Business Matters

J u n e 2 0 0 9
£3. 00 The UK’s leading magazine for the SME business owner










giving it away • in business • news • Marketing • teCHnOLOgy • MOtOring
Simon woodroffe talks about
deciding at 40 to be a
millionaire and succeeding
aDaPtiNG YOUr wOrKiNG warDrOBe
bM173_cover 16/06/2009 00:04 Page 1
08712 501502
Adaptable recruitment software
Are there times when you really
wish you had more back up?
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• • • • regular features
8 IN Business
What has been happening in business in the last month.
14 Interview
Paul Jones talks to Simon Woodoffe about how life
has changed since going into the Den.
31 Networking
Andy Lopata looks at why now is the right time to
increase your networking
• • • • business strategy
22 Wearing it well
We look at a study about what the colour of your shirt says
about you
24 Workplace mediation
Looking at the new way to resolve workplace problems
28 Technology on the move
Paul Bray looks at how easier travel would be if we
harnessed technology to get around
J u n e 2 0 0 9
£3. 00 The UK's |ead|ng magaz|ne for the SME bus|ness owner

5imon Woodrolle |olks obou|
deciding o| 40 |o be o
millionoire ond succeeding
This Month
46 Sales Advice
Leading sales coach Andy Preston talks how to
boost your sales even in a downturn
40 Leadership Challenge
Carmelina Lawton looks at managing transition in work
place roles and promotion of staff
61 Motoring
42 Cost health check
• • • • regular features
10 IN Business
What has been happening in business in the last month.
22 Interview
Diane Priestly talks to Mike Harris about his business
successes with Egg & First Direct
36 Ask Brad
Brad Roser joins us to answer your all important
business questions to help you grow your business
28 Giving back
Taking your CSR policy to a hands on level
32 North East Focus
We spend some time on Teeside looking at the
entrepreneurial skills taking shape in the city
Business Matters
S e p t e mb e r 2 0 0 8
£3. 00
The UK’s leading magazine for the SME business owner
This Month
• • • • business strategy
16 Graduate Recruitment
Tking on graduates is no longer the preserve of multi-
national companies
20 Managing an MBO
Advise on selling the company to your management
26 Winning awards
Why winning awards brings much more than just kudos
when it comes to beating your rivals
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3 • issue 164 Business Matters
46 Finance
Financial Advisor Gavin Porritt explains how you can
use use pension to better use.
58 Technology Reviewed
We take a look at the latest gadgets to help you work smarter
BM164_04:Layout 1 1/9/08 01:47 Page 1
The easiest was to ensure that you keep your profit
margins up is to reduce your cost base
David Sumner Smith tests the new BMW X6 and
remains as confused by the hybrid
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Venture Finance can help you
to relieve the pressure of
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We are a premier independent
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Managing Editor - Richard Alvin -
Editor - Bill Hilton -
Online Editor - Paul Jones -
Contributors: -
Jim Moore, Felicity Cousins, Gavin Porritt, Donald Findley,
Mark Prigg, Louise Shaw, Derek Bedlow, Andrew Price, Sarah Bethell
Production Manager - Stewart Hyde -
Designer - James Connolly -
Head of Advertising - Tony Carty
Tel: 020 7148 3861
Subscriptions -
The Pitch - 18
hese are troubled times. How troubled depends on
who you are, where you are based and what business
sector you operate in. The many candidates on the
‘most troubled role’ list is arguably topped by a Mr Gordon
Brown, based in Westminster, London SW1. Carmelina
Lawton Smith looks at how Mr Brown has made the classic
mistake, made by many owners of Small & Medium sized
businesses owners, when someone promoted into a new
role forgets to leave the role that they left behind him. We are
not sure that, the goverments new business advisor, Sir Alan
Sugar, who is still adding up the bar bill on the wrap party on
this seasons The Apprentice wont have that problem,
although the jury is still out if he can be an effective force for
Many of you might be feeling the fierceness of the current
global chill hitting the economy, although following both
discussions up-and-down the country with many of you and
research carried out by Trends Research, it appears that not
all is as depressing as the mainstream media would have us
believe. Many of you suggested that you had either had
growth in turnover by between five and twenty per cent
during the last three months and many were anticipating the
same increase of the next three months.
Are you a regular on our website? The
site, updated weekly, provides you with the latest news,
views and advice on how to run your businesses better.
Richard Alvin
Managing Editor
Recovering the fallout of the budget - 49
Published by - Capital Business Media Ltd
Ensign House, Canary Wharf, London E14 9XQ
Copyright: (C) 2009 Capital Business Media Ltd. ISSN 1754-3096
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior
consent of the publishers. The views expressed in Business Matters are not
necessarily the views of the publishers. Whilst Capital Business Media Ltd has
made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this
publication, neither they nor any contributing author can accept any legal
responsibility for any consequences that may arise from errors or omissions
contained in this publication or from acting on any opinions or advice given. In
particular, this publication is general and not a substitute for professional advice
and you should consult your own professional advisors where appropriate.
Business Matters issue 173 • 5
Business Media
BM173_Editors note:Layout 1 16/06/2009 10:36 Page 1
6 • issue 173 Business Matters
With petrol prices hitting new heights,
more and more people are turning to
pedal power to get to work, and get
fitter – research suggests cyclists
could live two years longer.
According to Europe’s leading office
and workplace equipment supplier,
Welco, orders for company cycle
sheds and ramps have never been
healthier- they have seen a 100% in-
crease in sales the last two months.
It has never been a better time to
ditch the car and start cycling to
In fact, under the 1999 Finance Act,
if employers sign up to the cycle-to-
work scheme, it is a win –win situa-
tion – companies can provide
bicycles and accessories as a tax
free benefit, while gaining national in-
surance savings.
Under the Government’s Green
Transport Plan, which promotes
healthier ways of getting to work
while reducing environmental pollu-
tion, employees taking advantage of
the scheme receive savings of up to
50% on the retail price of bikes and
Birmingham-based Welco, has to
date seen a significant increase in or-
ders from local authorities, health de-
partments, the police and companies
large and small – all looking to pro-
vide new or increased cycle facilities
for their staff.
