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FEBRUARY 2013

Classified Secrets

Adzuna’s search for success

Woman’s hour

Female entrepreneurs seize the moment

Balance is overrated

Debunking the work-life myth

the

MIDAS TOUCH Rob Halliday-Stein didn’t let the small matter of a recession stop him going for gold. Less than three years later, his company Bullion By Post turns over £65m a year

FEBRUARY 2013 £4.50

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CONTENTS

Inside this month... VOLUME 02 ISSUE 02 FEB 2013

16 The Elite interview All that glitters is proving to be gold for Rob Halliday-Stein

09 Editor’s letter 10 Contributors 12 News in brief 13 Talking point 14 Book reviews 32 No patience necessary

Invoice financing gives entrepreneurs access to money owed – without the delay

37 Great expectations

Knowing how much to pay yourself isn’t always that straightforward

44 Souping up sales

21 One to watch Adzuna makes short work of the classified ads market

Ensuring sales goals are aligned to business objectives guarantees better results

48 Target practice

Segmentation guarantees emails hit their target and means spam can stay in the can

52 Hanging in the balance

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A new approach to our careers could mean the end of worrying about the work-life balance

57 Up to scratch

Training helps hone talent and shows staff they’re valued in tough times

61 Beating the February blues

Boosting morale during the shortest month is a boon for productivity

25 A vision of enterprise The UK economy needs more female entrepreneurs

72 Tech for start-ups

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

77 Cloud seeding

The sky’s the limit when using cloud computing to help grow your business

82 Franchise in the spotlight

How Shaun Thomson went from customer to CEO of Sandler Training UK

87 Adapt or die

Listening to franchisees needs is not just about kindness; it’s essential for survival

65 More new radicals The finale of our list of the movers and shakers in UK tech

90 Under the table

Many enterprises are unaware of bribery law – but out of sight is not out of mind

94 Classifieds 98 Start-up diary

February 2013 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

VOLUME 02 ISSUE 02 FEB 2013

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 Jon Card – Feature Writer E: jon.card@cemedia.co.uk Lindsey McWhinnie – Chief Sub-editor E: lindsey.mcwhinnie@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

Let’s not forget there are SMEs in all four corners of the British Isles Let me caveat this by saying that I love our capital city. I lived in London for a decade and still split my time between the city and an altogether less frenetic existence in East Anglia. Not only does this give me the chance to take in the countryside accompanied by two black labradors, but it reminds me that there is life outside of the Big Smoke. Because, sometimes, city dwellers often forget life exists outside of London. As the abominable Natasha in Bridget Jones’s Diary famously quips: “Does nothing work outside of London?”

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The answer is: yes. It functions perfectly well, thank you. London and the South East may account for one-third of UK SMEs, but that still means two-thirds of our most nimble and innovative firms are stationed in all four corners of the British Isles. And those companies are happily creating wealth, both for the economy and themselves, as well as creating much-needed jobs in the towns and cities in which they live. Take, for example, this month’s cover star Rob Halliday-Stein (p16). His business, Bullion By Post, is based in Birmingham, where the founder grew up. He’s proud of his roots and is thrilled to be giving back to the local economy that furnished him with a solid education. As international expansion plans loom, is he planning a great escape to the capital? Is he hell. Everywhere you look there are examples of entrepreneurs running businesses in their home towns. Take Liz Doogan-Hobbs (p25), winner of the 2012 NatWest everywoman award: she employs more than 50 people in her native Nottingham. Janis Sinton runs £9m turnover business specialist food manufacturer TasteTech from Bristol. So, rather than getting blinded by the big lights of the city, let’s take a moment to appreciate all of the incredible businesses that are run from outside the confines of our wonderful capital city.

Copyright 2013. 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.

HANNAH PREVETT 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. www.cemedia.co.uk

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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CONTRIBUTORS

Contributors Nicola Barron

Barron wears many different hats: she runs her craft workshop business Homemade London, she is mother to two small children and step-mum to another, and still finds time to write Elite a column each month. The Start-up diaries (found on page 98) have proved to be a hit with businesses the length and breadth of Britain, with über-talented Barron receiving sackfuls of fanmail. Quite right too.

Lindsey McWhinnie

Since starting to work at Elite Business, freelance sub-editor Lindsey McWhinnie has learned so much about small and medium-sized enterprises, she’s applying to be on the panel of Dragons’ Den. While she awaits their decision, Lindsey will hone her business skills with her own (very) small enterprise: her food blog andthecupboardwasbare.wordpress.com. If seasonal, home-cooked – not to mention beautifully subbed – recipes are what you’re after, then Lindsey is your girl.

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Clive Lewis

Aside from sharing his name with Narnia author CS Lewis, our talking head and regular columnist is the ICAEW’s head of enterprise, as well as being a lead contributor to publications such as the Daily Telegraph Business Club. This issue, Lewis tells us about the perils of cash accounting and warns that it will create a second tier of businesses unable to access finance. Seriously, what would we do without him?

Martin Reed

This month, EB’s people expert and Thomas International CEO Reed explores how to keep employees motivated in February, which, without the Christmas parties of December, and the new year sheen of January, can seem a little despondent. Reed reminds us of Bruce Tuckman’s team development model. The theory was first developed by the psychology professor in 1965 – not that it has lost any relevance. It’s what we like to call an ‘oldie but goodie’.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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News IN BRIEF

British banks are facing additional compensation bills after an FSA review revealed that more than 90% of the complex products sold to small businesses may have been mis-sold. The total cost to financial firms has been estimated to be £1.5 billion to compensate the 40,000 businesses mis-sold interest rate swaps.

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After a four-month investigation into petrol prices, the Office of Fair Trading has announced that it has found no evidence to suggest unfair mark-ups or anti-competitive behaviour between the nation’s fuel providers. Its research found that the 50p increase in the average price of fuel per litre since 2003 has much less to do with margin increases than VAT hikes and increases in crude oil prices. In the wake of the scandal that resulted from horse and pig DNA being detected in its burgers, Tesco has terminated its contract with Silvercrest, one of its main suppliers, after the tainted meat was found to have been imported from Poland and not from the UK and Ireland as originally claimed. The supermarket chain has announced it will adopt its own DNA testing measures to guarantee the authenticity of the meat sold in its stores. It has been announced that Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins is in line for a bonus of at least £1m for 2012, the same year that saw £290m fines levied against the bank in the wake of the Libor scandal. Brought in after predecessor Bob Diamond was forced out, Jenkins is now facing increased pressure from consumer groups as well as a grilling from the banking standards commission over the bank’s pay policies. BP is attracting more negative press worldwide as Iran states it may sue the oil giant if it doesn’t do something to address accusations that oil platforms it operates have polluted the Caspian Sea. Deputy head of the country’s Department for the Environment Abdolreza Karbasi claimed that in the last incident 25 tonnes of oil needed to be cleared from the Iranian coast.

Research published by Oxfam has announced that tax evasion costs the UK £5.2 billion a year. Money owed by wealthy tax evaders is depriving £200 from every household in the UK; this represents an additional £21 a week that could be given to households experiencing fuel poverty. Despite David Cameron’s insistence he will be taking a tough stance on evasion and aggressive avoiders, the charity has criticised HMRC targets to reclaim £586m in unpaid tax by the close of 2015. Yet more cracks have appeared in the high street in a month where two retail giants faced potential closures. Both HMV and Blockbuster announced they were going it into administration in January, the latest victims of our shrinking high streets. While HMV has been saved from the worst ravages due to Hisco buying up its debts, store closures are still expected and an uncertain future for Blockbuster means that this is far from a happy ending for two of UK retail’s key characters. The ongoing fracas between Apple and Samsung over infringement of the former’s intellectual property seems deemed to end inside in the distance, after Apple’s attempts to triple its original settlement to $3 billion were rejected by the US federal court. Apple’s claims that Samsung ‘willfully’ infringed its rights were rejected by the judge and it was announced that the technology giant had not been under-compensated for the damages done. Business secretary Vince Cable has written to a selection of FTSE-100 firms urging them to take on more female talent in their boardrooms and asked them to explain what measures they are employing to redress the balance. Stating that it’s less a case of equality than it is of good business sense, Cable has revealed that his vision is for there not to be a single FTSE-100 board without a significant female presence by 2015.

EVENTs The Business Travel Show February 5-6 Earls Court, Warwick Road, London SW5 9TA London Connections - February 7 Regus House, Lombard Street, London EC3V 9LJ SyncFocus - Mobile development Introductions - February 13 The Garden House, 1 Pembroke Street, Norwich NR2 3HD Speed Networking Events - February 15 Level 33 Citigroup Building, 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LB SyncConf 2013 - February 15 20 Bank Plain, Norwich NR2 4SF Birmingham Connections - February 20 7 Cannon Street, Birmingham B2 5EP Successful Mentoring - February 22 Association of Business Mentors, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB The Franchise Show - February 22-23 ExCel London, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL The National Franchise Exhibition February 22 – 23 NEC Birmingham Birmingham B40 1NT Speed Networking Events - February 26 London School of Economics & Political Science , Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE The Business Growth Show - February 26 David Salomons Estate, Broomhill Road Southborough, TN3 0TG Technology for Marketing & Advertising February 26-27 Earls Court 2, Warwick Road, London SW5 9TA Speed Networking Events - February 27 107 - 111 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AB The Winter Big Event - February 28 Vanilla, 131 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 5BB A full event listing is available on our website: elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/events

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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Talking Point

Is opening the debate on the EU just opening up a can of worms? In some quarters, David Cameron’s plans to hold a referendum on the EU has been met by a hale and hearty cheer of approval. In others, it has been greeted by significant resistance. Whatever the response, however, the EU elephant has been addressed and the UK can no longer go on ignoring the fermenting debate. Now the question has been asked: are we better off in than out?

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he prime minister’s speech last month announcing that he would hold a referendum on the EU if the Conservative Party are reelected at the next general election has certainly captured a fair few column inches. And it’s hardly surprising. Given we have been members of the European Union for almost four decades, renegotiating our relationship with the EU represents one of the most significant economic and political moves our country has made for several generations. But it’s easy to let the enormity of the situation cloud clear debate on the subject. As with most political issues, there are deeply held convictions on each side of the debate and it’s worth going a little deeper into what makes it such a knotty subject.

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

YES says Russ Shaw, board member of Tech City Advisory Group Uncertainty over the UK’s future role in Europe creates many dangers for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly around their ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. History has taught us that unrestricted trade flow is a key economic driver of growth and prosperity, benefiting businesses large and small, as well as consumers, in terms of choice, quality and price. The twenty-first century is likely to see the agreement of even more deals between the world’s trading powerhouses. I agree with David Cameron’s focus on returning the EU to its basic common market principles. But it is vital for UK SMEs that they remain at the heart of the EU and are able not only to take advantage of trading opportunities with other European countries, but are also included in future deals negotiated in Brussels with the US, NAFTA (US, Canada, Mexico), China, Brazil and other emerging markets.

A drum long banged by those seeking reform is that it would increase regulatory freedom and decrease tax levies, allowing more growth in difficult times. Prospects that can only be seen as a Good Thing. However, for some, the idea of trying to go it alone when our future is far from secure and jeopardising potential trade just serves to further undermine already shaky business confidence. Suffice to say, it’s a complicated economic issue and one that requires careful consideration. Without a crystal ball we can’t easily guarantee what results a referendum will yield and whether we will eventually pull out of or modify our relationship with the EU. But will a referendum on the subject simply serve to damage confidence and growth?

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No says Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors The prime minister’s approach is realistic and pragmatic. The British public, and many of our members, are sceptical about many of the institutions and practices of the EU. We need to put their doubts to rest. It is far better to deal with these issues than to shy away from them. All British businesses are subject to EU labour market regulation, but this can be onerous for small and mid-sized companies. Many of these businesses will welcome the prime minister’s intention to renegotiate some of the rules, not just for their own benefit but for a competitive environment for companies across Europe. Trade with Europe is very important for SMEs. Institute of Director surveys show that when UK companies grow to the point that they want to export their goods and services, they look to Europe as a place to begin. It is very important that whatever the outcome of renegotiation and a referendum, trade freedom with EU countries is preserved.

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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BOOK REVIEWS

The Elite read We are All Leaders: Leadership is Not a Position, it’s a Mindset Fredrik Arnander

One of the most important things about a business book is the author. A reader wants to know they are an authoritative voice on their chosen topic of discussion. Fredrik Arnander is certainly that. The Swedish technology entrepreneur not only began his career as a management consultant, but has since started, run and sold a handful of successful companies. What’s more, last year Arnander started the Omnes Foundation, a new non-profit for spreading leadership Back to the book. We are All Leaders is based on a simple, but not often voiced, perspective – leadership isn’t something restricted to CEOs, rather it is a quality to which we can not only aspire but also actively cultivate. At a time when there is increasing dissatisfaction with existing hierarchical power structures, Arnander’s

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book provides useful insights and lessons as to how we can use leadership to empower ourselves and the people we work with. One of the most pleasing things about We are All Leaders is that the lessons aren’t protracted and lofty. Arnander isn’t dealing with abstract or imprecise ideas. Instead his insights are practical and punchy – all of the ideas can be taken away and applied by a reader, no matter where they are in their careers. All in all, there’s something very inspiring about the entrepreneur and CEO’s advice and it shows us leadership isn’t something preserved for the select few; it is something we can all embody. JR We are All Leaders: Leadership is Not a Position, published by Capstone, is out now and retails at £12.99

Stretch: Leading Beyond Boundaries James Brook and Dr Paul Brewerton

This isn’t the first book about leadership, nor will it be the the last. But what this text has over its rivals is that it’s written in a rather unique way: rather than extolling the virtues of leadership, or providing the reader with a shopping list of skills one should possess as a prerequisite to leadership, this is written as a fable. Meet Joe, the recently appointed European head of Tiger Online Recruitment, who is facing myriad challenges – from shoddy sales figures to managing internal relations. Throughout the book we see Joe gaining knowledge and experience about how to become a more effective leader, by not

only stretching and optimising his own strengths, but those of his team too. An academic text this is not, nor is it going to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction. But it is an interesting experiment in using fiction as a vehicle to explore thorny real-world issues around leadership and management – with all of the various trials and tribulations along the way. Besides, any business book that begins with a quote from The Princess Bride is surely a winner? HP Stretch: Leading Beyond Boundaries, published by Matador, is out now and retails at £14.99

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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the elite INTERVIEW

In a downturn, strong, fast-growth businesses are like gold dust: we need them if our economy is to grow and thrive. Birmingham’s Bullion By Post is well and truly a child of the recession

Striking gold

WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT PHOTOGRAPHY: EMILIE SANDY

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ll too often we hear about the losers of the recession; tales abound of businesses – large and small – going to the wall. Just last month, HMV and Blockbuster, two of the high street’s bestknown brands, hit the runners. And then, every once in a while, a business emerges triumphant, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of our once-thriving economy. Bullion By Post is one such firm. The founder of the Birmingham-based business, Rob Halliday-Stein, struck gold when he realised that the banking industry had gone to the dogs and people were looking for other ways and means to invest their cash. It’s safe to say Halliday-Stein has always been quite keen to challenge the status quo. As a child, he was bright and inquisitive. “When I was three years old, I had a jumper with a big ‘Y’ on it; that probably sums up what I was like as a kid,” he jokes. But his questioning mind paid off. He was one of the smartest kids in the year group at his primary school in Spark Hill, Birmingham, and the only one to pass his 11-plus exam. This won him a place at grammar school King Edward VI Five Ways. This transition was a real eye-opener for him, he recalls. “Because I’d been the only kid from my school to pass the exam, I thought that everyone there must be really clever,” he says. “But then I got there and it wasn’t much different [to primary school]. The main thing that struck me was that everyone was very middle class.” A pretty astute observation for an 11-yearold, one might argue. Despite his clear academic prowess, Halliday-Stein admits

