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MAY 2013

Chain reaction

Lessons from the horsemeat supply scandal

Flexible Faux-pas

Zero hours contracts divide opinion

Driving force

Emma Sinclair on life in the entrepreneurial fast lane

TRUE GRIT Cobra beer founder Lord Karan Bilimoria nearly lost everything in 2009. Four years after having rescued the business through a joint venture with Molson Coors, he explains why integrity and family values stood him in such good stead MAY 2013 ÂŁ4.50

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Inside this month... VOLUME 02 ISSUE 05 MAY 2013

16 The Elite interview

Lord Karan Bilimoria talks beer and Baroness Thatcher

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

Why outsourcing your finance function can pay off in the long term

38 Planning for success

Securing funds made easy – what investors look for in a business plan

43 Brand boosters

21 One to watch

Target Parking CEO Emma Sinclair on her driving ambition

How an advertising slogan can be the difference between death and glory

48 Culture shift

Agency pd3 on creating cultural content to build brand value

52 Starting an epidemic

Successful viral marketing hinges on creating the right conditions for an outbreak


55 Tough call

Best practice is the name of the game when having to dismiss an employee

62 Language lessons

25 Chain fail

Ignoring all of your suppliers is neigh too clever

Striving towards a common goal is the way forward for a multinational workforce

67 Tech for start-ups

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

71 Web wonders

Online booking systems offer a cost-effective means of maximising business

77 Playing it safe

Keeping yourself secure against hackers has never been more important

85 Ripple effect

59 Time-waster

Are zero hours contracts really a solution to employment woes?

Bathroom-design franchise Ripples is causing a stir

91 App-lying some logic

Businesses developing in-house apps should stay abreast of changes in the law

82 Franchise news 94 Classifieds 98 Start-up diary

May 2013

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30/04/2013 21:05

30% do it daily.

How often do you do it? Only 30% of SMBs back up daily. With Symantec Backup you could do it daily too, and not even realize. Whether you want to back up to the cloud, or to a disk, Symantec Backup can do it for you.

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

VOLUME 02 ISSUE 05 MAY 2013 SALES Harrison Bloor – Account Manager E: T: 01206 266859 Adam Reynolds – Account Manager E: T: 01206 266843 Richard Smith – Account Manager E: T: 01206 266844 EDITORIAL Hannah Prevett – Editor E: Adam Pescod– Feature Writer E: Josh Russell – Feature Writer E: Jon Card – Feature Writer E: Lindsey McWhinnie – Chief Sub-editor E: DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Designer E: T: 01206 266845 Clare Bradbury – Designer E: T: 01206 266845 Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager E: T: 01245 905805 CIRCULATION Malcolm Coleman – Circulation Manager E: ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager E: T: 01206 266846 DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director E: 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

Solid businesses – large and small – are built on solid values When I was a judge on a small business awards panel a couple of years ago, one of the categories was ‘true grit’. And it was here the most impressive businesses resided. Not for their bulging bottom lines, perhaps. But they’d stared adversity in the face – and sent it home with a smacked backside. Resilience is a quality Lord Karan Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra beer and this month’s cover star, has in spades. His business nearly went bust amid a series of unfortunate events following the collapse of Lehmans Brothers. But at the eleventh hour, a joint venture deal with Molson Coors, one of the biggest beer brewers in the world, saved the day – and Bilimoria’s skin.


Four years later and Cobra is flying high as a part of Molson’s portfolio. The reason the two brands integrated so seamlessly, says Bilimoria, is because they share the same values. Cobra was built on integrity and a firm belief in doing the best by people. Molson Coors, which remains family owned after more than 200 years, is built on similarly stellar foundations. There’s a lot to be said for values elsewhere in business. This month, our analysis looks at the thorny issue of supply-chain management: once dismissed as the remit of ‘that guy in operations’, provenance has never been as hot an issue as it is in a post-horsemeatgate era. It may sound obvious, but once again, the horsemeat scandal proves that solid and successful businesses, large and small, are built on solid values. It’s impossible to have one without the other.


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 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.

May 2013

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Contributors Lindsey McWhinnie

When sub-editor McWhinnie isn’t correcting dangling participles and split infinitives, she dabbles in travel writing. Her most recent trip was to Iceland where she managed to avoid eating puffin, but not being dressed up to look like a resident of Guantanamo Bay (if Guantanamo Bay were at the North Pole) and stuck on the back of a snowmobile. Luckily, the frozen extremities were more than worth it to experience whizzing across a glacier at 60mph.

Natalie Seery

Filling the shoes of our resident photographer, Emilie Sandy, who is currently on maternity leave, has to be fairly daunting. But given she’s used to snapping live shots of the likes of Ben Howard, The Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine, we were pretty sure Seery wasn’t likely to be too starstruck. She’s definitely come up trumps with her shoot of this month’s cover star, Lord Bilimoria, and makes us feel just a little bit more glam by association.


Leona Connor

The talented soul beavering away behind the scenes to put our publication together, Connor brings the beauty to our meandering scrawl. Unfortunately, this puts her in rather high demand so she has to make best use of any time off she gets. Currently, she’s spending every spare hour getting ready to walk the Inca Trail when she goes on holiday this summer by taking long hikes in her fetching purple trainers.

Martin Reed

In this month’s column, Elite Business’s very own people expert, Martin Reed, looks at how to make sure your employees work well together, even when they’re spread across the world and cultural differences could throw a spanner in the works. Always happy to clock up the air miles himself, Martin is in Spain as we go to press, having just returned from St Kitts and France, and is jetting off again to Portugal in a couple of days. It’s alright for some. May 2013

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The nation breathed a sigh of relief as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the UK economy had not entered a dreaded triple-dip recession. GDP grew by 0.3% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2013, as a resilient services sector contributed 0.47 percentage points to the overall GDP increase with a 0.6% GDP rise of its own. There was an upwards contribution from the production sector, which grew by 0.2%, largely due to mining and quarrying, which increased by 3.2% following a weak Q4 2012 when extended maintenance in the North Sea reduced output. These increases were partially offset by a downwards contribution from the construction sector, which fell by 2.5%.


The Treasury and Bank of England extended the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) by one year to 2015, while giving the banks greater incentives to lend to SMEs. Under the changes to the FLS, banks will be able to draw £5 from the scheme, in the extension period, for every £1 of net lending to SMEs. And to encourage banks to lend to SMEs sooner rather than later, every £1 of net lending to SMEs during the remainder of 2013 will be worth £10 of initial borrowing allowance in 2014.

Thousands of pubs across the UK were handed a possible lifeline by the government, which launched a consultation on a statutory code of practice and adjudicator to regulate the relationship between the largest pub-owning companies (pubcos) and their tenants. Business secretary Vince Cable said the proposals could save pub tenants £100m per year by making sure that pubcos charge their tenants fair rents and beer prices. The consultation closes June 14 and can be viewed on the Business, Innovation and Skills website. Technology giant Apple was left with a slightly bitter taste in the mouth after reporting its first quarterly drop in profits for a decade. A net profit of $9.5bn (£6.2bn) in Q1 2013, down from $11.6bn, was accompanied by a drop in the company’s share price to below $400 (£262) for the first time since December 2011.

However, sales of many of its products were up, with 19.5 million iPads being sold compared with 11.8 million in the same quarter last year. Research from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) revealed that 87% of small businesses had experienced a data breach in the last year. This amounted to a rise of 10%, and cost small businesses up to 6% of their turnover. It came as the Technology Strategy Board extended its Innovation Vouchers scheme to allow SMEs to bid for up to £5,000 from a £500,000 pot to improve their cyber security by bringing in outside expertise. Plans for 631 branches of Lloyds Banking Group to be sold to the Co-operative Group fell by the wayside, despite the latter agreeing to the move last year. The sale of the branches, known as Project Verde, was the price Lloyds had to pay for their bail-out by the government during the financial crisis, as instructed by European regulators. Lloyds has until November 2013 to complete a sale, but it now seems likely that an extension will be sought. The branches will be branded as TSB Bank, and operate as a separate business within Lloyds, until any sale is made. Former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill will appear on the next Bank of England banknote, it was revealed. The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, made the announcement, and revealed the image of Churchill that will be used in front of members of the Churchill family at Chartwell, Churchill’s former home. The plan is for the Churchill note to be issued as a £5 note and distributed during 2016, but this may be reviewed and refined as the plans are finalised. HSBC announced changes to its UK business, leading to the loss of 3,166 jobs. The banking giant said most of the changes would take place in its wealth management division, with 2,017 new positions being created, which are expected to be filled by displaced employees. The bank explained this meant the potential job losses would be nearer 1,149. From June 1, the bank will combine all existing wealth advisers within HSBC’s consumer retail banking business. New roles will also be added to create a diploma-qualified adviser force of 853 people.

EVENTs Business Junction Networking Lunch May 9 Jewel Piccadilly 4-6 Glasshouse Street London W1B 5DQ North East London Business Expo May 14 Leyton Orient FC, Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Rd London E10 5NE Business Scene Birmingham Connections May 15 Regus House, One Victoria Square Birmingham B1 1BD Technology for Marketing & Advertising May 15 Manchester Central, Windmill Street Manchester M2 3GX NDP Networking Event May 20 NatWest Bank, 204 High Street London E17 7LL SyncNorwich May 23 Seymour House, Muspole Street Norwich NR3 1DJ Prelude Speaker Boutique May 23 The Office Group 1 Euston Square, 40 Meltom Street London NW1 2FD Speed Networking Events May 24 Level 33 Citigroup Building, 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf London E14 5LB The Business Growth Show, Kent May 29 Harris Falconwood Academy The Green Welling, DA16 2PE Business Junction Networking Evening May 29 Malmaison Hotel 18-21 Charterhouse Square London EC1M 6AH

A full event listing is available on our website: May 2013

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Talking Point

Trading on their rights

How does UK enterprise feel about the success of the contentious ‘rights for shares’ scheme?


iven it allows employers to offer shares to employees to forgo key employment rights, labelling the so-called ‘right for shares’ scheme controversial is something of an understatement. An amendment making it to the House of Lords on three separate occasions is a rarity and demonstrates the government’s commitment to the passing of the amendment, irrespective of the opposition. Even during the initial consultation, just three of the 184 businesses surveyed actively supported the scheme – usually enough to put the kibosh on all but the most ideologically driven initiatives. Clearly then, there’s some pretty strong feelings on all fronts. On paper, the majority of the aims of the legislation are laudable – increasing employee ownership and aiming to curb the costs of growing a business are reasonable goals. However, not everybody is convinced that incentivising employees to waive rights is the best way to achieve them. Even with the additional safeguards added that finally saw the bill pass through the House of Lords, many feel that those under the most economic pressure will feel bound to accept these terms to secure work. Still more believe that the policy is likely to be a non-starter, destined to attract negligible uptake when taking into account the fact that potential administrative costs to businesses will far outweigh the benefits of increased flexibility. It’s not hard to understand why passing this legislation has been such a bumpy journey for the coalition. But pass it has. So what’s the verdict on this eleventh hour victory for the rights for shares scheme?


“Ridiculous piece of legislation” says Darren Fell Founder and managing director of Crunch Accounting I like the idea of making it easier to give shares to employees because setting up an EMI scheme can be expensive; it requires a good accountant and a good tax specialist – who both know what they’re doing – to set it up and it needs to be approved by HMRC. I welcome easier ways to give shares but I absolutely categorically don’t believe any employee should have to relinquish their rights for the shares. One thing that the employees will not realise or understand is that if the company goes through another round of funding or many rounds of funding, their shares will get diluted. You might end up with an employee thinking they’ve got £50,000 worth of shares and that if the business sells they will end up making a stack of money; in reality, by the time they get there you may have had three additional rounds, increased the share count and they’ve got absolutely nothing and they’ve lost all of their rights. I think it’s, quite frankly, the most ridiculous piece of legislation I’ve seen come in yet. And you can quote me on that one.


“Bit of a non-event” says James Hall Associate of Charles Russell LLP I wonder whether it might be a bit of a non-event. There is already a background in employee ownership but without people giving up their rights. In terms of actual savings, I’m not sure it will bring a saving – certainly in the short term – because they wouldn’t have any unfair dismissal claims in the first two years anyway. I think there is a danger that, if people feel they’ve had rights taken away from them, they might try to come up with more imaginative ways to still bring a claim. The legal fees are still going to be there in trying to defend those, and many companies, particularly smaller companies, will settle things rather than going all the way. Spurious claims can actually be surprisingly expensive to sort out just because you need to go through the whole process. But it’s a difficult call to make. There has been far more backlash against this than there has been people saying that they’re interested in it. Until it’s tested, whether or not you’ll get some more entrepreneurial companies wanting to go down this route is hard to say because they’re not quite sure how it will actually play out.

May 2013

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The Elite read The Escape Manifesto: Quit Your Corporate Job. Do Something Different Escape The City

The corporate space isn’t for everyone. However, escaping that world is far from easy and there are plenty of things that prevent us from ever daring to make our flight. As The Escape Manifesto reveals, many of us are conditioned to believe that being a ‘cog in the machine’ is our natural place, despite the fact that almost all of us want to be something much more. This means for a lot of folk, a little well-placed advice wouldn’t go amiss. Escape The City’s guide is perfectly pitched to address this need. Taking us through the thoughts and stumbling blocks that prevent us ever getting out the door, how to view the situation differently and how to work out the looming ‘financial question’, the first section,


‘Pre-Escape’ gives us that gentle push we need to leave the comfort of the nest. Once we’re flying, the ‘Post-Escape’ section helps us navigate our way to our desired goals, whether they be a more exciting job, our own business or even hitting the open road and seeking adventure. While it may sound like its aims are rather quixotic, The Escape Manifesto is actually an intensely practical guide, encouraging you to stick to your guns and strive for something different. JR The Escape Manifesto: Quit Your Corporate Job. Do Something Different, published by Capstone, is out June 8 and retails at £12.99

Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want Emmanuel Gobillot

Leadership is a recurring theme whenever we cast our eyes over the pile of books in the Elite Business office – yes, we should probably invest in a book shelf soon but that is beside the point. There can only be so much disparity between titles espousing the fundamental traits of being an effective leader... can’t there? Well, Emmanuel Gobillot doesn’t live by the norms of leadership literature, and this is what makes Follow the Leader such a refreshing take on the popular discussion. Rather than focusing on the actions of great leaders, and the lessons that today’s CEOs and line managers can take away from them, the attention is instead placed

on those who are being led or, more aptly, wish to be led. The question at the very heart of Gobillot’s work is ‘what do great followers want?’ And with references ranging from Mona Lisa to Build-A-Bear, Barack Obama to Madame Tussaud, and a bit of Apple thrown in for good measure, he paints a fairly convincing picture of the qualities we seek from a leader and, more fundamentally, why we wish to be led in the first place. AP Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want, published by Kogan Page, is out now and retails at £19.99 May 2013