As Welco’s chief executive, Adrian
Reeve maintains “Cycling to work
benefits everyone. Its helps relieve
traffic congestion; helps cut pollution;
helps people save money they would
have spent on petrol; helps reduce
global warning; and often reduces
their travel time. And with the Tax in-
centives, people should take up the
“Cycling is no longer the reserve of
lycra-man. It is now being regarded
as a viable means of transport. With
the prospect of the $200 barrel of oil,
the bike should be viewed as a pri-
mary form or transformation – a free,
calorie-burning, mobile gym.”
Live Longer:
on your bike
£1Million challenge launched
to boost youth enterprise
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust is urging
businesses across the UK to compete in a
£1 million national enterprise challenge.
“Million Makers” challenges employees to
run their own mini-enterprises, raising thou-
sands to get young people into business.
Nearly 70 companies – including Accenture, and St Tropez – have signed up al-
ready and will be competing to raise the cash.
The money will go towards supporting young
entrepreneurs on The Trust’s Business Pro-
The battle commenced this week as the
challenge was launched at Go Ape High Wire
Forest Adventures across the country. Partici-
pants took to the trees for an action-packed
team building adventure of walking rope
bridges, crawling through wooden tunnels and
zipping to the ground in order to tighten their
team working skills and sharpen their senses
for the national fundraising challenge.
Teams will then strive to come up with the
most lucrative business idea and run their own
businesses to raise money to change young
Raef Bjayou and Claire Young, stars of The
Apprentice and Prince’s Trust ambassadors, at-
tended the launch.
Raef said: “The fantastic thing about Million
makers is that participants are not only honing
their own entrepreneurial skills, but raising
funds for entrepreneurs of the future that don’t
have the financial means to get things off the
ground. It really is a win-win situation”
Julian Barrell, director of fundraising, The
Prince’s Trust said: “With Britain’s best busi-
ness brains behind us, we can help more young
people into business. Nurturing entrepreneurial
talent is now more important than ever. We can-
not let the Sir Alan Sugars of tomorrow be
thwarted by the recession.”
Rebecca Mayhew, Go Ape Communications
Director, said: “Go Ape is delighted to be host-
ing the launch events of Million Makers for a
second year. Go Ape Corporate Days have
been running for a number of years now and
have proved a brilliant way for the Million Mak-
ers teams to get some team bonding in and
start to plan their strategy. Teams can look for-
ward to some treetime swinging through the
canopy, wiping out at the bottom of zip wires
and sharing in three hours of adventure. We
hope that Go Ape will inspire our million makers
to believe that money really can grow on trees
if you are creative enough.”
Stuart Watson is a partner at Ernst & Young
which has already signed up to Million Makers
2009. He said: “The Million Makers challenge
provides personal development opportunities
for our people including increased self confi-
dence and motivation; developed communica-
tion and teaming skills; and networking
Last year’s Million Makers challenge raised
more than £500,000 to help disadvantaged
young people into business.
Million Makers 2009 is the largest employee
fundraising initiative in the history of The Trust.
The Business Programme has helped more
than 70,000 young people into business since
1983 and needs £1million every month to con-
tinue its vital work.
To sign-up to Million Makers or for more
information, call 020 7543 7420.
New ambassador Raef Bjayou
BM173_06_07_08:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:06 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 7
Become a book worm and boost your
marketing know-how at the Institute
The Chartered Institute of Marketing, the world’s largest
professional body for marketers, is opening up its extensive
library catalogue to the public for the first time via its website.
By opening access to the library catalogue up to the wider public,
The Institute is fulfilling part of its obligations under its Royal Charter, to
‘increase public awareness and understanding of marketing as a vital
factor in business success and prosperity.’
The catalogue has bibliographic reference to over 200,000 articles,
research papers, conference proceedings and other marketing material
that has been built up over more than 25 years.
David Thorp, director of research and professional development at
The Institute said, “This magnificent resource for marketers and the
general public has been tucked away for far too long. Easy access to
marketing information and knowledge has never been more important,
particularly in these difficult times, and I hope marketers, business own-
ers and people around the world make full use of our catalogue to gain
a greater understanding of marketing and its vital importance in im-
proving business performance.”
All entries in the catalogue are indexed using a thesaurus that has
been developed from the London Business Classification, enabling tai-
lored searches across different media types.
To facilitate easy access, a range of pre-decided searches have been
placed on topic pages on
For further information please visit
A major new initiative by the Big Lottery
Fund and BBC One is offering six individu-
als with a proven track record in business
the chance to escape the rat race for a year
to help rejuvenate a rural village in the UK.
It may not be set in tropical Queensland, but
the six successful ‘Village Champions’ will get
to live and work in one of six rural villages for
a whole year and use their expertise to support
the community in starting up a new business –
with Big Lottery Fund backing of up to
The search is part of Village SOS, a new
partnership between the BBC and the Big Lot-
tery Fund (BIG), which is challenging villages
to come up with brilliant ideas for new busi-
nesses to help revive their communities, many
of which are seeing rural life eroded by eco-
nomic pressures and the closure of local
Village SOS is inviting rural communities
with a population of fewer than 3,000, lots of
enthusiasm and a great business idea – from
retailing to manufacturing, the arts to leisure –
to apply.
Six villages will receive Lottery Funding of
between £100,000 and £400,000 to get their
businesses of the ground. To help them
achieve their ambitions, Village Champions are
being recruited through a nationwide search
run by the BBC and Make Your Mark, part of
the charity Enterprise Insight. The Champions
could be anyone with a successful track record
in business - banker, baker or builder - as long
as they have the drive and charisma to help
launch a new venture, and the desire to live
and work in a rural village for a year.
The BBC will be documenting the journey of
the six villages and their Village Champions for
a major BBC1 series in winter 2010.
The documentaries will be presented by
Sarah Willingham, who previously presented
BBC2 show The Restaurant, who grew famed
Indian catering chain The Bombay Bicycle
Club into a hugely lucrative catering business.
She has also managed some of the biggest
brands in the restaurant industry, from Planet
Hollywood in France to Pizza Express Interna-
tional where she oversaw restaurant openings
in 12 countries.
She said: “Village SOS is an ambitious cam-
paign and one that I am really excited about. It
will help regenerate rural villages and will hope-
fully arouse the interest of a range of individu-
als who are eager to escape the rat race and
take on a new challenge. For them, this could
be the best job in UK!”
Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery
Fund, said: “While rural village life is in decline
we believe that many villages are sitting on a
range of untapped potential that, with the sup-
port and experience of a driven individual, can
be turned into thriving businesses.”
Alongside the series will be a major learning
campaign* to help other villages use the learn-
ing and enthusiasm from the programme to
take a bold step towards starting a new busi-
ness that will regenerate their own communi-
Both the BIG grant application process and
the BBC search for Village Champions are now
open until 14 August 2009.
Info on how to apply can be found at
Does your village need saving?
BM173_06_07_08:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:06 Page 2
8 • issue 173 Business Matters
O2 have launched the 2009 O2 X Awards, the search for the
best of British entrepreneurs and small businesses. Now in their
sixth year, the awards are looking for something extra special in
the new generation of small businesses who are making an im-
pact in an increasingly competitive market-place and challeng-
ing economic climate. The O2 X Awards are now open for entry
via and entrants have until 1st August to
This year, O2 is searching for the Male and Female En-
trepreneur of the Year, as well as a new category for 2009, the
O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year, to recognise emerging tal-
ent within the sector. The most original and innovative busi-
nesses in each category will receive a winners’ package of
£5,000 as well as mentoring from a business expert and mar-
keting support.
O2 X Female Entrepreneur of the Year - supported by Grazia
Rewarding the best in the business, the Female Entrepreneur
of the Year will be someone who can demonstrate innovation
and excellence in the small business world. Nicky Kinnaird,
founder of international beauty brand Space NK, will be guest
judge for this category, looking for a female business woman
ready to set the business world alight
O2 X Male Entrepreneur of the Year - supported by Shortlist
This category is looking for a businessman who has started
out on his own and built his business into a success story. The
overall winner will be someone who can demonstrate innova-
tion and best practice in running their business
O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Under 25)
Under 25 and already a business success story? O2 wants
to hear from you! As recognition of the ever-increasing young
talent in the business world, this new category will reward an
exciting upcoming talent
As part of this year’s O2 X Awards, O2 is running a series of
small business networking events at O2 Academies across the
country. The regional events will offer the opportunity to not only
find out more about the O2 X Awards and what they can do for
your business, but also a chance to hear from a panel of small
business experts including last year’s O2 X Award winners and
the opportunity to network with other small businesses in the
Winners in all categories will be chosen from a regional short-
list before advancing to the O2 X Awards National Final in Lon-
don in October 2009.
To register for the place at the events go to:
Buying local is the way forward says the North
MORE than three quarters of North
West businesses 'buy local' but more
should be done to boost faith in
regional services.
The Commission for Economic Develop-
ment, Employment and Skills, on behalf of
pro·manchester and professionaliverpool, in-
terviewed a sample group of 434 businesses,
15 councils and 25 public authorities and pub-
licly-owned companies in the region to deter-
mine where money is spent.
Banking was the most popular financial and
professional service, with more than four fifths
of respondents procuring this service. Ac-
countancy, book-keeping, auditing activities
and tax consultancy are procured by 81.1 per
cent, insurance by 75.6 per cent while legal
services are sought by 63.8 per cent.
The report showed 98.4 per cent of respon-
dents purchase financial and professional ser-
vices from within the region but
pro·manchester chairman Simon Oldfield is
urging all businesses to support the expertise
on their doorstep.
He said: "Networks and word-of-mouth
business is invaluable in the financial and pro-
fessional sector. We need to ensure people
have faith and trust in the region's suppliers.
"We must encourage firms to adopt local
procurement as part of their corporate social
responsibility and emphasise the business
benefits of buying local."
Although the vast majority - 79.7 per cent of
respondents - stated procurement decisions
were taken locally, some sectors were affected
by decision-making out of the region. Almost
a quarter of insurance and related services and
11.3 per cent of advertising, for example,
stated procurement decisions were not taken
on a local level.
Other reasons for procuring services outside
the region included historical reasons, disap-
pointing performance, local prices not being
competitive and better lobbying in open ten-
ders for business from national or international
competitors. Survey respondents also cited
accessibility, responsiveness and support as
key factors for choosing local providers.
Does your business have
the X factor to succeed?
BM173_06_07_08:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:06 Page 3
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of filling your position?
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Top Scottish firm crowned ‘Customer King’
10 • issue 173 Business Matters
T-Mobile launches new calling plans
T-Mobile has announced its new
Business SIM-Plan that has been built
specifically for UK small businesses,
offering a flexible mobile solution for
companies wanting up to 30 users.
Each user receives 2,000 minutes of in-
clusive calls to UK landlines and mobile
phones, unlimited UK texts as standard,
as well as the option of unlimited mobile
email and internet access* for just £5
extra per month. The new SIM-plan for
business offers competitive value and
flexibility for users that don’t want to be
tied to lengthy contracts.
Recognising that real businesses in
today’s economic climate need flexible,
reliable and above all, cost effective com-
munication plans, T-Mobile is giving small
businesses access to all the tools needed
to work on the move. No other business
SIM only plan currently available offers
such great value with 2,000 inclusive min-
utes and unlimited texts for only £30.
Using existing phones and numbers,
businesses can simply decide whether
they want a 30 day rolling, six month or
12 month plan, insert the SIM(s) and then
get on with what they do best.
Oliver Chivers, Head of Business Mar-
keting for T-Mobile UK, comments, “In
today’s tough market conditions small
businesses need all the features that
come with long-term mobile plans but
often don’t need to upgrade their phones
or want to lock themselves into lengthy
contracts as they’re unsure of what their
exact future needs will be. The T-Mobile
Business SIM-Plan has been built with
small businesses in mind – offering unri-
valled value for money, with short-term
plans and a plug-and-play SIM card that
meets their real needs. We know our busi-
ness customers have other priorities,
which is why we continue to launch busi-
ness products that keep it simple and
help them control costs without compro-
mising on service and reliability.”
With free voicemail, itemised billing
and account health checks coming as
standard, Business SIM-Plan customers
can also expect the same dedicated sup-
port of T-Mobile’s business customer ser-
vice team as its Business 1-Plan contract
customers. In addition, all Business SIM-
Plan connections can opt to take our Mo-
bile Office add-on, giving unlimited
mobile email and internet for just £5 per
month. This is compatible with Windows
Mobile Email and BlackBerry Instant
Email, offering constant email and inter-
net access for business users away from
the office.