“When something like that happens, you realise you can die tomorrow and it makes you think about what you want to be doing with your time and your life”

he was ‘lazy’ and did the bare minimum to achieve the grades needed to progress to Sixth Form and then university. He even chose his university based on the worse-case outcome of his A-level exams. “I went to Sheffield to do economics mostly because they accepted general studies, and, although I knew I’d get an A grade in economics, I wasn’t sure I was going to do so well in physics,” he explains. “My view was that as long as you got the grades to get into where you wanted, that’s all that mattered.” This was a theme that continued throughout his university career. “I wasn’t very focused on my studies at all while I was uni,” he says. “I was focused on doing the minimum to get a 2.1 and then getting out of there.” His lack of motivation wasn’t helped by the fact that he wasn’t impressed by the teaching methods. “I was disappointed with the course,” he explains. “There was no room for discussion or understanding. It was very much ‘learn this theory and reproduce it in exams’. This is what people would do, get their 2.1 and go and get a good job in a bank in London.” Ever the outlier, Halliday-Stein decided to pursue a career at opticians Dolland & Aitchison in Birmingham. After working there for the summer before he graduated, the company spotted his potential and offered him a graduate role. Having been declined a job at Accenture, he accepted D&A’s offer and relocated back to Birmingham. All seemed to be going swimmingly: he was living back with his mother and was earning, comparatively speaking, a good wage. “It does make a difference when you and your mates all finish uni and you’re on well above

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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the elite INTERVIEW

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“People have been selling gold bars for years and years. It’s not a revolutionary idea. We just did it slightly different and slightly better” February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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the elite INTERVIEW

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“The market was so quiet. It was the first time that there had been more [money] going out than coming in, and I began to wonder if I’d just got a little lucky at first”

£20,000 a year, and they’re on well below.” But no sooner had Halliday-Stein moved back into his mother’s house than he burnt it down by not properly extinguishing his cigarette. “I lost everything, and the house was very badly damaged,” he recalls. “We were out for about six months while they did the work on it.” To make matters worse, his mother was working in Russia for two months, so the 22-year-old Halliday-Stein was left to sort out the insurance and repairs to the family home. “She was very pragmatic about it,” he recalls. “She asked me if the office was still intact and I said yes. So she said, ‘Well, you’d better find the insurance paperwork and sort it out. I’m not coming back to sort it out.’” After the repairs were completed, Halliday-Stein moved back into the house briefly, before deciding to live with his girlfriend. Things were good. He’d been promoted and was quickly progressing through the ranks at D&A. As a result, he’d been given a generous company car allowance. So, once he finally got around to taking his test, he watched as his brand new MR2 was delivered. “It was quite nice getting a brand new sports car as a first car,” he says. “But it was also a bit stupid. They were running a book at work on how long it would take me to crash it. The person who won it put a week; I did it in about 20 hours.” After substantial repairs, Halliday-Stein was given his car back. And he crashed it again. And again. After the third accident, the car was confiscated and replaced with a Toyota Yaris after he was sent on a driver assessment course. “Yeah, it was a bit embarrassing getting my car taken off me,” he admits. Despite his automotive mishaps, Halliday-Stein’s star continued to rise and he worked diligently on D&A’s online offering. “We were the first optician to do online eyewear, so we were pretty cutting-edge,”

he says. “It was interesting learning about ecommerce and I had a very autonomous role taking care of online. It was a great way to learn, being able to make little mistakes along the way and figuring out how to fix them.” But, by the summer of 2007, Halliday Stein’s interest in spectacles began to wane. “I’d had enough of glasses,” he says. “I didn’t wear glasses. I wasn’t interested in sunglasses. I just felt I was ready to move on.” With a few job offers on the table, he plumped for a role at Asda’s clothes business, George, heading up its online operations. Starting in October 2007, Halliday-Stein had quite a tall task on his hands. “They weren’t selling online, so I had to get the website ready. It was a fairly high-profile, well-paid job.” Just as he was just finding his feet and getting used to the mechanics of working in a large company, his mother died in early 2008. Suddenly, Halliday-Stein had the task of organising the funeral and taking on certain family responsibilities, all the while juggling his senior role at George. That’s not to say his employer wasn’t incredibly supportive of the situation. “Asda was very good at letting me go part-time, and have some time to get over it, because, to be honest, it was quite a shock.” His mother’s passing also made HallidayStein take stock of his own future. “I was assessing what I wanted to be doing. When something like that happens, you realise you can die tomorrow and it makes you think

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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the elite INTERVIEW

“Turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. I’m a big believer in that”

about what you want to be doing with your time and your life,” he explains. The budding entrepreneur’s first venture was a fashion aggregation website called EveryStyle. “I didn’t think it made sense to have a warehouse full of clothes when you could make money just getting traffic on a website,” he says. Halliday-Stein’s website would carry other retailer’s clothes that people could search through. “It was like a search engine for clothes,” he adds. He started getting some development work done in the Ukraine while he assessed his options for investing the rest of the money his mother had left him. “This was against the background of RBS going bust and the banks were in crisis,” he recalls. “Putting some money into gold and silver seemed appealing.” But as Halliday-Stein set about researching where he could buy gold and silver, he realised it wasn’t as easy as he’d first envisaged. “All the websites were awful,” he claims. “I was looking around at where to buy it and I finally gave up on all of the places I’d found online, because they were either very expensive or arrogant, or both.” For Halliday-Stein, it was customer service skills that were lacking. “If you’re looking to spend £20,000, £30,000 or £40,000, and the people you’re dealing with seem fairly disinterested, it puts you off a little bit. To them it may not be a lot of money; to a customer it may be their whole life savings.” Eventually, he found someone in Birmingham’s bustling Jewellery Quarter to sell him gold and silver. Given the difficulty he’d had locating the right person, it occurred to Halliday-Stein that others may be in a similar position, but didn’t have access to Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter – the biggest in Europe – on their doorstep. This hunch was reaffirmed by some market research. “I went down to London to one of the bullion dealers and customers were literally queueing out of the door to buy gold and silver. Most of them were buying kilos, which at the time was about £20,000. And they were charging 5%, making £1,000 per customer,” he explains. It was enough to convince Halliday-Stein that there was an untapped opportunity in selling bullion. Not quite ready to press the stop button on his fashion website, he juggled the two start-up projects until January 2009, when he switched on the gold website. “One’s more than enough to do, really,” he says. “So the fashion site fell away into the background and Bullion By Post started taking up all of my time.” Progress was slow, but steady. Because the

value of what he was selling was so high, revenues seemed impressive for a start-up: the turnover in the first month was £250,000. “That sounds phenomenal for any business, but the margins were only a few percent, and then there were the costs. I was spending every penny that came in on advertising,” he explains. After a busy end to 2009, Halliday-Stein began to panic a little when business tailed off at the beginning of 2010. “The market was so quiet. It was the first time there had been more [money] going out than coming in, and I began to wonder if I had just got lucky at first.” The slump didn’t last: in 2010 things picked up to such an extent the company had to move office and take on more staff. The decision to take on a big five-year lease that summer was incredibly daunting, says the entrepreneur. “It was a big call. Taking on a long lease like that and then paying to get it kitted out with safes and cameras.” It was well worth the punt. Last year, Bullion By Post turned over £55m, and this year it’s on track for revenues of £65m. But HallidayStein is quick to admit that turnover isn’t everything. “Turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. I’m a big believer in that,” he says. “I’m not running a business to look cool – it’s about making money.” Bullion By Post has got that covered too: last year it posted £1.5m profit. Not bad for a company only in its third year of existence. Yet it would seem that for Halliday-Stein, the emphasis is on building a successful and sustainable business, rather than waiting for the millions to hit his bank account. “The aim of building a successful business is quite exciting, but the actual making of a significant amount of money is not that exciting; it’s not a goal to chase,” he says. “I can buy anything I want. But when you can buy anything you want, it becomes less exciting.” It’s not a bad problem to have, most will agree. But Halliday-Stein says his success is down to determining a clear strategy. He hasn’t reinvented the wheel, he says. “People have been selling gold bars for years and years. It’s not a revolutionary idea. We just did it slightly differently and slightly better,” he explains, modestly. His best piece of advice for wannabe entrepreneurs is to make sure they know how they will stand out from the crowd. “Study how the competition is doing it. Then make sure you do it ten times better.”

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February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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ONE TO WATCH

“This is what people do in the real world when they’re looking for a job – they go and ask their friends. And this is just a more effective, digital way of doing that” Doug Monro, co-founder, Adzuna

A job well done WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT

Being able to count David Cameron among its ever-growing fans and plotting global expansion is good going for Adzuna – the classified ad business that went live less than two years ago

E

very once in a while, a new business launches that is such a good idea, it is barely believable that no one has done it before. Adzuna is one such venture. The website is a one-stop-shop for every single job, property and car ad that is currently on the market. This alone isn’t what makes Adzuna unique. But what separates it from the likes of Gumtree is a social networking element that makes looking for a new job, for example, a little more personal. “So, if you’re looking for a job, you can plug in your LinkedIn or your Facebook network, and suddenly you can see thousands of jobs that are at companies you are connected to.” This more closely aligns the experience of looking for a job online with the offline process, says Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna. “This is what people do in the real world when they’re looking for a job – they

21

go and ask their friends. And this is just a more effective, digital way of doing that.” Monro isn’t the only person sold on the site’s capabilities: less than two years after it launched it is already attracting more than a million visitors a month. “We’ve grown very rapidly,” says Monro. He and business partner Andrew Hunter are familiar with fast-growing start-ups. The pair have form, with Monro’s previous roles including MD at Gumtree and COO at Zoopla, and Hunter is the former MD of Qype. Monro admits their backgrounds probably helped – both from a product knowledge perspective and from having formed a serious business network. “It certainly helped us in the early days with fundraising, and, also, with approaching business partners and journalists and people like that,” he says. But Monro also cautioned against relying too heavily on stellar past

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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ONE TO WATCH

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“When investors want to give you money, you should always think twice about saying no because you might think you don’t need it, but then find you do in six months time” Doug Monro, co-founder, Adzuna

performances. “I think it only helps you so far. It helps you get in the door sometimes, when you can say, ‘I’m worth meeting because I’ve done something before’. But really you have to stand on your own merits as well,” he says. He also says the experience of starting a business from scratch and joining a start-up in its formative years are very different. “In the previous businesses I was involved in, I wasn’t the founder. I ran Gumtree but I didn’t found it. I was a very early employee at Zoopla, and ran a lot of the business as the COO, but, again, I didn’t found the business,” explains Monro. “I’d managed businesses that other people had created before, whereas with Adzuna, we were starting something something from zero, and that’s very different from joining a little bit later.” Monro says his two previous roles at Gumtree and Zoopla meant his knowledge of the classified ad market was profound. This is how he and Hunter came up with the idea for Adzuna. “We learned about the market and would spot trends. That’s partly why we started the business,” says Monro. “When I worked at Zoopla, we used a lot of search engines like the earlier versions of Adzuna to generate traffic for our site in the early days. And we saw that users liked them, but the user experience wasn’t very good.” He continues, “That’s where we saw the opportunity to do something. None of these guys were doing anything with the data and social elements.” Even though they had the gem of an idea, that’s not to say it was entirely smooth sailing from that point. “It was a big step,” admits Monro. “To be honest, we started off thinking we could do this in our spare time while we still had jobs. We started to build the website, looked at things with our lead developer, who started to build the infrastructure behind it, and somewhere in there was a daylight moment when we realised that actually it was quite a big opportunity, that we were going to need some more money and that we couldn’t do it in our evenings and weekends.” That moment of realisation came in January 2011, and from that point on, things moved quite quickly. The pair went to a few business angels “very quietly” (they were both still in full-time jobs) to raise some money. Having secured £300,000 by March, Monro handed in his resignation at Zoopla before then working his full three months’ notice.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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ONE TO WATCH

“I effectively ended up having six months where we were fundraising and working pretty hard on the business, while I still had a fairly high responsibility job at Zoopla,” says Munro. Unsurprisingly, it was a bit of a juggling act. “Those six months were pretty tough, but the excitement of something new gets you through that. You can come home from an 11-hour day and put in another two or three hours because you’re excited about what you’re doing.” It also took more than a little patience from his wife, Kim, mother of their two young boys, who were just one and three at this time. Monro makes no bones about expressing his gratitude to his wife. “I was working all hours and quitting a very well paid job at Zoopla, which is a decent-sized business that can afford to pay a decent salary, to go back to basically taking no salary or paying ourselves minimum wage. I made that jump with two small children and a mortgage.” Monro’s family’s faith in him appeared to be justified when Adzuna raised a further £500,000 from Index Ventures in December 2011 – not that they really needed more cash. “We didn’t really need to raise more money at that point, but we were fortunate to have them knocking on the door. When investors want to give you money, you should always think twice about saying no because you might think you don’t need it, but then find you do in six months’ time.” The wonga is certainly going to come in handy with Adzuna’s heady expansion plans for 2013. “The main thing we’re looking at doing with our cash in the next six months is starting to expand internationally,” explains Monro. “We’ve not announced where exactly yet, but I can tell you we’re planning to do five countries in the first half of this year, and that’ll include a mixture of European emerging and English language,” he confides. For a business with such big ambitions, the team remains relatively small, with just six people (including the founders) in its south London offices, and a further six (the development team) in Athens. The decision to base themselves in Clapham instead of in the east London tech hub was a very conscious one. “We’re not part of the Shoreditch, Tech City crew, although some of our investors are,” says Monro. Convenience plays a part. “Andrew and

“You can come home from an 11-hour day and put in another two or three hours because you’re excited about what you’re doing” Doug Monro, co-founder, Adzuna

I are both south-west London boys in terms of where we live,” explains Monro. “It’s also a little bit less distracting. When you know what you’re trying to do as a business and you’re focused on your customers and the things you need to build, sometimes being part of a big community can be a bit of a distraction. There are lots of benefits to being able to access the London tech community and go and talk to other people and learn from them and share. But sometimes, day to day, you just want to be in your office with your team and executing on the stuff you need to do.” And, all told, execution seems to be going smoothly for the Adzuna team. With world domination at its fingertips and a loyal user in the form of PM David Cameron, the start-up is going from strength to strength. But it’s not been easy, says Monro. Would-be entrepreneurs should know what they’re getting themselves into, he says. “Don’t do it, it’s completely crazy,” he half jokes. “Not unless you’re really, really up for it. Know what you’re letting yourself in for. Which is: it’s hard work, it’s emotional and you have to keep bouncing back a thousand times when things don’t work. It takes a certain type of character and belief and focus and desire to want to do that. It’s not for everyone.” But if you do decide to take the plunge, give it your all, says Monro. “If you do do it, put everything into it because it is hard. If you do it half-heartedly, you won’t succeed.”

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Company CV Name: Adzuna Founded by: Doug Monro and Andrew Hunter Founded in: 2011 Team: 12

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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ANALYSIS

The star of the female entrepreneur has steadily been on the rise thanks to increasing pressure on government to improve access to finance and resources. But what more can be done to unlock the potential of the nation’s women?