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30/04/2013 21:23

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30/04/2013 16:17


From the ashes

The business empire Lord Karan Bilimoria had carefully crafted stood on the verge of collapse. But thanks to his steely determination, uncompromising morals and a joint venture with one of the world’s biggest brewing companies, Cobra Beer is stronger than ever




ith his crisp upper class accent, it is easy to forget Lord Karan Bilimoria wasn’t born in Britain. At first, at least. For, once the entrepreneur begins speaking about his childhood, it becomes immediately apparent how his Indian heritage and links with successful forebears have informed his entrepreneurial career at every step of the way. Born in Hyderabad, Bilimoria was the son of an army general and raised as part of the Parsi community – Indians of Persian origin whose religion is Zoroastrianism. “It’s a small but very successful community,” says Bilimoria, proudly. “Parsis have always been very successful in every field, whether it’s business, or politics or law.” Indeed, Bilimoria’s own family were leaders across multiple spheres. His father, initially commissioned to the Gurkha regiment, retired as commander-in-chief of the Central Indian army. His grandfather was one of the first Indians to be commissioned at Sandhurst, and he retired as a brigadier. Meanwhile, his mother’s father was a successful businessman in South India. Bilimoria’s maternal great-grandfather was an entrepreneur, later becoming a member of the Upper House of India, which is the equivalent of the House of Lords in the UK. “Four generations later we must be the only Indian family that’s had a member of both the houses in both countries,” he says, proudly. Being born into a high-achieving family meant Bilimoria was ambitious from a young age. “My family’s had a huge influence on me,” he says. It’s fair to say his childhood was fairly fragmented: his father’s military career meant the family regularly moved and Bilimoria junior attended seven different schools. The one constant was a family home in Hyderabad to which the family would return when they couldn’t join their father. “It was something we just accepted because my father was in the army. If he was fighting a war or was stationed on the Chinese border in the mountains, or somewhere else the family couldn’t accompany him, we would go back to Hyderabad. My mother’s family home was our base. It was a lovely big, grand old family house – wonderful to visit as a child.” Yet, more often than not, much to their delight, Bilimoria and his younger brother, would travel with their father. “We went to the most amazing, adventurous places. For example, my father commanded a May 2013

desert brigade when he was a brigadier. That was fantastic going from boarding schools to camping out in the desert during holidays. You know that romantic India that people dream of? I lived it.” Certainly, Bilimoria talks about his childhood with a good deal of affection. He paints an idyllic picture of camping, horse riding and playing tennis. He speaks about learning to box at the age of eight. And he was precocious in his studies too, attending university at just 16. At the age of 19, with a degree in commerce from Osmania University under his belt, he arrived in Blighty to undertake training to become a chartered accountant. As he studied, he got field experience with the firm that was to become Ernst & Young. “I used to work in the City and go out on audits,” he recalls. “One of my clients was Gerald Ronson, the entrepreneur who founded property company Heron International. That was quite the eye-opener.” Yet it wasn’t enough to persuade Bilimoria that his future lay in auditing. “I knew halfway through my accounting studies that, while it was great professional training and business training, I didn’t want to be an accountant for the rest of my life.” His favourite module when studying for his accountancy qualification had been law, so he applied to Cambridge to read it. For the budding entrepreneur, his time at the esteemed education institution wasn’t about achieving another degree, but enjoying the extracurricular activities

“I knew halfway through my accounting studies that while it was great professional training and business training, I didn’t want to be an accountant the rest of my life”

that Cambridge had to offer. “I had the most wonderful time at Cambridge,” says Bilimoria. “I decided that I already had a good first degree and I was a qualified chartered accountant so I wanted to experience Cambridge life as fully as I could.” He certainly kept himself busy: Bilimoria became vice president of the Cambridge Union, played polo and shot for the university, and also led the Cambridge debating team for two years running against Oxford. Among the melee of sports-playing and general immersing himself in university life, Bilimoria was also quietly pondering his future. The idea of starting his own business appealed greatly. “I think the influence was always there from my great grandfather. I was three years old when he died, so I only had very faint memories of him, but I grew up with stories about how he built his business from scratch – and nearly lost it three times.” He also thought back to his auditing days with Ernst & Young. As well as working with Gerald Ronson, he’d also audited the accounts of aerospace and motor retail company Marshall Group and remembered being inspired by its founder. “When we were auditing the company, we’d arrive at 8 o’clock in the morning and Sir Arthur Marshall’s car was already there. He was 80 years old but he would still come into work every day. He was a great entrepreneur and built a fantastic business,” reflects Bilimoria. These thoughts coincided with the student spotting a gap in the beer market. “I’ve always loved beer from the time I was allowed to drink it,” he says. “When I came to this country, I tried the famous beer brands and I really didn’t like a lot of them. I found the lagers fizzy and too difficult to drink. A friend introduced me to ales, which I loved, but I found them very difficult to drink with food.” At this time, Bilimoria’s cooking skills weren’t entirely up to scratch, so he was dining in Indian restaurants at least twice a week. “In restaurants the most popular drink was lager beer,” he says. “I tried to drink ale, but it was terrible [to drink with food]. I started thinking about other ale drinkers. They’d come to Indian restaurants and have to drink fizzy lager, which they hate. Meanwhile, an alternative to lager would mean the restaurant owner would sell more food and drink, as lager bloats you up and makes it difficult to eat and drink.” “I thought the answer would be to create a beer that sits between a lager and an ale. It would have the refreshing qualities of lager and the smoothness of an ale. It would be really

May 2013




drinkable, but also go very well with food – particularly Indian food.” For unlike lots of young people who shake off links to their heritage as soon as they discover booze and the opposite sex, Bilimoria’s link to his Indian roots had remained strong. While studying and working for E&Y he’d spent two months each year in the country of his birth, and while at Cambridge he’d also return home for the holidays. “I felt very at home here in England. My family had been educated here for three generations, so I was totally at home here. But I was also totally at home in India. I asked myself how I could bring the two countries together and one way of doing it was through business.” But the task at hand was mammoth. Without any experience in the beer market, Bilimoria would need to create a new beer, produce it in India and then export to the UK. The aspiring entrepreneur thought it wise to garner some experience in other more accessible industries first. At 26, he set up his business with partner Arjun Reddy and their first foray into the import/export market was importing polo sticks from India. “After the Falklands War, Argentinian products were not allowed to be brought into Britain. Argentinian polo sticks are really good, but suddenly they weren’t allowed in. This meant the only competition was British polo sticks. Yet my polo sticks imported from India were slightly different and slightly better. I sold them to Lilywhites, I sold them to Harrods. I was in business.” The post-conflict ban of Argentinian polo sticks wasn’t the only way then-PM Margaret Thatcher’s policies affected Bilimoria’s entrepreneurial endeavours. “One of the influences for me to start my business was the way Britain had changed. Later on, I was lucky to get to know Margaret and her husband, Dennis, but looking back on it, I admire her influence and what she did for this country in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship and enterprise. I started Cobra when she was prime minister. I always say entrepreneurs were Thatcher’s children.” But not everything Bilimoria and Reddy attempted to flog was as much of a hit as the polo sticks. “We started importing other products from India. We sold pearls, towels, high fashion items to boutiques in Knightsbridge. You learn quickly to source products, do quick research and try things. But also, you have to know when you hit a dead end. I believe perseverance is fine as long as you know you’re on to a winner.” Throughout the trials and tribulations of their early export business, the two entrepreneurs May 2013

“One of my favourite sayings is that good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment” regularly received counsel from Reddy’s uncle, known to the boys as Uncle Keshow. “Here was a man who’d worked around the world, he’d travelled around the world and was an accomplished businessman, but who’d also lost both of his legs through diabetes. Yet he never complained,” says Bilimoria. “You’d walk into his study and he’d be there sat behind his desk and he’d give you a big smile and say, ‘Right boys, how are you?’” It was through Uncle Keshow that Bilimoria and Reddy were introduced to Pal’s Distilleries in India. “Though they were the largest independent brewer in India, they had never exported beer so were very interested. As luck would have it, they didn’t have a brand that was suitable for us. Pals was a name for dog food here. So they said, ‘Why don’t you come to India?’” His first meeting with the company’s head honchos was unnerving. “They were sat there in a semi-circle: the MD, chief accountant, chief engineer, company secretary, head brewer, marketing director and so on. They were all sat around this 27-year-old, firing questions. ‘How much money do you have? What expertise do you have?’” The answer to both questions was zero. Yet the brewery decided to take a chance on

the entrepreneur. “If you have full faith, and passion and confidence and belief in your idea, it gives people faith, confidence and belief in you; they’ll trust you and give you a chance. At the end of that three months, I was there when the first container was shipped and the owner of the brewery lent me the money to pay him for his own beer.” Now the duo had their product, it was a question of getting it in front of consumers. It was pointless going straight to the supermarkets, because, in the unlikely event that they’d have stocked it, persuading customers to buy it without spending a small fortune on advertising was nigh on impossible. Bilimoria’s strategy instead was to get it on to restaurant tables. There were two factors in his favour. Firstly, the fortunes of premium lagers and world lagers were on the up. “It was a high-growth sector,” he says. What’s more, Indian food had really captured the imagination of the British public. “In 1980, there were fewer than 3,000 Indian restaurants in the UK. When we started Cobra, there were over 6,000 – in a decade it had doubled.” One of the beer’s unique selling points was that it was served in 660ml bottles – double the size of the bottles people in the UK were


accustomed to. This meant patrons of Indian restaurants would be able to share the beverage in the same way that they would share the food. By 1996, Cobra had really taken off. Reddy had left the business a year earlier to pursue other business interests (the parting was entirely amicable, says Bilimoria). The brand was growing healthily, with a compound annual growth rate of 40% and by 2006 was making revenues of an estimated £180m a year. It was, therefore, perhaps no surprise that it was targeted by a US hedge fund. “The hedge fund said, ‘Look, the brand’s really taking off, but you need to go it in a bigger way. Here is £33m, now you can build a better team with a professional chief executive and take the brand to the next level’.” This was the beginning of what was nearly the end. The hedge fund money was staggered over 2006 and 2007, during which time efforts to recruit a new CEO failed to bear fruit. Meanwhile, a minority stake sale to Diageo fell through, and just as new funds were needed, Lehmans went under and plans for a joint venture with Molson Coors were scuppered. Bilimoria was under enormous pressure to sell, but a buyer couldn’t be found – much to the displeasure of the hedge fund investors.

Snapshots from the Molson Coors family album

“At the same time as Lehmans went bust, the value of the funds held by the hedge fund dropped from $26bn to $350m and they were pulling in all their investments.” It is little wonder that Bilimoria blames the hedge fund for the turn in the company’s fortunes. He attributes the decision to take the firm’s money as being one of his biggest mistakes. “Cash was now not only king: it was emperor,” he says. After an attempt to secure a CVA was ruined by a disgruntled supplier, the only option for Molson Coors and Cobra to save the business was a controversial pre-pack administration. Pre-packs have been in the news over recent years as unscrupulous business owners use them to jettison loss-making parts of their businesses and restart, often with the same team and premises, as soon as the next day. “A pre-pack administration is meant to be the least worst option,” says Bilimoria. “It’s true that pre-packs have a bad reputation. But if you

“I managed to look after everybody in a situation where normally lots of people lose everything”

Fresh-faced: a young Bilimoria in Cobra’s formative years

use it when it’s the last option and you do it properly, which is what we did, they can work.” At that stage, the company could have wiped out its shareholders, creditors and employees, but instead Bilimoria pledged to repay every penny he owed. His loyalty was, and remains, unwavering – even in the face of potential ruin. “I managed to look after everybody in a situation where normally lots of people lose everything.” Nonetheless, Bilimoria accepts it was a hellish period. “Particularly through the tough times, what gives you the strength to get through it is your family.” His wife, Heather, whom he met a year after he started the business has been at his side through thick and thin, says Bilimoria. “She has stood by me throughout everything. She’s been absolutely amazing, and is a great wife, a great supporter.” Four years into the joint venture, which saw Molson land a controlling 50.1% stake, all seems to be well. Cobra is now manufactured at Molson’s Burton brewery, the largest in

Britain and one of the biggest in Europe. The brand is highly profitable to boot. “I’d always known if we didn’t go for very aggressive growth, we would be able to generate healthy profits. Now we’re in a very strong position to generate high growth, but from a very profitable base. With hindsight, I wish that’s something I’d done earlier and proven the profitability of the brand myself.” Bilimoria wears his battle scars well. He is incredibly proud of the partnership he’s forged with Molson Coors, one of the world’s largest beer companies. However, despite the business’s size, it still manages to maintain the small-company feel, he says. “When we embarked on the joint venture, what really worked to its advantage was that we both had similar cultures. Because although Molson Coors is a giant multi-billion dollar global enterprise, it is still controlled by both the Coors family and the Molson family. Family values and ethos permeate throughout the entire organisation.” Although Cobra is much younger, this chimes with the values he tried to instill at the company Bilimoria founded. “The culture I’ve built up in Cobra was one of entrepreneurialism, but also one built on very strong values.” It’s a culture he continues to nurture through his role at Molson Coors. There is plenty else to keep him busy, too. Father to four children, he travels often with his children – both to India and their mother’s native South Africa. “Britain is their home, this is where they were born but I also want them to be completely at home in the countries of their parents’ origin,” he says. He laughs that his children have seen him work so hard over the years that they’re entrepreneurs “by osmosis”. But with the ups and inevitable downs of running a business, Bilimoria’s children have undoubtedly watched their father embark on a journey of self-discovery. “The key in all of this is to continue learning. One of my favourite sayings is that good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” “You’re going to make mistakes; everyone makes mistakes. It’s a question of how you learn from them.”

May 2013


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Vehicle for growth


Emma Sinclair has turned Target Parking into a profit-making machine



e’ve all heard the adage ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ – but for Emma Sinclair it rings truer than most. It is reasonably clear to whom Target Parking’s CEO owes the largest amount of gratitude for the impressive path she has trodden, from having her first job at McDonalds at 16, through becoming the youngest person to float a company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), to triple-digit growth over the last three years in her current venture. “My father always encouraged us to earn our own money,” she reflects. “He never bought us a car or gave us a credit card to go shopping but what he did do – which I am eternally grateful for – is provide me with an amazing education, a good sense of self, and the skills

to work. I bought my car about eight years ago but I love it every time I get in it – because I bought it. I know to value things. I also know that if things go wrong, I can roll up my sleeves and get on with it.” Indeed, it was almost written in the stars that Neil Sinclair would somehow be involved with his ambitious daughter’s first foray into the world of business-building. With experience in the property sector since the age of 17, and having floated his own company in the 1980s, Sinclair Snr brought paternal support and business nous to boot. “Mission Capital always used to joke that it was the only publicly-trading company where the managing director would take the chairman chopped-up apple, rich tea biscuits and a hot drink at 11am,” Sinclair fondly

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across it, I didn’t think ‘God, I must go into car parking’.” She adds: “When I was setting up Mission Capital, and contemplating property-related service businesses, I just thought that car parking was part of the clan. I wasn’t as aware until I bought a business how interesting it might be.” It is safe to say that interest was worth pursuing, with Wolverhampton Wanderers FC the latest high-profile client to appoint Target Parking to manage the car park facilities at its famous Molineux Stadium. Other clients include Fantasy Island, a theme park in Skegness, which Sinclair labels “one of my favourite places”, and established property PLCs such as Quintain. So, what precisely is the service Target Parking provides to what Sinclair calls its “broad spectrum” of clients? “Effectively we run and operate public car parks in places where people come and go, and where there needs to be a certain element of parking controls,” she explains. This includes equipping said car parks with machinery and technology, staffing them, painting the lines, cleaning them, doing their cash collection, and generally keeping them in an exemplary state of repair. Definitely not a business to be sniffed at, but Sinclair is the first to admit that, while some of the company’s sites do not charge customers for parking, this particular enterprise does carry a certain stigma with it. “People often feel a bit of animosity for having to pay for parking, but they forget that, actually, in order to have a car park that is clean and tidy at the very least, someone has to remove the gross and obvious litter.” It appears then that the fruits of Sinclair’s labour may go relatively unnoticed, or even

“There are lots of things I am passionate about, but before stumbling across it, I didn’t think ‘God, I must go into car parking’” recounts. “Regardless of anything else, he is still my dad and I had to make sure he was eating properly,” she adds. While the Mission Capital project was cut short in 2008, it had already more than laid the groundwork for Target Parking. And although it may have seemed a lifetime ago, given all that had happened since, Sinclair’s six years at investment banking giant NM Rothschild stood her in good stead. “I can’t think of any other early career that would have given me such a wealth of skills and exposed me to so many smart and interesting people and businesses,” she says. Nevertheless, Sinclair certainly didn’t envisage, nor aspire, as a child that she would one day be operating so successfully in the car park management arena. “I did not have a prior passion for car parks,” she acknowledges. “There are lots of things I am passionate about, but before stumbling May 2013