Business SIM-Plan has been created
to compliment T-Mobile’s existing busi-
ness tariff, Business 1-Plan. The suc-
cessful refresh of Business 1-Plan in
January 2009, which culminated in a T-
Mobile Business advertising campaign in
March and April, has lead to record sales
of BlackBerry devices this year.
Both business tariffs are available
through T-Mobile’s business channels.
For more information visit www.t-mo-
Leading outsourced IT services
provider, Conosco has been honoured
with a top award for its commitment
to delivering first class customer
Conosco was one of only eight UK
companies to be awarded the title of
‘Customer King’ in the competition run by
Highly praised for being able to ‘step
into customers’ shoes’, Conosco offers
London’s small and growing businesses,
including Lombok and Anya Hindmarch,
the type of IT solutions and services that
previously only large companies enjoyed.
Ben Gladstone, CEO at Conosco, ex-
plains: “At Conosco we are determined to
revolutionise the delivery of solutions to
growing businesses, and offer them the
level of commitment, technology and at-
tention to detail that larger companies get
from their suppliers. Smaller businesses
still need reliable and innovative support,
but ultimately good customer service is
the glue that binds us to our customers.
We offer a very personal service where
we are able to put ourselves in their shoes
and consider the serious impact of IT
downtime from their perspective.”
Gladstone believes that during the
current economic climate, companies like
Conosco that offer a personalised ap-
proach will be the ultimate winners: "As
soon as Lehman Brothers fell, we visited
all of our customers and asked them how
we could help cut costs – whether that
was to reduce their IT usage or move
them to cheaper platforms. That 'Blitz
spirit' helped us work creatively with cus-
tomers, rather than them saying 'we need
a 50 per cent discount'."
As part of its ongoing commitment,
the firm has also launched its new web
site to make it easier
for customers to see and understand its
range of IT services, and appreciate how
good use of technology can release the
talent in an organisation.
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Business Matters issue 173 • 11
Keeping on top of travel expenses
American Express Business Travel has an-
nounced the launch of Pre-Trip Auditor, a new
automated solution that can provide improved
control of travel policies and expenses by al-
lowing companies to review out of policy busi-
ness travel prior to ticketing.
The customisable solution audits all online
and offline bookings processed by American
Express, ensuring policy compliance across all
booking channels.
“With an increased focus on preventing
costs at the point of sale, clients are looking for
an end-to-end solution that allows them to
quickly implement new travel polices as well as
giving them maximum control over their travel
and drive cost savings,” said Paul Hargreaves,
Vice President and General Manager, Business
Travel UK & Ireland and Global Foreign Ex-
change Services, American Express Travel.
“Pre –Trip Auditor is an important innovation
and best in class service in the travel manage-
ment industry, and we are delighted to be
launching it in the UK marketplace.”
Pre-Trip Auditor is one part of a total com-
pliance solution designed to assist companies
to gain control over expenses by requiring em-
ployees to book travel within the guidelines of
the corporate travel policy. The tool enables
authorised employees to easily review and ap-
prove or decline trips. If a booking is out of
policy and requires approval, Pre-Trip Auditor
generates an email to the designated autho-
riser within the company with trip details, in-
cluding the reason for travel and specific policy
breached. The authoriser then has the option
to approve, decline or hold the booking in
order to look into it further. Highly customis-
able, Pre-Trip Auditor allows companies to
choose the level of control for individual trav-
eller groups and companies as a whole.
Pre-Trip Auditor allows for review of all
travel categories, including but not limited to
air, hotel, total trip cost, form of payment, pre-
ferred vendor, and security risk.
For more information on Pre-Trip Auditor,
and other Business Travel products and ser-
vices visit
A fast growing company is
transforming the way businesses
send post providing them with a
cheaper and greener alternative.
ViaPost is pioneering a ‘hybrid mail’
service which allows individuals and busi-
nesses to send physical letters via the in-
ternet - almost halving the cost of doing
so through more traditional routes.
The system, which operates through a
free downloadable Windows print driver,
was established last year by a group of
entrepreneurs and industry experts, and
the company is on course to achieve a £5
million turnover this year.
The process is simple, highly effective
and user-friendly. The user simply selects
ViaPost from the printer list in any Win-
dows application and their document is
sorted electronically, printed remotely, en-
veloped, and handed to Royal Mail for de-
livery the final few miles, with an all-in
cost for each letter of 27p, including print-
ing, stationery and delivery.
It is estimated that the average cost to
send a letter by traditional means, includ-
ing the purchase of the paper, envelope
and stamp, is at least 52p.
This means that a company can save
more than £1000 a year for every 100 let-
ters per week that they send.
The ViaPost system also reduces the
physical distance required, as each letter
is encrypted and transmitted to a print
hub near its final destination, making it a
far more environmentally friendly option.
Many businesses already using the
unique service and experiencing signifi-
cant savings.
Simon Campbell, ViaPost’s Chief Ex-
ecutive Officer, said: “ViaPost is simple to
setup and use and saves businesses sig-
nificant amounts of money and time,
while also being greener. It’s a no brainer.
I mean, we haven’t yet had anyone take a
look at the service and decide, ‘No, we
don’t want to save that kind of money,
that’s not for us’.
Rather than competing with Royal Mail,
ViaPost is working in partnership with the
UK’s national postal service, and is also
involved in an ongoing relationship with
Microsoft that could see ViaPost included
in its software.
Move to a cheaper & greaner postal option
BM173_10_11_13:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:09 Page 2
AM_26:Layout 1 24/03/2009 23:57 Page 26
Don’t give in to the copy & paste temptation
Fasthosts Internet, a leading web hosting
provider, has warned UK businesses not
to be tempted to copy material from other
companies’ websites.
The web host has seen an 89 per cent
rise in the number of content disputes in-
volving websites over the past year, most
commonly where businesses have re-
ported that website material has been
replicated without permission. The com-
pany recommends that users always
seek permission to use online material,
however small, from the relevant website
owner. Fasthosts also released the re-
sults of a survey of 152 UK businesses
which finds that more than one third (39
per cent) admit to currently
feeling envious of a
website be-
longing to
competitor. 1 in 10 businesses surveyed
had at least one item of their own website
copied during the past year. The data
lends weight to the theory that the chal-
lenging economy and increasingly com-
petitive online marketplace is perhaps
leading more small firms to cut corners
and plagiarise online.
