amounts of dedication and passion and a little bit of luck – you have to give it your all and just get on and do it.”

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“There are plenty of initiatives in schools today that relate to starting a business but there hasn’t been one that provides start-up capital to the tune of £1,000”

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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STRATEGY

REBEL WITH A CAUSE Ian Sanders

Ian Sanders is a marketing expert, writer and ‘ideas junkie’ who helps businesses communicate ideas. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and doing things differently.

Work isn’t just a place you go

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Mash-Up author and business contrarian Ian Sanders says work is a mindset, not bricks and mortar

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ometimes, sitting here with my coffee and laptop, working out of a local coffee shop it’s easy to forget that while ‘work’ has changed for so many of us, for many others it’s still the same. My own work life has changed beyond recognition from its pattern 10 or 12 years ago when I was defined by a job title and the organisation I worked for. Work was a place I went to. Sure, there were business trips, there were mornings working from home, there was some flexibility, but generally accountability was measured by showing up and sitting at a desk. The ones who went home last were seen as the hardest working. How flawed. Leaving a well-paid job to go independent was not an easy move and it’s certainly not been plain sailing in the 12 years working

for myself. But on the plus side, I’ve been able to redefine my business to reflect the real me. Work is now a mindset, not a place I go to. And that trend represents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurship in 2012: all you need to start a business nowadays is a smartphone, an idea, a bunch of contacts and the right attitude.

“I’ve been able to redefine my business to reflect the real me. Work is now a mindset, not a place I go to” Let’s not over-complicate what ‘business’ is – it’s the process of taking an idea and making it happen. In my third book Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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31/10/2012 22:35


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STRATEGY

Happen, I wrote about this opportunity – where you can launch and test an idea online in an instant. TV shows such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice would have us believe entrepreneurship is chiefly about inventing a product, pitching to investors in a beauty pageant and then getting the money to make it happen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can start small, especially if your business idea is a digital product or service that doesn’t need stacks of funding, premises or people on the payroll. Business success can be about keeping it small and profitable, not big and unwieldy.

“You can start small, especially if your business idea is a digital product or service that doesn’t need stacks of funding, premises or people on the payroll” 34

The difference between success and failure is – of course – about hard work and getting down to the nitty gritty, getting your hands dirty. You want an example of entrepreneurship? Whatever the title sequences of Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice might convey, being an entrepreneur is not about wearing a designer suit or a smart skirt and flying off in a private jet or being driven around in a posh car. It’s about having the balls to turn your idea into a business. I’d prefer to look closer to home for an example of entrepreneurship at its finest – people like Simon Barlow and Ash Fields, the two guys who run my local coffee shop (disclosure: I’m running on their caffeine and WiFi right now). They had a dream to stop working for other people and start their own café. And today they’re doing it: working long hours, six and seven days a week. They pulled it off; they have their names above the door (quite literally, as it’s called Barlow & Fields). That is what business success is about – keeping your head above water and retaining customers when there’s 20 competitors in a square mile radius. So if you’re struggling to live up to someone else’s ideas of business success, rethink your approach. Success is all about the right mindset and confidence to grab opportunities, shape a work life that suits you and create a product or service that makes a difference, that solves a problem, that has a purpose in life. Mindset is what will deliver the productivity you need, the attention to detail, the passion, the customer service. You can’t fake it – you either have it or don’t.

“The difference between success and failure is – of course – about hard work and getting down to the nitty gritty, getting your hands dirty”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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Leader of the pack

Affordable fixed fees Expert legal advice Start-up focused To find out more www.buckworthsolicitors.co.uk 0044 20 8834 1616 Follow us @BuckworthLaw Visit us at stand no 244 The Business Show 22nd/23rd Nov 2012 Olympia - London

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25/10/2012 15:14


FINANCE

Should you hire a part-time FD? 36

There’s a growing trend among SMEs to forsake a full-time finance director and instead to hire a part-time one. This might be a good idea for many firms strapped for cash, but in need of expert help

WORDS: JON CARD

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lack of experience and know-how or ‘management capital’ can prevent a business from growing and reaching its full potential. It’s a common problem in entrepreneurial businesses, where employing someone on a six-figure salary is always going to be a big step. Experienced and qualified staff don’t come cheap, but sometimes their know-how is an essential investment. The hiring of a finance director (FD) is such an appointment. Full-time FDs regularly earn circa £120,000 plus benefits. This is often too much for a small business and, in any case, the company wouldn’t have enough work to keep a full-time FD occupied. But entrepreneurs experiencing rapid growth do benefit from having a wise head in their team providing them with detailed information, advising on strategy and dealing with banks, financiers and investors on their behalf. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many successful businesses have opted for the growing trend of hiring people, such as finance directors, on a part-time basis. These employees will cost a business in the region of £1,000 per day, however, they will only be working three to five days per month. They are also on call and

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012


FINANCE

available to provide advice over the phone. This need was spotted as a gap in the market about a decade ago and there are now several firms that provide part-time FDs to businesses at an affordable price. Sara Daw is the chief executive officer of one such firm, The FD Centre. Daw says the concept of the part-time FD has grown rapidly in the seven years she has worked at the company. The FD Centre now has over 100 FDs working for it in the UK and also has offices in Australia, South Africa and Canada with a combined turnover of approximately £10m. Daw, an experienced FD herself, says her company carefully vets all of those on her books and any business thinking of hiring one must ensure they have a person with both the right skills and attitude. “All our FDs have to be qualified accountants and finance directors for numerous companies. They need experience of working for blue chip companies but also have the right attitude to work with SMEs,” she says. “Many have run their own businesses and have performed non-finance roles, they are business people at heart. Finally, they must pass the barbecue test – we have one every year and everyone comes – if we wouldn’t want to invite them to it they won’t get the job.” Finance directors are often seen as glorified accountants, someone in charge of the purse strings. However, their role revolves more around strategy and planning rather than simply counting the cash. Entrepreneurs who would

benefit from an FD are those looking to invest or spend large sums of capital on assets, expand into new markets, perform mergers and acquisitions, exit from the business or prepare for a stock market flotation. “Businesses that use us are entrepreneurial and owner-managed and all want to grow,” says Daw. “They haven’t always grown as much as they would’ve liked, but they want to do something about it. Their turnovers are usually between £2m and £50m.” Entrepreneurs who feel they are in need of better financial information when making decisions might very well need the services of an FD. James Bell is the founder and managing director of FoundOcean, an £18m turnover business which fixes offshore structures, such as wind turbines and oil platforms to the seabed. His business is very niche and predicting costs and profitability was often an issue, particularly as the company was being offered larger contracts. “We’d got to a stage where we’d run a project but wouldn’t really know how profitable it was until maybe six to eight weeks after the completion of the project term. So we were conscious that as our projects got bigger it was important to have real-time weekly, maybe even daily, information on individual project performance,” says Bell. Bell hired a part-time FD through The FD Centre and says his business has rapidly grown since then, confident in the knowledge that its progress was financially sound. He says the company’s growth since he took on an FD

“All our FDs have to be qualified accountants and finance directors for numerous companies. They need experience of working for blue chip companies but also have the right attitude to work with SMEs” Sara Daw, CEO of The FD Centre

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

“We are a small business, which means I can be doing anything at any given time and having financial systems in place helps me to focus on what needs to be done” Sue Whitehead, founder of male grooming and barber chain Jacks of London

“It is often the case that entrepreneurs who have excellent skill sets for starting and establishing a business, don’t have the right ones for running and managing a much larger company” James Bell, founder and MD of FoundOcean

demonstrates the importance of the role. “We turn over approximately £18m a year at the moment. Five years ago that figure was only about £2m a year. Everything that we have achieved in terms of growth has happened in the last five years,” he says. “We also needed someone to help us deal with external finance businesses such as banks, insurance companies, auditors and so forth.” It is often the case that entrepreneurs who have excellent skill sets for starting and establishing a business, don’t have the right ones for running and managing a much larger company. They need to hire people to help them manage but this can be a major leap of faith for the man or woman who is used to forging their path in the world as the one in charge. Also, entrepreneurs often find themselves on a plateau, where they aren’t quite profitable enough to take on bigger contracts, more staff and expand. These business owners really need some quality advice and information to help them form a plan that can transform their small enterprises into national or international operations. Sue Whitehead founded the male grooming and barber chain Jacks of London in the mid-1990s. Her business was growing well, but as the company developed into a multi-salon national business it became obvious she needed stronger financial management. “Although I have a really good business, I needed someone to help me get back on the straight and narrow because, being a hairdresser first and foremost, my forte is not dealing with finances,” says Whitehead. So she hired a part-time FD, Jim Bellingham, who set about organising the business’s finances

and systems. Whitehead says there was a whole range of issues for Bellingham to get involved in. “He helped me secure a slightly bigger overdraft by dealing with the bank on my behalf. He also helped me sort out some problems I had regarding tax and VAT with a lease and the landlord. I needed to make small tweaks right across the board and to sort out my cashflow so that everything was working properly for me. Practically speaking, he has created spreadsheets and payslips that are easier to understand and use. He has assisted in setting up procedures that make the day-to-day running of the business much easier.” Whitehead says her experience of a having part-time FD has meant she is better able to fulfil her primary role: running her business. Her FD created the systems and can provide Whitehead with the information she needs to make good decisions based on financial realities. “Although we turn over a fair amount of money, we are a small business, which means I can be doing anything at any given time and having financial systems in place helps me to focus on what needs to be done,” she says. Similarly, Bell says his FD has helped to give him better information and this means he has more control over his business. “The most important thing of all is to know your numbers and to have them available when you need them. When I had to juggle the FD function with my role as business owner, I really only got to know those numbers when it became really important to know them,” he explained. “With an FD on board those numbers became available all of the time.”

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November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

Saying ‘NO’

needn’t equate to less cash Small business owners tend to worry about declining any opportunity. But saying no needn’t necessarily impact on the bottom line. Quite the opposite, says Dr Mike Clayton

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WORDS: DR MIKE CLAYTON

E “You have a list of things that you never get around to doing. And you never will do them, because they are the “shoulds” in your life – the poor relations of the “musts” that get done with gritted teeth.”

ntrepreneurs tend to be go-get-it, just-do-it people with an ethos of taking on stuff and delivering. That can be dangerous in an environment where dogged determination and calculated risk-taking are the real keys to making a sound proposition into a successful business. Too many of the brilliant ideas and instant inspirations tend to be nothing more than a distraction from what really matters in launching, sustaining and growing your business. Success, therefore, demands you are able to evaluate every opportunity on its merits, and

do so quickly and accurately. Saying yes to everything will spread your talents and time too thinly. You will dissipate your energy and your business will fail. What you need to do is say yes to the right things and that means being willing and able to say no to the rest. But if you are a restless person eager to try something new, as many entrepreneurs are, when an opportunity comes along, you will simply want to go for it. This ‘gopher’ mentality will lead you down blind alleyways. And if you are a positive person who would hate to be seen as negative, saying no seems like the ultimate in failure.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

Turn no into a positive

You know that success comes from focusing on what matters to the exclusion of all other distractions. When you do this, a no becomes an ‘N.O.’ – a noble objection. A noble objection is noble because it turns down opportunities that do not conform to your mission: to building and growing a successful business.