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“Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, everybody wants to have their own business. People seem to think it is a glamorous job”

unappreciated, by the public at large. Needless to say, this doesn’t fluster the entrepreneur. “I am not in the business of love,” she declares. “We don’t get emails saying ‘thank you so much’ or ‘we love paying for your car parks’ but it is a necessary service and one that is required because otherwise, if you are near an airport or a train station, people just dump their cars anywhere without any regard. Residents can’t park, shoppers can’t park, so there does need to be an element of management, and that is what we provide to landlords and asset managers across Great Britain.” Of course, it would be awry to assume that being her own boss has been an easy ride for Sinclair. On the contrary, and as with every entrepreneur, she has faced many a challenge over the last five years, and is sure to face many more in the future – but that is the nature of entrepreneurialism at the end of the day, isn’t it? However, Sinclair isn’t so sure that those aspiring to follow the same path that she and many others have followed quite realise the risks involved. “You are responsible for a lot of people and a lot of things, and you are without the comfort of an institutional environment where you get a salary every month whatever happens, so you really have a huge alignment between building your business and effectively earning a living,” she warns. “It does take an awful lot of energy, especially if you don’t have a business partner, because you have to be on your game every

single day. That is something that people forget – there is an obsessive culture of the entrepreneur out there. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, everybody wants to have their own business. People seem to think it is a glamorous job. “One thing that is true is that it is wonderfully interesting, but there is a bit of a false perception of the glamour of being the boss. It doesn’t mean you can just sit back and tell everyone what they should do all day – you do everything all day long, and hopefully have other people that are in a position to help you.” So, where next for Sinclair? Intriguingly, when asked how useful her degree in French and Spanish with Italian has been, she confesses “not at all”. “I am extremely good if you are on holiday and there is something that needs dealing with, and I am very good at pub quizzes when they start asking questions in foreign languages, but other than that it hasn’t helped my business.” The obvious question at this point then is, what about overseas expansion? “The USA is very interesting,” Sinclair reflects. “It is something I am keeping my beady eye on – it is an extremely fragmented market especially as a result of America being such a vast country in terms of physical space.” Sinclair is careful not to get too far ahead of herself though because, as she always says, “one doesn’t necessarily know what the future holds in business”. Amen to that.


Company CV Name: Target Parking Founded by: Emma Sinclair Founded in: 2008 Team: 200+

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The supply chain

conundrum As the horsemeat scandal rumbles on, companies would be wise to carefully consider their relationships with suppliers



t is unlikely that the issue of supply-chain management has ever enjoyed as much exposure as it has over the last six months. Obviously, using the word ‘enjoyed’ may be a bit wide of the mark when taking account of the events that have led to such coverage. The ongoing horsemeat scandal has threatened the reputation of some established and respected multinationals, and equally the future of smaller firms upon whom some of the big boys have looked to lay the blame. Nevertheless, this has by no means exempted the likes of Tesco and Asda from responsibility, and one could

argue that the whole sorry saga has been a welcome wake-up call for British businesses, both large and small. At the core of the horsemeat scandal is a catastrophic lapse in supply chain communication. This has engendered an atmosphere of mistrust among consumers towards the supermarkets and wholesalers that sit at the (public-facing) end of the supply chain. While it has highlighted that an effective system of supply-chain management must ultimately stem from the top, there are obviously lessons that can be taken away from the scandal for many of the UK’s start-ups,

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“You can’t put a value on that loss of trust – that is why to protect yourself against that reputation risk, you have to self-insure because that is a form of prevention”

The number of suppliers the average manufacturer has

Philippa Foster Back, director, Institute of Business Ethics (IBE)


which commonly sit a few levels down the chain – and this applies to companies in all sectors, not merely food service and retail. To put things in perspective, a recent piece of research from EEF, the British manufacturers’ organisation, entitled Be prepared: monitoring supply chains; maximising resilience, shows that “the average manufacturer has almost 190 suppliers, virtually all have some of the supply base located overseas and one in five report that at least half of their suppliers are outside the UK.” It adds that, “Even smaller companies can be reliant on in excess of 100 suppliers of parts, components and other services.” In summary, it is not feasible for a business to have a direct relationship with every

Philippa Foster Back

supplier it depends upon, especially when they are suppliers of suppliers, and so on. “The complexity of supply chains means that few manufacturers keep an eye on all of their suppliers,” the EEF report elaborates. “In terms of which suppliers companies choose to monitor, the most significant proportion, 60% of companies, choose only to monitor their immediate suppliers. A further 16% choose to monitor their tier one and tier two suppliers. Only 11% of companies monitor their entire supply chains whereas 16% of companies said they did not monitor their suppliers at all.” One would assume these figures, collated in June 2012, may change in light of current events. Yet they still paint a picture of how communication is dispersed through the supply chain and reinforce the importance of that dialogue between every single level. If that discourse is lost, it can, as has been demonstrated, have a knock-on impact on consumer confidence. “You can’t put a value on that loss of consumer trust – that is why to protect yourself against that reputation risk, you have to self-insure because that is a form of prevention,” explains Philippa Foster Back, director of the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE). “But you can do it on a risk basis, because if a large company has got 20,000 suppliers, they may have to put the onus on their primary suppliers, possibly on their secondary suppliers too, probably not their third, but you might ask that your primary and secondary suppliers do their own ethical due diligence and make sure that their reputation is not going to get burnt by the people that they are buying from. I think some of the bigger companies are going to move

The amount of manufacturers with at least half of their suppliers outside the UK

The percentage of companies who monitor their entire supply chains towards asking their suppliers to gain charter marks that say they are doing their work according to certain principals, and the biggest companies will of course put in their own auditors.” Of course, that is not to say you should let your judgment become clouded by the trust you have placed in your primary and secondary suppliers. Taking your eye off the ball for one moment can be fatal, as certain supermarkets and wholesalers will testify. “Even if you have been working with someone for many years, it is still important to refresh the understanding of their business practices and what they do,” comments Back. “Don’t just assume what you set up originally is what is happening, because there might have been changes of personnel which often means changes of culture, changes of approach and changes of behaviour which can lead to problems that you might not think are happening.” And while it may not be practicable to have a direct relationship with the tertiary – and even more distant – suppliers, it pays to have as full an understanding as possible of their businesses practices and financial stability. May 2013

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“I think the first thing is – starting from the bottom of the supply chain – make sure that you know who you’re dealing with,” says Alan Fletcher, managing partner at Newcastle-based commercial law firm Square One Law. “By that I mean you have done your proper due diligence – not on the parties that are supplying you direct, but also their supply chain. If you are being supplied something that you are describing as from the UK, for instance, you need to be able to work all the way down the supply chain and make sure that they are all UK companies with reasonably strong financial covenants, so that you can have a degree of comfort that your description will be accurate.” Back adds: “How they do their business will, at the end of the day, reflect on your own reputation so if you don’t understand how they are doing their business, you are potentially putting yourself at risk.” However, as Fletcher admits, not even the most rigorous of checks can

bring maximum assurance, as one slip by a single supplier can domino disastrously through the supply chain. He therefore advises businesses to look a bit closer to home to further reduce the risk of things going awry. “Ultimately you are responsible, so whatever you are supplying, you do need to quality test,” he comments. “Obviously, you don’t test everything that goes out the door but you need to ensure that you have tested a reasonable percentage of the goods that are leaving your premises and I don’t think that is often done as much as much as it should be.”

CASE STUDY 1 making sure that it is perceived as a partnership rather than a contractual relationship between a supplier and a customer. Obviously, if something goes wrong along the way, it is our responsibility, but we minimise the chances of those things happening by building on relationships rather than just building on contractual positions.” A large part of Ella’s Kitchen’s innovative and admirable approach to supply-chain management is its use of the governmentbacked Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme, which allows graduates and academics to manage a significant project within an organisation, with the company

Paul Lindley founder/chief executive of Ella’s Kitchen The stringent regulations governing the baby food industry place a legal imperative on those operating in it to manage their supply chain as rigorously as possible. Nevertheless, given the passion with which Paul Lindley runs his global organic baby and toddler food brand Ella’s Kitchen, the need to stick to the rules is a minute part of why he prides provenance and transparency over anything else. The strength of relationships that Lindley has built with his suppliers in all corners of the globe, and the benefits they receive from working with Ella’s Kitchen, is almost a model in ‘how to do supply chains right’. “As a relatively small company, we put a lot of emphasis on what we call ‘giving stuff back’,” Lindley explains. “We focus on

paying a third of the person’s salary (the government funds the other two thirds) for a contracted two-year period. Lindley has taken advantage of KTPs for a couple of projects, including one specifically around the supply chain. “One of the things that has come out of it is that, for our fruit and vegetables grown in the UK, we now effectively commission the planting of all the produce that we will use. We know the volume that is going to be produced and so right from the seed, rather than from the farm, it is ours. The husbandry or farming that goes on is approved by us as the food grows and gets processed and that is something that, through the KTP, has allowed us to add a greater level of sufficiency and continual improvement in the processing as well as the sourcing.”


“As a relatively small company, we put a lot of emphasis on what we call ‘giving stuff back’” May 2013

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Case study 2 Evan Lewis founder/managing director of Everything Environmental


company’s ability to have a handle over its supply chain, as well as enhance its ethical approach in the eyes of customers. An ethical approach to supply-chain “By producing more locally, we have a management is a core component of better understanding of what we are Evan Lewis’s venture Everything getting,” Lewis explains. Environmental. Set up in 2005, it serves Openness and transparency is very as a one-stop shop for companies and much the name of the game as far as he campaign groups that require branded is concerned – and at its heart lays a fair eco-friendly/ethically-sourced products, and honest approach to price negotiation. “If Indian prices of cotton go up because there are strikes or “When we go overseas – and we produce a a bad harvest and we have to put prices up, lot of bags and the like in India – I will visit the we communicate factories because I want to see for my own eyes then that with our clients, what is going on and ask the difficult questions” but we don’t force our suppliers to stick to the to be given away as promotional gifts. price they gave us the year before when Needless to say, the company’s ethical there was an abundance of cotton because that would be ludicrous, completely style goes hand in hand with its unethical, and quite unfair,” he environmental credentials, and is comments. “What we never do is force a founded on a commitment to understanding and building long-term supplier into a position where they can’t relationships with its suppliers, while afford to maintain their business on the prices that we are paying for the goods continuing to monitor them at every they are producing on our behalf.” stage of the manufacturing process. “When we go overseas – and we produce a lot of bags and the like in India – I will visit the factories because I want to see for my own eyes what is going on and ask the difficult questions,” says Lewis. “We then employ local, expert auditors to go into those factories who understand the local laws, speak the local languages and know some of the more technical questions to ask of a technical facility to make sure that they are working within the relevant regulations.” The fact that 90% of Everything Environmental’s goods are produced in Europe adds another dimension to the


A lack of communication from top to bottom is one thing, but it is probably also worth digging deeper into the behaviour displayed by the companies complicit in the activities that could potentially threaten the reputation and foundation of your own business. Why and how, for example, was horsemeat passed off as beef? Often, it will come down to a set of terms and conditions between the supplier and customer which are either unclear or, more significantly, appear to be tipped in favour of the latter. In fact, such terms may not even exist in some cases, and this is where the buying power of certain customers can squeeze suppliers into submission, and ultimately tip them over the edge. “I think if people are squeezing suppliers on the cost price all the time, to a point that

“I think people put so much financial pressure on their suppliers – and they see them as suppliers not as partners – that they will start to do what they have to do to survive”


Evan Lewis, managing director of Everything Environmental

they have gone beyond break-even and into a loss-making situation, then they are going to try and cut corners, and they are going start trying to hide things,” suggests Evan Lewis, managing director of Everything Environmental, a supplier of promotional eco-friendly products. “They don’t want to lose that big business so I believe that is why they are cutting corners and starting to buy cheaper meat cuts. I think people put so much financial pressure on their suppliers – and they see them as suppliers not as partners – that they will start to do what they have to do to survive.” A little bit of reciprocity goes a long way then, especially when your business’s revenue and reputation is at stake. Managing a lengthy supply chain to the greatest possible effect may well entail a significant investment of your time and resources, but as emphasised by EEF in its comprehensive research, “consequences can have greater costs from lost output and productivity or indeed a loss of stakeholder confidence”. May 2013

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Money in, money out Is the choice between outsourcing accounts and keeping them in-house really just a case of do-it-yourself or sign it over lock, stock and barrel?



hether you’re talking about tech support, customer services or an accounts department, outsourcing can offer significant benefits. A director with limited resources at their disposal may lack the inclination to oversee every process personally and may want access to talent that they cannot afford under a traditional hire. One of the most time-hungry areas of the business, accounts is a natural process to outsource but relinquishing your hold on

“There’s an old phrase in the accounting industry, which is that a good accountant will save you money rather than cost you money”


Jonathan Norris, web editor at Crunch Accounting

the purse strings isn’t an easy step to take. There are specific reasons why outsourcing can be such an attractive option for early stage businesses. “There’s an old phrase in the accounting industry, which is that a good accountant will save you money rather than cost you money,” comments Jonathan Norris, web editor at cloud accounting enterprise Crunch Accounting. Obviously, outsourcing May 2013

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“It’s not just the cost of going and trying to hire someone; it’s the loss of focus on the business and it’s the loss of management time on what you could be doing” Jim Brown, director of Bral

can save funds versus hiring an in-house team and finding the right proprietary software, but what few businesses take into account is that an experienced accountant can offer significant returns on investment in their own right. “The attraction of outsourcing would be having someone who knows where there are extra efficiencies and savings to be had,” he says. “In the end, you can end up actually saving more money than that service is costing you.” However, it’s not all about cold hard cash. “In terms of why people outsource, as a more general question, people always assume it’s because it’s cheaper,” says Jim Brown, director of on- and off-shore outsourced accountants Bral. “That’s important to a lot of people but it’s not the driver in many cases.” While minimising spend is important, when an enterprise is starting out there is perhaps one resource which is more valuable: time. “It’s not just the cost of going and trying to hire someone; it’s the loss of focus on the business and it’s the loss of management time on what you could be doing,” says Brown. When considering whether to set up accounts

in-house, it’s worth thinking about whether there is a more productive way of spending your time and what the business value is in terms of time saved. “In the early days, it’s about trying to get revenues coming through the door,” he continues. “So how can you focus on that? By spending more time on it.” Another factor that may attract some enterprises to outsourcing is access to a pool of expertise. It may be tempting to believe the accountant you hire will be one-sizefits-all, but in actuality there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to handle absolutely everything you throw at them. “Accounting’s one of those things that’s completely labyrinthine,” explains Norris. “You get tax accountants, you get financial advisors, you get other strands of accountancy.” Without a huge talent outlay, it will be difficult to make sure one has access to such a wide variety of specialities in-house but an outsourced solution provides access to a talent pool. “If it so happens their accountant isn’t a specialist on a particular subject, they can always be handed over to someone else who is,” he says. That’s not to say that some people have reasons why they aren’t keen to outsource their accounts. Firstly, cost can be off-putting, especially for those who aren’t convinced they will receive a significant return on investment. “Surprisingly enough, the most common reason we hear for people not coming on-board is that they know someone who’s an accountant and who’ll do their accounts for free,” remarks Norris. However, aiming solely for the cheapest deal isn’t necessarily the best strategy as chances are you will get out what you put in. Another factor that can put people off is the idea of surrendering control of such a central process. Given that accounts form the lifeblood of most enterprises, signing them over to a third party and not being able to keep a watchful eye over them is enough to make any business owner feel somewhat twitchy. “There are different ways of overcoming that,” says Brown. One such option is insourcing, where May 2013