A new frontier

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WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT

I

t wasn’t too long ago that the word ‘entrepreneur’ conjured up images of a dodgy Del Boy type flogging handbags and hi-fis from the boot of a clapped out estate. But, in the last decade, the entrepreneur has become a much more respected and aspirational figure, and many of the most acclaimed people to have set up businesses have become icons – both in and out of the business world. But the most high profile of entrepreneurs share a common characteristic: they’re all men. There are, of course, examples of highly successful businesses that are started by women, but when asked to name an entrepreneur the first name that comes to mind to the British public is undoubtedly Richard Branson. Or Alan Sugar. And across the Atlantic it’s likely to be Donald Trump. The archetypal idea of an entrepreneur is white, middle-aged and male. Why is this? The fact of the matter is that men generally do start more businesses than women. What’s more, the businesses they build tend to be bigger, too. In 2011, a government survey found that just 21% of start-ups in 2010 involved female founders, and the proportion fell to just 13% for small firms employing more than 10 people. Labour MP Seema Malhotra, who is the parliamentary private secretary to Yvette Cooper, the shadow women’s minister, says that female entrepreneurs broadly fall into two categories. “One is the grassroots-led business. So they may be the women who are setting up businesses in their local community, maybe providing local services,” she explains. “That’s a different category to the women who might be more at the high end and starting larger enterprises which require much more capital to start with.” Malhotra also says that women frequently start businesses at a different stage in life to men. “Women are often in their early thirties to their early forties when they start companies. Often

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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Case Study

ANALYSIS

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True grit

Janis Sinton, MD, TasteTech

Janis Sinton, managing director of specialist food manufacturer TasteTech, may have co-founded the business with her husband, Roger, in 1992, but she never suspected she would have to take to the helm solo. This became reality in 2007 when Roger died unexpectedly. “I was the most obvious person to do it. I’d always been his right-hand man,” she says. “In fact, I knew more about the running of the business on a day-to-day basis than he did.”

“We have this innate ability to deal with situations when they occur. You just get on with it” But what she was lacking was his technical skill. “I didn’t have that technical expertise,” she says. “I was very dependent on my technical people here and I needed them to work closely with me.” In fact, Sinton says the tragedy probably helped build a more closely knit team. “We’re probably a much better company because of what we’ve been forced to do as a result of Roger’s death. Everybody’s part of the jigsaw.” The entrepreneur – who has doubled turnover to £9m since her husband’s death – credits her gender partly for her tenacity in the wake of such a life-changing event. “Women tend to be quite strong when it comes to dealing with situations like that. We have this innate ability to deal with situations when they occur. You just get on with it.” Janis Sinton was the winner of the ‘Hera’ category at the 2012 NatWest everywoman awards

this is a life-change point. They may have been in the workplace until this point, or they may have been the main carer in their household and looking for a way they can balance work and home in a more flexible way.” This often means that women are ineligible for government finance schemes, which are typically aimed at people under the age of 30, or under the age of 24. The government’s StartUp Loans scheme, which has pledged to loan £110m over three years, has recently raised the age limit from 24 to 30 – but that doesn’t go quite far enough, according to Malhotra. But Anne McPherson, managing director of RBS Group’s Diversity in Business scheme, is leading the charge when it comes to making finance more accessible for women. “We started looking at the strategy back in 2007, and we recognised it was a business opportunity, but secondly, we were picking up on feedback from our women business-owner customers that there were some slightly different things they wanted us to help them with.” NatWest’s own figures spurred the bank into action too. “We did some research that showed that, while women represent 51% of the population, they’re only representing 17% of businesses in the small- to medium-sized enterprise space,” she says. While it has partnered with women’s network everywoman since 2003, NatWest’s support geared towards female entrepreneurs has really ramped up in the last year. It now has women in business ambassadors in every town and city in the UK. “We put them all through an accreditation programme to make sure they are really skilled and knowledgeable about the things that are important to women in business,” explains McPherson. But it’s not just financial support that women need – it’s access to support, guidance and role models. “What we’ve been able to do over the last ten years with everywoman is recognise some amazing female entrepreneurs who’ve been able to act as role models for other women entrepreneurs,” said McPherson. The lack of support for women wanting to start of businesses was what spurred on Maxine Benson and Karen Gill to found everywoman in 1999. It is now the UK’s largest business community, with more than 40,000 members – and is still growing. “As we were beginning to look at starting a business, we found it very, very difficult and discovered that all of the mainstream providers were very geared towards a male conversation,” recalls Gill. What’s more, the entire process was

daunting, says Gill. “It was very intimidating,” she admits. “I’d been a VP in a large organisation so I wasn’t easily intimidated, yet it was a very intimidating experiencing – especially dealing with the banks, the accountants, the legal profession.” But Gill says there has been a shift in mindset among some of the big service providers. “NatWest said they categorically would never treat women any differently or have any different products or services for women, but now they deploy women as business ambassadors across the country to look after customers because they know it’s a different conversation,” she explains. “They really do understand that when a woman walks over the threshold of a bank in the high street and says to someone, ‘I’m interested in talking to someone about starting a business’, they need to have the right conversation from the get-go.”

“As we were beginning to look at starting a business, we found it very, very difficult and discovered that all of the mainstream providers were very geared towards a male conversation” Karen Gill, co-founder, everywoman

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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ANALYSIS

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“I don’t believe in letting things hold you back – I believe if you’re good enough, you could step up to the plate and do it. I guess that’s because of my sports background” Liz Doogan-Hobbs, founder of events company Liz Hobbs Group and two times world water-skiing champion

It seems that organisations such as everywoman are prompting more women than ever to consider joining women-only networks – even those who have never before considered their gender to affect the way they operate in business. Liz Doogan-Hobbs, founder of events company the Liz Hobbs Group was named the winner of the 2012 NatWest everywoman award. Having grown up in the fiercely competitive, male-dominated environment of water-ski racing (Doogan-Hobbs was twice world champion in the sport), the entrepreneur wasn’t ready to let her gender interfere with her grand ambitions. “I’ve never actually deliberately viewed myself as a woman in business,” she says. “I don’t believe in letting things hold you back – I believe if you’re good enough, you could step up to the plate and do it. I guess that’s because of my sports background.” Despite this, when she won the NatWest everywoman award, Doogan-Hobbs was thrilled to have her success formally recognised. “I didn’t realise just how important that was to me until I won it,” she says. “I guess I’d never really stood back and taken stock of how much we’d achieved, as stupid as that sounds,” she continues. What’s more, being recognised as being of the same calibre as some of everywoman’s alumni was an honour, says Doogan-Hobbs. “There are some pretty phenomenal women who’ve won that award. There’s Chrissie Rucker and Hilary Devey, among others,” she recalls. “I think it’s a good thing for women to be recognised in business.” But once the glittering awards ceremonies come to an end and the last glass of Champagne has been guzzled, it’s important for women to continue to build upon the networks that they have begun creating. This is why networks such as everywoman are so important, says Maggie Berry, executive director for Europe at WEConnect International, an organisation that champions gender diversity in the corporate supply chain. “Often women who attend these events for the first time say afterwards, ‘I wish I’d come before,’” she notes. “I’d say that until you try one you don’t know what it might be able to give back.” Not that she’s suggesting that women ditch the mainstream business networks and events to attend women-only ones. “But out of all the things you do, I think it’s always good to have space in your diary to be part of at least one women’s network.” Gill Thorpe, founder of The Sourcing Team, which helps companies with promotional merchandise, was initially sceptical about women-only forums. “When I was asked if I would like to attend a women-owned business event, I thought, ‘Why? I don’t need to be part of that; I’ve always been able to get what I want in business’.” But she did come round to the idea. “Now I understand it is more about the supportiveness of women to other women,” she explains. “Running your own business can be so tough and a really lonely place sometimes – you need reassurance, someone to share ideas and concerns with. That’s what I have got from joining a women-only network.” One of those concerns that women often have in In 2011, a government survey common is the childcare found that just 21% of start-ups conundrum. “It’s a big in 2010 involved female founders

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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ANALYSIS

If the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be approximately 600,000 extra womenowned businesses, contributing an estimated

to the economy

misnomer that starting a business as a woman is going to be a really great fit with kids,” says Thorpe. “I went into business at the same time as I had my baby. They went through their teething problems together, so to speak. It’s a difficult balance.” Thorpe says having children was a difficult time for both her and her business. “My business went backwards when I had my son,” she admits. “I was lucky to have my parents nearby and I was back at my office in just five weeks – which in hindsight was detrimental for the business as I really needed time to readjust,” Thorpe continues. She says she was driven by fear of how the business would cope in her absence. “I was terrified the business would fail. For me, this is one of the toughest areas – wanting to have a normal family life and having to work that into a really tough working environment. Knowing what I know now, I should have planned that in and ensured my team could manage without me there every minute, but at the time I didn’t

“Running your own business can be so tough and a really lonely place sometimes – you need reassurance, someone to share ideas and concerns with” Gill Thorpe, founder, The Sourcing Team

have the knowledge or support around me.” According to Malhotra, the people behind all sorts of business events need to be a little more considerate of people’s responsibilities outside of the workplace. “When organising a Champagne reception at 7pm in the evening, they need to consider that there will be a lot of women who will be putting their children to sleep and won’t be able to attend. Or banks that close at 4pm or 4.30pm – which is the time parents may be on the school run.” Aside from being a little more conscious of the parenting and childcare needs that people may have, what else can be done to encourage women to start their own businesses? Malhotra suggests large national campaigns aren’t necessarily the way to go – especially for women in the capital. “London is a large place and if you want to

deliver something, it’s got to be delivered more locally.” She points to some of the Regional Development Agencies (RDA) outside of the capital as examples of excellence. “There have been coming through some of the RDAs outside of London much stronger women in business initiatives, who I think over a period of a number of years have contributed to stronger growth of women’s enterprise,” she says. “I think it needs a change in how we think about and promote enterprise in London.” There is help and support out there if women look for it. Local and national business groups play a part, as does WEConnect (details below). Also, the RBS Group’s Inspiring Women campaign is helping nudge things in the right direction by pledging £1.5m over three years to help organisations with dedicated programmes working to enhance the role of women in enterprise. It is hoped this will help a further 20,000 by the end of 2015. The fact of the matter is that the UK economy needs more female entrepreneurs. Figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be approximately 600,000 extra women-owned businesses, contributing an estimated additional £42bn to the economy. But it’s not just the responsibility of the banks or the business groups to make this happen. McPherson says that all stakeholders – including government – have a role to play if we are, as a nation, going to unlock the potential of female entrepreneurs. “All the statistics show we’re pushing it in the right direction,” she says, hopefully. “If we work on it together with government and our local business support organisations, I think we’ll continue to move it in the right direction.”

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Key resources everywoman: everywoman.com WEConnect: weconnecteurope.org Management Today: 35 Women Under 35: managementtoday.co.uk/go/35under35 British Chambers of Commerce: britishchambers.org.uk IoD: iod.com/Connecting/Events/ Women-as-Leaders

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

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Bridging the gap Having a 90-day gap between completion and receiving payment can place severe limits on growth. By releasing a little capital ahead of time, invoice financing can help ease the transition between the sales pitch and payday

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

F

acing a hole in your cashflow is a daunting prospect and for good reason. “Waiting to be paid can be devastating,” says Christopher Shaw, CEO of alternative invoice finance provider Platform Black. And the impact this has on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is disproportionate to their size. Shaw argues that although many larger blue-chip enterprises will insist on immediate payment for their services they will often only pay suppliers on very long payment terms, improving their own cashflow to the detriment of small companies. “The effect on the SME can be devastating; it can slow up recruiting and expanding the business to deal with the orders coming in,” Shaw continues. “As soon as you start issuing credit to people and selling to other businesses then you

can be as keen as you like in managing your profit and loss account,” remarks Malcolm Durham, chairman of FD Solutions. “You can still go bust even though you’re apparently profitable because you haven’t managed your cashflow.” Obviously an entrepreneur must prevent this situation at all costs and there aren’t too many options available. “You have to bridge the gap in your cashflow by putting money in yourself, not taking as much out or getting it from somewhere else,” he says. Traditionally enterprises would have turned to conventional lending to address the shortfall. “If you go back twenty years, the traditional overdraft would lend you some money backed up by your house and using your debtors as additional security,” comments Durham. But in recent times, in part – although not exclusively – down to the

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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FINANCE

“You have to bridge the gap in your cash flow by putting money in yourself, not taking as much out or getting it from somewhere else” Malcolm Durham, chairman, FD Solutions

economic downturn, banks were forced to reassess their capital adequacy, meaning that traditional lending methods like overdrafts weren’t able to address the sums involved. Shaw is eager to dispel the myth that this is down to unwillingness on the banks’ part. “In many cases they simply cannot help the SME because the profile of those companies don’t fit the type of debt that they can take on at the moment,” he explains. “This puts incredible pressure on SMEs and means they need alternative sources of finance.” And where can enterprises turn to release the sort of equity they needed? To the most logical place: the invoices themselves. Releasing funds from accounts payable falls into two main categories: invoice factoring and the related invoice discounting. The two differ in terms of who retains control of the

collected invoices – in factoring the debts are entirely sold off to the factor to release some 70%-85% of their value. By comparison, discounting merely uses the unpaid invoices as collateral for the short term loan, which is repaid once the buyer has paid the outstanding balance. But their main aim is the same, in that they help businesses release the potential funds locked up in their invoices Durham feels invoice financing offers a better solution to address gaps in cash flow than other forms of lending. “Invoice discounting, and its cousin factoring, are a better form of borrowing to fund that gap,” he says. “The invoice discounter has a more active role in looking at your debts – the people who owe you money – and will lend you a greater proportion of that money as a result.” Rather than basing their limits on the liquidity and value of the enterprise – which would severely limit its ability to scale quickly – the limits are based on the nature and reliability of clients. Durham explains: “They will look at the people you’re planning to sell to, see if they are credit worthy and give you a credit limit based on what that company’s results show.” Invoice financing can help to address the issues that come with relying on credit to grow a business and meet increasing demand. “If my sales this month are £1,000, next month are £1,200 and the month after are £1,300, with an overdraft facility I might be able to borrow £600 this month and the same in the months that followed,” explains Durham. “But I’ve got another £300 of sales which need supplies that I have to finance.” Extending the business’s overdraft limit in this scenario could take up to three months, which suddenly poses a problem. “With invoice discounting and factoring, since it’s set as a percentage of my sales, my available funds have gone up from £800 to £960 to £1,040. So I keep getting enough cash in to be able to pay my additional costs.” That’s not to say that invoice financing is entirely devoid of associated issues.