When to say NO

Here are some essential criteria for a noble objection: the right reasons to say no:

• Your ‘to don’t’ list

You have a list of things that you never get around to doing. And you never will do them, because they are the ‘shoulds’ in your life – the poor relations of the ‘musts’ that get done with gritted teeth. But you still feel guilty about them, which is a waste of energy. Mark them as ‘to don’t’ and just say no. 42

• Negative thinking

As an entrepreneur, you will have setbacks. It is how you interpret them that matters. Three forms of negative thinking are particularly toxic for business owners. Personalisation: believing ‘It’s me – it’s my fault – I’m the problem’ Pervasiveness: believing ‘This will happen whatever I do – there’s no way out’ Persistence: believing ‘It’s always happened – it always will – there’s no stopping it’ • Petty-thinking

Focus on the big picture and the important details. This will keep your work directed towards success. Big thinkers, big players and big people avoid pettiness of all sorts. They turn a blind eye to small failings and direct their attention to the big issues. • Mindless repetition What can you automate to make your business and your life simpler, and create more space for creative thinking, winning business, delighting your customers and getting your products and services just right? • Meaningless distraction Don’t get me wrong: we all need a break – hardworking entrepreneurs more than most. But know the distinction between distraction and relaxation. You need to properly relax and recharge. Simply letting yourself get distracted from what is important is ‘purposeless procrastination’. Do not confuse it with a proper break.

And when to say YES

• Outcomes Knowing clearly what you want to achieve is a pre-requisite for wise choices. The late Stephen Covey said it as well as anyone else, with his second habit: “begin with the end in mind.” As an entrepreneur, you should always know what success will look and feel like for your business. With outcomes established, say yes to opportunities that will move you towards these goals. • Catalyst You will get nowhere if you wait for the universe to give you the answers, the resources, or the opportunities you want. Great entrepreneurs go out and make things happen. Don’t wait for the phone to ring; pick it up. Don’t wait for the advert to work its magic; get out there and sell. Don’t wait for the focus group to report back; go out and meet some real users, and talk with them. Act as a catalyst and create the opportunities for changes that you want. • Generosity It is a cliché that generosity rewards the giver because it is, more frequently than not, true. Don’t get so caught up in what you want as to stop being a ‘mensch’ – a person. Be a part of your community and your society and contribute in some meaningful way. Who knows, you may meet other like-minded business people from whom you can learn new skills or pick up great ideas. • Objectivity Luck, superstition and gut instinct are for amateurs. For real success, take in all available evidence and assess it objectively. We create our own luck by doing the right things for long enough for the statistics to support our actions. Superstition creates fear and futility and robs us of control. Gut instinct only works when you have trained your intuition to the very highest levels. • Balance Focus is good but, over the course of a week and a month, balance your attention between different areas of your business and of your life. In business, too much focus becomes tunnel vision. Balancing your life is the secret not to achievement, but to fulfilment. The question to ponder is: what is achievement for?’

Dr Mike Clayton is a business speaker and author with nine books to date. His latest, The YES/NO Book was published in October by Pearson. Learn more about it at www.theyesnobook.co.uk You can contact Mike through his website at www.mikeclayton.co.uk

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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FINANCE

Pop-up shops to revitalise high streets in time for Christmas From now to Christmas, pop-up shops will start to appear in towns and cities across the UK. Here, Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at ICAEW, looks at the phenomenon and how businesses of all sizes can take advantage

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What are the main financial advantages of pop-up stores? Pop-up stores are a low-cost way of testing a product or service in the marketplace whilst still keeping costs and commitments low. They can also test if a location delivers sufficient numbers of customers into the shop. How much easier will it be for businesses to explore these opportunities following the government’s removal of the restrictions on setting up in vacant premises? In future, landlords will be able to temporarily change the shop use for up to two years before having to apply for permission. Previously, landlords had to apply straight away for change of use causing delays to the shop being made available and significant costs. Do you think that pop-up stores are a viable solution to reinvigorate the UK’s faltering high streets? There is no one solution to the reinvigoration of the UKs high streets which have been under increasing threat from online and out-of-town shopping. It has resulted in increased numbers of empty units – UK shop vacancy rates are around 15%, according to The Local Data Company’s monthly barometer. However vacancy rates in many town centers in the North and Midlands are now approaching 30%. The ideal is for high streets to offer a good mix of different types of business but for that to happen, town centres have to be affordable

and attractive places to trade. The Department for Communities and Local Government has a project to ‘re-imagine urban spaces to help revitalise our high streets’. And the private sector is contributing too. StartUp Britain has an initiative called ‘PopUp Britain’, which has a temporary shop in Richmond which will be occupied by promising small enterprises for two weeks on a rolling basis. All of these start-up retailers already run online businesses, but none of them have the financial clout to take on a shop single-handed.

Pop-up stores are a low-cost way of testing a product or service in the marketplace whilst still keeping costs and commitments low What advice would you give to businesses looking to explore these opportunities? If you want to try a retail outlet in a new location, pop-up shops can provide the means of doing this at a lower cost and with less commitment than signing a lease from day one. The novelty value of pop-up shops can help sales, but you still need to do the basic business preparation. This includes the following:

• Research the footfall of the proposed location. Decide whether the area has potential to attract new customers • Check what other businesses operate in the area and whether they are potential competition. If there is competition, ask how to differentiate your business. • Check the proximity of the premises to customer parking and how customers can collect items purchased. • Think about deliveries of goods into the premises. • Negotiate with the landlord about the terms and conditions of the tenancy – the term, the rent, etc • Consider how much you need to spend on refurbishing the shop to appeal to customers. • Get quotations for expenses such as insurance, rates, etc • Prepare an advertising campaign – local media opportunities, leaflet drops, local newspaper inserts, etc. Consider developing a website and use of social media to drive traffic to the website and the shop. • If you need to raise finance, prepare a business plan using the research and preparation to demonstrate to finance providers that you are maximising the potential of the business. Getting ready to start a business always takes longer than the owner thinks possible. So when planning, start from the scheduled opening date and allow sufficient time for each of the above activities with a contingency for the unexpected.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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SALES & MARKETING

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One of the things that makes digital marketing so useful is its fluidity. However the lack of boundaries means the unwary can find themselves cast adrift – which is why it pays to find the right crew

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

D

igital marketing has become a part of our daily lives. In recent years with an increasing narrowing of the borders between the social and the professional faces of the internet, the power online advertising holds is constantly increasing. Despite this, there are very few promotional tools that are quite so misunderstood, with many enterprises more likely to dip a toe in than to try to launch right out into the open ocean. When dealing with such a big unknown, it’s often worth speaking to a hardened seafarer. Adam Russell is the head of display at LBi, one of London’s largest digital agencies, overseeing graphical advertising, video advertising and interactive advertising online. “Why should you do digital marketing?” he asks. “The reality is that consumers – and people within businesses – are spending an increasing amount of time online.” A colossal

amount of research has been carried out on the subject, analysing the time consumers spend accessing various types of content – both on and offline – and comparing that to the amount of capital invested into those various channels. He continues: “What you see is that most advertisers are punching below their weight with digital.” Digital media can often be the best method to get your brand out there. First of all it has very strong benefits for start-ups and entrepreneurs, in that – when compared to some other media – it can be much more scaleable. “The barrier to entry for TV advertising is pretty high; you’ve got to produce a TV advert, which isn’t cheap, and you’ve got to be buying advertising on a pretty large scale,” Russell explains. “Digital advertising scales all the way from companies that manage their paid search on Google themselves, spending £20 a month, all the

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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SALES & MARKETING

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Whilst digital marketing can be a shifting sea, it’s incredibly resource rich and offers one of the best opportunities for your enterprise to scale quickly and reach new horizons

way up to companies that are investing seven, eight or nine figures in their digital marketing.” Another of its strengths is it offers increased measurability, something lost in more static forms of media. Even with the most simple methods such as Google’s self-serve platform, there are plenty of options to measure whether consumers are carrying out particular activities on your website. Russell remarks: “It’s very easy to say: ‘I’m going to test some different search keywords and some different ads then see how well those ads perform and whether we generate a return’.” Of course if it were all that straightforward then most enterprises would be engaging in managing their own media campaigns. What sort of things is it that are tending to trip up enterprises that would otherwise be able to operate more effectively in the digital space? “Some enterprises have a lack of desire to really understand the value the different channels drive,” Russell comments. “Time and time again we see businesses fall to the easiest measures to achieve.” An example of this may be overvaluing something like paid search in comparison to display or other measures. “It’s very easy to see the impact that paid search

is having because someone searches on your brand term and they’re likely to convert,” he explains. “But if you’re not trying to understand what made that person search for your brand term in the first place then you’re really missing the whole point.” In the digital marketing industry there is an analogy that is often bandied around and has become something of an inside joke. “There’s a guy; he’s running a little cornershop and he finds that whenever he sells a product, the person that bought that product came in through the front door,” Russell begins. Putting two and two together and getting five, the owner believes the answer to securing more customers is placing more doors. Eventually every outside wall is made of nothing but doors and yet he’s getting the same number of customers as before – he hasn’t realised that something else influenced the customer to come through the door in the first place. “Sometimes that’s a problem, where we see businesses are just focused on ‘this channel brought a customer to my website and so I should try to do more with that channel’.” Clearly then there are reasons why it helps to have a digital agency batting for you, rather than leaping in to tackle digital marketing on

your own. “Things in the space change very rapidly and so you need to have people who really understand that space,” says Russell. The different areas of digital marketing were once quite clearly defined, with elements such as social media, SEO and content operating in very distinct ways. But the edges have become increasingly blurred, with many of these areas becoming heavily interrelated. “You need a company that can work with you in all of those spaces, otherwise you’re going to end up with potentially fragmented messaging and a fragmented space,” he continues. “If you break up any part of the digital ecosystem, you’re losing some of the connection between those different channels.” “We’ll quite often end up in conversations now where someone says: ‘Facebook advertising. Is that a form of display or is that a form of paid search?’” Russell relays. Whilst technically it should fall under the banner of display, the fact it operates on a similar ‘cost-per-click’ model as paid search means that definitions are becoming more complex. Additionally, as display is becoming more often bought under biddable models, it is increasingly being placed under a banner of ‘biddable media’. “I’d actually argue they’re very different in the way you’d talk about targeting them and what you’re trying to achieve,” responds Russell. “But there is an increasing level of synergy between the different channels.” Whilst digital marketing can be a shifting sea, it’s incredibly resource rich and offers one of the best opportunities for your enterprise to scale quickly and reach new horizons. And with the right navigators on-hand you’ll find its an ocean that’s easily conquerable.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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SALES & MARKETING

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While it’s tempting to take bad reviews personally, if you learn to deal with them properly, your harshest critics can become your greatest allies

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

Raining on your parade?