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“A lot of the older software will only update your figures once a week, whereas on all the modern cloud solutions you put a figure in there and it recalculates your tax and recalculates your profits” Jonathan Norris, web editor at Crunch Accounting


an outsourcer is brought in to work onsite. However, this also comes with its own set of positives and negatives. “What you’re basically doing there is you’re able to build a relationship, which is great, but you’re really becoming reliant on that one person,” Brown comments. Essentially, an enterprise that insources some accounting talent may once again be sacrificing access to a wider talent pool and the stability that comes with having access to additional people to cover sickness. However, there are now solutions available that are making it easier for enterprises to feel in touch with their data, while retaining access to the broad base of expertise that comes with retaining an accounting firm. Cloud software, such as Crunch, can give clients the best of both worlds. “A lot of the older software or specialist accountants will only update your figures once a week, whereas on all the modern cloud solutions you put a figure in there and it recalculates your tax and your profits,” explains Norris. Clients can manage their own bookkeeping, entering their income

and expenditure information and have instant access to all manner of data about their accounts. “I think that’s very powerful, having all of that information available to you, literally in real time.” But this brings us to the crux of things. Given that software solutions are removing the walls between workplaces and making it easy for people to collaborate regardless of location, is it really appropriate to look at accounts as being a binary case of being either ‘in’ or ‘out’? “There’s loads of different ways you can approach it,” says Norris. He lists many cases the company has worked with, scaling from a small business that outsources everything to larger businesses with full-time staff handling their books and just using Crunch for accounting. “There are definite shades of grey there,” he continues. “At the bottom end you’ll see people doing their books themselves and, almost uniformly I’d say, as they grow they’ll then take on more people.” Even if an enterprise gets to the stage where in-house accounting seems like the best option, cloud systems can be used to outsource specialist functions when an enterprise requires it. “You can decide on how much you want to let go of,” Brown comments. Obviously, this is a huge benefit, as suddenly talent gaps in an accounts department can be filled without sacrificing control. And this sort of solution isn’t just smoothing relationships between enterprises and accounting firms. The recent move to real time information (RTI) by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) represented a pretty major headache for a lot of accounting departments as they now need to submit regular figures. But a cloud option allows data to be collected and submitted to HMRC, without any additional effort from the user. “It didn’t require any action at all from our clients to be compliant,” says Norris. “It’s quite nice because we’re developing quite modern stuff and at the same time HMRC are making a big push for online services.” Clearly then, when it comes to outsourced and in-house accountancy, it really isn’t a case of either/or. Rather, it’s a case of finding the best balance of expertise, return on investment and transparency and creating a structure that supports an enterprise’s needs. May 2013

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Live, Work, Enjoy Dacorum is a thriving business and residential community in West Hertfordshire to the north of London within easy reach of the rest of the UK and Europe. It embraces the new town of Hemel Hempstead and the historic market towns of Berkhamsted and Tring, picturesque villages and rural locations and one of the largest and fastest growing business centres in the UK.


acorum’s ambition is to be a place where business flourishes, where people want to come to live and work and where they can enjoy life to the full in a safe and attractive environment. One of the central aspects of Dacorum Borough Council’s new inward investment drive - Dacorum Look no further - is the regeneration of key employment areas such as Maylands Business Park and Hemel Hempstead Town Centre with the emphasis on delivering high standards of design and construction to create attractive places to work. However, for potential inward investors looking to start up, invest or grow the decision is more than a matter of finding suitable premises in a convenient location. Equally important is the availability of a suitably skilled workforce, excellent travel

and transport options as well as an attractive environment for employees to live and enjoy The Maylands Partnership represents the combined interests of over 400 local businesses and has played a key consultative role in identifying and addressing the needs of businesses in Dacorum today. Kodak UK markets a wide range of commercial imaging products and services and has its sales and marketing headquarters located in Hemel Hempstead. Frances Stickley, Kodak representative on the Maylands Partnership, said: “One of the major reasons why Kodak has enjoyed such a long and successful association with Dacorum is being able to access a skilled workforce. With such a wide variety of businesses here it is vital that they can recruit people with the appropriate skills. “A new Employment and Skills Partnership

has been established with representatives from local businesses, key stakeholders and the Council to ensure that young people in the area are trained and equipped with the skills and abilities that local businesses need both now and in the future.” Dacorum boasts a high proportion of small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as foreign-owned businesses offering a wide choice of employment opportunities for local people. Maylands Business Centre is at the heart of the support available to help businesses get started within Dacorum. The centre provides virtual office facilities as well as offices and light industrial units to start up ventures and also to businesses looking to move into their first commercial premises. Expert business support and advice, including training seminars, is on hand to assist them whether they are based in the centre itself or elsewhere across Dacorum. Frequent networking opportunities and forums provide businesses with a local voice as well as up to date local market intelligence and opportunities. Maylands Business Centre has been very successful in helping new businesses to flourish. Several have reported growth as a result of moving to the centre, one by as much as 80%, and many have now taken on their first employees. Award-winning businesses based in Dacorum include digital imaging experts FFEI which employs over 200 people and has received many coveted industry awards. Andy Cook, Managing Director, FFEI, said: “Location is extremely important to FFEI as 98% of our business is for export. Dacorum is an ideal location due to its proximity to Luton and Heathrow and the M1 and M25 motorway networks.”


“Our business is high technology design and manufacture so it’s essential that we can easily recruit smart, well educated people. Dacorum is ideally situated as it offers a good choice of commutable living areas and a wealth of talent to choose from.” Andy Cook, Managing Director, FFEI May 2013

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Five-minute money masterclass: an essential guide to business plan success Such is its proven ability to make or break an entrepreneur, the need to get your business plan right can hardly be overstated. Indeed, in anyone’s mind, the business plan would probably rank fairly high on a list of ‘documents not to screw up’. Therefore, we figured it may not be the worst idea in the world to call in an angel investor, a business plan expert and a finance guru for some muchneeded insight. Unsurprisingly there was a recurring theme in their reflections: it’s not so much about making a ‘fault-free’ business plan – it’s about presenting one that grabs an investor’s attention from the outset


Bill Morrow, founder and CEO of website Angels Den

Understand your business

Sabrina Parsons,

Johnny Martin, financial fitness coach of Intuit and founder of Johnny Martin Business Education



CEO of global business software and small business solutions firm Palo Alto Software

It almost goes without saying that, to stand any chance of investment, an entrepreneur’s product or service has to solve a problem that has never been solved before. Or, failing that, solves it in a more efficient and cost-effective way than what’s already out there. “One of the biggest problems investors report back is that entrepreneurs are not clear about what they do,” comments Johnny Martin, financial fitness coach for accounting software firm Intuit and founder of financial mentoring service Johnny Martin Business Education. “There is a failure to explain the pain as it were. You have got to make sure you are really clear why you are different from other companies. Why are people going to come to you, as opposed to anybody else?” Johnny Martin

“One of the biggest problems investors report is that entrepreneurs are not clear about what they do” May 2013

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Sort your figures out At the end of the day, it’s all about the money for investors. It has to take something pretty special for them to part with a hefty wad of cash, safe in the knowledge that it will multiply over the next few years. That is why accurate financial forecasting, especially of cashflow, is imperative, according to Sabrina Parsons, CEO of global business planning software and small business solutions firm Palo Alto Software. “If you do a cashflow forecast correctly, you will actually see when your balance goes negative and that is where you insert a loan or a credit line, or investor money,” says Parsons. “Too often, you see that piece missing and if you look at the one reason small businesses fail, it’s not because they are not profitable, it is because they have run out of cash.” It is probably worth knowing what your break-even point is too, suggests Martin. “That is a key financial milestone,” he says. 39

Be realistic What valuation have you put on your business? “It is only of laughable interest,” suggests angel investor Bill Morrow, founder and CEO of website Angels Den, which connects investors with entrepreneurs. “Most entrepreneurs have absolutely no idea what the valuation of their business is, but you are stupid and naïve if you think you are worth £1bn and you haven’t sold anything yet.” As bluntly as he puts it, Morrow hits the nail on the head here – the only way an entrepreneur can be taken seriously is by displaying a healthy dose of realism. “One of the things I see a lot of people do is shy away from admitting that maybe they don’t know everything,” says Parsons. “The reality is that the business plan is about realistically putting out what you can actually do, in what time frame you can do it, and how much money you need to do it.”

It’s all about the money for investors. It has to take something pretty special for them to part with a hefty wad of cash

Fill the gaps So, you’ve convinced an investor you have a product that plugs a hole in the market, but in order to really make them dig into their pockets, it is relatively important to explain why you actually require an investment of cash. Parsons explains: “One of the biggest mistakes I see in business planning is two or three founders who are going to do everything, and are positioned as if they know everything. It is much better for someone starting the business, or who has an ongoing business, to recognise where there may be some holes in the management team. In their plan, it’s worth saying that one of the things they are going to do if they raise money, or if they get sales to a certain point, is to hire a VP (vice president) of sales who has enterprise sales experience, because nobody else on the team does.”

Back to basics Finally, it would probably be of some assistance to the entrepreneur to make the business plan easily accessible to the investor, and free from obvious mistakes. “There is an accepted format for business plans and you just want to follow that,” says Martin. “Don’t try and re-invent the wheel.” Length is also a conundrum for some entrepreneurs but generally it would appear to be a case of the shorter the better – at least initially. “Everybody reads information so quickly and they don’t want to spend a lot of time,” explains Parsons. “So, what you want is to get in the door with a really great summary document and you can’t do that if you don’t have the basics right.”

May 2013

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Banks not the only option for businesses In light of falling lending figures, it’s worth being aware of the alternatives, writes Clive Lewis, the ICAEW head of enterprise


he bank is always seen as the traditional place to go if you need to borrow money. However recent lending figures from banks show that the amount of cash being lent to small businesses is falling. Financing growth is critical for start-ups and small- to mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) looking to take the next step, but banks are not the only option. Start-ups and small businesses need to realise that there are other options available, especially at a time when getting access to finance is more difficult. In the recent Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Small Business Survey 2012: SME Employers, accountants were cited as being the most trusted source of advice for SMEs and one of the most frequently asked questions for the free ICAEW Business Advice Service is: “what else is there?” Well… An angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for ownership equity. Increasingly, angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital. They

frequently bring business experience, contacts and insights that can take the business into new markets and offer new horizons. Angel investors will accept lower rates of return than venture capital and private equity but many expect involvement in management of the company. Angels will sometimes take on a business which is financially challenged provided they can see potential for growth. Venture capital requires business owners to sell a stake or share in their business in exchange for investment. Venture capitalists often provide non-executive support to the board and have deep pockets to support future expansion. But, as on Dragon’s Den, sometimes the terms are costly and the business owner will need to meet set exit requirements to end the deal. Overall, management buyouts in popular or growing sectors will find access to venture capital easier than inexperienced start-ups. The Funding for Lending scheme is the latest government initiative to encourage banks to lend to SMEs and the residential housing market. There are many banks

signed up and offerings will vary by bank. For example, some are offering businesses cash-back on new loan facilities and others offering discounted interest rates or loan finance with no arrangement fee, which are better terms than traditional bank loans. Crowdfunding is online lending and borrowing, which allows people who have money to lend it to those who wish to borrow, instead of using savings accounts and loan applications at traditional banks. The process is sometimes referred to as peer-to-peer lending. For borrowers, the loans are very flexible, allowing variation of monthly payments and early repayments without penalty. Matching is done on a many-to-one basis, so that each loan is spread across many lenders, thus reducing the effect of any defaults on individuals. Using the ICAEW Business Advice Service you can now draw on the expertise of leading financial experts to discuss a business financial healthcheck or assistance with preparing a business plan to help access finance. Visit: May 2013

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Read all about it It may not be the marketing magic bullet, but a killer advertising slogan can help take your brand to the next level



xecuted well, an advertising slogan has the power to influence a purchase decision with just a few words. So, while some people may live by the oft-said proverb ‘pictures speak louder than words’, plenty of creative minds out there are making their living from turning this statement on its head. You could argue that ‘Just Do It’ and ‘Every Little Helps’ have almost become brands in their own right. The endurance of these slogans has played its part in cementing Nike and Tesco as the global giants they are. However, that is by no means to suggest that the advertising slogan is the be all and end all of building a successful brand – far from it. “For me, it’s another tool within the brand identity system – the physical and emotional representation of a brand,” explains Shaun Bailey, the chief executive of direct, digital and engagement agency Jacob Bailey, and the chairperson of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Agencies Council.


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“A slogan can be very powerful or it can be misused, but it has to absolutely differentiate you from the competition” Shaun Bailey, chief executive of Jacob Bailey, and chair of the DMA Agencies Council

44 Shaun Bailey

“And while a slogan is only one element that makes up a brand identity system, the brand identity system is only one of many influencing factors that dictate an organisation’s overall brand perception.” Bailey cites media coverage, marketing communications, customer service, product performance, sales practice and corporate culture as the other key elements. He stresses irrespectively that a slogan “can be very powerful or it can be misused, but it has to absolutely differentiate you from the competition.” That may explain why the leading brands invest big bucks on appointing the best of the best from the advertising world, who in turn invest considerable time and resources into making sure that the end result conveys everything that the brand stands for, and a bit more besides. “This is the creative challenge, to sum up a business promise in a memorable way,” says David Howard, head of planning at London advertising agency Fold7. “Along with being a succinct reiteration of brand promise and business model, any line only works if it is also memorable and distinctive.” Adam Arnold, managing partner of Zag, the brand consultancy and brand ventures division of global creative advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), adds: “It should be as enduring and timeless as possible. When this is not the case, and when it is changed regularly, it will categorically fail to add that critical intangible value to your business. It is very hard to cut through the sheer volume of marketing messages out there today, and it is doubly difficult to cut through without being consistent.” And to really drive home the perceived importance of sticking with a slogan, Arnold concludes: “A slogan changed is more than a slogan lost; it suggests your company is either unsure of itself or flighty, neither of which engender love or loyalty.” It almost goes without saying too that, as well as the slogan having to resonate with the consumer, the brand itself has to merit the slogan; it has to do what the slogan promises, or alludes to. Essentially, it needs to do exactly what it says on the tin. And there in itself is the classic example of a slogan entering the public conscious in a manner that many other brands can really only dream of replicating. What Ronseal relies on more than anything with its timeless slogan is believability; a trait which has certainly stood it in good stead for the best part of 20 years. Indeed, the credibility of a slogan is just as fundamental as its differentiation, durability, and memorability, according to Bailey. May 2013

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“I would advise that any business looking to attach a slogan to one of its brands goes through the appropriate clearance program” Dan Smith, head of the advertising & marketing team, Wragge & Co


“It has to be true to the organisations’ DNA and not a hollow PR exercise,” he states, before using the example of BP as a company whose slogan may not visibly tick all of those boxes. “BP adopted the slogan ‘Beyond Petroleum’ a few years back (along with a new flowery logo) to emphasise its work on environmental/ alternative energy forms and its new organisational aspirations. However, BP activity that can be defined as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ makes up such a small proportion of BP’s global enterprise when compared to its core extractive oil operations that the slogan, and therefore its positioning, doesn’t support the reality of the situation.” Naturally, as with all things, there are various rules and regulations to keep in mind when developing a slogan – so a drop of due diligence also tends to go a long way. Dan Smith, head of the advertising & marketing team at international law firm Wragge & Co, comments: “Certainly I would advise that any business looking to attach a slogan to one of its brands goes through the appropriate clearance program to ensure that it has its eyes open to the risk of any legal or infringement action from another business, and that it also has its eyes open to the risk of any potential issues under applicable regulation and self-regulatory codes.” These would include matters around misselling, for example, specifically the use of the word ‘best’, as well as an awareness of words that could potentially cause harm or offence. Drawing to a conclusion then, is it safe to say that companies can get by without a slogan? Thankfully, Fold7’s Howard is able put things in perspective for us: “Of course businesses can thrive without one, although there is little point in creating brand equity if no one is going to see it.” However, once the decision has been made to go down the slogan path, there is absolutely no margin for error. As Bailey elucidates, “If you get the component parts of the brand identity system right, then a slogan can without doubt enhance it. If used wrongly, however – it can also seriously diminish it.” So it is either one way, or the highway. How’s that for a slogan?