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February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

“Invoice finance just gives enterprises the most flexible and most cost effective method of alternative financing”

One problem is that if firms find out their invoices have been sold or borrowed against, it can send the wrong message. “It can be thought of like giving it to a debt collector – people think if you’re selling your debts you must be in the last chance saloon,” Christopher Shaw, CEO, Platform Black Durham explains. “Neither of which is true.” Confidential invoice discounting (CID) can offer some degree of privacy but as the proceeds need to be paid into a separate account to your main BACS payments, it can still lead to difficult questions that could jeopardise your relationship with the buyer. Something that could also potentially prove to be a significant issue for enterprises is that they retain little control over their sales ledger or which deals they borrow against. “In 98% of cases, they have to outsource their entire sales ledger to the factoring or invoice discounting company,” remarks Platform Black’s Shaw. “They basically have to hand over everything.” Up until recently there was little alternative for those who wished only to borrow against select invoices but now a new concept – invoice trading – has stepped in to address this. Shaw’s solution, Platform Black, is effectively the first UK invoice financing marketplace. Not only can the enterprise involved pick and choose the specific invoices they want to borrow against but they are also able to set the terms that suit them, rather than it being fixed by the lender. “They do that by setting up an auction,” he explains. “They upload it into the platform and they will select two things: how much of that invoice they’d like advanced and how much they are prepared to pay for the privilege.” “Somebody could come in and bid for the whole value or they could bid for a portion,” Shaw says. “The first part is getting up to 100% of the advance.” Perhaps what makes Platform Black so novel however is what happens next: lenders actually bid down from these terms. Shaw comments: “The next bid that comes might lower the amount the enterprise has to pay to 1.45% and then they go down in 0.05% amounts as low as the bidders will drive it. So it’s pushing down the cost of finance for the SME which is a brilliant way of giving these enterprises access to a competitive marketplace.” A measure of the Platform Black ‘entity-to-entity’ solution is that thus far every single one of its deals have not only secured their lending targets but have often also achieved better than requested terms. Given the economic situation, embracing alternative methods of securing finance is more important than ever and companies could do far worse than turning to one of the biggest resources at their disposal. “Invoice finance just gives enterprises the most flexible and most cost effective method of alternative financing,” says Shaw.

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February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

the prince & the pauper 37

In the early days of a start-up, most entrepreneurs are concerned with finding money to put in, not how much they can take out. But, at some point, the unspoken question of salary begins to loom

I

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

n the early days of a business there will inevitably be a trade-off between a living wage for its founders and the capital required for growth. In the short term, if you have resources from a previous venture, savings, equity release or a partner who’s earning, you can survive without needing to take much money from your business. “You can live without necessarily drawing a salary if that’s the best way to keep capital in your business and that’s what your business needs,” says Mark Kingsley-Williams, founder of Trade Mark Direct. “But entrepreneurs, as much as anyone, need some money to live off.” The funds available can vary, depending on how capital-hungry a business is and the nature of the industry it is operating in. Kingsley-Williams mentions a “You can live without friend and colleague whose designer flooring company has relied on bootstrapping for years to necessarily drawing a keep it operating. He explains, “They needed to salary if that’s the best build up capital within the business and there’s no point in them putting money into the business way to keep capital in your to draw out a salary upon which they then pay business and that’s what PAYE and income tax.” Conversely, Trade Mark your business needs” Direct itself, which doesn’t require a lot of capital tied up in a rolling stock base, was able to support a working salary for its founder much earlier. Mark Kingsley-Williams, founder, Trade Mark Direct When it came to putting a monetary value

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FINANCE

Deciding how much to pay yourself may be a fairly easy call. But what about when it comes to justifying it to another party? on Kingsley-Williams’ time, the considerations were fairly simple. “The only discussion in relation to my renumeration was, ‘Is it a market rate for what I am doing?’” he recalls. However, he’s keen to stress that an entrepreneur can’t just pay themselves an equivalent salary to one they would receive if they were working in a similar role at an industry leader such as Goldman Sachs. “There are surveys done on what the market rate is for people inside and outside of London at all the different levels – that’s a good guide.” So, deciding how much to pay yourself may actually be a fairly easy call. But what about when it comes to justifying it to another party? How do you make sure you’re on the same page? Last year, a US-based entrepreneur asked a question on Q&A site Quora about his co-founder refusing to budge from what he felt was an unreasonable minimum salary requirement from their business, attracting a flurry of responses from venture capitalists, CEOs and entrepreneurs, and highlighting how precarious differences of opinion over salary requirements can be if not handled ahead of time. “If one party ends up drawing out more than the other then obviously that’s a bias,” comments Kingsley-Williams. “The only way to get round that would be to drop their equity interest.” Obviously, this is a rather messy solution and reflects why it is so important to discuss what a potential partner’s salary expectations are ahead of time. “It’s really a conversation they should have had even before they’d formed a limited company together.” Another area that may worry fledgling entrepreneurs is what effect their salary might have on potential investment concerns; however, it’s possible these fears may be unfounded. “Investors will take a reasonably enlightened view,” says Kingsley-Williams. “Particularly if you’re at a stage in life where you have a spouse and children, they’ll know you can’t live as cheaply as you can if you’re a single person in your twenties.” There will

38

almost certainly be an expectation that you only take enough to cover your basic living costs, but, as Kingsley-Williams points out, that is because the more profitable the business is, the more it will be of benefit to both parties. “It will be based on your equity interest in the business increasing in value over time, so your interests and theirs are aligned.” Ultimately, a start-up isn’t always going to be in a position to pay a competitive salary straight off the bat, but as long as its founder can live and the business continues to expand, then that income will eventually be something they can recoup. “I think the main point is that the business can only afford to pay what it can afford to pay, but a necessary discipline is to keep track of what the business might otherwise be paying you,” says Kingsley-Williams. “That should be being accrued as a loan from you as the director of the business.”

Case Study Lara Morgan Founder and former CEO, Pacific Direct

When I started Pacific, for the first two years I simply took what I needed to live – eat, exercise and stay mobile. It actually took me ten years to buy myself a company car as I always worked with the knowledge that if I retained all the cash in the business that I could, I could use it to grow. I was lucky in that I had no incumbents and really small overheads. The mistake I made was that, as and when the business could afford to pay me better, I initially did not do so. When we were professionalising the business and needed to employ professional management, I employed my first general manager from Reebok on a salary of £126,000 plus car and expenses at a time when I was paying myself £24,000. I learned, as I continued to underpay myself, that at the point of exit it would be very quickly noted I was not taking a market-rate wage. In fact, in doing so, I was devaluing the business, so towards exit I did gradually raise my salary.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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FINANCE

Beware the pitfalls of cash accounting 40

Cash accounting could create second tier businesses, says Clive Lewis, ICAEW’s head of enterprise

S

mall businesses across the UK may be forced to convert to a cash accounting system in October. But banks have said they will not lend to businesses who report their business trading this way, which could create a second tier of businesses unable to access finance. Brought in to meet the requirements of the government’s new Universal Credit system, the cash accounting system will require a monthly online submission for self-employed individuals with a turnover below £154,000. In addition, HMRC will accept cash accounting in self-assessment tax returns for 2013/14 although with a lower initial maximum turnover limit of £77,000. Everyone who is self-employed and in receipt of any benefit to be merged into Universal Credit* will be compelled to make monthly cash accounting submissions. But if they want to secure any form of bank lending, a business loan or residential mortgage, they are likely to be required to use the profit and loss format. More paperwork. One of the main challenges of cash accounting is that it doesn’t give a true reflection of the business’s performance. It simply gives a snapshot of the bank balance on the day of

“One of the main challenges of cash accounting is that it doesn’t give a true reflection of the business’s performance” reporting. Accruals, stock levels, debtors and creditors and more give a fuller indication of the health of a business. But cash accounting will ignore them and simply focus on the cash inflows and outflows since the last report. To the example of annual business insurance. If paid in full in March, this will show up in cash accounting as a large expense significantly reducing profit that month instead of being prepaid and charged to profits every month. Equally, if a job ends on the last day of the month and the customer’s cheque is not paid in until the following day, the cash accounting system will show loss one month and surplus the next. Business owners not requiring bank finance will benefit from a simple method and one page online submission for universal

credit, but for the added administration of making a submission every month. For HMRC self-assessment requirements any business with a turnover of less than £77,000 per annum can opt for cash accounting. If they do succeed in increasing turnover, they won’t be forced to change back until they reach a threshold of £150,000. For more information on cash accounting, ICAEW’s Business Advice Service (BAS) offers start-ups and small businesses a free advice session with a qualified ICAEW chartered accountant. Visit www.businessadviceservice.com

*Universal Credit will come in to force in October 2013. Universal Credit will replace: Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance Child Tax Credit Income-related Employment and Support Allowance Working Tax Credit Income Support Housing Benefit

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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SALES & MARKETING

The wind in your sales 44

To some, the idea of sales management may not extend much beyond Alec Baldwin’s iconic ‘coffee is for closers’ speech from Glengarry Glen Ross. But is it really as simple as ABC?

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

D

avid Mamet’s boiler-room real estate drama certainly doesn’t display the world of sales in a particularly positive light. The old-fashioned picture that sales is about browbeating uninformed clients into taking things they don’t need has long expired and the industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated. “There have been some major shifts regarding sales,” says Freddie Osserberg, founder and CEO of Raconteur Media. Aside from the current economic climate, this can also be attributed to a more globalised market, technological progress and lower barriers to entry. “All of these things have created an environment where businesses and companies are forced to do more than ever before with their resources. In order to be successful in sales today, you need to sell business outcomes instead of products and services.” And yet it’s surprising that, while businesses are dedicating more time than ever to clarifying their business objectives, the same attention isn’t often paid to sales objectives. “What’s really interesting is that actually the number of organisations that use a very

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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SALES & MARKETING

methodical process for the sales is actually quite limited,” says Harco van den Oever, managing director of Overstone Associates. He refers to a recent survey by CSO Insights on enterprises’ perspectives of their own sales teams – and you might be forgiven, as this was an optional survey, for thinking potential self-selection bias would encourage favourable results. However, this was not the case. “In fact, 60% of their respondents are saying that they’re not using a clear sales process,” he continues. What is it about sales that means it doesn’t receive the same sort of process management as other areas of a business? “Some of the reasons that I can think of are the nebulous view of the sales organisation and a negative perception of sales,” says van den Oever. He feels that public perception of a sales team may be tainted by the stereotype of the secondhand-car salesman. “I think that’s probably one of the reasons why it’s not really been looked at in a sufficiently methodical way up until recently. And even now I don’t see enough of a structure around the sales process.” Shaun Thomson, CEO of sales training provider Sandler Training UK, feels part of this is down to executives concentrated on the wrong goals. “The problem with the sales manager’s or business owner’s point of view is they focus too much on the result,” he says. “We’ve got to have the result, there’s no getting away from it. But what we’ve really got to measure with our teams is the behaviours.” Setting one’s sights solely on a total revenue target isn’t enough to ensure the money comes in; instead using effective project management is vital if sales teams are going to be able to achieve annual targets. It’s important to break targets down into something much more manageable; knowing you need at least one sale a month is only the starting point. “We’ve got to work backwards and say: ‘I know from my experience if I have two second meetings with a fifty-fifty chance of closing the business I’ll get one sale,’” Thomson explains.

45

“The problem with the sales manager’s or business owner’s point of view is they focus too much on the result” Shaun Thomson, CEO, Sandler Training UK

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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SALES & MARKETING

“Opportunity management, call management; those are the building blocks to enable you to eventually achieve your business objectives.” Harco van den Oever, managing director, Overstone Associates

46

of respondents to a recent survey by CSO Insights say their own sales teams are not using a clear sales process

“‘To get two second meetings, I maybe need to have four first meetings and to get four first meetings, I have to make 40 phone calls.’” Central to Thomson’s point is that it does an enterprise no good to try to manage something beyond their control; it can’t guarantee that every customer will result in a sale. But it can ensure its team do the required leg work. “Those phone calls, that’s what the management should be measuring.” This is something that van den Oever concurs with. “Key account management is a critical aspect,” he says. “Opportunity management, call management; those are the building blocks to enable you enable you to eventually achieve your business objectives.” The way an organisation handles its salespeople is also incredibly important – particularly in industries such as law or accounting where the people closing new business have extensive experience of service delivery. “It’s really critical to balance the soft and the hard aspect of your sales management,” he continues. “The hard aspect is in terms of sales objectives. The softer element is all about ensuring the sales person feels an emotional attachment towards what the organisation is doing.” Essentially, a more sophisticated market requires more sophisticated sales staff. “Unsophisticated buyers don’t exist any more,” states Osserberg. “Unless you can use your business acumen to justify, ‘This is what I think the value and outcome for you as a client would be’, I don’t think there are any chances of doing business.” While in the past, teams could rely on classic sales skills, such as

charisma, presentation skills and articulacy, it has become essential for sellers to have the knowhow to understand customers needs and processes. “Previously, it was all about numbers and working hard as opposed to working smart. But now salespeople will have to change from persistent, hardworking and chatty into people who are good at spotting and analysing business opportunity and communicating it clearly.” However, employing only industry experts can have associated risks. “They have an emotional attachment: an engineer will be really interested in the speed of the turbine,” laughs van den Oever. “But the client is not interested in the speed of the turbine. They’re just interested in how much money they’re going to be saving.” What’s important is being able to to view things from their customers’ perspectives, because, with technological advances and the drive to shop smart, buyer sophistication is higher than ever. “Selling organisations often don’t have enough of an understanding of what else is there for the client to really be able to say, ‘OK, this is what the differentiator is of the product and services I’m selling compared to the competition’.” Getting inside a prospective customer’s head is more about understanding what is obstructing their goals than trying to tell them why a product should attract them. “Customers don’t buy their needs; they buy solutions to the problems that they have,” says Thomson. Being able to identify what issues customers are facing – whether it’s establishing their place in the marketplace or feeling they have to slash their prices to compete – enables sales teams to ensure they are delivering solutions rather than commodities. He does concede, however, that it’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds. “Sometimes people are in denial about the problems they have or they think they’re so generic that everyone has them.” But if you’re serious about your sales goals then it’s worth the effort to approach things from your customer’s perspective and ensure you’re putting effective sales processes in place. “I believe this has to be next step,” concludes van den Oever. “There’s so much being done on all other fronts that if you want to stay competitive you have to work on the effectiveness of your sales.”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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01/02/2013 17:39


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SALES & MARKETING

ON

message 48

When trying to create email marketing that really delivers, sending one message you know will hit its mark is better than a hundred thrown at random

shifting nature of the industry. “Online marketers find themselves under growing pressure to deliver the highest ROI possible, particularly from their digital channels,” comments Simon Bowker, the country manager UK & I for eCircle and Aprimo. With increasing levels of consumer sophistication and customers interacting with brands across a wide variety of platforms, the demands placed on marketers for intelligent content is higher than ever. He continues, “The battle to maintain, let alone increase, revenue is becoming progressively more difficult.” In light of this then, how does one actually define an effective email campaign? Rob Walker, founder of Xcitedigital, explains that it’s largely a question of building a genuine connection. “If the content builds a meaningful relationship and offers value rather than being perceived as spam, then you’re on to a good chance of building credibility,” he says.