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t’s difficult to accept that not everyone is going to like what you do. No matter how hard you work on something, there’s always going to be one person for whom it doesn’t hit home. Whether you’re the late Steve Jobs or our very own start-up diarist Nicola Barron, eventually there will be someone with a cross to bear who will take a swipe at your business. And that’s something that can be incredibly hard to deal with. If businesses are their owners’ babies, negative feedback is like their young children being bullied at school. Fortunately, there are often ways to turn this into an opportunity. First of all, recognise you aren’t the only one. Everyone gets negative reviews and, while they can be difficult to stomach, you can guarantee someone else has had it worse. Imagine receiving this glowing praise: “I seriously wish there was a “hated it” option instead of a simple “didn’t like it”, because frankly I loath this” (sic). It’s hard to think of a more damning statement and you would think it must have sent its target scurrying

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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Even though negative feedback is a fact of life, like rising damp, you ignore it at your peril

to bury their head under the duvet – except that its target was William Shakespeare. Yes. That William Shakespeare. The most celebrated writer the English language has ever known– and potentially ever will. Given the above is only one of more than 25,000 execrable one-star reviews the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet has received on goodreads.com alone, that should really put your own negative reviews in perspective. However, even though negative feedback is a fact of life, like rising damp, you ignore it at your peril. It’s generally a sign that somewhere something has gone wrong and this is a problem that needs addressing before you end up with a bad case of brand subsidence. A recent example is that of Facebook in its response to people’s fears that old private messages were being posted publicly to their timelines. Given its long experience of working in a very privacy conscious market, you would think the social media giant would know how to handle a contentious issue like this. So what was its solution? It told the users they were mistaken and denied there was a problem. Regardless of the truth of the situation, this isn’t a tactic that showed much respect for its users and not only did many threaten to switch off the service as a result but it also led to the company’s share price tumbling 9.1%. One of the most important things you can do to handle criticism of your brand is to show you understand and appreciate the consumer’s concerns. You can’t necessarily fix every fault with your service but you can

show that you’re at least committed to taking the feedback seriously. If someone has taken the time to write a negative review of your product, it’s unlikely to be simply random malice – they almost certainly have real concerns that they’d like addressed. Even if you can’t respond and fix everything on a case by case basis, showing you’re committed to taking on board the feedback of your customers will undoubtedly ease the frustration they feel when things do go wrong. Seeing negative events as blessings in disguise may be a cliché, but like most clichés it came into existence largely because it describes a universal truth. When you talk to business savvy entrepreneurs, they tend to frame negative reviews in the same way – the phrase you’ll often hear is, “It’s an opportunity to improve your service.” Effectively, criticism – even if it isn’t framed in the most constructive way – is product feedback and as such is an incredibly valuable tool, the sort large companies pay significant sums of money for. The death of any saleable service or product begins when you lose contact with objective criticism; surrounding yourself with only favourable responses prevents you from attempting to innovate and inevitably stagnation follows. However, a bad review isn’t just a chance to improve what you’re bringing to the table. The way you respond actually allows you to say far more about your business than the original criticism ever could. A recent viral video does a far better job of illustrating this point than any amount of dry marketing theory could. Richard Neil’s humourous rant about the dramatic licence taken in the advertising of female hygiene products on the Bodyform Facebook page hardly constitutes damning criticism – but some bright spark at the company’s head offices realised how a similarly light-hearted response could piggyback on the original post’s virality. The resulting video apology from the company’s ‘CEO’ made national headlines and has demonstrated how much the public respects a company that is able to laugh at itself. Clearly, issuing a self-deprecating video every time you get a bad review on a blog or someone gives your product a single star on Amazon is going to result in rapidly diminishing returns, but there is still a clear lesson to learn from Bodyform’s little jape. Essentially, there is great value in letting people see that your enterprise is comprised of human beings; there’s very little people respect quite as much as transparency. If you’re able to show them that you aren’t just a stuffed shirt in an office, they’re far more likely to warm to you than if you start throwing around threats and lawsuits. Additionally, if people feel you’re happy to engage with their worries and criticisms rather than hide behind your brand and PR agency, it’s more likely they’ll feel comfortable engaging with you directly, rather than feeling the need to issue an indirect attack online. None of us likes being criticised and there are always times when a scathing review touches a sore spot. But the sting can easily be salved with the right treatment. If you have a solid service or product, there’s little damage a bad review can do to you – but the opportunity it represents really can’t be underestimated.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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PEOPLE

Performance

art

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With organisations of any size, it’s important to check you’re on the same page as your employees and that their needs are being met. Effective performance management is your key to avoiding unscripted disasters

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

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erformance management is one of those bits of business terminology that’s mentioned so regularly it’s almost just another item of office furniture – like a printer, it serves a function but it’s only when you need it that you pay it any real attention. This means that often it can be easy for enterprises not to realise there are problems with their performance management until it breaks down entirely. At which point you find you have a queue of 150 documents to send out but a piece of equipment that simply growls and eats paper. Clearly then, there’s a value in taking your performance management seriously. Adrian Wakeling, senior guidance manager at ACAS, believes the first step is truly understanding the purpose your performance management fulfils. “Performance management is the system you use to align your business goals with the work of your employees in order to get better results for your business and to improve individual and team performance,”

he states. One of the most important things to recognise about performance management is it’s essential fluidity; plans need to be able to adapt according to the needs of either party. Wakeling elaborates: “As the business changes and evolves, an individual’s objectives should also change.” This idea of the meeting of mutual need is something echoed by Liz Reynolds, HR director at Trustmarque. “You first have to look at the business and what kind of business it is and what it’s trying to achieve,” she says. Trustmarque’s primary function is on helping their customers get the best value out of their software solutions and technology. As a result, it’s a company with a very strong focus on interpersonal skills and relationships. “It’s all intellectual property, people and advising,” she explains. “Everything we do has to be centred around people and enabling them to do their jobs in the best way.” And this is where truly effective performance management comes in. “Part of what we’re

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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trying to do is set out a very clear vision for what we want for the business,” says Reynolds. Having a good deal of experience working with other businesses, she has become aware that their organisation is unusual in the amount of freedom it gives its employees – they are self-driven and determine how best to handle their day-to-day tasks. “People end up checking their own objectives and in many ways driving their managers as much as their managers drive them,” she says. The staff are very competent and – as these are their careers – they want to achieve and excel in their respective fields. “Managing performance becomes more about supporting and enabling, which is a lot of what we do in HR.” But if one is to really understand how effective one’s performance management scheme is, then this idea needs to be dissected a little further. First of all, it’s vital that employees are engaged with the scheme, rather than feeling it is a hoop they must jump through. “We drive managers towards what we call a quality conversation,” says Reynolds. Simply working through fields and checklists isn’t going to create a functional performance management system because it’s not going to an encourage an employee to invest in their work. “You’re not going to get that employee engagement by treating them that way.” “There are four ingredients of employee engagement,” Wakeling says. “Vision, voice, empowering line managers and integrity.” The most effective performance management systems need to address all of these factors. For example, it’s all very well having an overall vision but without an overall integrity to that vision, your employees will inevitably display little engagement with any performance management that is introduced. “Engagement is about getting the ‘people bit’ of your business right,” explains Wakeling. “Performance management is very much about aligning your people with your business interests.” While the manner of delivery is important, however, some attention does need to be paid to the nuts and bolts of how you actually structure your performance management. And while this can sometimes appear to be very simple, in practice this can be deceptive. “Sales performance is very easy to measure in some ways,” says Reynolds. “They have to bring in a certain amount of revenue per month.” But it really does come down to more than just monitoring sales targets. “Reflecting the complexity of our business, we don’t just assess people’s performance – we’re looking at the mix of business,” she explains. “Are our sales people talking

“It’s all very well having an overall vision but without an overall integrity to that vision, your employees will inevitably display little engagement with any performance management that is introduced”

about solutions to our customers? Are they introducing managed services and longer term annuity business?” Hitting a key performance indicator (KPI) is obviously important but performance management also needs to look openly at the quality of the work taking place. Good performance management also needs to be reflexive. If employees don’t feel that their managers are subjecting to the same level of scrutiny then faith in the scheme will inevitably dwindle. “It’s about making performance management a more dynamic process for employees – not just letting it happen to them,” Wakeling observes. “If employees trust their managers and have a good ongoing rapport, they are more likely to interact with the performance management.” This can take the form of anything from giving managers feedback on how they prefer to be managed to suggesting ways working practices can be improved upon. Reynolds outlines how this can work in practice. “All of our sales managers get their employees metrics but they

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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“It’s about making performance management a more dynamic process for employees – not just letting it happen to them” also get 360 degree feedback,” she explains. “They’re hearing directly from their teams about what they’re doing well and what they need to improve.” And this can be absolutely vital, not only in introducing across-theboard accountability but also preventing employees feeling like performance management is just a case of management ‘keeping tabs’ on them. Reynolds introduces an analogy to describe this degree of transparency. “It’s not like the room is just floodlit from above,” she says. “Everybody has a torch – there’s nowhere to hide as the light might be coming from any number of angles.” As positive as all this sounds, however, performance management is also there to deal with problems when things go wrong. “We very much believe in rapid response,

and more informal ways of dealing with performance,” Reynolds comments. “Often, if you look at things early, you can get to the heart of the matter before you have to start with formal processes.” Heavier-handed formal proceedings tend to have an inertia that makes them hard to stop once initiated, so pre-emptive measures can prove invaluable. “If you can have those discussions softly and early on, people are more likely to be honest rather than defensive,” she explains. “They’re more likely to say, ‘I’m really struggling at the moment with the new products’ or ‘breaking into this particular customer’.” When things do become more formal, you can rely in part on existing procedures. “There may be overlap between performance management and your disciplinary process,”

says Wakeling. If performance management doesn’t improve things, then formal approaches such as issuing a written warning and putting in place an agreed improvement plan are well-tested routes for dealing with ongoing issues. However, as Wakeling explains, “The aim of both your performance and disciplinary systems is to improve future performance rather than punish past performance.” However, with an effective performance management programme in place, these cases should be in the minority. At its most effective, a performance management system will ensure the aims of your employees and the aims of your business are in sync. And when they’re both pulling in the same direction, there will be nothing to hold you back.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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PEOPLE

One good intern deserves another WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

For a new business taking on and training an intern might not be the first idea that springs to mind. But it could be the beginning of a beautiful mutual relationship

W

ith the jobs market becoming increasingly crowded, internships have become the standard entrance gate for a significant number of different careers. This has increasingly become a point of contention in recent years, with the ethics of unpaid labour being called into question. However, despite this, if managed responsibly internships can be a tool that benefit all involved.