Case study Adam Arnold, managing partner of Zag, the brand consultancy and brand ventures division of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), explains the thought process behind two of its most successful slogans Audi – Vorsprung durch Technik

Audi was BBH’s first client, back in 1982. The marque had little awareness and even less preference among the British public back then. You had to buy one from the rear of a VW forecourt. We recognised that the most important thing to do was to impress on people that Audi was in fact high quality German engineering. This chimed with a deep truth about the brand – that it has always been been committed to bold leaps in technology. The line, Vorsprung durch Technik (Progress through Technology) does all of this semantically. It doesn’t matter if you can’t translate it – the vast majority of Audi owners can’t – because it intuitively implies Germanic precision and intelligence. Today, the UK market is one of Audi’s best performers and it has indeed become the leader of premium European marques.

“It doesn’t matter if you can’t translate it – the vast majority of Audi owners can’t – because it intuitively implies Germanic precision and intelligence” British Airways – To fly. To serve.

Here is an example of BBH taking a statement from a brand’s rich heritage to underline a contemporary truth. It was stitched in to staff uniforms and emblazoned on crests – and it deserves to be front of mind for customers today. British Airways is entwined with the evolution of flight and air travel – its early pilots were literally pioneers – and all that passion and adventure is encapsulated in the words ‘to fly’. And the aircrew see themselves as dedicated to great service. This airline is not in the business of transport for transport’s sake – it is committed to an experience – and that is inside the words ‘to serve’. May 2013

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Cultural capital Helping big brands like O2, Sony and Lacoste create unique cultural content, pd3 is changing the way enterprise connects with the consumer




aking a genuine connection with the consumer is perhaps harder than ever. In a content-saturated age, you need to know how to forge a meaningful point of exchange and this means knowing how to create a place for your brand as a part of a wider culture. Founding an agency to help brands generate interesting media and content may seem like a rather tall order. But for Paul Tully, founder of cultural marketing agency pd3, it was merely making necessity out of virtue. Tully has always naturally gravitated toward interesting cultural content. “The whole purpose of me getting into it was because I just loved it,” he explains. The mid-1990s saw the entrepreneur based in Shoreditch’s Hoxton Square – a place he believes is the creative capital of the world – and regularly rubbing shoulders with some of London’s brightest artistic talent. “If anything, at that time I was working in entertainment,” he says. “I was putting on gigs, events and exhibitions, which I really enjoyed doing.” Finding himself handling the sales and marketing around arts and entertainment was very exciting for Tully but he began to realise he was sitting on an entirely untapped resource. “I suddenly realised that there were always people who were up in big bright lights,” he comments. “There was all this creative talent around me and I thought I should take those people to brands.” This concept helped form the basis of his first agency: Tully & Co. May 2013

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“As a result of the digital revolution, the consumer is more in control of when and where they interact with brands”


Tully & Co. was built on very natural relationships; being informed by Tully’s connections with local talent meant it was in a position to disrupt more traditional approaches to promoting brands. “It was all about doing something new and fresh,” he says. “It was one of the first youth agencies around.” However, gradually, this type of agency began to become much more commonplace and Tully felt a key differentiator of the business had essentially been eroded. “The marketplace was becoming very cluttered with youth agencies and I always want to be ahead of the game.” And this is where pd3 first sprang from. “It was all around doing things new, fresh and first,” he explains. The enterprise was built around creating meaningful content, that captured cultural value and using this to enrich brands. “I wanted to work with brands that were creatively ambitious and who wanted to create the kind of work and experiences that my friends and I actually wanted to go to.” So, in 1997, Tully pooled all the resources he had at his disposal and self-funded his start-up – which might be a slightly grandiose term for the enterprise’s humble beginnings. “It was just me, myself and I,” he laughs. “It was literally a little laptop, a fax machine and a desk that I shared with other like-minded people.” He explains that money really wasn’t the fuel that drove the pd3 vision and bootstrapping was the most natural way to enable the agency to achieve its aims. “If anything, it was just founded on passion and love for what I was doing.” But mighty oaks from little acorns grow. And over the years the agency has established a very strong base in the world of marketing, working with high-profile brands like Sony, Lacoste, Nike and Saab, not to mention becoming one of the pioneers of an entirely different method of promotion: cultural marketing. “We’ve always flourished with projects that are culturally focused,” Tully continues. “It’s our passion, it’s our expertise and I guess over the past five years we’ve seen the demand for credible, cultural communication grow and grow.” To prevent any head scratching, cultural marketing as a term is a fairly simple to grasp. “It’s the creation of brand-funded cultural content,” explains Tully. In essence, cultural marketing allows brands to facilitate the creation of unique and engaging entertainment and media and turns traditional marketing on its head. Rather than funding 100,000 banner ads, through pd3‘s ‘Thinking of Katie’ campaign, mobile phone network O2 paid for Tinie Tempah to carry out an intimate one-person concert for a single die-hard fan. The associated online content alone has since generated over 800,000 views and assisted O2 in creating an indelible cultural moment. “People love seeing great experiences and people go to experiences that they want to be involved in,” says Tully. Tully believes this is simply part of a trend that has been forming for

‘Little Boxes’ – created for O2 by pd3 and featuring the band Walk Off the Earth

a very long time. “As a result of the digital revolution, the consumer is more in control of when and where they interact with brands,” he says. He makes reference to a quote from co-founder of noted advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Sir John Hegarty: “We’ve moved from the age of interruption to the age of engagement”. As customers are used to actively seeking content out, they have less time for media that insists itself upon them. “Brands have to earn the right to be heard and taken into consumers’ hearts and minds,” Tully continues. It’s this emotional connection that the entrepreneur feels is of growing value. “Products have become increasingly homogenous,” he says. And given that companies can often have similar price points for similar products and services, we’re long past the age where price can be a significant differentiator. “It’s all about a consumer’s feeling and emotion towards a brand,” says Tully. “That makes their purchasing decision.” Given the wide variety of their content – whether it’s getting Canadian band Walk Off the Earth to cover Little Boxes on instruments made from cardboard boxes or its promotion for Ken Follett’s novel Fall of Giants that created the ‘world’s first 3D audio enhanced publication’ – pd3 is creating anything but homogenous brand experiences. And given that consumers are increasingly hardwired to seek out original, engaging content, it seems the agency’s journey is long set to continue. May 2013

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Spreading the seed 52



Going viral may seem like the holy grail of digital marketing but the real challenge lies in knowing which way the wind is blowing

ronically, when first formulating meme theory in The Selfish Gene in 1976, Richard Dawkins could scarcely be aware of just how far his idea would spread and influence the way we view communication. His language has become indispensable in the discussion of the way ideas are spread in the digital age. Viral marketing is, itself, a rather virulent concept and there are few people operating in digital marketing who haven’t been bitten by the bug. But creating contagious content isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. “There’s producing remarkable content and then there’s going viral,” comments Kieran Flanagan, marketing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa at marketing software producer Hubspot. “I think those two things are quite different.” Starting with the concept of virality and working backward is a little like setting your heart on becoming a billionaire and then trying to slot in any money-maker that will get you there. “People who start with the goal of going viral will more than likely fail because it’s not really a great goal,” he says. Any successful viral campaign will have started with some solid content at its core. How ‘contagious’ a piece of content is will ultimately depend on how well it captures the imagination of your intended market. “It’s about identifying the kind of content that will resonate with your target audience,” explains

David Waterhouse, global head of content and PR at producer of video engagement and social analytic tools Unruly Media. Finding ways to produce tailored content for an intended demographic inevitably means that they will be more inclined to share it. “Recent scientific and academic research has found that the number of shares a video attracts, whether it is user-generated or commercial, is linked to the strength of emotion it elicits from its viewers,” he continues. “The stronger the emotion, the more likely it is going to be shared.” Obviously, then, a marketing strategy of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks isn’t going to be helpful; when running content-driven campaigns, enterprises need to be able to get inside their audiences’ heads. “Everything, in terms of content, starts with a pretty clear and well thought out persona,” says Flanagan. “You figure out over time what they’re trying to buy and what content they engage with.” By taking a granular approach to your marketing data, it becomes easier to identify the needs and interests of various demographics. “One thing I think is very important when you’re trying to produce all this remarkable content for your personas is to do something called topic analysis,” Flanagan comments. Aggregating analytics under each topic and assessing the performance of a variety of subjects allows a business to see what works and answer some May 2013

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“People who start with the goal of going viral will more than likely fail because it’s not really a great goal” Kieran Flanagan,

Assuming they’ve got these first two factors right – subject and setting – there’s still one all-important element that enterprises need to take into consideration: success. Working with the Internet Advertising Bureau marketing director of Europe, (IAB), Unruly has formulated its ‘four As’ Middle East and Africa, Hubspot measurement for the efficacy of a social campaign. The first is ‘awareness’, which measures the reach achieved within the target audience. ‘Action’ relates to how well the campaign motivates brand interaction, whether that be generating clickthroughs or increasing fundamental questions. Flanagan gives some purchases. ‘Attention’ concentrates on the amount of time users are examples: “Is it bringing people into the site spending engaging with the content. Finally ‘advocacy & appreciation’ in terms of new visits? Is it creating measures how a campaign motivates the audience to become brand engagement in terms of people commenting champions, wherein they share, like and comment on content. on it, in terms of people sharing it?” And it is perhaps this last factor, with regard to the subject of virality, But subject isn’t the only measure of success. that merits most attention. As in any case of brand advocacy, evangelists “Getting the right distribution is also key,” for your content don’t just appear out of thin air; they’re actively comments Waterhouse. In Unruly’s domain, created. “One of the best ways companies can start to get traction in the that of social video advertising, paid market is if they have lots and lots of happy customers who are talking distribution can facilitate targeted content about their products and good experiences,” says Flanagan. “Turn your placed in the right place: contextually relevant customers into people who are going to spread that word of mouth.” blogs, websites and social networks. The fact Building these sorts of resources doesn’t happen overnight and that the content is actually relevant for the that’s why it’s a little unrealistic for a new brand to expect to users of these outlets increases the chances unleash a pandemic if the people exposed to it are relatively few and that users will respond by passing content far between. “If you’re a small brand starting out and you’re trying on to others. “The right content can find its to get as much push behind your campaign as possible, I think it takes target audience in environments where time,” Flanagan comments. But by focusing on creating high-quality, viewers are more engaged,” he continues. relevant content both on your site and in the community, gradually “For example, a campaign for a new baby increasing reach and virality are within your grasp. He concludes: food can reach its target audience through “I think your ability to go viral is going to increase the more you food blogs and via ‘mummy bloggers’, with build up your readership and you really do that by being consistent the audience sharing the video among their with the quality of content you put out.” peers and social networks.”

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Dismissingwith dignity WORDS: ADAM PESCOD

If left with no option but to let one of your team go, be prepared to invest enough time and resources to make it a relatively pain-free process


ndoubtedly, one of the most difficult decisions to make as an employer is to relieve an employee of their duties. Dismissal is regarded, quite rightly, as the last resort when a member of staff is not performing to the level expected, and every effort should be made to ensure they have a fair opportunity to up their game before the proverbial axe is swung. “From a human resources perspective, we obviously would want to make sure, depending on the scenario, that it was in fact the right thing to do to sack the person to start with,” says Kerry McGowan, co-founder of Hertfordshire-based consultancy The HR Specialists. “Has the employer done everything they can to deal with any situation before it gets to that point?”

The government has done its bit to try to protect employers. It extended, from one year to two, the period of time somebody must have been employed by a company to be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim. And from this summer, it will cost £250 to bring a claim, plus a further £950 if it goes to court – there is currently no charge. Nevertheless, employers should not rely solely on the powers that be in such matters. There is a process that should reasonably be followed, under ACAS guidelines, to protect employees from what they may deem a discriminatory dismissal. Equally it ensures that the employer has acted in a fair and diligent manner so as to avoid the potential for an unfair dismissal claim or, should a claim still be brought, bolster their chance of success. “It isn’t rocket science in a sense but there are steps and procedures that you should take,” explains Beth Baird, head of the employment team at Essex-based law firm Quality Solicitors FJG. “The advice that I would give to employers is to understand that you are in it for the long haul, get the process right, make sure that you document everything and that you have proper records and understand that it is not going to be a simple process. It is about transparency and fairness.” Key to a capability-related dismissal, says Baird, is what she calls a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), which gives the employee the necessary time and opportunity to turn things in their favour.


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Kerry McGowan,

co-founder of The HR Specialists


Beth Baird, head of the employment team at Quality Solicitors FJG

Depending on the specific company, the amount of PIPs will vary, but it is imperative that any warnings given, verbal or written, are preceded by a formal disciplinary hearing where the employee has the right to representation. “It is a very long process to do capability dismissal fairly but what employers have to be wary of is not setting targets that could be seen as unachievable, because that is just performance-managing somebody out of the business,” Baird continues. “There needs to be some proper contact with the employee and assistance given. If at the end of the process, you finally get onto the final written warning stage, and they still haven’t achieved the targets you have set in terms of their performance, then you would dismiss with notice – it wouldn’t be a summary dismissal. “As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time and effort, it is pretty miserable for everybody concerned, it is not great for morale. Often, employees will suffer stress and go off sick during the process, so it has to be managed very carefully.” Dismissals related to conduct and, in particular, gross misconduct are a slightly different kettle of fish – however, the need to abide by due process is Kerry McGowan, co-founder of The HR Specialists just as paramount. “If it is something as Aside from the need to eliminate any legal repercussions, keeping extreme as violence in the workplace, it will the rest of your team on-board is an essential component of the generally result in an immediate suspension, dismissal process. but there still has to be an investigation and While the principal of confidentiality must be upheld at all times, a hearing,” adds Baird. “You need to follow there are ways of striking the necessary balance between reassurances due process, as difficult as that may sometimes and underlining your position. be when tempers are fraying and management “You need to re-emphasise your standards and expectations of your time is being eroded.” staff so that when something has happened, and it is not the way you It is also not unusual for a financial gesture want things to happen in future, you can communicate to your staff to be made to the employee, should the what you do expect and re-emphasise that, if people don’t do that, it employer deem it necessary. could be a disciplinary matter,” says McGowan. “Most redundancies these days, even when “So you don’t specifically say, ‘I have disciplined this person for this they are non-contentious, end up with a thing’, but you make it absolutely clear what you expect from your staff compromise agreement at the end of them, going forward. That way you are not crossing the line in terms of so that everybody knows where they stand,” confidentiality but you are being very clear what is expected and what Baird clarifies. you expect from your employees.” “There is the option to say, ‘You are In an ideal world, an employer should never have to negotiate this entitled to two months’ notice but what we tricky path, having made their initial appointment following an equally will do is pay you the two months’ notice diligent and transparent process. But if the improbable does occur, it and give you an extra month’s money as pays to do things properly. a compensatory payment.’”