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

I

t’s so easy to get caught up in the hype around social marketing these days that sometimes we can forget just how important the fundamentals are. Email marketing is such a staple part of communicating with customers that it’s become a part of the background texture of marketing. And yet surprisingly, given the fact it’s such a core part of the marketer’s toolkit, it’s an area that can easily trip up the unwary enterprise. For many businesses, their first conversation with a customer will take place via email. This places a huge importance on making sure that the first contact is a positive one. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” comments Anthony Wilkey, strategic client director at Emailvision. “If you get it wrong right at the beginning, then it’s a long way back.” Particularly for online-only businesses, a significant amount of their brand value will be communicated via their marketing emails; while other methods for starting conversations exist, such as websites and social-networking, they all need some initial input from the consumer. “Their reputation hangs on how well those emails are targeted, how relevant they are, how personalised, appropriate and relevant the content is,” says Wilkey. In part, the reason email marketing is so important to modern enterprises is the

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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SALES & MARKETING

“The most effective way to harness the maximum value out of your email marketing campaign is through segmentation,” says Bowker. Targeted marketing focused around small segments and demographics is much more valuable than indiscriminate approaches and will see much better results. “Today, the ‘spray’n’pray’ tactic no longer works and can’t be risked,” he explains. “Your content has to be relevant and adapted to your recipient’s needs to boost engagement and customer satisfaction.” This is a sentiment that Wilkey shares. “The better that you can understand what your customers are doing, what areas they are expressing an interest in, where they’re most engaged and what kind of things they’re interested in hearing about, the more your engagement levels will go up,” he explains. Producing more tailored communication enables enterprises to secure more opens and clicks – by extension this leads to much higher conversion rates. Additionally, it 50

“Their reputation hangs on how well those emails are targeted, how relevant they are, how personalised, appropriate and relevant the content is” Anthony Wilkey, strategic client director, Emailvision

provides a way to invest in customer relationships, producing a better flow between a company and its subscriber base. Wilkey continues, “Ultimately, what you’re trying to aim for is a conversation, rather than just a one-way transmission of information about you and things you’re trying to sell.” Maintaining a realistic picture of a database of tens or even hundreds of thousands of contacts is no mean feat. Fortunately, many organisations have access to all the information they require – even if they don’t realise it. “Analysing big data is the best way to build up that kind of understanding of what the people within your database are actually interested in, what they need and what they might purchase,” says Wilkey. Most companies capture this sort of data as a matter of course, whether it be through their websites, purchase information or previous campaigns, and, with the appropriate software, you can begin to sift through that data. He continues: “You can use that to – for want of a better term – slice and dice the data that you’ve captured, and work out what areas and what channels are working for you.” And this is where you begin to use testing to truly asses the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. Bowker explains, “Testing on subject lines, calls to action and content and links, which will all have a direct impact on your click-through rate, can help you determine what is working and, more importantly, what is not.” Knowing what content is proving effective with specific elements of their database allows marketers to ensure they’re deploying the most effective techniques at their disposal. “By taking note of what generates higher click-through rates, you can enhance the content you deliver to them, thus providing a much sought-after rich customer experience.” Despite its increasingly sophisticated nature, email marketing often has a bad reputation with the consumer. Because of this, it’s important to not let your email marketing overstep any lines. First of all, customers need the opportunity to opt out of correspondence and dictate the manner in which they’d like to be communicated. “You should allow the customer to set their preference,” says Bowker. He recommends that customers are able to choose how regularly they are contacted; a consumer may be interested in weekly or even daily correspondence but a trade customer is unlikely to want more than one email every few months. As Emailvision’s Wilkey neatly encapsulates: “There should be a default setting of treating customers with respect.”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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PEOPLE

Striking the balance When looking at work-life as a battle between two opposing forces, it seems hard to believe a peaceable long-term resolution can be achieved. Is it just time for us to drop the balancing act?

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WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

common misconception we have about work-life balance is that it’s a question of how many hours we work. Julie Hurst, the director of the Work Life Balance Centre, has been running a national research project looking at work-life balance. “What we’ve found is that if you divide people into those who work fewer and those who work more than 48 hours a week and then measure the ill health of those groups they are roughly the same.” However, when divided according to whether they felt they had sufficient control over their working life or not, the findings were stark. “The ‘not in control’ group are three times as likely to be ill and about 19 times as likely to make a serious error,” she states. “It’s all about feelings of control, not necessarily the hours.” “Wherever you This obviously has significant ramifications are in your for entrepreneurs. “If it’s your own business, career, it’s about you have a very high degree of control,” says Hurst. However, this is not to say that drawing your entrepreneurs are not susceptible to making errors in how they distribute their attention. In sense of self Hurst’s opinion, this is down to the fact that and your most of our psychological needs can find an self-esteem from outlet in the workplace – whether that’s besting lots of different challenges or helping others – and this ease of access means we can often stop looking for sources” fulfilment across a broader spectrum. Ultimately, this means either other areas Julie Hurst, director, begin to atrophy or that when a job ends we the Work Life Balance are suddenly cut adrift without any of our Centre needs being met. She explains: “Wherever you are in your career, it’s about drawing your sense of self and your self-esteem from lots of different sources.” That’s not to say these concerns only work one way. Although we tend to think of work-life balance as a case of work encroaching on the needs of our domestic lives, George Whitehead, who is venture

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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PEOPLE

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February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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30/01/2013 19:54


PEOPLE

“I would say that it’s as dangerous to put all of your eggs in a life basket as putting all of them in a work basket” Julie Hurst, director, the Work Life Balance Centre

partner manager at Octopus Ventures, says he’s known plenty of entrepreneurs who decide they’ve earned a bit of time work-free after their first exit. All too often they quickly discover something is missing. “They try this new life out and realise that it just doesn’t work for them because the work-life balance isn’t there,” says Whitehead. Without any attempt to achieve and strive they end up feeling untested and unfulfilled. “The work is a really important part of their identity and also their way of a making a difference.” This is a point that Hurst concurs with. “I would say that it’s as dangerous to put all of your eggs in a life basket as putting all of them in a work basket,” Hurst states. “It is about spreading that load.” She provides an example – when people invest themselves in raising their children. Inevitably, when their children grow up and leave home, the individual’s sense of self comes under question because they have over-invested in a single area of their life. “It’s that ‘all or nothing’ investment in one thing that’s the problem.” Kevin Friery, the head of counselling for Right Corecare notes something that is often overlooked is the fact that 85% of workplace productivity and attendance problems have nothing to do with work. “People worry about taking work home and the impact of work on home life but actually it works much more the other way round,” he says. “What you find is people’s personal lives intrude on their work lives.” Because of this, it’s important for individuals to find ways to make their homelife more tolerant of the requirements of their working lives. This is partly about showing other people in your life you reconise they are still affected by your work life. “If you live with somebody and you take a job, that other person is impacted upon because you’re in their space and their time thinking about that job,” he explains. “Get your family on side so they’re not drawn into it as well.” Rather than seeing your work and home life as being at odds, you can then start to make them support each other much more effectively. And this raises a very important point. Recently Facebook’s director of mobile partnerships Emily White coined a term that has seemed to capture the business world’s imagination: the work-life merge. In these

times of flexible working and uninterrupted connectivity, is the image of work and life as two distinct, conflicting parties really appropriate or is it time the work-life balance was struck from our minds entirely? “It’s a very important point, one that we’ve been working with for the last decade,” remarks Friery. “When you talk about work-life balance, it sounds like ‘this’ versus ‘that’.” He identifies that there are now two distinct approaches to work-life and which approach you adopt is dictated by necessity. Some roles – for example, working in a factory – require a clock-in, clock-out approach and here it’s best to preserve a very firm boundary between home and work. But for other situations, such as the one an entrepreneur finds themselves in where out-of-hours work and firefighting may be required, the focus needs to be on integration and mutual support between the complexities of working and non-working life. Friery continues: “When you talk about work-life integration, which is the term we use, what you’re acknowledging is that it’s one person with a complex life.” There is also a strong connection between an increasing interest in entrepreneurialism and this sense of work-life integration. Octopus Ventures’ Whitehead is also the chairman of the £50m Business Angel Co-investment Fund and he has observed that a great number of new angel investors are emerging to involve themselves in the next generation of businesses. “I think people are recognising that it’s not just a rare group of dragons that this is relevant to,” he comments. “A much wider swathe of the population are thinking perhaps it makes sense to spend some of their redundancy money on building up a business themselves or helping someone else get started.” He feels this is another area where the boundaries between an individual’s non-work life and their career are beginning to become far more blurred. While it may be tempting to try and force a barrier between these elements, ultimately it’s better accepting the fact that our workplace and non-work needs are interdependent. As Hurst comments: “I don’t think it’s that easy to set up boundaries and I think there is a certain amount of merging.” But if we learn to go with this trend and try to integrate these elements evenly and without bias it can give us a level of security unavailable when the two are in conflict. “As human beings we just do better when we can draw strength from lots of different areas.”

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February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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PEOPLE

Providing access to training for your staff is an excellent way of investing in them – in more ways than one

TRAIN TO WIN G

enerally, the benefits of training are fairly easy to understand. Often, enterprises invest large amounts of money in assessing the performance of their employees but, without effective training to address shortfalls, this expenditure is effectively wasted. “Unless you spend a little time investing in those people then you’re not really going to get that cost back,” says Robert Fisher, managing director of training provider Indigo Business. “But if you do, you might find out you’ve got a much more enhanced organisation as a result.”

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“Unless you spend a little time investing in those people then you’re not really going to get that cost back” There’s also a subtler value in investing in your staff. During times of difficulty it can be hard to show your staff your appreciation for their work but training can prove to be a far more effective method than financial renumeration. “We know that money is one of the lowest satisfiers in a job,” says Fisher. “Rather than giving staff money, giving them skills and saying, ‘I appreciate that you’ve got a long history left in this company; we’d really like to invest in your development’ can show people that you care.” Additionally, if these skills are applicable elsewhere, it means you can simultaneously invest in an employee’s future and solidify the skill set of your staff. “You’re giving that person a new skill they can use in their job, hopefully, so that, as an employer, you’ve got a far more skilled workforce.”

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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PEOPLE

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This doesn’t only go one way. Recognising the value of the training investment is important for employees as well, particularly in an economic climate where a short-term cash injection is so easily swallowed by bills and debts. “If the knowledge economy forms the new currency of organisations perhaps in these hard times going into an appraisal and saying, ‘You know what – I’d rather forgo a salary increase but I would like eight, nine or ten days of development over the next financial year’ is a creative way that staff can make use of that.” Of course, this is the elephant in the room when it comes to training – when cashflow is tight how can an organisation justify making this sort of investment? “Return on investment is notoriously difficult to prove with regards to training,” says Fisher. However, there are occasions where it is necessary to address a skills shortfall within an enterprise and often augmenting the current skill set of employees is far cheaper than going down a recruitment route.

Augmenting the current skill set of employees is far cheaper than going down a recruitment route

“The hidden costs of recruitment are vast, in time away from the business and time away from your desk, not to mention the terrible cost of poor recruitment strategies and ineffective interviewing.” Fisher estimates that the cost of recruiting to fill a skills gap could be perhaps four times as much as training existing employees in new skills, and, if there are members of staff interested in their own development, then an organisation has a resource going untapped. And, of course, this interest in developing their own talents is a vital part of an employee’s development. Fisher explains: “Training should be seen as a bit of a benefit and so we feel it’s very important that you discuss it with your line manager, and put in a good case as to why you should go on that training course.” Training is a mutual process, one that employee and employer both need to be behind – without the member of staff displaying an active interest in their own development the whole exercise becomes somewhat self-defeating. “We have had people come to our workshops and we’ve had people saying: ‘I’m here as a punishment’,” he says, laughing. “And that’s probably the worst way to approach training.” That’s not to say effective training can’t win over even the most stubborn opposition – Fisher recalls some public-sector training he delivered around innovation. “The back two rows were people with folded arms saying, ‘I’ve worked here for 20 years. There’s not a lot you can teach me.’” he says. “By the end of the two days, the back two rows had moved to the front and they were going, ‘Why hasn’t anyone ever taught us this?’” But finding a way to help employees engage means that they’re far more likely to take training on board and want to implement what they’ve learned. And, ultimately, this is what effective training is all about. For Indigo, the most important thing about training is that it provides skills a member of staff can employ from day one. “They’re what we call Monday morning doable,” explains Fisher. “You learn them on Friday; you can do them on Monday.” In terms of a return on the investment, it’s vital both employee and enterprise can see the benefit of the training and this means it having immediate practical applications – and this is one area where employee ownership is incredibly important. “I do think quite a bit of responsibility comes down to the delegate to report back to their line manager and their business: ‘This is what I’ve done’.” Providing access to effective training will always be vital to a developing business. “There’s a fundamental need for businesses to invest in training and to at least offer people that opportunity to train,” says Fisher. When employees are interested in growing the contribution they bring to an enterprise, responding to that can have a huge value for both employee and the business. “If people are eager and they want to do it and they’ve got a great provider to partner with then really it should be a happy marriage.”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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PEOPLE

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 Buckingham Business First and a fellow of the Institute of Directors.

motivation matters It’s no surprise that employees can be feeling a little deflated at the beginning of the year. But they can be easily re-engaged, says Martin Reed

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espite being the shortest month, February can feel very long. Without the promise of a Christmas bonus or a summer break to help motivate employees, you may find you need to go back to grass-roots to motivate and inspire your team. This relatively fallow time of year can be a great time to regroup and reinvigorate your workforce. The first step in reassessing your team is to understand where they are in the development process and what you can do to support them during that stage. When looking at how best to do this, it’s worth keeping Bruce Tuckman’s team development model in mind – Tuckman proposed four main phases: Form, Storm, Norm and Perform. Each stage has its own criteria for success, and an awareness of where your team is in the process will help you assess where to concentrate your efforts in refining the team dynamic.

Form

“This relatively fallow time of year can be a great time to regroup and reinvigorate your workforce”

Clearly, forming a team is the crucial first phase and success at this stage comes from knowing what kind of team you want to create and what types of people you need in it. A well-balanced team involves people whose experience, skills, perspectives, interests and contributions complement one another, rather than duplicate or counteract each other. In our psychometric assessments, we often see teams made up of one dominant behavioural trait – for example, the board of a company is often comprised of people with dominant and commanding behavioural traits (‘High Ds’), but it also needs a representation of other elements to ensure it’s not totally disengaged from the operation of the business. When putting together a new team, it’s useful to consider the different behavioural profiles to make sure you get a balanced mix of people who will lead, follow, create, plan and deliver. How to motivate your team during this stage: Team members tend to function as individuals at this point so team leaders need to be pro-active and directive in team-building and sharing vision.

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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PEOPLE

Storm

The second phase is where different ideas compete for attention and teams hit a glass ceiling. Lack of understanding of each other can mean team members start to play the ‘blame game’ and point fingers at the perceived shortcomings of others. Self-awareness and an awareness of other people’s work styles are crucial if a team is going to reach its performance goals – there needs to be an understanding that differences are not good or bad, better or worse, but just different. Each member must recognise their own limitations and recognise that there are people on the team who can do things better than them. How to motivate your team during this stage: At this point, the role of the team

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leader is to build awareness, either using tools such as psychometric assessment, or simply by encouraging open and honest communication to generate understanding of other’s work styles. The team leader needs to be assertive in bringing conflicts into the open and clarifying work goals and objectives. This phase can be destructive if you don’t manage the situation firmly enough. Encourage your team to reach an acceptance that ‘we’ have a joint problem and ‘we’ need a joint strategy to tackle it. An effective team player knows when to delegate and when to take responsibility and an effective manager knows how to encourage this level of self-recognition and cooperation.

“It’s very easy for a team that’s under pressure or lacking motivation to lose its focus”

Norm

Recognition plays an important part in the ‘norming’ process, which is where a team will start to relate to each other, build commitment and achieve consensus. They don’t have to agree but must concede that others have a valid point of view. Teams fail because of mismatched needs, unresolved conflict, personality clashes and lack of trust. All these can be addressed through understanding and recognising how each person in the team behaves and responds in different situations. In a typical team, there will be people who are systematic, careful and precise but there will also be people who are assertive, driven and goal orientated. Despite these differences, a successful team will commit to group decisions even though they may not personally agree with them. How to motivate your team during this stage: At this point your team needs to have

one clear goal and vision, and as manager you

need to celebrate increased cooperation as roles and responsibilities become clearer and agreements on expectations are reached.