“There are several benefits for young businesses,” says Andrew Scherer, the communications director of Inspiring Interns. One of the UK’s leading intern recruitment agencies, Inspiring Interns works with a full-spectrum of enterprises, from those that are just launching to blue chips. However the businesses for whom internship schemes tend to be the most valuable are start-ups. “What we find is when they get someone in, they get someone who’s going to have a completely fresh perspective,” he explains. Often the most valuable thing an intern can bring is a fresh set of eyes. “Particularly when it’s a graduate, they don’t have any preconceptions,” Scherer comments. Because they aren’t limited by ideas of ‘how things should be done’, it is far easier for them to think outside of boundaries and innovate – something that fills a very valuable niche.

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November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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“The companies have been too close to the project and they don’t have the time to sit down and start thinking about new opportunities.” A valuable relationship with your intern comes with recognising that it needs to be reciprocal. Rather than simply being an employee you don’t have to pay, your intern has to be getting some reward for their work. “Essentially it’s just about putting a bit of time in,” comments Scherer. Whilst paying their lunch and travel costs as a gesture of good will is certainly a start, you need to respect that they’re there for real experience. As Scherer says: “In an internship opportunity the intern is predominantly there to learn – and obviously they will contributing to the company – but alongside a careful structure, getting a lot of feedback and being carefully supervised.” Putting in place this sort of structure requires time, effort and above all a commitment. But an enterprise needs to understand that this is part of the trade off. “You’re paying an intern lunch and travel expenses rather than a full wage,” remarks Scherer. “You can’t be enforcing series of tasks on people, you can’t expect them to work independently all the time.” This does signify a reasonable investment in terms of time and planning but when a start-up truly appreciates the dynamic, the rewards can be pronounced. “As long as company’s understand that then it usually works to their advantage,” he says. “The more you put into it from a company’s perspective, the more you get out of it from the intern.” Obviously investing time and money in honing talent is all well and good but often if you have helped get someone up to speed, then you’ll be rather keen to hold on to them. “I think there’s some impetus on the part of the business to consider keeping the intern at the end if they’ve proved themselves,” remarks Scherer. Particularly if the intern has capably demonstrated their ability then it is worth keeping an eye

Rather than simply being an employee you don’t have to pay, your intern has to be getting some reward for their work.

on the future and trying to earmark some money for the recruitment pot. “If you are a start up and you’ve found someone who works well with you, has bought into the company, has proven that they can add value to your company, it seems ludicrous that you would then let them go,” he says. Even if you aren’t in a position to take them on at the moment, it’s worth remaining in touch with them for the future. Additionally, introducing them to other people in your network is a way of showing you appreciate all their hard work. But start-ups are vulnerable places and there’s very little spare capital for mistakes. How can you be sure that running an internship doesn’t end up being a costly mistake? “You have to look at it within the context of hiring an intern versus hiring a full employee from the word go,” says Scherer. The majority of the time the issues will be the same whether you’re hiring a full-time employee or an unpaid intern; you don’t know whether they will fit into the team or share the ethos of your company and you can’t entirely predict what the quality of their work ethic will be. But, he explains: “You have the same issues but the risk to the business in terms of financial outlay is obviously a lot smaller, so that mitigates risk.” Upon weighing up your options, an intern can often the best bet for your fledgling venture. But that doesn’t mean that finding one on your own is necessarily easy. Which is why services like Inspiring Interns can prove to be invaluable. “We spend a lot of time, both with the intern and the company, getting to know what they’re like, what their personality’s like, what the company’s culture is like,” Scherer says. “When we come to send potential applicants to a company, we’re confident that they’re going to be the right fit.” When looking at graduates for their internships, Inspiring Interns conduct lengthy face-to-face interviews, getting to know the candidates. Once they have identified their strengths and the kind of opportunities they are best suited to, they then create a video CV of the candidates for their website. “It means employers can get a good look at someone before they meet them, explains Scherer. “It almost acts like a first round interview.” This means organisations can find interns that truly fit their needs. Ultimately an intern scheme is like any investment – generally the more you put in the more you stand to gain. And whilst you need to ensure you put the work in, it can be the beginning of a long and happy working relationship.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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TEAM TRANSFORMER Martin Reed CEO

Reed has been at the helm of psychometric testing company Thomas International since 2007, after being appointed as chairman two years earlier. As well as penning this regular column for Elite Business, he is also a founding member of the Bucks Business First and a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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Education and business: worlds apart? Rather than the current stalemate, the working and education spheres need to better complement one another, says Martin Reed

A

fter the GCSE controversies earlier this year, with Ofsted’s chief schools inspector calling for an overhaul of the system and exam boards called into question over their grading policies, the relationship between educational establishments and the businesses they feed is sure to have been further damaged by the uncertainty of the current system. In my column last month I mentioned that SMEs need to bear in mind that the structure and content of our education system has been changing for decades, adapted by successive governments, the result of which is employers feel they can no longer rely on school and college qualifications as a reliable indicator of an individual’s skills, knowledge and aptitude. This summer’s furore, and the resulting flurry of media coverage, can only have deepened that lack of trust between businesses and the education sector. But rather than circling each other with distrust, the bond between the commercial and educational arenas needs to become stronger and a reciprocal relationship between the two established. I strongly believe there is an opportunity

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

for businesses and secondary-phase learning centres to work more closely together to mutual benefit. With that in mind, Thomas Education was launched this summer to help bridge the gap between the education system and the world of work. As a business owner myself, I understand that employers want the assurance of knowing that students who come through the education system are clued up on what employers need and have the skills to be able to perform in a professional environment. While academia for its own sake is clearly a vital part of our national curriculum, I believe employers also need the reassurance that schools give young people the tools to understand where their natural strengths lie, develop a high degree of self-awareness and identify the types of work they are best suited for. Without those elements, both school leavers and recruiters will waste valuable time and resources narrowing the field, especially in an era where exam results are no longer taken as gospel. It’s reassuring to know that it’s not just this side of the pond that struggles with the relationship between the two different sectors. A recent American report concluded that


PEOPLE

businesses need to be more forceful and not merely ‘pawns’ if they want to change schools for the better. I believe that we all need to be more forceful about taking responsibility for the quality of school leavers and their readiness for work. The recently released American report was entitled What It Takes for Business To Help Drive School Reform: Partnership Is A Two-Way Street – a sentiment I strongly agree with and one of the reasons why organisations like ours need to do what they can to bridge the divide. Thomas Education has been founded to specialise in, among other things, providing impartial careers advice, helping young people identify the types of work for which they are best suited, and giving them the confidence and motivation to make decisions about careers and further education. Although traditional career guidance provides support on CV writing, interview skills, etc, it often fails to make the final link between education and work and really help young people understand the actions needed to gain employment. I feel honoured that we’re in a position to bring our 30 years experience in the business world to the education sector and I’m certain that many other businesses are also in a position to offer their commercial knowledge to learning centres in desperate need of ‘catching up’ with the professional industries. Our solution differs from many existing career advice options as all our counsellors come from a business background and have interviewed thousands of individuals seeking employment. This interaction with business professionals is vital if we want the next generation of employees to be up to speed when they leave formal education. For any business that cares about the quality of future generations of school leavers, taking the initiative to partner with schools is worth consideration. The education system often lacks the commercial experience to bring a management mindset to their situation, or the knowledge that business models can be useful to education. Businesses across the UK can make contact with local schools and enter into a discussion of how they can work together. There are plenty of ways to get involved, depending on your company’s area of expertise – mentoring sessions, speaking to students, work-experience placements, lesson planning with a business focus or even, as with Thomas Education, offering a tailored commercial service. When future school leavers come out of education well educated, professional, switched on and ready to hit the ground running, the effects will benefit us all.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TECHNOLOGY

It’s been a rather distracted month in the Elite tech labs. We’ve been told that copyright pirates make the best consumers. With slightly creepy ramifications comes the story that the blood of the young may contain the key to fighting ageing. Lastly comes the news that a method exists to potentially define if the universe is a computer simulation by locating aberrations at the finest resolution of reality. Yep. But despite all that, we’ve still picked out our favourite tech for you to enjoy.

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite How much can you improve on paper? Quite a lot, if the Kindle Paperweight is anything to go by. Introducing LED frontlighting and a boosted contrast, it’s certainly Amazon’s finest offering to date. Still not persuaded to give up your paperbacks? Wait until you lay your hands on the touchscreen. Amazon have added a matte finish that feels like paper stock, bringing the all important tactile factor back into reading. Bye bye books.

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has plenty to get excited about. A very reasonable screen, good quality stereo speakers, an impressive 2GB of RAM. But what really excites us here at Elite is its stylus – having teamed up with Wacom, manufacturers of the Bamboo graphics series, Samsung are offering a product with some exciting applications for those who are design inclined. Whether it can KO Apple’s iPad, however, remains to be seen.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TECHNOLOGY

Dozuki The last few years has seen quite a trend in the number of web apps aimed at creating attractive documents. However, technical documentation is not something that was ever given a facelift. Until now. Dozuki offers a great way to create in-depth technical instructions that are visually led – it allows you to create clean and clear guides that don’t simply cut your customer adrift in a sea of technical writing. The icing on the cake is that they look absolutely stunning.

Webr

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You’ve been able to browse websites on your mobile phone for years now. Well, finally, thanks to Webr, you can create them too – with some very striking results. You probably need to be realistic with your expectations; you won’t be coding Amazon on your mobile but if you need to put together a clean, well-designed site for your viral campaign, this will put all the tools you need on your hip.