Nowadays, a company website is
viewed by most enterprises as an integral
part of its brand and public profile. How-
ever, it appears that an alarming number
of UK firms are finding that material (such
as artwork, descriptive text or product im-
ages) has been copied from their website
and published elsewhere. The problem
varies from the occasional image being
used to entire website designs being
replicated. The practice can lead
to consumers becoming con-
fused, or even being misled into
buying from the wrong company.
According to Fasthosts, there
has been an 89 per cent increase
in the number of content disputes re-
ported to its in-house Abuse Department
from April 2008 to April 2009. The com-
pany reports that in many cases, busi-
nesses did not realise that copying items
of online material could land them in trou-
ble. A survey of 152 UK businesses(1)
commissioned by Fasthosts finds that
‘web envy’ can be a real temptation for
time-stretched business owners. 39 per
cent of owners surveyed admit that they
are presently envious of the website of a
closely competing business. At the same
time, 1 in 4 are considering reducing their
use of external website design services in
order to cut costs. A recent study by
Fasthosts underlined the pressure on
small business owners to maximise their
use of the web – the average company
rates their website at 6 out of 10 for ef-
fectiveness, whilst it also aims to treble its
online revenue in 2009.
Replicating material for commercial
use often breaches copyright. Always
obtain permission before using anybody’s
website material".
Recession fraud can tip you over the edge
There are big risks in treating fraud as a low
priority in the recession, small businesses are
being warned by the Fraud Advisory Panel
“On the contrary, the threat is at its worst
during hard times. Big companies can be
badly shaken by fraud but small ones can be
destroyed” says Ros Wright, Chairman of the
Panel and a former Director of the Serious
Fraud Office.
“Recession brings enormous pressures and
it’s tempting for small firms to treat fraud as the
least of their worries. But coping with the con-
sequences of even a small fraud can consume
huge amounts of time and resources which are
already at a premium. Fraud prevention is an
essential part of any downturn survival strat-
The Panel, a registered charity established
by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in
England and Wales, notes reported fraud
against British businesses has increased sig-
nificantly over the last year.
Ros Wright explains that “recession in-
creases the potential for businesses to fall vic-
tim to new frauds committed by opportunistic
criminals or previously honest people and
companies under economic pressure. And it
often brings to light existing frauds as credit
lines run out and financial manipulation can no
longer be concealed’.”
The Panel has put together advice on how
to protect your business:
Identify the areas of your business that
might be most vulnerable to loss from theft or
fraud, such as sales, stock, purchasing, ex-
penses and record keeping.
Strengthen any obvious weaknesses you
have identified. This might include introducing
additional checks for signing off payments or
authorising purchases.
If possible, designate a senior member of
staff with responsibility for managing these
Monitor your bank and credit card state-
ments for unusual transactions.
Ensure that your business premises have
adequate physical security protection
including locks, keypads and alarms.
Try to minimise cash transactions.
Conduct checks on your suppliers, con-
tractors and biggest customers to make sure
they are who they say they are and that you are
getting value for money.
Check invoices against original purchase
orders and the goods supplied.
Make sure your staff are aware of the risks
from theft and fraud and how to report it.
Communicate staff expense policies/proce-
dures and monitor compliance.
Check references for all new staff; full-time,
part-time, temporary, and casual. Further
checks may be needed as employees are pro-
moted or require access to more confidential
Adequately protect your IT systems and
business information from the cybercrime risks
posed by phishing, viruses, hacking and
Don’t Forget that severe economic pres-
sures can cause previously honest people to
become dishonest.
Business Matters issue 173 • 13
BM173_10_11_13:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:09 Page 3
14 • issue 173 Business Matters
Adv i ce
Paul Jones chats to Simon Woodroffe about why he decided to
start Yo! Sushi, his brush with the law, why having money makes
him happy and what his investment plans are for the future in
these difficult times.
Are you very active as a stock market
When I sold a stake in Yo! Sushi in 2003 I
wanted to invest around £1m and I looked
around to find an adviser. I've got a good ac-
countant but I didn't have anyone to invest
wisely for me. Eventually I put it into mutual
funds with Sterling Assurance but then, when ev-
erything started to dive this year, I realised that
wasn't working. I now see my dream of an ideal
adviser doesn't exist – you have to take respon-
sibility for your own decisions.
In early September last year I decided to take
my money out of funds and into a deposit ac-
count with Sterling. I was very late doing it and
I lost about £200,000 on the value of my portfo-
lio last year, but at least I got it out before the re-
ally big crash so I congratulated myself on not
losing another 20pc. I think now the only way
for me to make money in stocks is if I find out
more about it. In the past I have always felt out
of my depth.
Why are you going to try again?
Because I think it makes sense to spread my
money across asset classes and the stock market
must rise again. And, with interest rates coming
down, the money I have on deposit won't keep
pace with inflation. But, when I do it, I'll do it
with enthusiasm, taking an interest and assum-
ing responsibility.
I live to this motto – follow your fear to find your
destiny. One of my fears is I don't understand the
stock market properly, so I will face up to that
and find out more about it. In my experience
when you do that you find things are simpler
than they appear.
Can you give me an example of when you
have done it before?
I used to be very afraid of the law because I
was busted for drugs when I was 17 and spent a
few months in jail. When I divorced my ex-wife
20 years ago I realised I was very scared of the
law, so I handled the divorce myself rather than
go through lawyers. It took two years and it
meant I had to read every letter myself and do
all the filing, but I realised the courts are funda-
Doing it as
Simon says...
BM174_Simon_Woodfoffe:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:25 Page 1
mentally fair. I effectively won the case and did
really well and since then I've been through var-
ious legal battles and I don't get scared anymore.
How did your childhood influence your
attitude to money?