Perform

At this stage, everyone takes responsibility and has the ambition to work for the success of the team. It’s very easy for a team that’s under pressure or lacking motivation to lose its focus. How to motivate your team during this stage: A successful manager needs to

maintain the ‘vision’ and have the ability to keep a clear focus on what the team is trying

to achieve and its objectives in terms of overall strategy. A good leader will maintain high morale by keeping a clear focus themselves and ensuring that vision is shared by team members and they don’t drift too far from it. Good teamwork is vital in helping a business achieve its objectives and even in the quieter months of the year it’s empowering to know there are things you can do, tools you can use and proven techniques you can employ to make sure your team is focused, committed and performing to the best of their abilities as you face the year ahead.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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01/02/2013 11:57


TECHNOLOGY

The

who’s who of UK tech

Welcome to the final instalment of our guide to the crème de la crème of the technology start-up scene part deux

Richard Moross

Nick Halstead

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Capitalising on the ‘big data’ phenomenon, Halstead is the founder and CTO of DataSift, which helps businesses derive real value from the mountains of information produced by social media. Founded in just 2010, DataSift can already boast 10,000 users, offices in four cities and $14m in investment. Halstead has form: he is also the brains behind TweetMeme, which tracked the most commonly shared tweets. He later canned TweetMeme to focus on DataSift – but not before gaining millions of users across 30 different countries and famously inventing Twitter’s ‘retweet’ button.

WORDS: HANNAH PREVETT AND JOSH RUSSELL

@nik

It took many iterations of moo.com, the online print business started by Moross back in 2004, to get the recipe for success just right. Integrations with Flickr and Facebook, among others, and a solid focus on product quality and customer service alike have meant the company’s business cards now fly off the proverbial shelves. Turnover was a healthy £12.8m in 2011 and the company employs 125 staff across its UK and US offices. Self-confessed design geek Moross is hot property these days: last year he was made a non-executive director of betting firm Ladbrokes. @richardmoross

Martha Lane Fox CBE Co-founder of lastminute.com and former poster girl of the dotcom boom, Lane Fox has since founded private karaoke company Lucky Voice, been a board member of Channel 4, mydeco.com (a business started by her lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman) and Marks & Spencer. In 2009, she was appointed the UK government’s digital inclusion champion and given the rather tall task of making the UK public more computer literate. All of this was achieved despite a serious car crash in 2004 that nearly killed her and has left her with ongoing medical problems. We take our hat off to this lady. @marthalanefox

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TECHNOLOGY

Azeem Azhar Oxford graduate Azhar began his career as a celebrated tech journalist for The Guardian and The Economist, where he demonstrated a deep understanding and passion for emergent technologies. Moving on to the strategy side, he worked at BBC Online during its formative years before becoming the head of innovation at Reuters in 2005. He founded PeerIndex – a tool for evaluating and understand the social capital a person has built online – in 2009. In stints between that little lot, he’s been an investor and advisor to some of Europe’s most exciting and fast-growth start-ups. Azhar’s social capital? Sky high. @azeem

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Alastair Lukies As co-founder and CEO of Monitise, Lukies has been a key figure in the mobile money space for more than a decade. Monitise has not only garnered support from global financial institutions, payment providers and mobile network operators, it has also attracted investment from blue-chips including Visa, Standard Chartered Bank and 3i. What’s more, Monitise was recognised as a ‘technology pioneer’ by the World Economic Forum in 2006 on the basis of its ability to help social change. Right on.

Joanna Shields Shields caused some eyebrows to raise skywards at the end of last year when she quit as Facebook’s European boss to run Tech City, the government’s initiative to promote east London as a technology and innovation hub. It’s easy to see why Tech City was so keen to hire her: she has previously worked at Google and ran social networking site Bebo, selling it for close to $850m. It’s a good job Shields is no stranger to pressure: it’ll be all eyes on her to see what her expertise and knowledge can bring to the controversial government quango.

Samir Desai, James Meekings, Andrew Mullinger Desai, Meekings and Mullinger are better known on the UK tech scene as the bright sparks behind peer-to-peer lending site Funding Circle. At the time of writing, Funding Circle has facilitated more than £74m in loans to small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK. Having secured funding from VC heavyweights Index Ventures among others (raising $21.2m to date) and attracting board members such as start-up veteran Ed Wray of Betfair, the future is certainly rosy for this lending innovator. @samirdesai01 @mullinger

Doug Monro and Andrew Hunter This month’s One to watch, these affable chaps are the brains behind Adzuna, a new kind of search engine for classified ads that uses nifty technology to connect the ads with companies that users already know via social networks. Still in its infancy, Adzuna has done enough to convince VCs they want a slice of the action with Index Ventures and Passion Capital on board already. It’s no surprise that they’re lining up to get involved, with Monro and Hunter’s sterling start-up credentials, many are expecting great things from this pair. No pressure, then. @dougall @andrewtc04

Eric van der Kleij The Dutch-born, South-Africa-raised entrepreneur started and ran a number of successful technology businesses and raised £30m from VCs in 2000 to take his credit card fraud firm Adeptra to the world. Having left the business in 2006, it’s easy to see why he was asked by the government to help establish its Global Entrepreneur Programme, which helps early-stage entrepreneurs from around the world set up in the UK. In 2011, he was made CEO of Tech City, a post he held for a year before going to head up the Level39 Fintech Accelerator Programme for the Canary Wharf Group. @Ericvanderkleij

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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TECHNOLOGY

Rajeeb Dey Ian Hogarth

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Dey flexed his entrepreneurial muscle from a young age. At 17, he founded and chaired the first English Secondary Students’ Association (ESSA). Then, upon graduation from the University of Oxford (with a first class degree in economics and management, no less), Dey barely stopped to draw breath before founding enternships.com, a service providing ‘entrepreneurial work placements’ by connecting students and graduates to start-ups, SMEs and ‘intrapreneurial’ firms. His work has brought him to the attention of judging panels far and wide, not least of all the World Economic Forum who named him the youngest young global leader in the 2012 cohort.

Phil Smith

@rajdey

Hogarth is one smart cookie: having gained a masters in machine learning from Cambridge University, Hogarth created a clever way to track the music users listen to and notify them when their favourite bands and artists are playing live. Taking a slice of ticket sales, Hogarth has proved that there are still ways to make money from the music industry if you’re innovative enough. Songkick is music to investors’ ears and has raised $16.5m since its inception in 2007, including wonga from high-rolling VC firms Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures. @soundboy

The only corporate representative on our list, we have a special place in our heart for the UK chief of tech giant Cisco. For, despite being at the helm of a behemoth, Smith is at the forefront of technical innovation and the push for increased entrepreneurialism in the UK. 2012 was a big year for Smith: he was named as the new chairman of the Technology Strategy Board and announced Cisco’s intention to invest an eye-watering $500m in east London’s burgeoning technology sector in the next five years. What’s more, the networking firm was a key London 2012 supplier, and set up 30 Cisco Network Academies in east London schools as part of its commitment to the Olympic legacy. The cherry on top for Smith was being voted as leader of the year at the National Business Awards last November. @phsmithuk

Sam Barnett Not one to be deterred by a downturn, Barnett launched ad technology company Struq in 2008 at the height of the recession. Despite not raising a penny in finance, it survived and thrived during straitened times and has become a roaring success, adding All Saints, Nike, Adidas, Thomas Cook and Topshop to an impressive client roster. In 2011, the business turned over £19m – and its meteoric growth shows no sign of slowing. @BarnettSam

Robin Klein Often dubbed ‘the godfather of European VC’, Klein has been at the centre of tech entrepreneurial activity for the best part of three decades. The last of the companies he founded, Innovations, conducted the first ever consumer e-commerce transaction in May 1995. Since his own glittering operational career he has proved to be a highly successful investor, backing the likes of Agent Provocateur, lastminute.com, LoveFilm, Wonga, moo.com, Moshi Monsters, Skimlinks and many more. @robinklein

Dale Murray Having begun her stellar career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Kiwi Murray subsequently joined Vodafone New Zealand and was one of the founding team to take it to full commercial launch in 1993. Having completed an MBA at London Business School, Murray co-founded Omega Logic in 1999 and launched pre-pay mobile top-ups in to the UK. After building revenues to an impressive £7m, she flogged the company to Eposs, later becoming the parent company’s CEO and doubling its revenues in a mere two years. She’s now an early-stage investor and was voted Angel Investor of the Year in 2011. @dalejmurray

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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TECHNOLOGY

Sara Murray OBE Murray is best known as the founder of confused.com and the inventor of Buddi, a miniaturised tracking device for vulnerable people. Buddi is now used the length and breadth of the country to track previous offenders as well as sufferers of dementia. She is currently awaiting the outcome of a couple of public sector procurement bids, which would seriously bulk up her business. Not satisfied with that little lot, Murray is also a member of the government’s Technology Strategy Board and is a mentor at Seedcamp – an organisation set up to jumpstart entrepreneurial activity in the UK.

The journalist...

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Mike Butcher It seems counterintuitive somehow to refer to Butcher as a mere hack as he is so much more. As European editor of TechCrunch and co-founder of TechHub, he is as much a part of the European tech scene as many of the companies he writes about. Having written for every UK newspaper you can think of, he has been named as a key influencer on every list from the Top 50 Most Influential Britons in Technology by The Daily Telegraph in 2009, and in both 2010 and 2011 Butcher was given the nod as one of London’s most influential people in new media and ‘king of

Chuka Umunna MP As the only MP to feature on our list of influencers, the shadow business secretary has impressed with his passion and can-do attitude when it comes to entrepreneurship in the capital. With the same everyman appeal as Obama, an unrivalled passion for enterprise and the brains to back it all up (he’s a qualified employment law solicitor) Umunna is on a mission to cement London’s position as one of the start-up capitals of the world. @ChukaUmunna

David Richards Richards is president and CEO of WANdisco, a software company jointly headquartered in Sheffield and Silicon Valley that helps developers across the world to collaborate in real time. WANdisco’s client list reads like a who’s who of the corporate world: Barclays, John Deere, Intel and HP are all believers. It was perhaps no surprise, then, that in June 2012, WANdisco had a three-times oversubscribed flotation on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market. Richards is a bit of a tech start-up veteran: prior to WANdisco he led several technology companies from fledgling start-up to tech behemoth. @davidrichards

Jason Goodman Albion London – founded by Goodman a decade ago – has positioned itself as the go-to digital agency for entrepreneurs. Having worked with the likes of Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks and Saul Klein from Index Ventures, Goodman has established himself as integral a part of the start-up scene as the entrepreneurs he works with. The agency also teaches blue-chip companies to think ‘smaller’, and be more nimble and innovative – before the scrappy start-ups outmanoeuvre them. Goodman is also a mentor at Seedcamp and accelerator Wayra. @jasongoodman

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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22/01/2013 15:50 23/01/2013 11:53


TECHNOLOGY

This time of year is never easy for an entrepreneur, wondering if a few flakes of the white stuff will bring their entire enterprise to a shuddering halt. Fortunately, tech developers aren’t so easily derailed by the changing seasons, so we still have a whole host of new tech to share with you this month

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WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

HTC Windows Phone 8S Apple’s high-profile patent war with rival Samsung shows many a toe is being trodden on with carbon-copy smartphone designs. And this is one of the things that’s so refreshing about HTC Windows Phone 8S. It looks unique; rather than apeing its competitors, it has established its own identity. It’s not without flaws – it lacks a front-facing camera and doesn’t have an HD screen. But for its price, (£240), it’s certainly an attractive and decent value offering.

“It looks unique; rather than apeing its competitors it has established its own identity”

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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TECHNOLOGY

Krups Automatic Espresso EA9000 Being able to get coffee fresh from the bean when you enter the office in the morning is a prospect sumptuous enough to make any entrepreneur’s soul sing. But making a quality espresso can be a messy process that perhaps sits at odds with a busy office space. This is something that makes the self-cleaning Automatic Espresso EA9000 a rather inviting prospect. It’s a pricey devil, (£1,299.95), but hassle-free boutique coffee is worth the cost. 74

SigFig Tools that concentrate on financial management are ten-a-penny. But SigFig is something else entirely, turning the attention others pay to your wallet to your investment portfolio. Allowing you to track your broker or your individual personal options, SigFig lets you monitor the progress of your portfolio, providing a suite of analytics and tools to help you compare your options to the wider markets. Clever stuff.

Gmail for iPhone Because of its catch-all nature, the iPhone’s native Mail app is lacking in some key areas. One of the main issues is, due to the fact only a small collection of emails are stored on your phone, finding that email you were sent two months ago is nigh on impossible. This is one of the nice perks of Google’s new dedicated Gmail app, allowing a closer connection with your Gmail accounts on the go.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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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.

On cloud nine It was a stroke of luck that cloud computing was coming of age as David Hathiramani was founding A Suit That Fits 77

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hen I co-founded A Suit That Fits, I was working as an IT Manager in a medium-sized company with around 200 staff. It was in 2006 and cloud computing – or the practice of storing companies’ data in a secure online facility – was in its infancy. Everything was hosted internally. We paid for the connection costs, the server costs, the repair costs, and we upgraded and maintained the servers (including a file server, an exchange server – email/calendar/tasks – a bespoke application server, a telephone server, and probably a few more that I can’t remember). The entire team used to spend most of their time on Google trying to find odd little error and bug fixes for all of these servers. In short, it was a big job. Luckily, just as we started A Suit That Fits, cloud computing was beginning to gain some traction. Cloud computing is a buzz phrase that really can over-complicate what it actually is. In fact, practically all of us have been using cloud computing. Cloud email applications such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail have been around for years and now it is second nature to us all. It seems to me that the only time the “cloud” buzzword is used is when we relate this kind of thing to businesses.

Our whole focus at A Suit That Fits was always to make tailoring accessible. We didn’t want to become a company that spent lots of time and money (that we could be spending on our product and customer service) fixing servers. So we looked at solutions where this time would be minimised. What’s more, our fantastic team of tailors in Nepal needed to work on the same system. The first system that we arranged was Google Apps. Google Apps is now far more comprehensive than it was back when we started out in 2006, but essentially it covers all things that a business should need – aside from bespoke business applications. It hosts your emails, tasks, an internal instant messaging system and calendars, to name but a few things. It is free up to a certain number of users, and it can scale as your business grows. This gives us the power to communicate with our tailors on a very personal level. The system was quick to set up, and we’ve been working from it ever since. There are lots of benefits to having applications based in the cloud and here are a few of the reasons why it is so useful to us:

Expansion If you have an offering that you want to dynamically expand, and all of

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TECHNOLOGY

“You can feel comforted knowing that their reputation is based on your data being safe and secure”

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your systems are based on the web, then you can easily roll out your next branch from anywhere with an internet connection. This has given us unlimited options on how we choose to expand.

Less need for back-ups When you have systems based online, then you know that you’re not the provider’s only client. You can feel comforted knowing that their reputation is based on your data being safe and secure. Nevertheless, it’s only right to back up critical data periodically (although thankfully we’ve never had to go back to these). Seamless upgrades Upgrading takes time. On cloud systems new features seem to simply appear every now and again– and someone else has done all the work. Working with remote units At A Suit That Fits, we probably wouldn’t have been able to start our business without great communication links between the customer and the individual stitching the customer’s order (in fact, that’s probably why our concept was the first of its kind). Having things based online gave us the edge that we needed. Reliable security Many people feel cloud security is an issue – they ask questions such

as: “How do you know someone else isn’t accessing your data?” My view on this is really simple – I trust the engineers at Google and other cloud providers to make my data secure, more than I trust myself. The world of IT changes so quickly, it is almost impossible to keep up to date with all of the security fixes you would need to do if you were to host your own server. They have a huge interest in keeping the data secure and, so far, they’ve done a pretty good job. We now have all of our systems based in the cloud. This has given us the flexibility to ensure that any IT team we choose to recruit can look at creating new systems to make tailoring accessible rather than maintaining existing ones – and spend more time on making our customer journey even better.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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Starting a Here’s one we Starting a business is no walk in the park, and unless you’re a multimillionaire with a crack team of experts at your disposal, it never will be. So why are so many people in the UK choosing to go it alone? Is having a boss starting to lose a little gloss? With redundancy figures hitting the roof and ever-stretching queues snaking around Job Centres, many are choosing to take the plunge into the unknown and start their own business. But with most of the brilliant money-spinning business ideas already taken, more and more budding business owners are taking an alternative route to self-employment – they’re buying franchises. Investing into a franchise model is the perfect fit for some; offering a ready-made business model with a loyal customer base; a tried and tested brand; relationships with suppliers; and a dominant online presence. It’s all there, boxed up and ready to go. If businesses came flatpacked, they’d probably look like franchises.