Simple Simple presents a novel banking service, providing an excellent GUI to navigate your way round your finances, acting as your account manager and functioning as a very nifty money management app all at the same time. The service also has some amazing features. Its Visa card registers purchases almost instantly and its take on envelope budgeting is one of the most in-depth and intuitive we’ve seen. Finally, it displays remaining cash in terms of how much is ‘safe to spend’, meaning you’ll never accidentally spend your petrol money again.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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28/08/2012 12:43


TECHNOLOGY

Second byte of the apple

70

WORDS: Rajesh JOSHI, www.melbourne.

The dawn of cloud storage means businesses have a new opportunity to focus on data back-up, says Melbourne Server Hosting’s Rajesh Joshi

S

ir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, said, “Data is a precious thing,” and he’s absolutely right. Every organisation has data and lots of it – from customer lists, staff records and invoices through to still images and video. If you’re a business, as you grow you’re only going to get more of it. From your laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones great gigabytes, terabytes and even zettabytes of information will come – a zettabyte being roughly the collections of all the academic libraries in the United States half a million times over, or for any Jack Bauer fans, a full-length episode of hit series 24 running continuously for 125 million years. Businesses of all sizes are experiencing more

rapid data growth than ever before. Research from leading analyst firm Gartner suggests that businesses will struggle to keep up with this ever-increasing data deluge as our reliance on technology continues. This data is your lifeblood and, just as with any other precious resource, you need somewhere to keep it safe. In computer-speak, this is what we call storage – keeping your original data on a server, computer, disc, memory stick or other device so you have access to it. This is all fine but what if you have a fire or a flood, or the power supply to your server fails? It happens more often than you might think. That’s where data back-up can come to the rescue. As a term it sounds like one of those dull chores you have to do, like

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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TECHNOLOGY

You should be looking for a web hosting company that offers you fast connectivity, high levels of security and round-the-clock technical support

remembering to put the rubbish out, but it’s of huge importance to all businesses and in particular those that operate predominantly online. It essentially means creating a separate copy of your data for safe-keeping. There are different options. You can keep that back-up on-premises (also known as ‘local back-up’) and simply have two separate servers whirring away in a corner of your office. One holds the original data, the other holds a copy of it. Nothing wrong with that – any back-up is better than none at all – but what if you suffer an incident that causes both machines to fail, such as a power cut or a theft? Having your eggs in the same basket is not the best policy. The other option is to go off-premises and keep the back-up copy of your data in another geographical location. This can be done by backing up your data to a tape and then physically removing it from the premises. Not a bad idea but one that relies on you remembering to do this daily and store the tape safely. Or you can employ the services of a company that is expert in back-up and can protect your data safely and securely on its own servers. When thinking about back-up, you need to ask yourself, “Do I really want this responsibility?” For an increasing number of business owners the answer is no. They don’t want to have to buy extra hardware and pay someone to manage or maintain it. They want to concentrate on driving their business forward rather than having to worry about the IT behind it. We are certainly seeing a growing demand for off-premise back-up, particularly from businesses and organisations that thought they didn’t need back-up only to have their data wiped out due to an unexpected fire or power failure at their premises. Many of them are choosing off-premise cloud back-up. This basically means sending copies of your data via a secure internet

connection to a physical location, where it resides until needed. Cloud back-up comes in a different range of price points depending on what your requirements are, such as the size of data storage you need and the frequency of the duplication process, but tends to be cheaper than fully managed back-up. If you do choose off-premises, you need to be sure you use a reliable hosting company. You should be looking for a web hosting company that offers you fast connectivity, high levels of security and round-the-clock technical support. A company that owns and manages its own data centres is preferable because there are some whose idea of 24/7 support is calling someone out of their bed at two in the morning to go to the data centre to deal with your issue. That can take a long time. It’s important to think about scalability too. As your business grows so does the amount of data it collects. You want your business to be able to grow smoothly without any major hiccups. By choosing a hosting partner that has the capacity to manage huge amounts of data and the connectivity required to transmit it (what we in the IT world call ‘fat pipes’), you’ll be able to do just that. Also, if compliance and legal issues are vital for your business – in the pharmaceutical or financial services sectors, for instance – you might need to use a hosting company that can ensure your data remains within UK borders. As one of our clients – the owner of a start-up online parking business – recently told me, “When I think about the data in our business I compare it to owning a shop. Each product that sits on the shelves has a different value and therefore its own individual worth. Each piece of data in my business is an asset in its own right. Without this data, we have no business, so we absolutely must take care of it.”

71

Visit www.melbourne.co.uk or call 0161 232 0001

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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31/10/2012 22:04


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24/10/2012 15:00


TECHNOLOGY

On the tech wagon

For a lot of people, giving up their gadgets is the last thing they’d want to do. But here are seven reasons why spending some time technologically teetotal could do you some good

W

e live in technology-saturated times. When American navigation service provider Telenav identifies that a third of people would rather hang onto their mobile than have sex, you can see how obsessive we are about our digital technology. And why shouldn’t we be? It keeps us connected, entertained, informed and creatively-fulfilled. But there are a few reasons why sometimes a taste of cold turkey could actually do us some good.

1

73

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

It could make you more productive. Counterintuitive though it may seem, research from the University of California, Irvine, has demonstrated that forgoing email at work can both lead to a lower, more natural heart-rate as well as increasing levels of concentration by preventing unnecessary ‘window-hopping’. Whilst technology increases our ability to connect and gather information, this is more evidence that it can sometimes prove counter-productive, particularly in undermining our levels of concentration.

2

Life is about quality, not quantity. Whilst having access to all the world’s information on your hip is an exciting prospect, (not to mention rather useful in settling trivia-based pub disputes), more information and faster speeds isn’t necessarily going to equate to a better quality of life. Research from Virgin Media Business this summer identified that only 10% of us believe that increased connectivity will improve our quality of life. And in an age where most of us are taking our inboxes on holiday with us, the occasional detox would probably do us no harm at all.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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31/10/2012 23:13


TECHNOLOGY

3

Whilst technology allows us to stay in contact with more and more people, it doesn’t actually necessarily increase our ability to form social ties. Research into the issue by Intersperience points to an anthropological model, ‘Dunbar’s Number’, which suggests that the human brain is unable to process more than approximately 150 social relationships in a stable manner before social bonds are stretched too far. Past this point we struggle to maintain mutual and reciprocal relationships. Paul Hudson, the organisation’s chief exec, reckons that some of relationships we maintain through social networking are almost voyeuristic in nature, rather than operating from genuine social bonding.

74

5

Less time on your smartphone equals better sleep. Whilst most of us are mentally acclimatised to being stimulated to such high levels, our bodies are still a long way from adjusting. Our circadian rhythms aren’t really equipped to decelerate from 60 - 0 in just a few seconds. Which means overdoing it on Angry Birds at bedtime can mean a much lower standard of beauty sleep. Additionally the Lighting Research Centre, of New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has identified that any more than two hours on a backlit device in the evening can suppress melatonin levels by up to 22%. This makes for a rather fitful forty winks.

4

It may seem to make sense from a productivity point of view to make use of dead times like the commute or lunch break by getting on our smartphones, but it’s actually only by taking downtime that we’re able to build our experiences into a coherent picture. By keeping our brains in a state of constant stimulation we’re depriving them the time to correctly process and store the valuable information we learn. So whilst having access to all that information is unarguably a good thing, taking some time to reflect is often the best way to make use of it.

6

Every time you take a fix, you’re becoming ever more addicted. This may sound like dramatic license but unfortunately it’s the biological truth. When we’re enjoying our technology it causes a release of dopamine in our brain; this is the chemical that causes us to seek out pleasurable activities and is also the thrill addicts seek when drawn to recreate any high, whether that be a cigarette, a skydive or crack cocaine. Whilst it is a natural response, the more we repeat an activity to stimulate it the stronger the compulsion becomes. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that our technology stimulates this itch and – as with gamblers or those who compulsively overeat – we can become addicted to the payoff using it gives us.

7

Technological addiction is currently under review for classification as a genuine mental health disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, 1994 (DSMIV) is the most widely recognised classification of mental health disorders and inclusion in an upcoming volume would signify that technological addiction is a recognised mental illness. Whilst ‘internet-use disorder’ sounds like a cute term, the fact it potentially is coming to be recognised as a genuine disorder signifies the severity of the problem.

Taking in all of these points, the ramifications are disturbing to say the least. However it’s important to remain realistic. Most of us don’t have a problem with our technology, and it can provide huge benefits. From helping to organise mass-protests, spreading charitable aims and revolutionising the relationship between businesses and consumers, technology is changing our world for the better. It’s just worth bearing in mind that a little moderation can help us to better appreciate any of life’s pleasures, whether that be a relaxing glass of Sauvignon in the evening or indulging in a little social networking – in the real world.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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26/10/2012 14:29


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31/10/2012 20:46


TECHNOLOGY

The Techspert David Hathiramani

He may be co-founder of trendy suit retailer A Suit That Fits, but Hathiramani is also something of a closet geek. And the Imperial College computing graduate is here to impart some of his wisdom about setting up an internet business.

Outsourcing: a good fit?

77

In David Hathiramani’s second column on outsourcing, he takes us through the journey from those initial baby steps to having an altogether more grown up outsourcing proposition...

I

n my last column, I discussed our growth journey at A Suit That Fits and our foray into IT outsourcing. I concluded that a local chief technology officer, coupled with an international team, works best for us. However, we didn’t make a swift leap straight from outsourcing a few projects to finding our perfect way of working – we tried a few different ways of outsourcing, including having a dedicated resource. A dedicated resource is when a service provider allocates one person to complete work for your business for a fixed amount of time (ie, you have one permanent person working with you for a month). There are a number of advantages to this approach. The first is commitment; you have one person concentrating solely on your work. Knowing that you don’t have an outsider juggling different projects as well as your own gives you peace of mind – you are the priority. What’s more, just like a new member of your team, your dedicated

“There are a number of advantages to this approach. The first is commitment; you have one person concentrating solely on your work”

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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01/11/2012 08:55


TECHNOLOGY

78

resource grows with time, gets better at working with you and starts to need a less directional approach. You’ll then begin to develop a good working relationship with your resource and they will learn your ways of working and the culture of your business – similar to when you recruit internally. The final advantage we identified with a dedicated resource who was with us for a period of time is that they could maintain our software – something that a freelancer commissioned for a project can’t do. However, it’s not all plain sailing and we did encounter a number of problems when using a dedicated resource. First of all, we had to recruit. We needed to find somebody we trusted with our IT function. Therefore, we needed to find a company that we could trust, and then work with them to find a resource who was right for us. When you find the right person, there are likely to be culture differences. Even if neither of you realise to start with, when you start working, you will soon realise that there are differences in your ways of communication and working. We delivered a number of projects using a dedicated resource, but we were never able to manage, grow and develop the projects like we would with an in-house member of our team. We have been through different styles of working internationally with IT programmers and, as I concluded in my last article, we have found that a local CTO coupled with an international team works best for us. That way, we are able to source the most skilled people, who are dedicated to our business and able to support our fast growth.