My father was a fairly senior army officer (he
reached the rank of brigadier), but we never had
as much money as the rest of our extended fam-
ily. I think my parents felt like poorer relations –
the rest of my family lived in vast country
houses, whereas we lived in a five-bedroom de-
tached farmhouse in Essex. My father felt inse-
cure about this and would always be terribly
worried. I remember being told not to mention
we only buy gin one bottle at a time, for exam-
All this made a deep impact on me – from a
very young age I wanted to join the wealthy
club. When I was 16 I used to tell everybody I
was going to be a millionaire by the time I was
20 but when I reached the 1970s I was having
such a good time I decided to put it off until I
was 30. Then when I got to the end of my 30s
I started pulling my hair out because I'd
completely forgotten to be a millionaire.
Has having money made you
I think it's made me a nicer
person. That probably sounds
like a strange thing to say but I
used to be anxious, driven
and insecure. I left school
with just two O-levels, no real
qualifications to fall back on.
Achieving success has always
been an important part of my
self-esteem. At some level I was
always quite angry. I was angry
with my childhood, with my
father not having what he
wanted and with myself for
being angry. My success has
made me more comfortable
with myself and a lot more
I have read you enjoy
a 1pc royalty from Yo!
Sushi sales…
Yes, I have kept an in-
terest in that business in
perpetuity – 1pc of
gross sales come like
a royalty on a book
or a record. When
I read that
C o l o n e l
Sanders sold
his stake in
Kentucky Fried Chicken at an early stage and
made hardly any money from it I thought a roy-
alty would be the best solution because I had
seen it in the entertainment industry.
I'll admit it's always been a bone of con-
Anyone who has ever bought a large stake in
the business has scrutinised the contract to see if
it is attackable. Fortunately, my lawyer, John
Pratt, had tidied it up nicely. It means my grand-
children will always benefit from what I have
What about pensions?
I've got a SIPP and I have been putting money
into that over the last seven years. I'm at the
maximum fund size of £1.6m, but I am holding
most of that in cash at the moment.
What's been your best buy?
I bought a few hundred thousand dollars
when they were $2 to the pound, pretty close to
the top of the market. I thought that was shrewd
of me given the dollar is now so low. The ex-
change rate hit $2 last year and again in spring
this year and having spent most of my life with it
at $1.5 I thought it can't go much further up. I've
always followed the dollar because I use it when
I travel to America.
And your worst buy?
Every time somebody has tipped me
off about a stock. I can't remember them
because I put them out of my mind. If
somebody gives me a tip now I'm
going to ignore it.
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 •15
BM174_Simon_Woodfoffe:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:25 Page 2
How do you prefer to pay – cash, card
or cheque?
I have a NatWest Black card but I prefer to use
my Maestro because I know the money is in my
account and I am an anti-snob – I rather like it
when I'm in a smart restaurant and people ex-
pect me to pull out an exclusive card but I just
get the Maestro out instead.
I like to have a couple of hundred quid in my
pocket for tipping.
Do you always tip large?
Quite often but, if the service hasn't been
good, I can look a waiter straight in the eye and
withhold it without being rude. I find the best
way is to engage in conversation – I might say I
would love to tip when I come back but not this
time. I would explain what went wrong without
irritation and add that it might not be their fault
(it could have been the kitchen). I'd then promise
that if they correct it for next time they can count
on a good tip from me. The trick is to be nice.
What's been your greatest extrava-
My Bentley Continental, which I bought five
months ago for £147,000. I've never really been
a car lover but I love my Bentley. It's a green with
a brown stitched convertible roof.
Is the current economic downturn af-
fecting you?
My Yotel business is constructing buildings at
the moment and in some instances we've been
delaying contracts because we think we will get
better prices next year. We haven't suffered our-
selves yet – hotel sales are up because we are a
low-cost product.
I spoke to Yo! Sushi today (I was thinking of
my royalty) and they've had some big successes
in Liverpool and Bristol. London has been flat for
years, but sushi is not a luxury item so I'm con-
fident those outlets will survive.
What's been your favourite holiday?
I don't take many holidays, but there's one I
will always remember. In my early 30s I was de-
signing rock stages for concerts. I flew down to
Australia to win a contract for a Fleetwood Mac
tour and on my way back I took a light aircraft to
Western Samoa. On the flight I met a girl who
lived on the island. She took me to her village to
meet her family. Her father was village chief and
I remember going back to my hotel afterwards
thinking: "I could be the head of the village 20
years from now". I was there for two weeks,
swam in the South Pacific, dived off waterfalls
and returned completely chilled.
In many ways, Woodroffe’s career has come
full circle. From being involved with some of the
biggest bands of the eighties, to the cold, hard
world of business, and then back to rock and roll
as respected and admired entrepreneur. “People
say to me all the time “don’t you miss rock and
roll”,” he muses. “I just reply “I’m still in it”.”
Adv i ce
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10/02/09 18:17 Page 1
Subsidies for companies recruiting and
training extra staff will not go far enough
to protect employees and small
businesses hit by the recession, the Forum
of Private Business (FPB) is warning.
In addition to a new £2,500 subsidy for tak-
ing on and training workers unemployed for at
least six months, the FPB believes the Gov-
ernment should provide help to businesses
struggling to retain their existing staff. Modify-
ing the Working Tax Credit scheme to support
shorter working hours and freezing planned in-
creases in employment costs would allow
businesses to limit the redundancies they are
forced to make.
While the FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Or-
ford, welcomed the measures to get the long-
term unemployed back into work, and boost
their skills to help businesses and the economy
to grow, he called for a more sustained pro-
gramme to better protect employment.
“It is important to remember that recruit-
ment is still taking place, and for these em-
ployers this scheme is very welcome, but many
small businesses are concentrating on trying
to keep hold of their skilled employees. This
should also form a central pillar of the Govern-
ment’s support strategy,” said Mr Orford.
“The administrative structures are already
in place to modify Working Tax Credits to allow
for the retention of key and skilled staff on
shorter working hours,” he continued. “This
process should be based upon the actual
hours worked, with income validated by the
employer, rather than the current scheme’s
method of basing calculations on the previous
year’s earnings.”
He added: “Further, in protecting jobs and
boosting recruitment, the Government must
ensure that its initiatives, including those de-
signed to benefit employees, do not in them-
selves become new barriers to employment.”