Of course, a franchise isn’t for everyone, but here are a few reasons why a franchise might be a smart move for you...

Secure

The security obtained with a franchise is second to none. You’ll be running a business with a tried and tested framework, a brand that is trusted, and with the ongoing support of the franchisor. The franchise industry has rarely been in a better, more profitable state than it is today.

franchise industry isn’t monopolised by fast food joints and coffee shops Choice The anymore; there’s now a broad range of franchises covering almost every area of business imaginable – from property investment to photography, comedy clubs to chocolate shops – so selecting the right brand could be your toughest decision in the whole process. every stage of the franchise process, you’ll benefit from support of the Support Atfranchisor and a network of franchisees. This support will enable you to get on top of potential problems quickly, and bounce ideas off others who’ve been in the same position. The franchise industry has seen significant growth in recent times and it’s now more diverse than ever before, with the UK proving fertile breeding ground for franchises of all shapes and sizes. The industry is now ripe with opportunities for franchise first-timers hoping to get a foot in the door, and even for hardened business owners looking to expand their business portfolio.

The Franchise Show will take place on 22/23 February, ExCeL London The Franchise Show dps.indd 1

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business?

made earlier. Over the last four years, The Franchise Show has helped thousands of people to make their move into business, offering access to the very latest information and opportunities within this fast-moving industry.

The next show will take place at ExCeL, London on the 22nd and 23rd of February 2013. Tickets are free, simply register at www.thefranchiseshow.co.uk With much of the work already done for you – the brand building, the marketing strategy, the idea development – a huge part of getting started in franchising isn’t running the business itself, but researching and pinpointing a franchise model to suit your budget, character and ambition. The Franchise Show represents the industry’s diversity to its fullest, continually delivering an event that puts visitors at the heart of unmatched information, opportunities, and contacts, spanning every area of franchising conceivable. Whether you’re searching for the right franchise system, or you simply wish to find out more about the industry, The Franchise Show’s comprehensive conference schedule is a great place to start. You’ll discover seminars on everything from master franchise operations to retail franchises, and with the new Focus On seminar schedule, finding the right information has never been easier.

FOCUS ON

Focus On is a series of 30-minute seminars delivered by the most respected and experienced professionals in the industry, each seminar focusing on a different franchise sector. Starting with a brief introduction to franchising, the seminars look at the characteristics of the market, investment levels, expected return, skills needed, the common pitfalls and the day-today operations. These sessions cover the most up-to-date practical, legal, strategic, and financial issues, allowing visitors to get straight to the heart of what they want to know.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Last September saw the introduction of A Day In The Life Of, a round table discussion where visitors were given the chance to meet the franchisees who’d taken the plunge and bought into a franchise model. These franchisees uncovered the trials and tribulations associated with the process, and gave visitors a unique chance to get the advice so crucial in the early stages of business. A Day In The Life Of was a huge success and will be back again at February’s event, helping visitors get the inside track before committing to anything. High investment, high return opportunities are also available at The Franchise Show, offering visitors the chance to meet people who have successfully established master franchises. Attend a series of seminars and workshops presented by leading experts in their field; and enjoy face-to-face meetings with organisations seeking to offer master franchise opportunities, many of whom will be promoting their concept for the first time in the UK. To complement the huge number of UK brands at the show, many international franchises will be present, all looking for willing franchisees to take the reins of concepts new to the UK. Visit in February and find out why The Franchise Show is regarded by many as the must-attend event for anyone looking to start a franchise business.

Tickets are completely free and available at www.thefranchiseshow.co.uk The Franchise Show dps.indd 2

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FRANCHISING

Franchise in the spotlight:

Sandler

Training 82

How often have you found a product so good you had to buy a stake in the business? Probably not often. But that’s precisely what happened to Shaun Thomson when he brought Sandler Training to the UK

WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

O

“The reality was that I had been a customer so I knew it worked over here” Shaun Thomson, CEO and

master franchisor, Sandler UK

ften the path that leads to someone running their own franchise is rather artificial. Once they’ve made the conscious decision to purchase a franchise, a good part of their journey is a trawl of franchise publications and shows, and meeting and greeting various franchisors making the hard sell. But, for Shaun Thomson, becoming CEO and master franchisor of Sandler UK was a much more natural journey. “I didn’t go out thinking, ‘I wonder where I can get a sales training company from?’” he explains. “It was an evolution.” Even before taking on Sandler Training, Thomson was no stranger to the world of sales. “I worked with companies such as Apple, HP, IB and Lucent Technologies setting up channels and that type of stuff in 56 different countries,” he remarks. Despite working for such high-profile firms, Thomson found that what he was interested in was the entrepreneurial elements of his role. One of the best examples of this was a European division he set up for Lucent Technologies for one of its new pieces of software. “When I

started, really the division was just me and I grew that to a $35m turnover business,” he comments. It was perhaps inevitable then that eventually he would come to set up his own sales and marketing enterprise. But even though the firm grew very quickly, Thomson began to realise he had a problem on his hands; despite setting up sales meetings for his staff across the UK, they were receiving very few conversions. “I’d ask, ‘How did you get on?’” he recalls. “And I used to hear things like, ‘Yeah, great, brilliant!’, ‘Oh fantastic – what did they buy?’ ‘Oh no, they didn’t buy anything.’” Fortunately, a watershed moment came when he relayed this situation to an ex-colleague from Lucent in the US. “He said to me, ‘What you need is Sandler Training’,” relays Thomson. Thomson found the training was a real eye-opener. “I had many what I call ‘ah-hah’ moments,” he says. On his return to the UK, he promptly put his staff into one of its programmes and received some very striking results. “Over about an eight-month period

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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FRANCHISING

with the same people – I didn’t lose or gain anybody and we were selling the same stuff – I doubled my business.” This sparked his interest in Sandler Training. When he asked why they didn’t have any UK training centres, they asked him whether he knew anyone who would be interested in buying the master franchise rights. “I said, ‘Leave that with me’,” he laughs. They soon began discussions and he bought the rights for the UK in 2003. “The reality was that I’d been a customer, so I knew it worked over here.” After running his pilot centre in Oxford for a year to ascertain whether there were any last tweaks to be made to the model, Thomson began to add franchisees. One such franchisee is Andy McCredie, the head of the Exeter Sandler Training centre, which deals with clients from all over Devon and the south west of England. He had plenty of sales experience before purchasing his franchise, having worked both in sales and sales management while living in Australia. On returning to the UK, he decided he wanted to work for himself and a franchise seemed the logical choice. “All the franchises I looked at gave me the sales pitch, telling me how great it was,” he says. “Sandler was the only one that wasn’t pushing it on me.” Long-term training relationships are what Sandler is all about. As Thomson remarks, “It’s not an event. We don’t do two-day seminars.” With more than 1,000 hours of material divided between sales and management, it certainly isn’t lacking in content but its focus is more on providing sustained, targeted training. “I’ve got clients who are now in their ninth year with me,” Thomson continues. “We do that ongoing reinforcement.” But its method is not only differentiated by its delivery. Thomson is also keen to stress Sandler’s broad focus. “If you were to speak to most people on the street and ask them

83

what they’d expect from sales training, they’d expect the technique to be the main focus,” he says. While he notes that its training is hardly lacking in this area, it is only one of the areas that Sandler Training deals with. Technique is just one corner of its ‘success triangle’ – the others being attitude and behaviours. “The technique is the easiest bit to get,” he says. “What we’re really in the business of doing is that ongoing change over time, really changing attitudes and behaviours.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sandler’s customer base isn’t just limited to UK-based sales teams. Since Thomson became Sandler Training’s first master franchisor outside of the US, Sandler has a presence in around 30 countries, meaning they can provide truly international training. “One of our biggest clients is probably Lenovo, which bought the IBM laptop and PC business,” says Thomson. “It wanted the same sales process in Singapore, South Africa and Sweden as it had in Swindon. And we can now deliver that.” But what is it like to run a Sandler Training

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the |most challenging thing I’ve ever done. And it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done” Andy McCredie, head of Exeter Sandler Training

franchise? Even for someone such as McCredie, with extensive sales experience, it’s far from a lifestyle business. “It requires constant failure, constant learning of lessons and constant effort to really keep it growing,” he admits. Despite this, each year since McCredie bought his Exeter franchise, he has seen the training centre grow and has found it very gratifying to see the return on his efforts. “It’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. And it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” he concludes.

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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01/02/2013 18:33


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hat better way to help kick-start the current economy than help smallto-medium sized business owners? The failure rate of SMEs makes for grim reading, with 85% of new businesses failing in their first five years. If you think you possess the skills or services that can help these businesses survive and thrive, then we may have something that’s right up your street. An Alchemy business consultant and dealmaker, is trained to assist and work alongside the owners or operators of small and medium sized enterprises, to help them achieve business and financial success. The network is led by David Abingdon, CEO of the Alchemy Network. Something of a success story himself, David features regularly in the press. For example, he featured in the television program “How The Other Half Live”, which was first broadcast in the UK on Channel 4. As an Alchemy partner, you are extensively trained to build and develop businesses using Alchemy’s cutting edge systems, powerful techniques and unconventional methods that create unique income opportunities, new markets and long-term wealth for business owners and operators. Furthermore, Alchemy’s business development processes work in any industry or business – irrespective of the type of

product or service and regardless of the state of the economy. This is where your background, previous experience and Alchemy’s training and support can help you to take advantage of the many lucrative opportunities that are present in the business environment of today and the near future. Find out how to use your business experience to build a professional practice in consulting and deal-making with the Alchemy Network. If you think you have got what it takes and want to learn more about how our comprehensive nine-day residential training course and ongoing support can help you make a difference call us on 01453 826710, email info@alchemy-network.com or visit www.alchemyfranchise.net In associate with

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Alchemy’s training and support can help you to take advantage of the many lucrative opportunities that are present in the business environment of today and the near future

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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01/02/2013 15:09


TESTIMONIALS Member of the FSB

Franchise Opportunities

The abacus Accountancy Franchise Network offers a unique and limited franchise opportunity designed to help generate a thriving business for qualified accountants in the SME market. Backed by a well established team of advisers in all areas of accountancy, business and finance, you will receive: • A presentation explaining all aspects of the opportunity • A comprehensive training programme • On-going seminar programmes • Training manuals • Corporate brochures • Corporate stationery • Extranet access to exclusive franchisee information and data • Regular e-newsletter • Free helplines for tax, legal, health and safety, HR, and VAT

The abacus accountancy franchise is an associate member of the British Franchise Association. The abacus network offers a unique franchise opportunity designed to help generate a thriving business for qualified accountants.

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01/02/2013 15:11


FRANCHISING

87

The

right

path

It was a no-brainer to choose flexibility over a staid, old, top-down franchise model, says Extra Help co-founder Sarah Jackson

I

might be paraphrasing slightly here but it was Alexander the Great who succinctly said the fate of all depends on the conduct of each and I couldn’t agree more. Before I set up the Extra Help franchise, I was a franchisee myself and learned there are two ways to run a franchise operation – one, with the franchisor as an omnipotent, all-knowing leadership figure, offering dictates and instructions but not taking feedback in return, or two, as I have realised, the ‘other’ way. I chose to do it the ‘other’ way. The whole point of the other way is that there isn’t a cookie-cutter franchise model to work from, but rather it’s a business plan that encompasses the idea that each franchise is unique, and the direction, growth and success of a franchise can be positively influenced through input from the bottom up instead of just from the top down.

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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FRANCHISING

continued business. We deliberately expanded our business plan to beat the economic downturn by listening to input from franchisees, those at the coalface, who are ideally placed to tell us what customers want and help us to build the business model as they believe it should be. This not only gives them a sense of being able to influence and contribute to the business, but it gives us invaluable insight we wouldn’t otherwise have. Flexibility in what you offer your franchisees

88 Flexibility in what you offer your customers

In this day and age, with a constantly shifting marketplace and an economy struggling to limp to its feet again, franchisors can’t afford to be complacent and stick to the nice, neat business model they dreamed up at the start of their adventure. While it’s always useful to have a map to guide you, once you’re functioning in the commercial world chances are you’ll find out the terrain is very different from what you expected and you need to adapt if the business is to keep moving in the direction you want. In my experience, a lot of franchisors miss the point by stubbornly refusing to adapt or react to feedback, when actually the most valuable resource you have as a franchisor are the franchisees who are on the ground, dealing with the customers on a daily basis and experiencing the subtle shifts in the marketplace, customer’s budgets and expectations. Extra Help is living proof that adapting your business model is a positive step, not one to be shied away from. When we first launched, our remit was to provide domestic help for elderly people – those tasks that so many people need help with, such as changing a light bulb, cooking a hot meal and going to the supermarket to do shopping. Within a few months of launching Extra Help For The Elderly, the feedback we were getting told us that actually, the market for this kind of support is far wider. Professional people, who were working long hours and didn’t have time to do the little jobs around the house asked if we could cater for them, and new mothers with small children who just wanted a hand with the tasks that fell off the bottom of their to-do lists wanted to know if we could provide a service for them. Based on that feedback Extra Help For Everyone (aimed at professionals) launched six months later, shortly followed by Mother’s Help in 2011. Being flexible in what you offer your customers makes perfect sense in the current economic climate because it helps make your business recession proof. The more services you can offer – and know there is a market for – the more areas you can look to for growth and

“The most valuable resource you have as a franchisor are the franchisees who are dealing with the customers on a daily basis”

To extend the idea of letting franchisees have their say in what they need, I believe the franchisors also need to be open to the idea of flexibility in what they offer. Research shows that a lot of franchise models fail because franchisees don’t have the skills they need to run their businesses – a situation which benefits no one – so I would urge franchisors to let franchisees tell you what it is they need. Instead of one overwhelming training session at the start of a franchisee’s involvement with Extra Help, we train for two days initially, then offer quarterly top-up sessions where franchisees can tell us what they feel they need to learn more about and we arrange external trainers to come and speak. Previous training sessions have covered subjects such as marketing strategies, social media training, running a small business, managing your accounts and adapting your sales techniques. These are the skills our franchisees feel would benefit them as they run their business so it’s in everybody’s best interests to make sure these skills are covered. There is a group vote after training sessions to gather feedback on where further training would be beneficial and a closed group on Facebook allows franchisees to share their views easily and openly and state where they feel coaching would help. We’ve deliberately made it easy for franchisees to share their feedback and we actively encourage it. I’m not sure why so many franchisors fail to see the importance of being adaptable enough to change your business model if feedback tells you it’s a positive step. The only reasons I can think of are either misplaced pride or good old-fashioned stubbornness. From my point of view, it’s a win-win situation: the franchisees want the franchise to be a success just as much as the franchisors do. So, to go back to Alexander the Great, the fate of all does depend on the conduct – the feedback, the input and the ideas – of each. In my experience, that’s how you build a successful franchise.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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01/02/2013 15:10