“You can communicate to your staff what you do expect and re-emphasise that, if people don’t do that, it could be a disciplinary matter” May 2013

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Zero-sum When flexibility can be make or break for your business, ‘zero hours’ contracts can look rather inviting. But can one party really benefit without the other losing out?



o-called ‘zero hours’ contracts have dominated the headlines over the last few months. In part, the increased attention has been prompted by figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that the number of individuals working under these terms has more than doubled in the last ten years, reaching some 200,000 individuals. Zero hours contracts are on the rise and, while it seems unlikely that they will ever make up a majority of the UK’s employment agreements, the trend is drawing a not unreasonable amount of attention. Zero hours contracts are a working agreement in which the employer doesn’t have to guarantee an employee any fixed hours of work. They are far from a new phenomenon and first began to rear their heads in previous times of economic turmoil. “They first really grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s,” explains Sarah Veale, head of the equality and employment rights department of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). “But then when the economy recovered, they didn’t completely disappear.” And it seems our recent financial woes have returned them to full strength. Regardless of your opinion of zero hours contracts, they do provide some clear benefits. “For SMEs, zero hours contracts offer two potential forms of enhanced flexibility and reduced risk,” comments Ian Brinkley, director at Lancaster University’s work policy think-tank The Work Foundation. The first benefit is the fact that it reduces the legislative obligations a business faces – individuals under zero hours contracts are classed as workers, rather than employees, and as a result are protected by fewer employment rights. But it is the second factor that is presently receiving the lion’s share of the attention


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“Generally, as an employer, you are not obliged to offer work to workers on zero hours contracts – but nor are they obliged to accept any work you offer” John Palmer, helpline knowledge manager, ACAS


in the media. Flexibility holds an almost fetishistic fascination in current business dialogue and zero hours contracts are the epitome of flexible employment agreements. “When work flows are erratic and uncertain, zero hours contracts can offer a closer match between work and worker availability and reduce the wage bill,” Brinkley explains. So far, so good. But, inevitably, a noguarantees agreement can cut both ways. “Generally, as an employer, you are not obliged to offer work to workers on zero hours contracts – but nor are they obliged to accept any work you offer,” says John Palmer, helpline knowledge manager at employment relations expert the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). This means that an imprudent employer could find itself

Jumbo-esque, political elephant in the room. One of the most heated debates around zero hours contracts – and the reason the ONS figures have made such a splash – is down to the ethical ramifications of contracts that guarantee little in terms of security or hours. Arguably, the uncertainty of whether you’ll be working on any given day is preferable to the uncertainty represented by long-term unemployment – but that doesn’t mean everyone can agree to such unreliable terms. “There are particular issues that we picked up on,” remarks Veale. An example the TUC has identified is that of parents. Getting a last-minute call from an employer to come in to work wouldn’t allow a parent to make childcare arrangements, effectively prohibiting them from taking the hours. “Discrimination is built into this way of working, which employers aren’t necessarily doing on purpose, but it does de facto exclude certain types of workers.” Another area that could prove to be a legal quagmire for businesses is how they draw the line between when an employee is on or off the clock. Particularly with zero hours contracts increasingly being introduced in health and social care, there may be a temptation to class on-site staff as being off the clock when not engaged in active work. “If the worker is required to be on-call at the place of work such time is likely to count as ‘working time’ under the Working Time Regulations,” explains ACAS’s Palmer. “It’s against the law to ask ... employees to ‘clock off’ during quiet periods but still remain on the premises.” This isn’t to say that these contracts are inherently unfair; reputable employers can make excellent use of them in areas where casual working arrangements are more appropriate. “If you’re a student, there would be more give and take,” says Veale. “‘It doesn’t really matter because you’re living on your loan and it’s additional revenue, not a permanent arrangement.” Additionally, there is a cross-over with highly skilled, freelance-style roles, where a zero commitment contract can provide access to a talent pool as and when required. “They can be a way of accessing more specialised and technical services where the demand from the firm is irregular,” says Brinkley. However, this relationship is slightly more even-handed as contractees will be in high demand and will be under less pressure to take on any request. Ultimately, zero hours contracts are a tool that can be used to patch and fix unpredictable workflow. But viewing them as a long-term alternative to a traditional workforce can cost an enterprise much more than they gain. “Enterprises should be careful,” says Veale. “People have quite long memories and if an organisation acquires a reputation for being a bad employer it can do a lot of harm.”

without support when it needs it most. These forms of contracts also raise a question mark over staff engagement as the employer/ employee relationship takes time and investment to develop. “If you’re not prepared to invest in somebody, in properly training and engaging them, then they’re going to be unengaged,” says Veale. In Brinkley’s eyes, these cases can mean that attempts to make savings through minimal contracts can actually become self-defeating. “If most people are in zero hours contracts out of necessity rather than choice, then they will leave them as soon as something better comes up – implying high turnover and the constant search for replacements with new contracts, which can be costly,” he explains. Of course, all of this is tiptoeing around the May 2013

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Reed has been at the helm of psychometric testing company Thomas International since 2007, having been appointed 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.


Broader horizons International development brings myriad opportunities for small businesses, but it brings its fair share of challenges too


hey say the world is getting smaller, and more and more UK companies are either setting up offices abroad or changing their focus to encompass working globally. In fact, new research from HSBC states that over the next 15 years, the UK is set to increase its international business activity by around 60%. While this increase in global interaction is clearly an exciting development, it does present companies with a new set of challenges in attempting to align their company cultures with the cultures of their geographically diverse workforce. Each country – and sometimes even each individual region within that country – has its own working culture, its own ideas on work/life balance, its own HR procedures and its own pace of work. This diversity can be refreshing and even breathe new life into a company, but it can make working relationships more complicated with differing approaches to policies and procedures, work ethics, management behaviours and interpersonal relations to contend with.

Some cultures work particularly well together and companies may even find that one country’s approach to a problem complements their own approach perfectly by filling the gaps in a team’s skillset. For example, British employees tend to lean towards high Dominance and Influence behaviours, such as being direct and communicative, whereas German workers tend towards Steadiness and Compliance behaviours such as being methodical and precise. A mixture of behavioural traits can lead to a well-balanced, efficiently functioning team but the differences can be off-putting without the awareness that a tool like psychometric assessment offers. May 2013

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“Each country – and sometimes even each individual region within that country – has its own working culture, its own ideas on work/life balance, its own HR procedures and its own pace of work”

To develop the British/German example, a client of ours, a UK engineering company, found it very challenging to set up a manufacturing post in Germany. The German employees saw the Brits’ Dominance and Influence traits as aggressive and impulsive, whereas the British employees perceived the German Steadiness and Compliance behaviours as overly passive and rule-focused. By using psychometric assessments to profile their team members, the management team were able to increase their understanding of these different behaviours and appreciate what each individual contributed to the group, with an understanding that a blend of behaviour traits are essential for a well-functioning team. Increasing both the managers’ understanding and the employees’ self-awareness helped them to modify their approach to take these behavioural differences into account. We’re increasingly being asked to help clients deal with issues brought on by cross-cultural working with a desire to get their team working as a cohesive unit, regardless of the different cultures within it. We’ve found the key to achieving this is to see the team, and help the team see itself, as a single element, with the focus on common aims rather than disparate cultural attitudes through helping each individual member increase self-awareness. This can be particularly beneficial when one culture is more dominant than others. A pertinent example is that of Eastern cultures who have a tendency to favour etiquette and custom over asserting their authority in a more dominant or ostentatious manner. Neither approach is right or wrong, good or bad – just different, but it often leads to quieter cultures feeling overlooked and unappreciated. Profiling can highlight each individual’s contribution to the team and help recognise the involvement of those cultures who don’t necessarily shout the loudest. This can be invaluable in helping subtler cultures acclimatise to working alongside more outwardly dominant ones. An issue we see crop up time and time again is an assumption made by the parent company that other cultures will automatically understand their working behaviours and behave the same way. Businesses need to recognise that other cultures may not instinctively behave or think the same way so taking the time to create an Ideal Culture Profile and exploring what the company is trying to achieve and which core behaviours team members need to demonstrate to reach that goal helps to create a ‘company culture’. When working in an unfamiliar culture, it’s up to the senior management of the business to create a shared culture, a shared mission statement and a shared vision to help employees understand what is being asked of them and, vitally, why they should embrace any changes in behaviour rather than resenting them. Effective communication of a company’s new culture can alleviate insecurity and help create a common goal – regardless of geographical cultural differences. As more and more companies find themselves faced with growing international business opportunities, understanding and tolerance will become key words to achieving business success. Businesses will develop an awareness of the fact that differences in corporate and geographical cultures needn’t be viewed as a negative thing, but rather an opportunity to add richness and flair to any truly multinational business.


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From a business plan to a new brand Starting or growing a business is never a walk in the park, but with free resources on everything from perfect business planning to effective marketing, all packed into events like The Business Show, has there ever been a better time to be in business? 64


the 25,000+ visitors to last November’s Business Show and they’ll probably tell you that this is a pretty good time to launch a business. New businesses are popping up all over the place, in all areas of industry – from web design to catering, childcare to accountancy – and often with first-time owners at the helm. Even those already trading aren’t resting on their laurels; they’re moving into bigger premises, investing more in their marketing campaigns and diving into new markets. The age of the entrepreneur seems to be well and truly upon us and there’s a wealth of easily accessible information out there for today’s entrepreneurs. The Business Show has always tried to support UK start-ups and small-medium enterprises with everything needed to start and grow a business – from access to the latest tech products, to innovative ideas for revolutionising sales – all completely free and under one roof. The next event is fast approaching, taking place at Olympia London, 6-7 June. If you’re looking to start, grow or improve your business, make sure you book your free tickets at now. What makes this event different? Thousands of business people to network with; hundreds more pioneering exhibitors; the country’s most respected business speakers; relentlessly evolving show features; and so much more – The Business Show is always getting better, ensuring no two shows are ever the same, and each new show offers more than the last. Now incorporating the Business Startup Show, The Business Show is for everyone, from starting out to actively growing – whether you have a brilliant idea and want to know how to make money from it, or you’re an SME who wants to take the next step up. And everything is completely free, from the entry ticket to the workshops, the seminars to the networking. In short, there’s no event quite like it. If you’re in business, you need to be there. May 2013

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The Business Show is for everyone, from starting out to actively growing – whether you have a brilliant idea and want to know how to make money from it, or you’re an SME who wants to take the next step up. What’s on at June’s Business Show? The Business Show organisers are an innovative bunch, constantly thinking up new ways to help your idea get off the ground and ensure your business reaches its full potential. So, whether it’s an interactive workshop on a time-saving piece of software, or some top advice on reenergising your marketing materials – you can rest assured it will all be at June’s Business Show. One of the show features is FaceTime; a networking opportunity designed to connect businesspeople quickly and easily, facilitating discussion on the most pertinent topics within the most relevant industries, all face-to-face. There are eight round tables in the FaceTime area, each relating to a business topic such as marketing or raising finance, with each table chaired by an expert. Tables will be made up of business people like you, all eager to quiz the experts, find out how others are working and improve their business. To book your place at FaceTime, and any of the other features for that matter, simply visit www.thebusinessshow. - all features fill up very quickly, so book early to ensure you get a session. As well as FaceTime, the event plays host to several other networking events including the immensely popular Speed Networking, where you’ll make dozens of connections in just minutes. But if you’re more interested in walking

away from the show with investment, rather than business cards, you can. Midas Touch and Angels Den are back again for June, providing visitors with a platform to pitch to a panel of multimillionaires for real capital investment. This June will also see brand new educational workshops, adding to an already impressive collection run by the likes of Sage and Intellectual Property Office. These workshops have been designed to ensure you leave the show with the very best information helping you make the right decisions in the crucial stages of your business. And, of course, The Business Show will present an all-star speaker line-up, featuring Dragons’ Den’s James Caan and 249 other engaging speakers, all delivering advice on everything from branding to budgeting, CRM to SEO.

hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, and in that time it has welcomed more people through its doors than any other business show in the UK. Today, the event is more ambitious than ever, determined to help drive your business onwards and upwards, whatever your industry or bright idea.


And there’s more! The Business Show also acts as a hub for four other shows at the same venue on the same dates; Accountex (the UK’s only national exhibition for Accountants and Finance Directors); Office Manager & PA; Sales Management & Performance; and Complementary Healthcare Professional.

So if you aspire to be the next dragon, make sure you see James Caan’s seminar in the Keynote Hall; if you have designs on boosting your online presence, go to an internet marketing workshop delivered by the experts; if you want to find out about the latest technologies and business tools available, talk to a specialist exhibitor. The Business Show really does offer everything you could possibly need to start or grow your business. Over the last 12 years, the event has become a

Free Tickets to The Business Show If you’re starting or growing a business, The Business Show is the must-attend event. The Show will be held at Olympia London, 6-7 June. Tickets are completely free and available at May 2013

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Leap Motion Touch screen has gradually faded in novelty and, rapidly, the new frontier of device input is becoming contactless control. Leap Motion is one of the most promising offerings we’ve seen; the device tracks hand motions and allows you to accurately manipulate objects on screen. It can even differentiate between thumb and finger movements, meaning a Minority-Report-style interface is no longer out of reach. 67

Finding desirable gadgets and gear is getting easier all the time. With the recent launch of Wantr, the Pintereststyle network for tracking your favourite stores and products, the Elite tech team has gone into aspirational overdrive and already allocated the majority of its wages for the next couple of years. Here are just a few of our favourite goodies


Draft Markdown writing apps aren’t for everybody. Fortunately, cloud and collaborative option Draft packs enough novel features to win over a lot of floating voters. Collaboration, Dropbox integration and publishing direct to Wordpress and Tumblr are small fry in comparison to its eponymous drafting feature, which allows you to view your document side-by-side with previous drafts and revise with ease. Refining and honing work has never been so easy.

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Flaye There are certain things you cannot overstate. Case in point: if you aren’t almost disturbingly excited by the Flaye then you probably need to get your libido checked. Its foldout mechanism and its languid curves communicate an impossibly perfect poise. And, given it’s available in a choice of six woods and with a trim of one of 23 shades of leather, it will certainly steal the scene in any boardroom.

Lumio Occasionally, a Kickstarter bid comes along that seems to bypass logic and instead plug straight into your imagination. The Lumio is one such project. A description of a ‘folding book lamp’ scarcely does it justice. It really does, as its Kickstarter strapline professes, have infinite possibilities; whether used as a beautiful portable light source or a captivating and flexible piece of mood lighting around the home, it certainly kicks a standard lamp well into touch.

“Use it as a beautiful portable light source or a captivating and flexible piece of mood lighting around the home” May 2013

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An online booking system is now proving an affordable luxury for SMEs across the UK – in fact, having one in place has almost become a no-brainer given the multitude of benefits it offers

An urgent appointment



aving an online booking system in this day and age is just as important as having a telephone.” The cynics among us may suggest that, coming from the CEO of BookFresh, a California-based online booking software firm with a handful of UK clients, such a statement should be expected. Nevertheless, Evan Ginsburg talks a good game, and why shouldn’t he, when he has clients from these fair shores queuing up to sing the praises of the service he provides them? “It has definitely cut down the amount of work I have had to do,” says Genevieve Faulkner, who operates holistic therapy service White Wave Healing out of her South Kensington home. “When I am seeing clients, I am not able to answer the phone so my main way of contacting my clients had been email, and it was taking me up to six emails to arrange an appointment. With all the timeslots set out and customers picking their own time, it saves so much time for me.” Faulkner also identifies the automated testimonial facility and storing of client data as notable benefits of the system. However, this is merely scratching the surface of what an online booking service can, with a relatively moderate investment, achieve for a business. Compare Faulkner’s venture to that of Kate O’Neill who runs Drinking Classes, a corporate hospitality business that hosts cocktail-making master classes and other team-building events across the country. O’Neill is in little doubt that the rapid expansion of her business would not have been possible without the help of BookingBug, founded by Glenn Shoosmith in 2009.