Potential problems to consider when your dedicated resource starts working with you:

1

Keeping a log You need to find somebody who you’ll trust to consistently write good comments on their code – otherwise, you will go back and nothing will make sense.

2

Setting up for scale We found that projects and databases would be set up on a ‘one project’ basis to get something done, rather than setting up to scale up and grow the business.

3

Retaining your resource When you are not directly employing your resource, they can change at any time. Whether they leave the agency or start working on another project, you’ll have to start again with someone else. Potentially, you could be provided with someone without the skills you require – so it’s a risk.

4

Settling in Your dedicated resource has their own manager, in their own company, with their own business culture. Therefore, they’ll never really feel like they are a part of your business and you won’t get the commitment levels you would with a member of your own team.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

David's column.indd 2

01/11/2012 08:56


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30/10/2012 21:46


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30/08/2012 19:22


FRANCHISING

Franchise in the spotlight:

Barrett & Coe

82

C WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

“Our franchisees have covered weddings in the most prestigious locations throughout the UK: castles in Scotland, the Ritz and all the places in between”

onventional logic would hold that truly excellent photography, like all art, is something that cannot really be taught. But this month’s franchise in the spotlight shows this for the fallacy that it is. With just a few years of experience, the work of a Barrett & Coe photographer can easily rival the work of someone who has spent their whole life honing their art. “The results are phenomenal,” remarks co-founder Andrew Coe. “We have hundreds and hundreds of forms from customers saying what wonderful photography it was.” The progenitors of Barrett & Coe certainly aren’t lacking in experience of the field. “I’ve had a long history with photography,” explains Coe. “My family firm is one of the oldest in the world; it goes back to 1850.” His co-founder Brian Barrett has also had plenty of recognition for his portrait and wedding photography. “He’s been

pretty renowned throughout the industry,” Coe says. “I don’t just mean in the UK – both in America and across Europe and winning awards in all of those places.” It was on a flight to compete for such awards in New York State that the two met. The level of competition in America provided a stiff challenge and one neither of the photographers could resist. By pure chance they got chatting on the plane and the subject quickly moved onto how little training was available for wedding photography and portraiture. Coe recalls, “We thought, ‘There really isn’t anywhere that’s training portrait and wedding photographers.’ There was no formal training.” Neither academic settings nor government organisations had any real provisions for training people wanting to become professionals in the field. And this was all it took to spark the Barrett & Coe franchise.

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

In the digital age, when an abundance of photographic tools, devices and apps are at our fingertips, it takes quite a unique service proposition for a photography company to rake in the cash. Welcome to Barrett & Coe

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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FRANCHISING

“We found it was possible to take train someone who had never done photography before to become a highly successful wedding photographer”

Very quickly, during the first half of the 2000s, Barrett & Coe became a thriving photography franchise. Its roster of franchisees grew to 65 photographers, all of whom were producing the highest standard of work. “Our franchisees have covered weddings in the most prestigious locations throughout the UK: castles in Scotland, the Savoy, the Ritz and all the places in between,” says Coe. Rapidly, it became clear not only that the model worked, but that it was highly effective. “We found it was possible to train someone who had never done photography before to become a highly successful wedding photographer.” Since 2009, the franchise has undergone significant change, with portraiture becoming their main focus. “That’s not to say we don’t do weddings – we do but portraits have become the driving force,” explains Coe. With a network of affiliate contracts with organisations such as the National Childbirth Association and the British Medical Association-produced Emma’s Diary, as well as large businesses such as the Activity Superstore, Barrett & Coe are able to set their franchisees up quickly and give them access to plenty of work. But how does the franchise go about converting someone who hasn’t ever ventured beyond their smartphone camera to a successful studio photographer? Potential franchisees are welcome to attend one of of their photographic courses on a no-commitment basis, allowing them to get a feel for the enterprise and meet other franchisees. After that photographers are taught via training sessions – either two a week for three months or one a week for six months. There is also a fast-track option, which provides additional one-to-one training for those wanting to hit the ground running. “The method we use is one that Brian and I constituted together and refined over the years and is incredibly effective,” Coe remarks. A bold claim but one that Coe can back up. “An example was Sebastien Bullinger who opened in the beginning of August. He was a chef, and he made £7,000 in his first month,” details Coe. Bullinger is an excellent example

of the effectiveness of their training and the business’s ability to produce results, regardless of prior experience. “He is very good. Originally, he didn’t know anything about photography, but he’s got a real flair.” It makes a wonderful story, being able to produce talented photographers from people’s innate skills, but to most people it would seem like something of a gamble, attaching their brand to people with no prior experience. Fortunately Barrett & Coe has plenty of systems to ensure that franchisees feel supported and customers remain happy with the quality of their photos. Not only do franchisees receive additional training when they’re starting out, covering every aspect of the business, but they receive a visit from Elaine Shepard, formerly one of Venture Photography’s most successful managers. “She will go round to each studio,” says Coe. “She’ll advise on design. She’ll do a studio audit. She’ll train them in all the sales processes and the business processes.” Not only this but franchisees are engaged in inter-franchise quality competitions and results are published not only on a closed Facebook page but also publicly on Barrett & Coe’s blog. Finally, after the photographs are processed at Loxley in Glasgow, the results are all sent back via the central offices. “We then look at them for quality,” Coe says. “If we have any issues we will ring the franchisee concerned and take appropriate action; if they need extra training or just talking through something.” Once the images have been through this quality control, they are returned to the franchise so the results can be handed on to the consumer. But, of course, a picture is worth a thousand words and while we can describe the effectiveness of the training, it is easier to simply see for yourself. And, as is evinced by these images, Barrett & Coe’s training produces some truly memorable results. Whether you’re a newbie who has always fancied the idea of getting into photography or a betrothed couple looking for someone to commemorate your special day, you could do a lot worse than Barrett & Coe.

83

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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31/10/2012 21:30


Liz Bunton realised the true potential in bricks and mortar Working in the film industry for over thirty years and regularly globe-trotting to far-flung destinations sounds glamorous. But Liz Bunton, 55, says, “All I used to crave was my own home and a cup of tea!” As the industry changed, Liz decided that she wanted to carve out a new career which would give her more time at home and a far more flexible source of income. “My life was no longer my own, and I became dissatisfied with all the travelling and my hectic schedule. In 2009, as the industry got tougher following the economic downturn, I decided to try something different which would give me a better quality of life, and more time to spend at home.” Having already invested in the stock market and property over the previous thirty years, Liz was very clear that bricks and mortar would form the basis of her new venture. she explains, “I’ve lost more money in the last thirty years in the stock made.

Conversely, I’ve always made money in property.

As

market than I’ve

To me, it’s a safe investment.”

With her home in Battersea, South West London substantially rising in value since Liz purchased it in

Liz Bunton

1992 and carried out an extensive restoration programme, together with other Buy To Let investments in her portfolio, long -term capital generation wasn’t the issue. Liz’s requirement was to create a healthy monthly income. Liz’s research led her to discover Platinum Property Partners (PPP) and start an initial dialogue with the team to find out more about the Franchise. After several long conversations with PPP, Liz felt reassured enough to attend a Discovery Day. As she explains, “I received so much advice and good quality information from the Platinum Team, which was incredibly valuable. I also met some of the

THE FIGURES:

other Franchise Partners and saw what they had achieved in relatively short periods of time. Without doubt, being able to get first-hand experience of what other people had accomplished was really helpful in my decision making process.”

Total Portfolio Value:

Circa £1.5million Annual Rental Income:

£154,200

Annual Operating Profit:

£73,200

It was the ability to generate monthly cash flow that proved to be the determining factor for Liz, she explains, “I saw that, with the right backing and support, I could make a good income from property, which I wasn’t achieving at the time on my own. It became apparent that PPP’s professional house sharing model was the only way forward if I wanted to generate cash flow. Crucially, I also realised I could be in business for myself, but not by myself. I would have the support and contacts I’d need to make it happen.”

Portfolio Development Profits:

£315,000

With four HMO properties now in her portfolio, together with the healthy portfolio development

THE PROPERTIES:

properties in the next twelve months or so,” she says. “Although having said that, I am a little busy. I’m

profit of £315,000, Liz still isn’t one to rest on her laurels. “I’ll aim to buy and redevelop another two studying the History of Art, something I’ve wanted to do for years. I had four holidays last year, and I’m

Two six bedroom properties Five bedroom property Eight bedroom property

able to indulge my passion for going to the Theatre and the Opera. At last, I can actually plan my life and

Investment location: South and South East London

thing that takes the most time is my accounts and my accountant does most of the hard work for me!”

have time for me. That’s the biggest luxury of all.” And what of her growing property empire, doesn’t that keep her busy too? “I’m at the stage now where my portfolio takes a few days a month to run. The

BE MORE • DO MORE • HAVE MORE • GIVE MORE Find out how you can realise the true potential in bricks and mortar, ask us about our Discovery Days Head Office: Suite 6, 5 Lansdowne Place, 17 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EW T: 01202 652100 F: 01202 559419 E: info@platinumpropertypartners.co.uk www.platinumpropertypartners.co.uk

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31/10/2012 17:17


FRANCHISING

Louise Harris (L) from Wilkins Chimney Sweep and Louise Bruce (R) from Big Red Box PR, new co-chairs of Encouraging Women Into Franchising (EWIF)

85

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL & Louise Bruce, co-chair of EWIF

Enfranchising

women Franchising caters to all sorts of industries, from photography to gourmet food. But there’s one thing that franchise is lacking: significant numbers of female franchisees

“T

here is no question that franchising is a male dominated industry,” comments Louise Bruce, co-chair at Encouraging Women Into Franchising (EWIF) alongside Louise Harris of Wilkins Chimney Sweep. She points to the Natwest BFA 2011 Survey, which revealed 72% of franchisees are male. This represents a massive gender imbalance in franchising and shows women are currently seriously underrepresented. These figures are certainly not down to a lack of interest. “We frequently speak to women who visit us at our EWIF exhibition stand, who say they feel intimidated when they approach all-male stands,” says Bruce. Often these women will ask which franchises are most likely to be female-friendly and give them a good reception.