LEGAL

Greasing palms

90

Few businesses would knowingly tolerate corruption and bribery. And yet, through unfamiliarity with the law, they might be leaving themselves open to prosecution

G WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

iven the fact that the government had been under pressure to consolidate and strengthen anti-bribery and corruption law for some time, it hardly came as a surprise when the Bribery Act was officially announced in 2009. After some delays it came into effect just 18 months ago and yet the dust has settled surprisingly quickly on what was then deemed one of the most far-reaching pieces of anticorruption legislation in the world. In its research released at the very close of 2012, Ernst & Young revealed that more than half of UK enterprises were entirely unaware that the act existed, meaning that those firms are potentially exposed to legal reprisal if someone in their organisation breaks the regulations. One of the most surprising elements of the research was the fact that the lowest awareness of the act and adoption of the

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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LEGAL

“You can’t pay money or something of value to influence somebody to give you business and vice-versa” John Smart, partner & head of fraud investigation and dispute services, Ernst & Young

measures required wasn’t among large corporations – stereotypically viewed as being the industries most exposed to bribery risks. While awareness rates among the UK’s larger companies was as high as 76%, only a meagre 36% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said they were familiar with it. Nearly four in every five businesses in the north of England are unaware of the legislation, with the south not faring much better. So how is it that such a far-reaching piece of legislation is passing companies by? John Smart, partner and head of fraud investigation and dispute services at Ernst & Young, explains this trend: “I suspect it’s one of those things that is on the list of potential risks to the business but is not high up; they’re more concerned about cashflow, profitability and opening new markets.” Other regulations such as health and safety and employee legislation may seem more immediately pressing for SMEs and this means protecting themselves against the risk of bribery and corruption can get pushed onto the back-burner. Additionally, many smaller companies may feel that bribery is a distant concern, unlikely to happen in the areas they operate in. “They might think they don’t operate in an environment that might be high risk like Africa, Asia or eastern Europe, and therefore that they’re not exposed to those risks,” says Smart. But the risk of corruption isn’t limited just to developing economies; transactions taking place solely within the UK are still susceptible to bribery and require just as careful monitoring. “Two cases that have been prosecuted so far under the Bribery Act have been in the UK.” There’s also an impression that some enterprises may simply feel that the laws don’t apply to the sorts of industries they

91

are working in. “People assume bribery is associated with industries like defence, construction or extractive industries such as oil or gas mining and therefore if you’re in a different sector, you might think you’re not exposed,” Smart says. And while the recent prosecutions for breaches of the Bribery Act do feature some companies operating in these sectors, that in no way gives the full picture. “There are some in publishing, there’s some in gambling, there’s some in food retailing, banking, engineering, insurance – it covers a broad range of industries,” he continues. “I suspect they haven’t been publicised very heavily so I think people are not thinking about the risks they face in those sectors. And non-compliance has had some very serious repercussions for those who have been caught out. “There have been two cases where people have been locked up, mainly in relation to receiving bribes but it’s equally relevant to those who are paying bribes,” Smart explains. “Businesses might be sleepwalking into a potential exposure to both criminal and civil penalties.” Obviously the ramifications of not having the right measures in place can also extend far past the legal measures; the associated damage to reputation means that it’s incredibly important to ensure you’re seen to be complying with the full letter of the law. Fortunately, getting up to speed on the act is quite simple. “It’s reasonably straightforward because actually it condenses what already existed under various acts in the past,”

comments Smart. “What it basically says is you can’t pay money or something of value to influence somebody to give you business and vice-versa.” However, it’s still not worth underestimating the bill’s reach; it isn’t limited simply to cash transactions and covers any gifts or treatment intended to influence another party’s objectivity. “The challenge is in the detail of what you need to do to make sure that you’re compliant with the act.” A place to start is with the advice provided by the Ministry of Justice and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) themselves. “It sets out six principles that you need to adopt as a company, ranging from making sure you’ve done a risk assessment through to training and communication,” Smart explains. “One of the protections that the SFO suggests is that you’re seen to take potential risks seriously and document them in some way,” Smart says. “They will see that effectively there’s a bad apple in the organisation who has ignored the processes you’ve set up.” Whether dealing with minor transactions or tenders, or moving huge orders across international borders, assessing its own level of risk and documenting how it’s dealing with that will go a long way toward mitigating an enterprise’s culpability in the eyes of the law,” explains Smart. “It’s about showing you’ve done the thinking and documented it – and, if you’ve found somebody who is a high risk, proving that you’ve mitigated it in some way.”

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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With start-up costs at a fraction of most franchises, yet with realistic potential returns much much greater, don’t delay in contacting Darren Ferneyhough for more information today.

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93

Events

Creative Design

Futura: Futura is a young, energetic and dynamic web

design company in London that is passionate about business and that’s reflected in the successes and leading industry positions that our clients have achieved! All our services are geared towards distinguishing your business with a unique brand image, increasing your efficiency, sales and profits, raising your company’s profile and giving you a decisive edge over your competitors. In short, we deliver tangible results for your business - and will settle for nothing less!

DH BURRELLS EVENTS: We are an events company that provides quality and trained security officers and events managers for functions all over the UK. We also provide caterers, events hostesses along with porters and cleaners for your event. We work in conjunction with other companies in which we offer people on benefits a path back to employment, through courses such as SIA Training.

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 07872330189  dhburrells@yahoo.com  www.dhburrellsevents.co.uk

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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Energy Efficiency

Food Supplies

Koffi Arabustar: Great coffee doesn’t just happen, it direct impact on your profits. We are dedicated to helping you make your business more profitable by reviewing your existing expenditure, recommending techniques and technologies to reduce waste and increase efficiency. We will oversee implementation, monitor and report on improved performance.

involves a very skillful process, from care of the trees to roasting of the beans. This combination of superb gourmet beans, expert roasting, and our obsession with quality and attention to detail is the key to a great tasting selection of coffee that simply has no equal. At Koffi-Arabustar, great coffee is what we do. Visit our website today to see the great selection of world class aromatic premium luxury coffee we have to offer!

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Green Bridge: Energy is a controllable cost that has a

Franchise Opportunity

Give Back Works: Discover how you can generate a substantial repeating income with a R.O.I within 3 months by helping businesses and members of the public in your defined area. Would you like a business opportunity that can generate secure financial freedom that is fun and very rewarding? GiveBackWorks is a unique proven to work Marketing Membership Group that can be worked full or part time, from home or from an office. Visit us at the Franchise Show 2013 - stand 260  0800 970 1696  www.givebackworks.com

HR

94

Redspot HR Solutions: An online service Lawn Keeper: With our help you can replicate our

success in your own territory! Following our proven system is far more likely to generate you a successful business than if you try to go it alone. You’ll still be your own boss, and be able to benefit from all the financial rewards that being self-employed entails. You’ll have the freedom to work where you want, when you want, but we’ll be there to help you.

 0845 094 5363  info@lawnkeeperfranchise.co.uk  www.lawnkeeperfranchise.co.uk

Noneedtopaint: The Franchise with the big difference we supply the work! Licenced installers required to fulfill large order book. Earnings 35 - 50k per annum. Contracts supplied 48 weeks of the year. Marketing opportunities also available throughout in the UK and spain portugal etc. For more details visit our website or contact us by FREEPHONE number below.

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services to suit companies of all sizes including network management, application support, helpdesk and server operations. In addition, we offer data backup, cloud hosted services, disaster recovery and software development. Contact us now to find out how BCM IT can take control of all your IT needs , leaving you to get on with growing your business.

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Bits & PCs: For fast and reliable Computer and Apple

Mac support pop by to our computer shop and one of your our trusty technicians would be more than happy to assist you. Our specialists are trained in software and hardware problems, and can come to you at your convenience and help get your computer up and running, safely and reliably.

Firebird IT Solutions Ltd: Firebird IT offer Proactive IT support over the phone to businesses across the UK. We are based in Coventry and offer on-site IT to businesses who need IT staff but cannot afford it full time. We are Microsoft Partners and our typical services are internet based phone systems (VOIP), Computer health monitoring, Cloud based file and email services.

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www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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FULL CIRCLE IT SOLUTIONS: Let Full Circle help

you to improve the efficiency of your business systems. Save time and money, whilst improving productivity and accuracy, with an automated approach to IT. Manually updating multiple systems? TaskCentre unites systems and databases providing a clear, centralised view of the business. This enables companies to monitor, extract and distribute information to both systems and people, in line with business events and requirements.

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GN Computer Services

We also offer a range of valuable computer services to our business and domestic customers including, laptop screen repair / replacement, network installations, internet setup, virus removal and data recovery. We provide specialist support for small businesses operating in the creative industries sector; music, video, graphic design, etc - for both Windows and Apple Mac operating systems.

The PC Surgeon: We offer a world of computer repair and support services and between our expert Surgeons we can pretty much answer any question and solve any problem you have. So give us a call today and see how we can help with all your IT needs!

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Legal

Law and Enterprise: Law and Enterprise is a free online network for young entrepreneurs seeking legal support and unique networking opportunities. Covering the main legal issues relevant to start-ups, we provide members with comprehensive legal guides and access to affordable legal advice. Using our unique LE-card, members are given a platform to advertise their skills and network with other entrepreneurs and legal professionals.

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Our commercial experts provide high quality legal advice and understand that the needs of every business are unique. We advise on: Business start-ups • Corporate governance Company restructures • M&A • Joint ventures Partnership and LLP advice • Shareholder advice We also offer:

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Mobile Marketing

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Performance Management

We offer our first discussion in exchange for just your time, in other words no fee.

We work with numerous Essex based Solicitors, Accountants, Retailers and visitor Attractions to help them improve their profits through our mystery shopping programmes. As Essex Regional Director I can help you improve your customer satisfaction while motivating your team. Call Paul on 07801236122 to find out how

 07801 236122  paul.nutter@shopperanonymous.co.uk  www.shopperanonymous.co.uk

95

SCAN ME TO FIND OUT HOW TO INCREASE SALES VIA MOBILE

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 01225 769 867 / 07739 750464  alaflin@abl-humanresources.co.uk  www.abl-humanresources.co.uk

February 2013 www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk

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Sales Training

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Training

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Brightside is a delivery partner in the government-backed Start-Up Loans scheme to support young entrepreneurs in England. We offer applicants:

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Web Design

96 Are you losing sleep over all the red tape you have to comply with: Large or small, every business has

Cazideo: provides the opportunity for companies

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to deal with some form of compliance. Health and safety, environment, employment, fire safety etc... With our system you can indetify what needs to be done, record when you’ve done it, store the evidence and retreive it quickly when you need to and remember to keep doing it.

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Activ Web Design & SEO: Tired of call centres, remote support, and people talking jargon at you? Then you need the friendly and personal service offered by Activ Web Design in Essex. A professional, bespoke, well maintained website that can be found by search engines is a must for every business no matter what their size. Activ provide affordable services for local businesses without comprising on customer support. Call Lisa on 01371 819002 for a no obligation chat and let us get you Activ on line. Web Design - Search Engine Optimisation - Graphic Design

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Beautiful, effective, contemporary websites for UK businesses. Experts at designing and building Drupalbased websites for SMEs. Starting a new business? We also offer a ‘new business’ package at a startup-sized price. Free initial quote and more available at wemakewebsites.com

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www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

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01/02/2013 18:17


the START-UP DIARies

In 2013, I’m putting my money where my mouth is It’s important to be passionate about what you do, but it’s equally important to charge appropriately, says Nicola Barron Nicola Barron Founder of Homemade London

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couple of years ago, retail expert Mary Portas was asked to give her thoughts on the crafts industry. In an open letter to the website UK Handmade, she delivered a stark critique, telling people in the industry that they needed to step up their game, act like sophisticated retailers, and price accordingly. This letter arrived just after I’d opened Homemade London, a craft business that combines luxury and creativity, so naturally, I thought her analysis was spot on. While the crafts industry has changed a lot in these last two years, pricing is still sporadic – a quick look at handcrafted products on websites such as Etsy and Folksy make it clear that there are many designers out there who are clearly not charging for their time properly when calculating their sale prices. And it’s an issue that I see on an almost daily basis at Homemade London, where I work with some

no profit for her at the end. It’s an easy trap to fall into for many reasons: consumers are naturally always looking for bargains and prices are often going to be higher than they’re hoping to pay. When you first start out in business, asking people to give you money can be a strange experience and sometimes it feels linked to your own self-worth. Whatever your sector, pricing too low kills margins and profitability. When money’s tight, it’s tempting to chase every penny of revenue, but you must never forget margin. I don’t really have a problem when it comes to asking for money – I had good training from an unlikely source. At the age of 19, I first arrived in London with £35 in a post office savings account to my name. My CV at the time was limited to some time as an au pair in Paris and two years selling ice-creams at my local cinema, so my career options were fairly

after a particularly vitriolic telephone encounter with a man from a certain biscuit manufacturer. But the adversity only served to make each success that much sweeter. The thrill of a sale is now in my blood. Now I have the luxury of selling something I believe in, I find that customers and suppliers respond well to polite but direct conversations about money. Many clients will ask you to reduce your prices as a matter of course (many of our customers are lawyers and accountants, so they’re used to it), but this doesn’t mean that you have to say yes. The insinuation when people ask for a discount is that they will go elsewhere if there’s a cheaper deal to be found. In my experience, it’s far more beneficial to your business to focus your efforts on the level of service that you offer and the quality of your product than on slashing your prices. This, after all, means that you need to work even harder to

www.homemadelondon.com

“It’s far more beneficial to your business to focus your efforts on the level of service that you offer and the quality of your product than on slashing your prices” amazing teachers, many of whom have their own companies. Not surprisingly, the conversation often turns to money. Yesterday, one of my team made a flippant remark about her business not being “about the money” and immediately regretted opening her mouth, as I launched into a tirade about respecting your work enough to charge properly for it. Of course it’s important to be passionate about your business but it’s equally important to be confident about money. Another teacher, a brilliant upholsterer, admitted how she’d recently misquoted someone for a job and that it took all the joy out of the project knowing that there would be

limited. Out of desperation, I opted for a job in telesales and soon found myself in a pokey office in High Street Kensington with a bunch of other trainees, each with a 40-a-day cigarette habit. In almost every possible way, it was a horrible, soulless job. The aim was to sell industrial cleaning chemicals to uninterested factory managers while our supervisors listened in. Partly, they wanted to ensure that we weren’t deviating from their pre-written script, but they also checked that we weren’t actually calling our mums. Needless to say, we weren’t often selling to a receptive audience and even today my son is banned from eating a certain chocolate biscuit

find more customers. This is borne out by the fact that at Homemade London we’ve always found it easier to sell a £250 product than a £25 one, and more than half our business comes from existing customers. So, for 2013, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Our prices are increasing for the first time in two years. I was slightly nervous because January is one of our busiest times of the year for bookings and I didn’t know for sure whether the higher rates would put people off, but it’s actually had the reverse effect. The extra revenue means that we can give more to our customers, which, of course, makes everyone happy.

www.elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2013

(L)Startup Diary.indd 1

01/02/2013 17:41


Got a business idea? Get the support and money you need to make it a success If you’re aged 18-30, Brightside Start-Up Loans can offer you: A government loan of up to £10,000 Free business mentoring Free online training and support Apply now at www.brightsidestartuploans.org Call us for free on 0800 731 1511 for more information and advice

James Caan, Chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company

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01/02/2013 15:24


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01/02/2013 18:04

Elite Business Magazine Feb 2013  

Elite Business Magazine Feb 2013

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