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“You are available when customers want you to be available, not simply when you are available to take bookings”

Evan Ginsburg,


CEO of BookFresh

“It has been invaluable really,” comments O’Neill. “We couldn’t have scaled up so quickly if we weren’t using an online booking system. It is saving us a lot in man hours because everything can pretty much be automated, both from a logistical back-end operations point-of-view and the customer-facing side of things. It is all quite straightforward.” Indeed, online booking systems appear to be a win-win, such is the ease of use and maximisation of trade they can offer customers and business-owners respectively. Shoosmith explains that it does for service-led businesses – and equally customers seeking a service – what a search engine simply can’t. “The internet has got really good at product data and e-commerce data, in helping you find any item of goods you want and where you can buy that and get it shipped to you tomorrow,” he says. “But for services it is terrible, and that applies to children’s entertainers and bouncy castles, spas and haircuts and windscreen chip repairers. Any sort of time-based service is very hard to find.” One could argue that the phrase ‘time is money’ is overused, but it resonates with some vigour as far as online booking services are concerned. As Ginsburg succinctly puts it, “You have a virtual assistant that accepts appointments for you online 24/7. You are available when customers want you to be available, not simply when you are available to take bookings.” Time-filling is as important as time-saving for these businesses though, and an online booking system can surely only be fulfilling its purpose if it is helping secure its clients the custom they desperately need in that period most commonly referred to as ‘off-peak’. Rest assured, the majority of systems are capable enough of doing this. “A lot of service-based businesses accept walk-ins and they know they are going to be busy with walk-ins during certain periods of the day,” Ginsburg remarks. “What an online booking system allows you to do is to block out those sections from online

booking thereby pushing those folks who are wanting to book online into areas that are, shall we say, less busy during the day.” Most software usually has marketing tools embedded, too, Ginsburg continues, thus allowing businesses to offer incentives to customers to book appointments at times when business owners know staff will have idle hands. Such marketing facilities extend to social media and various deal sites – not too much of shock you might think – but it all adds up to a wholesome and rewarding experience for the entrepreneur. “There are a number of opportunities to upsell,” says Vinnie Morgan, director of Bristol-based Booking Live. “If you came to me and bought a hot-air balloon ride, Vinnie Morgan, director of Booking Live which might cost you £100, there would be the opportunity to buy a bottle of champagne, for example.” However, where online booking systems arguably offer the biggest return on investment is in their elimination of or, at the very least, contribution to a significant reduction in client cancellations, especially when this coincides with a facility to accept payments, or take deposits, prior to appointments. Ginsburg gives the example of the numerous hair salons his company works with. “Their fees might be £75 or $100 per appointment and just one appointment per month not missed due to a text-based reminder more than pays for the £20-40 or $20-40 they are paying for this online booking service.” This reference to automated reminders provides yet another example of how these systems remove unnecessary burdens from an entrepreneur’s busy working life, and in the process allows them to get on with the important stuff – i.e. making money. “We are never creating headaches for the merchant,” Ginsburg reflects. “We are always making them more efficient and helping them do business on their terms. That is the real beauty of online booking systems.” Who’s the cynic now? May 2013

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30/04/2013 19:58


Stay on guard 77

Attempts at hacking your server can be prevented in three simple steps, says EB columnist David Hathiramani


t A Suit That Fits, we’re busy running a campaign called A Suit For Success, asking the men and women of Britain to donate their unwanted suits so that we can give them to disadvantaged unemployed young people to help them when they’re trying to find work. The suits will be given to our three partners: Amber and Centrepoint – both of which help young people

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.

consequently our business hadn’t doubled) but our servers seemed to be under constant attack from the outside world. Knowing that your servers are being subjected to attacks is quite nerve-wracking. The first question that you ask yourself is ‘who is trying to hack us?’ And the answer almost certainly isn’t what you would think: the attempts were automated.

“Your server can continue doing what it normally does and be one of these drones without you even knowing it” disadvantaged as a result of homelessness – and Right Futures, which assists young people who are not in employment, education or training to find their first long-term role. We’re collecting donations until May 31 and, as a thank you, people who donate their suit will get a £50 tailoring voucher. It’s great to have lots of people visiting our website to find out more about the campaign – but a few months back we had some visitors that weren’t quite so welcome. Earlier this year, the load to the A Suit That Fits servers from the internet increased significantly. Unfortunately, normal traffic to our website hadn’t increased significantly (and

Most of these attempts are trying to hack your server in such a way that they can control it, using it to hack other servers and gain control of them. Your server can continue doing what it normally does and be one of these drones without you even knowing it. Then, at the point the hackers want to do something like attack a government body or big institution, they can simply tell your server to join in. This is what’s known as a ‘botnet’. It’s not just servers – this can even happen to your home computer. If your server is hacked, a lot of the time the thing that has hacked it isn’t actually interested in your server at all – they are

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2 Keep your system up to date

Whatever system you are using, keep it up to date. If you are using an open-source (free) system, it can be easy for hackers to find vulnerabilities – they can actually look at the source code and reverse engineer a hack that will work on it. So you must keep your eyes open for updates continually. With proprietary software, always install the updates that are recommended for security purposes. Hackers seem to hate the big companies and constantly try to hack their software; they are usually very quick at providing a fix for the systems but, if you are not protected, you will be targeted.


3 Sanitise

“Having complex passwords seems like a bit of a security cliché but, in fact, hacking into systems based on a password is a very straightforward way of doing it” just interested in turning your server into another attacker. However, you should be doing everything to ensure that you are protected. If you can get hacked by an automated system, you can definitely get hacked by a human. So here are a few basic tips on how you can start thinking about protecting yourself: 1 Passwords

Having complex passwords seems like a bit of a security cliché but, in fact, hacking into systems based on a password is a very straightforward way of doing it. You should ensure that any administrator to your system has a secure password. A ‘brute force’ password attack is where common passwords are attempted again and again until one works. In fact, I was recently reading about an attack of exactly this kind on a series of Wordpress-powered blogs.

If you are developing your software in house, there is usually less risk of being hacked standard hacks will not work, and reverse engineering can’t happen as your software code isn’t posted publicly. However, one thing to keep in mind with the team that is developing it is user inputs. Anywhere on

“If you can get hacked by an automated system, you can definitely get hacked by a human” your system where a user can input something (such as their address details – or even a search box) is a risk. You have to make sure that all of the data that the user enters is properly screened and filtered – this is called sanitising the data. If this is properly done, users will not be able to input data that could be used to attempt to hack into either your database or your system. These three tips are by no means comprehensive; if you have the budget, you would be wise to have a security firm work alongside you and help protect you from all of the risks. The internet provides lots of opportunities for all sorts of people. Unfortunately, there are some that take advantage of this and you have to make sure that you minimise your risk if you are targeted. May 2013

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30/04/2013 20:02


Franchise news YBIS goes stateside


Tiger Bills set to start growling abroad Tiger Bills, the Devon-based ‘East meets West’ restaurant franchise, has announced a partnership with Gulf Six, a Dubai-based hospitality consultancy. It comes as Tiger Bills starts to look overseas with the recent appointment of Patrick Mauser as its international franchise manager. Owned by the Lifestyle Hospitality Group (LHG), the first Tiger Bills outlet was opened in Exeter in 2007. LHG’s managing director James Eyre franchised the business last year following the successful launch of the Torquay site, and a number of locations across the UK have

been identified for future openings. Tiger Bills fuses a typical American bar & grill experience with contemporary Thai cuisine and, supported by Mauser, the tie-up with Gulf Six looks set to mark the beginning of international expansion. “We look forward to supporting the dramatic growth of Tiger Bills throughout the Middle East region and working with Patrick to deliver the support franchisees need to make their business successful,” said Kevin Edmunds, CEO of Gulf Six. Tiger Bills has also partnered with Flintstone Services and Marketing, an established consultancy based in Accra, Ghana to help entrepreneurs penetrate the African market. With firm endorsement from one member of the EB team, we will be monitoring Tiger Bills’ growth with interest.

Online business opportunity franchise YBIS has expanded across the pond with the launch of YBISworld. It follows sustained growth for YBIS in the UK, and an increase in American enquiries. YBIS offers franchisees the chance to set up their own web-based business centred on a personal hobby or passion, and provides the relevant tools required to make it a success. “We are very excited to be expanding to the United States and promoting our performance marketing business opportunities,” commented Daryl Self, managing director of YBIS/YBISworld. “Throughout YBIS’s history we have been interested in taking our opportunity Stateside and this now is proving to be an open door for us. The feedback we have received since our launch has been overwhelmingly positive and we have already received many enquiries of people wanted to get involved with YBISworld, this truly is exciting times.” We wish them all the best with their American adventure.


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A safe haven for Card Connection 82

Greeting-card publishing franchise Card Connection has agreed a deal with family holiday park operator Haven to become its new greeting card supplier. Card Connection’s network of 69 franchisees will now supply greeting cards from a range of more than 1,500 designs to Haven, which operates 36 family holiday parks throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Franchisees of Card Connection currently distribute cards to around 14,000 retail outlets throughout the UK. It is part of UK Greetings, which is itself the British subsidiary of American Greetings, the largest publicly owned greeting card publisher in the world. The deal with Haven is rather timely, as the British sun begins to shine.

Showtime in Manchester Franchise opportunities are sure to be aplenty at the British Franchise Exhibition 2013, taking place at Manchester Central on 21-22 June. Ambitious entrepreneurs will be treated to an extensive choice of businesses covering sectors such as property, homecare, food and drink, retail and technology. McDonald’s is hosting a series of exclusive open sessions at the exhibition, offering aspiring self-starters the opportunity to understand more about the company’s franchise programme. “Becoming self-employed is an option that appeals to many, and franchising allows people the freedom to do this, coupled with the support of an established

brand,” said Adrian Goodsell, franchise exhibitions manager at Venture Marketing Group, organisers of the event. Could well be worth a visit, we reckon.

All eyes on Europe for Enterprise Enterprise Rent-A-Car is setting its sights on further European growth with the appointment of Megadrive Autovermietung GmbH as a new franchise partner. The car-hire firm hopes to extend its fast-growing network of branches on the continent to include prime locations in Austria, Hungary and Slovakia including major airports and city locations. The new appointment means the Enterprise Rent-A-Car brand will soon be represented across 23 European countries, together accounting for over 90% of car hire demand in Europe. Megadrive Autovermietung was established in 2008 and has 12 locations in Austria, two branches in Hungary and four branches in Slovakia. “We are delighted to find such a strong appetite for partnership in Europe,” commented Peter Smith, vice president of global franchising at Enterprise. May 2013

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Mike Anderson Mike Anderson Escaped the corporate rat race and Escaped the corporate rat race and found a pension alternative found a pension alternative It was a long overdue review of his pension plans that started Mike Anderson’s journey towards a property Following histhat departure high profilejourney role in It was a building long overdue reviewportfolio. of his pension plans startedfrom MikeaAnderson’s an American Automotive corporation, Mike took his stock of his financial position as part towards building a property portfolio. Following departure from a high profile role of in the process toAutomotive determine the direction Mike of his took next stock careerofmove. The results shocked him.of an American corporation, his financial position as part the process to determine the direction of his next career move. The results shocked him. When he analysed his pension statements, it transpired that after twenty years of contributions, it was worth exactly statements, what he had paid into it. By that contrast, had his home When he analysed his pension it transpired afterMike twenty years of valued for re-mortgage purposes and becameMike apparent that the contributions, it was worth exactlyaround what hethe hadsame paidtime into it. Byitcontrast, had his home amount it had appreciated over the last eight years was the amount of his that pension valued for re-mortgage purposes around the same timedouble and it became apparent the investments. “It made me realise that I had to do something different. And quickly,” says amount it had appreciated over the last eight years was double the amount of his pension Mike. investments. “It made me realise that I had to do something different. And quickly,” says Mike. Another driver for pursuing an opportunity in property and not going back into the

Mike Anderson Mike Anderson

corporate environment was a conversation withinone of his children. Another driver for pursuing an opportunity property and not When going Mike backexplained into the corporate environment was a conversation with one of his children. When Mike explained to his eleven year old that he was looking for a new job, his son asked, “Dad, is this the job where youyear stayold at home? you.” Having thehis previous twenty years to his eleven that heI miss was looking for a spent new job, son asked, “Dad, is working this the eighty hour weeks and spending a considerable amount of time away from home, Mike job where you stay at home? I miss you.” Having spent the previous twenty years working realised thatweeks not only didspending his pension provisions have to change, butaway his whole too. eighty hour and a considerable amount of time from lifestyle home, Mike “I came to the conclusion that starting my own business would give me more freedom. realised that not only did his pension provisions have to change, but his whole lifestyle too.


Given that realised that property wasmy a viable option, I decided to combine two.” “I came to I’d thealso conclusion starting own business would give me morethe freedom. Given that I’d also realised property was a viable option, I decided to combine the two.” Mike started to research the opportunities available. Thinking that buying into a franchise

Total Portfolio Value:

circa £720,000 Total Portfolio Value: circa £720,000 Annual Rental Income:

would offer atoreadymade infrastructure heavailable. started toThinking explore that franchises in the Mike started research the opportunities buyingoperating into a franchise property sector. At this point, he discovered Platinum Property Partners. would offer a readymade infrastructure he started to explore franchises operating in the

£103,200 Annual Rental Income: £103,200 Annual Operating Profit:

property sector. At this point, he discovered Platinum Property Partners. Within months of joining, Mike had completed his first property in Stockport, and a second seven months later.Mike Withhad twocompleted propertieshis renovated and fully tenanted,and Mikea Within months of joining, first property in Stockport, bought his thirdmonths in September 2011.two properties renovated and fully tenanted, Mike second seven later. With

£55,800 Annual Operating Profit: £55,800

bought his third in September 2011. Reflecting on the amount of equity he has acquired since becoming a Franchise Partner

I wanted to be able to do simple things, as collect my I wantedsuch to be able to do simple children from school. I felt that things, such as collect my if I didn’tfrom get off the corporate children school. I felt that merry-go-round andcorporate actively if I didn’t get off the pursue a different route, then merry-go-round and actively Ipursue wouldajust be existing, rather different route, then than enjoying life. I would just be existing, rather than enjoying life.

with PPP, Mike says, “I would never he have level of financial security Partner if I had Reflecting on the amount of equity hasachieved acquiredthis since becoming a Franchise stayed within corporate paying each an under-performing with PPP, Mikethe says, “I wouldenvironment, never have achieved this month level ofinto financial security if I had pension. Now,the notcorporate only do I have a healthy paying monthlyeach income, I am also significant stayed within environment, month into anbuilding under-performing capital byNow, redeveloping properties.” He continues, the best is that I significant now have pension. not only do I have a healthy monthly“But income, I am thing also building acapital lifestyle could never have achievedHepreviously. wife and I now have the Itime nip by Iredeveloping properties.” continues,My “But the best thing is that nowtohave for a coffee whenever we want, and if the family want to go on holiday, these days it’s a lifestyle I could never have achieved previously. My wife and I now have the time to nip aforquestion how long we would weand like if tothe be away rather than I get the time off.” a coffeeofwhenever want, familyfor, want to go oncan holiday, these days it’s a question of how long would we like to be away for, rather than can I get the time off.”