The FPB is against the proposed Statutory
Redundancy Pay (Amendment) Bill, which
would increase maximum redundancy pay-
ments from £350 to £500 per week. The addi-
tional costs would force many more
businesses to close rather than attempt to re-
verse their fortunes, adding to unemployment
and leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill.
Government must help us
Adv i ce
BM174_Simon_Woodfoffe:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:25 Page 4
18 • issue 173 Business Matters
The Pi t ch 2009
ven the best entrepreneurs
in history have needed a
leg up at some point.
Speak to the likes of Bill Gates
and Richard Branson and they will
admit to turning to all sorts of ex-
perts for help on the road to mak-
ing millions.
But the opportunities to receive
genuine and practical assistance
which makes a real difference to
your business are few and far be-
tween so when they do come
along it’s important that you grab
them with both hands.
One such opportunity is The
Pitch, a competition organised by
my website
which is going on the road this
summer to track down Britain’s
best small businesses.
Company owners in five cities
– Bristol, Birmingham, Manch-
ester, London and Glasgow – will
pitch their business or idea to a
panel of individuals who know ex-
actly what it takes to make it big
as an entrepreneur. From each
event, one will make it through to
a grand final in London where a
lucky winner will walk home with a
massive package of business
support products and services.
Nicki Stewart is someone who
knows exactly what it’s like to
claim The Pitch title as she won
the contest in 2008. Since her vic-
tory, the founder of Diverse Ham-
pers has seen an uplift in sales
and a couple of other award wins.
"As well as giving me valuable
experience of how to pitch to in-
vestors and practical advice on
building business success, the
amount of publicity I've received
has been huge,” she says. “Sev-
eral newspapers covered my win
as did many websites and blogs.
Global publicity
"I've had text after text from
people saying they've seen the
coverage and we have experi-
enced a definite rise in company
awareness. I even had a call from
someone in New Zealand who
saw the video of my pitch on
As well as the glory of winning,
Stewart also secured a £2,000
prize package. This year however
we’ve got one step further and
boosted the value by £48,000! In-
cluded are website consultancy
services worth £8,000, a six-
month national and regional PR
campaign and market research
services worth £3,000.
The benefits
But not just the overall winner
will benefit. We’ll make sure every
finalist gets access to some of
best business brains in the coun-
try while each one will also get to
upload their business plan to the
website of Angels Den, which
connects entrepreneurs and busi-
ness angels, and get it seen by
2,000 investors! This service alone
normally costs £499.
We’ve also secured an impres-
sive line-up of judges, many of
whom are local to the event in
which they are taking part. Among
them are green business legend
and founder of Ecotricity Dale
Vince OBE; Nicola Fleet-Milne,
founder of lettings company Fleet-
Milne and winner of the IoD’s
Emerging Leaders Awards and
John Peperrell, operations direc-
tor of Lovington’s Ice Cream who
has also appeared on Dragons’
Den! Each panel will also include
a real life business angel.
Despite the current economic
doom and gloom, I believe this
competition couldn’t come at a
better time. Like recessions of the
past, it is small business en-
trepreneurs who will lead us out of
the downturn. Many are imple-
menting good old fashioned cre-
ativity and innovation but they
need a helping hand to make it to
the big time. That’s where The
Pitch comes in.
For your chance to take part in
The Pitch 2009, visit:
Is your pitch perfect?
Dan Martin, editor of, introduces The Pitch 2009, an exciting
competition, which Business Matters is proud to be a sponsor, offers UK entrepreneurs
the chance to win a package of business goods and services worth £50,000
BM173_The Pitch:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:37 Page 1
fast-track programme to help
ambitious companies out of
recession has doubled quarterly
sales for a video production company.
Paul Drew, managing director of award-win-
ning production company The Communicator
Ltd has enjoyed one of his best sales quarter
ever, despite being in a highly competitive
business during a recession.
The company is one of 14 on the High
Growth programme run by GLE Growth Capi-
tal, designed to put SME companies on the
fast track. The London Development Agency is
funding the programme, which was launched
by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor.
London Companies with at least £1m
turnover that intend to expand can receive
nine-months’ support from a coach who has
been a chief executive of a growing and suc-
cessful business. The course includes regular
workshops on performing for high growth.
Paul Drew bonded immediately with his new
coach, sales guru Juliette Denny, who set
about turning the company’s focus from sell-
ing high quality glossy corporate videos to a
sales pipeline that was product-led.
The production team began an aggressive
sales drive offering short, sharp videos that de-
livered tightly targeted messages. It was a
campaign that struck a chord with many cor-
porate clients who might otherwise have shied
away from the prospect of expensive and time-
consuming productions.
“Our coach Juliette stopped us selling a ser-
vice and treated it like a product. She coached
us in sales techniques, so that we are now
much better equipped,” Paul commented.
“Prospective clients in a sales meeting
might be enthusiastic, but they may not have
the budget, or they may not be the decision
makers. The client might have his own in-
house video unit, in which case we would offer
to take elements of the production, where we
could add the gloss that is our hallmark –
something that they would not have the skills
to do.”
Following the sales training, Communica-
tor’s new video product quickly outstripped
sales of the traditional video service the com-
pany had been producing since it started 21
years ago, doubling sales from the previous
Zubair Aleem, managing director of IT
provider Quadnet Ltd had an altogether differ-
ent problem. The company was losing £30,000
per month during the final quarter of last year,
when High Growth coach Permjot Valia
stepped in to help.
“I never managed my staff before,” admit-
ted Zubair. “Sales is all about motivation, and
if the team are demotivated they are not going
to sell. We had to set clear and realistic sales
objectives, and we had to make decisions
The company has now stopped burning
cash and is back in profit. The business is ex-
pecting to increase profits by 20 per cent, de-
spite a £1 million drop in turnover to £6 million.
Jenny Tooth, GLE Growth Capital’s Busi-
ness Development Director believes the High
Growth programme is an ideal opportunity for
companies to power their way out of recession:
“This programme could be the most valuable
priority for companies to ensure they stay on
course for growth. They can benefit from the
experience of a coach who has already
survived a recession.”
The High Growth programme has space for
up to 35 companies, and GLE, like its clients, is
keen to attract new business.
Companies interested in the High
Growth programme should contact Jenny
Tooth at GLE Growth Capital.
020 7089 2331
Selling for
high growth
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 19
Top sales tips:
· Re-focus the team’s culture to support
the sales processes.