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FRANCHISING

86

While there are franchisors who, by becoming EWIF members, have shown they take seriously the needs of potential womenfranchisees, there is still more to be done. “All franchisors need to be listening to this and realising that women – with their inherent natural communication skills, ability to multitask and their ability to work within existing franchise models – make tremendous franchisees,” states Bruce. Very few people would disagree that encouraging more women in owning and managing enterprises is a vital factor in encouraging a more balanced marketplace. But the importance of the role franchising can play is often overlooked. Bruce explains: “When a woman returns to the workplace after a period away, possibly from bringing up children, she can often lack self-confidence and feel she doesn’t have the up-to-date skills needed to return to her old job.” Franchising offers an excellent chance for women to learn or reacquaint themselves with the required skills without completely eschewing a support network and the protection of a tested business model. “[It’s] the perfect way for her to build a successful and rewarding business in the knowledge that she will be fully trained and supported from day one,” says Bruce. Additionally, franchises can offer an increased flexibility that might be harder to come by when working for someone else

or managing the demands of a start-up. “Many businesses can be run on a part-time basis, allowing greater flexibility,” says Bruce. Which is where EWIF comes in. “EWIF is doing its very best to help redress [the] imbalance.” EWIF has three main focuses. Offering advice and encouragement, it helps women taking their first steps in the world of franchising. It runs campaigns to encourage female-run enterprises to franchise their business models and create a wider amount of variety in the franchising landscape.

“Any woman approaching a franchisor or service provider who is an EWIF member knows she can be assured of a positive reception and an understanding of the challenges women face in the work place” Lastly, it works directly with existing franchisors to help them put in place initiatives to attract more female franchisees. For many women wanting to get into franchising, EWIF acts as the first port of call. Its website provides all manner of information, including lists of members and their organisations as well as articles and

(L) Beverly Glock, founder of Splat Cooking Cookery School, (R) Juliet Hanson, Silvertone franchise owner

advice on various aspects of franchising. Additionally, the EWIF label acts as a mark of assurance for any potential franchisee. As Bruce explains: “Any woman approaching a franchisor or service provider who is an EWIF member knows they can be assured of a positive reception and an understanding of the many challenges women face in the work place.” Women with an existing business that they would like to franchise can also use the website to find information and find the details of specialists who can guide them through the process. “We can also put her in touch with a female franchisor, who has been through the process and who can offer her help and advice,” says Bruce. Perhaps the most valuable role EWIF plays however is its activity at industry events. The organisation holds regular meetings between franchisors, franchisees and industry service providers. “[They] get together to look at issues affecting women in our industry and all parties find it invaluable for informal networking and discussing industry best practice,” comments Bruce. Additionally, they provide the option for members to get out there on their stalls and meet potential franchisees firsthand. “[It gives] members a chance to talk to women wanting to enter franchising and encourages them to join this growth industry.”

Juliet Hanson

Franchise owner, Splat Cooking Cookery School, Silverstone Working for myself – but not by myself – with a Splat Cooking Cookery School franchise has been the best decision I’ve ever made. In the last two years I’ve taught hundreds of people to cook, with clients ranging in age from two to 102. I teach a huge range of classes, from after-school clubs to hen and stag parties, from Italian cuisine to corporate team building days, and I love them all. Running a Splat Cooking Cookery School franchise has allowed me to fit my business in around my family; I have a 13-year-old son who can be doing his homework at the kitchen table while I’m preparing for the next day’s class. It works really well. It’s also enabled me to become more involved in my local community and business-related events in my area. There are so many male chefs with huge personalities on our TV screens at the moment that I think my clients feel less threatened being taught by me – a woman, a mum and a housewife. They know I’m going to teach them simple but delicious recipes, that all the ingredients can be bought from their local supermarket and that they can go home and cook it for their families again and again. That’s the kind of cooking I like and by the look of my diary, with bookings already running into 2013, it would seem my clients like it too.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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31/10/2012 21:59


Do you love chocolate enough to make it your business? Are you a professional looking to rejoin the workplace? Do you take the initiative? Can you work flexible hours? Are you a team player? Do you know anyone who would love to lose weight eating chocolate?

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25/10/2012 15:50


ADVERTISING FEATURE

88

A river of money flowing through your computer. Here’s how This business can give you the returns of a bank robbery without the hassle – or the prison stretch – says Bob Welfare.

F

or more than 20 years, Bob had been running a high-profit business. You are probably thinking: ‘it must’ve taken something pretty darn special to make him stop then’ and you’d be right on the money. In Bob’s words: “I now make three times the money I used to make, in a quarter of the time.” We know what you’re all wondering: how? To put it simply, we’ll hand back over to Bob: “The currency markets. It’s a constant rush of money, flowing across the computer screen everyday. Because money is the number one commodity in the world today. Everyone wants it. Everyone needs it. that’s why buying and selling currencies from home, by computer, is the greatest business on Earth.” And that’s it. It’s that simple. “That’s what I do. Buy the Yen. Sell the Dollar. Sell the Pound. Buy the Euro etc.” Now, we suspect you’ll be after a slice of the

action. Luckily, Bob is here to help you do that. With his help you really can run your own home business, either full- or part-time. “Stop lining your boss’s pockets and start lining your own. If you want the financial security of making your own money, then simply have a look at this amazing business,” he says.

If you want the financial security of making your own money, then simply have a look at this amazing business To whet your appetite, he’s produced a free DVD showing how he makes his living in this outstanding business. “More importantly, it also shows how I can train you to do the same,” he says. “The training course is restricted to a handful of people a year, so you get personal help at all times.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION For more information call 01803 606651 and ask for the free demonstration DVD entitled: “Why I gave up a £200- to £300-a-day business to run my own probability management business.”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

Bob Welfare.indd 1

31/10/2012 17:48


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A winning partnership... ...your entrepreneurial spirit and our experience as a trusted adviser is a catalyst for growth Entrepreneurs face many legal challenges when starting a business. Stevens & Bolton LLP is a leading full service law firm, with many years of experience advising start-ups and SME businesses both nationally and internationally. Our experienced team of lawyers provide advice on the full range of legal issues facing SMEs, including:

Corporate and finance: M&A, private equity, fund raisings and joint ventures

Corporate tax: tax efficient fundraising, tax planning for exits, share options and other equity incentives

Commercial transactions: franchising, IT contracts, data protection, outsourcing, distribution and procurement agreements

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Stevens & Bolton LLP, Wey House, Farnham Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4YD Tel: +44 (0)1483 302264 Fax: +44 (0)1483 302254 mail@stevens-bolton.com www.stevens-bolton.com

Untitled-8 1

31/10/2012 21:04


LEGAL

91

Thanks to many revisions and amendments, the consumer legislation relating to e-commerce is rather complex and fragmented. Fortunately, legal expert Nicola Broadhurst is on hand to help us piece it all together

“The first step you need to take is to make sure you know who your customer is”

I

n legal terms, e-commerce and distance selling laws are in their infancy and this means that they are developing all the time. It’s not always easy to be absolutely sure which regulations apply to you and which ones don’t, particularly as many businesses probably aren’t even aware that they are subject to e-commerce regulations. Nicola Broadhurst, partner at Stevens & Bolton puts it simply: “Most businesses do offer some form of e-commerce – they will sell their products or services online.” And the first step you need to take is to make sure you know who your customer is.

“Consumers and business customers are treated differently, so it’s important you get it right as to who you are dealing with,” Broadhurst says. “With business-to-business customers, you can get away with a lot more. A consumer you can’t.” Given the many revisions and remedies that have been applied to consumer-focused e-commerce regulations, all of the legislation has become increasingly fragmented. “A consumer is a natural person who is buying not for the purpose of a business,” Broadhurst explains. “They’re acting outside of a trade or a business.”

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL & NICOLA BROADHURST

E-commercial breakdown

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

Legal Feat(L).indd 1

31/10/2012 21:57


LEGAL

92

But where’s the problem? Surely most of us have enough experience of e-commerce either from our own consumer experiences or through our enterprise that we’re pretty familiar with the laws governing selling online? Perhaps not. There are many common mistakes that, because they are so often repeated, have almost become standard practice. The largest mistakes often involve failing to comply with the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. One major flaw that often comes up involves businesses terms and conditions. “Most terms and conditions will say at the end of it ‘we exclude all of our liability’, so ‘all of our indirect and inconsequential loss will exclude that to the extent permitted by law’,” Broadhurst states. Got that? Us neither. And this is the problem. “That is now commonly held as probably going to be unenforceable,” she says. “The consumer doesn’t know what that means – they don’t know what an indirect and inconsequential loss is.” A significant requirement that many businesses fail to take into account is that they are legally required to state exclusions like this in as plain terms as possible. “If you don’t,” continues Broadhurst, “it’s likely that if you ever tried to enforce it, it would be unenforceable for being an unfair contract term.”

Another requirement of these regulations “A consumer will be deemed that is slightly easier to understand is that to have accepted the product if you’re selling long distance – either over the phone or online – the consumer must once it is downloaded – be given a cooling off period of at least seven without any proof of a defect working days in which to cancel their order, they will not be able to simply something to which the majority of businesses comply. However, it’s not all plain sailing, cancel the transaction and as Broadhurst explains: “The Office of Fair demand a refund” Trading (OFT) has picked up people for contravening the legislation because they’re Nicola Broadhurst, partner at saying things like, ‘We’ll only refund you if you Stevens & Bolton return the goods in their original packaging, unopened’.” This clearly contravenes the customer’s rights to inspect their purchase. Which is all very well. However, these days often the products involved in e-commerce transactions have no packaging – opened or otherwise – and no product to inspect. If you’re selling an ebook or an mp3, where is the line drawn? Surely with something so easily copied, you aren’t obligated to accept returns? This is a contentious area, and one that is currently being looked at as part of wider legislative reforms. “The government is going through a consultation process to harmonise the fragmented legislation into one updated bill,” explains Broadhurst. “The purchase of digital content is treated slightly differently as it does not usually have a physical medium so it is hard to classify as a product.” As things currently stand, however, there is little consumer protection around digital purchases. She continues: “A consumer will be deemed to have accepted the product once it is downloaded – without any proof of a defect they will not be able to simply cancel the transaction and demand a refund.” Understandably, many of these issues deal with rather knotty legal issues and therefore businesses may be forgiven for not entirely understanding their responsibilities. There are, however, far more fundamental mistakes being made. Something many enterprises may not appreciate is the basic information they are obligated to provide consumers with when selling services and products. “You have to give your registered number and an address,” says Broadhurst. This is a standard requirement and yet it is something that can often trip businesses up. An even more widespread error is how enterprises present their contact details. “You are meant to give a contact number,” Broadhurst says. “It is considered an offence if you do not give a contact number and someone is unable to contact you directly.” Some people provide email addresses and, while this is considered better than nothing, many businesses fail to even get this right. It needs to be listed on the site as text or in a ‘mail to:’ hyperlink – a contact form isn’t a legally valid alternative. It’s tempting to view these errors as rather trivial oversights but they can have huge ramifications. Just this month the OFT engaged in a campaign to highlight transgressions in the legislations – out of 156 of the nation’s biggest online retailers, the organisation notified 62 that their websites featured major failures to meet with distance selling regulations. While the campaign was simply aimed at encouraging retailers to tighten up their compliance in the run-up to Christmas, the businesses involved could have found themselves being slapped with strict punishments. “You need to be absolutely sure that you are complying with the legislation,” stresses Broadhurst. “If you don’t, you can be liable certainly to a fine. And in some cases you could also be liable to a criminal offence – particularly if you’re misleading a consumer about their rights.”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