BE MORE - DO MORE - HAVE MORE - GIVE MORE BE MORE - DO MORE - HAVE MORE - GIVE MORE Head Office: 5 Lansdowne Place, 17 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EW T: 01202 652100 F: 01202 559419 E: Head Office: 5 Lansdowne Place, 17 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EW T: 01202 652100 F: 01202 559419 E: Untitled-9 1

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Franchise in the spotlight:

Ripples A

“They wanted a high-end business that was focused on service and quality” WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL

Paul Crow, franchise manager at Ripples

s is often the case with a business, the Ripples’ story starts long before the writing of a business plan or registering of a company name. Prior to co-founding Ripples with his spouse Sandra, Roger Kyme earned his stripes working as regional director for building material supplier Travis Perkins. After a two-year stint in Canada, where Roger headed up the shower-door manufacturer Showerlux, the couple returned to the UK with a desire to start their own enterprise. “They wanted a high-end business that was focused on service and quality,” explains Paul Crow, franchise manager at Ripples. Bathrooms were a logical choice – obviously Showerlux had given Kyme a great deal of experience in the field and bathrooms had gradually become a significant part of Travis

Bathroom-design franchise Ripples is making waves in the home-fittings market Perkins’ business. “It seemed the natural way to go as it was genuinely interesting and innovative,” says Crow. Additionally, while, at the time, bathrooms weren’t receiving the same amount of attention as kitchens in the UK, the entrepreneurs felt it was inevitable that fashions already being felt further afield would catch on here. “It would not be long before some of the trends being experienced across Europe and North America extended their way into the UK,” he says. The pair were also far from lacking in appropriate experience. Sandra was a qualified and experienced bookkeeper and Roger had developed plenty of sales skills while working in the builders-merchant sector. “Ultimately, Roger trusted his ability to sell and had a very clear vision in mind of who he was

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“Roger is a sales and marketing person at heart and it was therefore imperative that the business became known for its experience” Paul Crow, franchise manager at Ripples

Ripples founder Roger Kyme

going to sell to and how,” explains Crow. And this easily shaped the brand direction for the proto-enterprise. “Roger is a sales and marketing person at heart and it was therefore imperative that the 86 82business became known for its experience,” comments Crow. The couple were set on delivering high-end bathrooms with an equally high-quality service and this made a lot of their brand decisions comparatively straightforward. But finding the right name to represent everything the retailer was going to offer was much tougher. “After weeks of agonising, it eventually came to Roger when his favourite band Genesis were played on the radio with their song Ripples, at the same time he watched ripples forming in a puddle.” Starting a business is always a gamble but the Kymes weren’t afraid to stare Lady Luck in the face. Showing remarkable guts, the husband and wife team sold their house – they opted for growing a business they believed in over hanging on to property. So they just had to find a location. “The showroom had to be of a good size, visible, but affordable,” Crow says. “This rather limited the options available.” Fortunately, they found an excellent location on the London Road in Bath; as one of the main routes into the city, the site ensured high brand visibility and offered room for the showroom’s eventual expansion. At the time, the business’s approach was unique. “In 1995, over 50% of bathroom purchasing decisions were undertaken by the plumber and not the householder,” explains Crow. This meant that there was still a real lack of consumer choice and few showrooms were targeted toward helping consumers easily make aesthetic decisions. “Ripples chose to appoint interior designers to work in the showroom so that the consumer could

understand more about what they were buying; colour schemes, textures, storage space and other important considerations not thought about by the average plumber.” And it wasn’t too long before Ripples began to spread. “As the business started to grow, Ripples identified that the clients coming into the showroom were living further and further away, with clients from London [arriving on] an almost weekly [basis],” says Crow. The opportunity for expansion was ripe and the entrepreneurs began to consider nearby cities such as Bristol for new showrooms. Unfortunately, trying to extract such a high amount of capital from the Bath profits would have put the store under a great deal of pressure so the company began to look to other methods of expansion. Fortunately, the franchise model has proved a particularly good fit for Ripples. “Our business translates very well into franchising because it operates as an ‘owneroccupier’ style company,” Crow comments. Managing a Ripples showroom takes ownership and engagement, something that comes naturally to an individual with a stake in its success. A degree of autonomy also helps in managing the supply chain

and allows franchisees flexibility in the way they work with approved suppliers. And this has helped to build a well-respected bathroom retailer, something reflected in the fact it has won a good 50 industry awards – not to mention the 2010 Customer Service Award – for its approach. “By employing people for their design skills, we expect them to provide a solution for the customer that inspires them and provides them with a bathroom that is greater than the sum of its products,” says Crow. However, the recognition the company has received is really just a by-product of the relationships it likes to establish with its customers. “If you combine the right customer with the right products and a talented designer, you get great bathrooms.” Ripples isn’t prepared to rest on its laurels though. As Crow comments: “[We want] to continue enjoying what we do, to develop our partnerships with existing franchise partners, to share our story with more and more home owners and to find other like-minded people who will invest in a Ripples franchise partnership.” All told, it seems there’s still plenty more to expect from the bathroom retailer. As they say, every act creates a ripple... May 2013

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Why work for money..... when money can work for you?

IFG franchisees provide short-term working capital for small businesses by purchasing current, quality invoices at a discount • Outstanding ROI — well above average! • Modest Investment — less than £100,000 gets you started! • Low Overhead — no employees, no shop front, no inventory! • Professional Environment — business-to-business only! • Proven System — we’ve been doing this for 40+ years!


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ZipYard Altrincham England’s first clothing alterations franchise


Richard McConnell, 33, opened his clothing alterations, repairs and tailoring franchise, The ZipYard, in Altrincham in September 2011. Although well established in Ireland, Richard’s business is the first ZipYard centre in England, bringing on-site repairs and alterations to the high street in purposedesigned premises with fully trained staff. What led you to switch from being a driving instructor to running a ZipYard centre?

“My wife and I wanted to start a family, but my hours as a driving instructor were really unsociable, mainly during evenings and weekends. We didn’t think this would fit in well with family life so I started looking around at different opportunities. We had saved up a bit of money and thought that investing in a franchise was a less risky option.” “We did lots of research in the franchise press and online, and looked into a wide variety of franchises.” Why did you choose ZipYard?

“My wife noticed the ZipYard advert and she thought it was a fantastic idea. We did some research and quickly realised that there was no real competition in our area. Most of the time clothing repairs are done as a bolt-on service at dry cleaners. The turn-around time isn’t very good and they don’t offer a very wide range of services.”

“We went to meet Nigel Toplis, the franchisor, and we visited a centre in Wales. We were impressed by the professionalism of the franchise. The brand is very strong and the shop fit is amazing, from the fitting rooms to the equipment and layout. They really know what they are doing and can cater for every kind of alteration and repair on site.”

“The brand is very strong and the shop fit is amazing, from the fitting rooms to the equipment and layout.” What kind of support have you had setting up your franchise?

“Both myself and my wife, Marie, have received comprehensive training, at the ZipYard training centre in Belfast and more ‘hands-on’ experience in a working centre. The training covered everything from administration and office processes to employment contracts, employment law, pricing, tills, equipment maintenance and the general day to day running of the centre.” “Nigel and his team helped us to source the right premises and even helped us to negotiate the lease. There are so many areas that I knew

nothing about, such as break clauses and other contractual technicalities where Nigel’s team have been invaluable. I’m so glad we weren’t on our own.” How is it going?

“It’s going brilliantly and we are getting busier every week. In the first 6 weeks we saw our sales rise by 600%!” “The reaction from customers is amazing. They seem genuinely ecstatic that we are here and their faces light up when they come in to the centre. They are delighted that we can breathe new life into clothes that they can’t wear or that are damaged in some way.” What are your future plans for the business?

“Once we’ve got this centre up and running to full capacity we would love to open up a second one. Marie would also like to get more involved with the business once Darcey has grown up a bit.” Would you recommend a ZipYard franchise to potential franchise owners?

“Absolutely, no doubt about it. It is one of the most unique franchises available, with a professionalism and quality that just shines through.”

Contact Janet Matthews t: 01530 513307 e: Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit May 2013

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

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Legal applications WORDS: JOSH RUSSELL


n times gone by, putting together a commercial application was hardly a small undertaking. While B2B enterprises might have been willing to invest the time and resources in creating some good old-fashioned software, the concept of branded consumer-facing apps probably would have seemed entirely alien. However, the last few decades have seen things change irrevocably and now the world and his friend are all developing dedicated apps – which is undeniably a great thing. But it’s

Apps have pretty much taken over our lives in the last few years – which is why it’s important to understand the letter of the law

worth considering that the legal landscape surrounding app development is still topographically a little unpredictable. There are several things to look out for. Unsurprisingly, intellectual property (IP) can be a big stumbling block for many an enterprise. “One of the key elements is making sure that the customer does own the necessary IP in the app,” comments Beverley Whittaker, partner at law firm Stevens & Bolton. Issues rarely arise in connection as to whether enterprises have the rights to use their own app commercially as this will often be covered by licensing. But a far bigger problem is whether elements a client may feel are exclusive to their offering might end up being reproduced in other commercially developed apps. Whittaker continues: “Really make sure that you are the exclusive owner of it and that it can’t just be touted around other potential clients by the software house.” It may be easier for an enterprise to assume it has rights that it may not have because they have been involved in making key decisions in the app’s direction, but assumptions don’t hold a good deal of water

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when trying to support a claim. “If the developer actually does the programming work and all the client has given is the ideas and hasn’t really given anything concrete, then it may be quite difficult for the client to say, ‘We’ve got some actual hard intellectual property in this’,” explains Whittaker. There is something of a grey area surrounding some of these elements, because a developer will often have their own IP that they make use of in every project. “Any developer is keen to ensure that they’re not giving away their underlying basic codes and libraries and stuff that they will always reuse,” Whittaker says. And this is why it’s very important that, when formulating a developer agreement, there is a very clear-cut dividing line between which elements belong to the client and which are retained by the developer. “Try to make it clear that any new stuff that’s created by the developer is actually owned or at the very least exclusively licensed to the customer,” she says. And, legally speaking, this isn’t vastly new ground. The consideration of IP ownership when working with external development needs to follow largely the same process – employing a little due diligence and common sense can help prevent any costly mistakes. “It’s very similar really to any development project,” says Whittaker. “Whether it’s in a new application or a new website, it’s a similar sort of process and issue, certainly from the contractual side.” But, of course, this is far from the be all and end all of the legal debate surrounding apps. As with a lot of consumer-facing services, terms of use can form an important part of the legal process. Consumers need to familiarise themselves with and understand the terms they are agreeing to. Unfortunately, there is one slight drawback to this when talking about mobile devices. “If you’ve somebody holding something on a tiny little screen and you’re presenting them with 14 pages of terms and conditions, you can’t expect people to read all that lot or to understand them,” says Whittaker. There have been cases involving software where needlessly complicated terms and conditions have been thrown out by the court so it’s really worth making things as straightforward for your user as possible. “Hopefully, people are going to focus on what are the really important things to say to somebody here, rather than having pages and pages of legal gobbledegook,” Whittaker comments. Despite the fact this is a new area, it’s a mistake to assume that legally it’s a completely new frontier. “It’s almost like people are ignoring normal rules, that somehow because it’s an app it doesn’t have to comply with anything,” Whittaker remarks. Certain high-profile cases recently have revealed situations where apps have harvested contact data such as phone numbers and email addresses and saved them to servers. “Perhaps they are less inclined to think that it’s a problem,” she says. “They get onto a device that has got lots of highly sensitive personal data on it and it’s like: ‘The app’s capable of uploading all of this to a general server so let’s make it do that’.”


“Try to make it clear that any new stuff that’s created by the developer is actually owned or at the very least exclusively licensed to the customer” Beverley Whittaker,

partner at Stevens & Bolton

In the age of big data, it’s understandable that some companies may deem it acceptable to collect whatever they can access but for out of the ordinary pieces of information such as these, they will be obligated to seek consent. “Anyone doing that ought to be getting people’s consent,” says Whittaker. “You don’t need to get consent for absolutely everything you do, but when it’s something unusual you certainly do.” Of course, an enterprise’s commitments aren’t only bound by judicial regulation; there are other contractual conditions they are obligated to obey. Distributers such as Apple, Google and Microsoft also come with strict terms to which apps must comply. “There is no point having something developed that then you can’t actually get onto anybody’s platform,” Whittaker comments. Again, it’s important that responsibility for this is worked out in any contract with the developer. “We tend to build that into the contracting process,” she says. “It’s not treated as accepted until it’s actually seen as being capable of being downloaded from the relevant platform providers.” Apps are an excellent way to offer a branded consumer experience that is 100% fit-forpurpose. But just because they are a relatively new phenomenon doesn’t mean there aren’t legal protections surrounding them. May 2013

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Nicola Barron says that perfecting the Homemade London brand early on was key to its success Nicola Barron Founder of Homemade London

Threading the path L


ast month, we had a record-breaking week at Homemade London, with eight events taking place on one day alone. For me, it’s a test to see how far the business has come – I can’t possibly be in eight places at once – so everything depends on my team and the quality of the service we deliver. We’ll do anything to predispose our customers towards us, so this week we’ve been stuffing a lot of goody bags. Along with our ever-increasing workload, we do sometimes find ourselves wondering whether we really need to go to the effort of making our own notebooks, pocket mirrors and paper-flower kits for each of our customers. But with a growing number of events taking place outside our venue, we’re finding that the more we can do to remind everyone that it’s a Homemade London event rather than one run by an anonymous company, the greater the chance of repeat business. And with more than 50% of our new customers currently coming through personal recommendation, the extra handmade touches make more and more sense. It helps reinforce our brand values and hopefully makes us more memorable to our customers. So where did the brand come from?

The name

My husband and business partner Nick is a corporate PR and marketing expert and no sooner had we had the idea for the business than he insisted that we choose a name, as we had no time to waste. Deciding to become a business owner seemed like a mammoth decision in itself and I wanted to mull things over for a while, but being forced to make a decision on a name helped us hone our brand and our values quite quickly. Our checklist read as follows: • It had to suggest what we do – we’re too niche to choose an obscure name

• It had to differentiate us from other, similar businesses • It had to be flexible We needed to buy the URL. I remember getting quite cross with one business advisor who told me that I really should think of changing the name of the business to ‘The Workshop’. In many ways, it is a great name but far too generic to stand out, and a quick Google search listed many variations on the name ‘workshop’, meaning it would be very difficult for customers to find you. Originally, the business was going to be called Homemade, but ‘London’ was added partly to make it easier to secure the right website address.

“Being forced to make a decision on a name helped us hone our brand and our values quite quickly” The image

When starting a business, money is tight and, if you’re vaguely creative, it’s very tempting to whip up a logo and website yourself with a cheap off-the shelf package. I could probably have gone down this route but felt very strongly that in order to create a brand, I needed to hand the idea over to a third party to reinterpret my ideas. The problem was that I was too close to the project and as a result I could only think of the most obvious things to incorporate into our design and logo – buttons, scissors, London icons – and I was afraid that not only would it look messy and obvious, it would also look cheap. Luckily, I had a brilliant designer who took my fears on board and we worked

through all the obvious craft and London references to come up with a logo and look that fits our business perfectly. The values

During my first meeting with the creatives who worked on our brand, they asked me whether I had any buzzwords or phrases associated with the business. At this stage, all I had was a slightly too lengthy elevator pitch on what the business was, what we weren’t and, of course, lots of speculations on the nature of our prospective customers. I quickly realised that we needed a maxim that succinctly summed up the business and our tag line – ‘Create the things you love’ – was born. Above all, ‘love’ is at the heart of our brand. It expresses the fact that every experience we create has been put together with passion, and designed to delight. The marketing

Word of mouth (backed up with some good old Google advertising) has been our most important marketing tool, and we try to give our customers little excuses to tell their friends about the experience they’ve had with us. I saw Jo Malone talk about marketing once. She recalled how, upon the opening of her first shop, her husband would often tell her that it was time to take the dogs out for a walk. The dogs in question were the luxury-looking Jo Malone bags that she would carry up and down the streets of Knightsbridge to get her brand noticed. Swanky carrier bags don’t really seem to make a difference to us, but those goody bags with their quirky and creative treats always go down a storm. In fact, we’ve just placed a bulk order for Homemade London tattoos – we’re hoping this means our brand will stick with our customers. May 2013

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Incubators | Mentoring | Investment

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Profile for webwax

Elite Business Magazine May 2013  

Elite Business Magazine May 2013, Interview Cobra Beer Founder: Lord Karan Bilimoria. Plus. Lessons from horse meat scandal, Zero hour contr...

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Elite Business Magazine May 2013, Interview Cobra Beer Founder: Lord Karan Bilimoria. Plus. Lessons from horse meat scandal, Zero hour contr...