Legal Feat(L).indd 2

31/10/2012 21:57


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Accountants

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Business Services

A BUG FREE MIND: 90% of ALL New Businesses FAIL in The 1st 10 Years! Your first job as a businessman is to make sure you’re not one of them, our first job is to ensure you can do that! Your mind controls your outcome. We get your mind in the perfect position for success. Then you can create the outcome you desire. Get a FREE report ‘Are You About To Make The BIGGEST Mistake Of Your Life?’ when you visit: www.ABugFreeMind.com/elite

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Creative Design

94 Infinite Brush: We pride ourselves on spending time

with the client and understanding what it is they require. We believe that sales are the backbone of every business and we have employed one very important philosophy that will set us apart from our competitors. We consider every design that we create to be a sales tool and its purpose is to sell the products and services of our clients’. Our clients understand the value of creative design combined with technology.

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Web Design • Logo and Brand Design • Brochure Design • Packaging • Exhibition Graphics InSync Creative offers a wide range of design services that can be specifically tailored to your requirements and budget. We are a friendly bunch with the knowledge and expertise to deliver creative solutions that give your business a competitive edge.

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Zemleduch Design: Zemleduch Design is a creative

Interior and Graphic Design agency that delivers outstanding, innovative and original projects. With a wide range of services along with a professional approach we ensure beautiful and accurate results everytime. If you need help with any aspects of Graphic Design, Web Design or Interior Design, do not waste your time, please get in touch. Each project it is a great and enjoyable challenge!

NIMBLE JACK: We are an independent Advertising and Design agency, run and managed by creatives. From brand strategy and advertising to design solutions for print, packaging, websites and digital communications, at Nimble Jack, you’ll always get fresh, original and inclusive ideas that work.

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Franchise Opportunity

Dor-2-Dor (Aylesbury): Reliable leaflet, menu, magazine distribution in Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable and Aylesbury. A local business who are committed to enable local business owners to market effectively and directly to prospective customers. Let us help you to create a new sales pipeline, repeat business and customer referrals. Contact us for special offers.

County Hog Roasts Limited: With over 14 years of experience and having cooked over 1000 Hog Roasts, we have a proven track-record to guide you through the various stages of owning your own successful catering business with this exciting opportunity. With a growing market where “Your Customers Just Love What You Do” taste the difference with this exciting franchise opportunity. To book your place on one of our FREE Seminars and for your FREE Hog Roast Lunch. Contact:

 0843 289 1953  aylesbury@dor2dor.com  www.aylesbury.dor2dor.com

 01472 485 981  goodfood@countyhogroasts.co.uk  www.countyhogroasts.co.uk

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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Information Solutions

CAFE MOODS FRANCHISE: The Cafe Moods concept is like no other, positioned in prime business hotspots such as MediaCityUK, targeting primarily the business and professional customer. Cafe Moods attracts and retains the influential, from Company Director to Office Professional. Customers can grab a sandwich from one of the efficient and cost efficient Pod sites situated in an office block or business centre. We are looking to expand our Cafe Moods brand and are looking for franchisees to run zones under licence.

ARDYSS INTERNATIONAL: Run your own weight loss business - Ardyss International 90 day weight loss challenge Month 1 - Help the client to Reshape Month 2 - Help the client to Renew Month 3 - Help the client to Transform For more information call Elizabeth on:

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IT Support

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all of your IT needs whether it’s support, web, development or training. Talk to us today to see how our IT expertise can help your business succeed.

PRI-CHEN: is a leading Middle Eastern producer of a wide variety of processed, pickled, and canned vegetables. PRI-CHEN offers a wide range of authentic products including over eight types of pickled cucumbers, six types of processed olives, pickled eggplant, canned peppers, sauerkraut, tomato paste/concentrate, and more. PRI-CHEN also offers private label services.

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Heliocentrix: Heliocentrix provides genuine solutions for

SEO

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No matter how amazing your website is, it cannot bring in new business if it cannot be found! Search Engine Optimisation is the key to online business success, as top positions in search results can bring you thousands of new clients willing to buy exactly what you offer. Yet SEO is a many-sided process, which is effective only when run steadily and sensibly.

 01227 811 708  sean.hamilton@hamiltonwebsolutions.co.uk  www.hamiltonwebsolutions.co.uk

Training

Governance Training: is due to launch a range of e-learning solutions for limited company directors and charity trustees which will be freely available on our website. Topics include directors’ and trustees’ duties, responsibilities and liabilities; and introductions to business start-up, data protection rules and risk management. Email us to register your interest and receive our introductory offers.  07976 800918  cihassociates@aol.co.uk  www.cihassociates.co.uk

community located off Jct 8 of the M1 and Jct 20 of the M25. It is home to one of the largest and fastest growing business centres in the UK and embraces the new town of Hemel Hempstead and the historic market towns of Berkhamsted and Tring. So whether it is for a great place to work, to live or to enjoy Dacorum: Look no further

Web Design & Development

DSIS: DSIS offer specialist Open Source software development and fully managed Linux hosting services, helping take the stress out of running large customer facing websites. Contact us to find out how we can help your business.  0141 438 2030  info@dsis.co.uk  www.dsis.co.uk

November 2012 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

Classifieds November.indd 2

31/10/2012 21:13


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01/11/2012 08:59


the START-UP DIARies

Getting past the take-off turbulence Nicola Barron Founder of Homemade London

In Nicola Barron’s household, the first year of Homemade London is referred to as the ‘dark age’

98

Y

ear one is when the work is the hardest, the sacrifices are the greatest and the fear is the most overwhelming. And at the end of every week you can expect to be poorer than you were at the start. When you’re losing money, it’s tempting to work every hour available because there’s always something more you could do to make the business a success. I’d regularly arrive home from work

achieving a work-life balance as I have at the business itself. There’s part of me that feels ashamed to even say this, because being a woman and a mum, I feel open to the accusation of running a “hobby business” – as if anyone would put themselves through the torture of end-of-year accounts for sheer fun. But finding some equilibrium has not only been beneficial for my home-life and personal

www.homemadelondon.com

“I went into business feeling like I had to prove I could be a successful businesswoman and a successful parent quite seamlessly, but unsurprisingly that’s not been the case” at midnight and start answering emails, going to bed at 2am before getting up again at 8am to take the children to school – I was exhausted. I still remember very clearly going to meet my bank manager for the first time before the approval of my start-up business loan. He told me that he was as much interested in me as my business plan, he wanted to know whether I had the enthusiasm and desire to make a success. I was also questioned quite extensively about my family life, my children, childcare arrangements, how I felt about working weekends. I felt certain that a male applicant in my position would unlikely to be questioned in such a way and said as much in my answers. From the start, I went into business feeling like I had to prove I could be a successful businesswoman and a successful parent quite seamlessly, but unsurprisingly that’s not been the case. This year, I’ve probably worked as hard at

sanity, it’s reaped rewards for the business too. In striving for a balance, it’s made me much more efficient and focused during my working hours as I consider time to be a resource. When you’re constantly tired, your pace slows, (adrenaline will only get you so far,) you’re irritable, often a terrible manager and it’s a hindrance to creative thinking. What’s more, you’re probably incredibly unhealthy too. So here are the top things I’ve learned about achieving a work/life balance: Prioritise work that’s likely to make you money

It may sound obvious, but as there’s always too much work to do, don’t waste too much of your time on activities that don’t generate revenue. We’re constantly being presented with opportunities, but unless there’s a real likelihood of them making you money, leave well alone. This doesn’t always apply to PR

opportunities: if you’re offered a TV, newspaper or magazine opportunity, bite their hand off. Force yourself to take a day off

When you run your own business, there’s no distinction between work and home life; they seem to merge into one. I try now to take off at least three evenings a week, two Sundays a month and I’ll work from home two days every week. It may not seem like a lot but it means that I have some legitimate time away from work, and I feel much more involved in my children’s day-to-day lives. Surround yourself with great people

This goes for work and home. I tend to follow my gut on this one. I’ve managed to find a team of very dedicated, talented people who really care about the business. They now tell me when I need to take a break and I can trust them to find solutions when things don’t go to plan. With childcare, it’s even more crucial – my husband and I have had our fingers burnt a few times with this over the last seven years: one au pair stole my favourite cashmere jumper and a diamond ring, another would pick fights with the school secretary (a far worse crime than the former). But our luck changed with our current live-in au pair who’s been with us for the past year. She is adored by our children and knows us well enough to remind us more than once about an upcoming school trip or parents’ evening. My final advice about trying to achieve a balance is to never lose sight of why you went into business in the first place. The path may be filled with uncertainty and sometimes frustration – but nothing beats the feeling of being in charge of your own destiny.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk November 2012

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31/10/2012 22:00


PLAYING MUSIC? MAKE SURE YOU’RE LICENSED.

Music creates a better working atmosphere 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better working environment.* If you play music in your business, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. In most instances, a licence is required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL and PRS for Music are two separate companies. PPL collects and distributes money for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects

and distributes money for the use of the musical composition and lyrics on behalf of authors, songwriters, composers and publishers. A PPL licence can cost your business as little as 19p per day. For more information on how to obtain your PPL licence visit ppluk.com or call 020 7534 1095. To ďŹ nd out more about how music can work for your business visit musicworksforyou.com. *MusicWorks survey of 1000 people, conducted May 2012.

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Elite Business November 2012