· Learn how to generate leads, leads
and more leads.
· Price for margin, volumes can come
later. Don’t be a busy fool.
· Think, try, track response, think again.
Evolve, learn, don’t stand still.
· Measure leads, suspects, prospects,
sales. To measure is to manage.
· Put the metrics on a whiteboard for all
to see. Then all will know what needs
to be done.
· Work your customers. Up-sell, Cross-
sell, hunt for pain. Pain = profits.
BM173_Selling for high growth:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:39 Page 1
going weekly
more news, more opinion, more advice - more often
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Business Matters
Keep up with Business Matters as they
happen. Visit to
register for the free Weekly News update,
RSS feeds and exclusive videos
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reen and Jack’s a custom shirt maker
claims to be able to read human per-
sonality from their choice of shirts.
There have been lots of studies linking colour
to personality. Especially the research by Dr.
Max Lûscher during the early 1900's is very in-
teresting. He studied the relationship between
choices of colour to human behaviour. Dr
Lûscher’s study has been used by large com-
panies, doctors and psychologists to analyse
human personality.
Green and Jack’s a London based custom
shirt maker has applied colour research to help
their customers project the right image. The
colour and fit of the shirt that one chooses gives
an insight into one’s personality.
What does your shirt say about you?
Crimson – high energy, confident, passionate,
sensual and brave leader
White – honest, practical and natural..
Pink - confident, naughty and unconventional.
Black – powerful, elegant and mysterious.
Blue – organised, warm, caring and intuitive
Yellow – original, happy and helpful.
Gray – a balanced and elegant thinker.
Brown – A conventional person who loves the
A well fitting shirt often conveys a structured
mind and an organised personality. Choose the
fit and colour that projects and compliments
ones personality by visiting the custom shirt
Green and Jack’s custom shirt maker offer
free colour consultations. The perfect fit guar-
antee makes ordering custom made shirts risk
free to customers since alterations are free of
Telling who you are by
the shirt on your back
Adv i ce
22 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_22:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:27 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 23
hat do Bill Gates, Warren Buffet,
Sir Tom Hunter and Duncan
Bannatyne all have in common?
The answer, apart from considerable suc-
cess, is that they're all committed philan-
thropists, who have pledged to give away the
bulk of their fortunes to good causes. And
they're not alone as with every month that
passes, more and more of the world's wealthy
announce their intention to devote their time
and their money to making the world a better
So, what's driving them? Though there are
many reasons for giving, the most often cited is
that it's an enjoyable and rewarding experi-
ence. Victor Hugo once said that "as the purse
is emptied, so the heart is filled", and for many,
philanthropy does just that. It gives people
pleasure and life enrichment by knowing that
they're making a difference. It also allows them
to achieve a spend/give balance. For instance,
while he has had no problem in amassing his
fortune, the hedge fund manager Arpad Bus-
son said in a recent Guardian interview that his
decision to embrace philanthropy was because
he found it impossible to enjoy his wealth,
knowing there are people out there who were
much less fortunate than himself.
For others, philanthropy can be the ideal
way of instilling family values and educating
their children, as showing the next generation
what a difference wealth can make to others
can help prepare them for the responsibilities
of inheritance. When asked what he would
leave his children, Warren Buffet famously re-
marked: "A very rich person would leave his
kids enough to do anything, but not enough to
do nothing." Worried about stifling their off-
springs' ambitions by giving them everything
on a plate, entrepreneurs in particular are in-
creasingly leaving the majority of their wealth
to good causes or charitable foundations that
they have created.
Dragon's Den star Peter Jones has estab-
lished a trust fund to reward his children for the
good they do, their yearly allowance dictated
by their choice of future career. He hopes it will
encourage them to consider professions that
make a difference to others, such as nursing or
teaching, rather than focusing purely on those
jobs with the best salaries. Likewise, his co-
star, Duncan Bannatyne intends to leave his
entire fortune to his Bannatyne Foundation. He
fears that leaving his children hundreds of mil-
lions of pounds would rob their lives of any
A family affair
But as well as allowing children to follow
their own path, we have found amongst our
clients that philanthropy can also bring families
closer together. If you own a successful family
business, setting up a charitable foundation
can allow those relatives not involved in the
day-to-day running of the company to work to-
gether for a common goal or purpose.
For those that have sold their business or
are beginning to take a step back from their
profession, but are not quite ready to sit back
totally, philanthropy is an opportunity to apply
both financial capital and life experience in
order to solve social problems. Rather than
simply writing out a cheque, creating your own
dedicated fund or taking a hands-on approach
to the causes you support can ensure that your
money and expertise are having the greatest
impact. This can often become a career in it-
self, with similar rewards and the same sense
of achievement. When the late Anita Roddick
sold The Body Shop, it wasn't so that she
could sit back and enjoy the fruits of her
labours, it was so she could devote the rest of
her life to her charity foundation.
In addition to making an impact during your
lifetime, philanthropy is also a way of support-
ing a cause for the long term and creating a
lasting legacy. Setting up a trust that will fund
organisations or charities in perpetuity will en-
sure that your work will always make a differ-
ence and will remind others of how strongly
you felt about a particular cause. For an exam-
ple look no further than Bill Gates. At the mo-
ment he's famous for founding Microsoft, but
he hopes that after he's gone, he'll be remem-
bered for his commitment to eradicating dis-
ease and ending social inequality in Africa
through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
But whatever your initial motivation to start
giving, knowing how, where and when can
prove challenging. With so many deserving
causes, choosing the right one is always going
to be a tough decision. And once that choice is
made there are further difficulties. How much
to give; whether to make a single donation or
regular payments; how to gauge a specific
charity's performance before supporting it and
how to monitor the impact your support is hav-
ing. It may become hard work, and there are
many companies who offer to assist, but the
time spent could be more rewarding than mak-
ing the money in the first place.
Fi nance
Giving it
all away
We look at the growing trend
amongst the ubber wealthy to give
their accumulated fortune away
BM173_ philanthropy:Layout 1 16/06/2009 00:58 Page 1
n 6th April 2009, employers and
employees were given greater
flexibility to deal with workplace
discipline and grievance issues in a way
which suits them best.
The government repealed the 2004 statu-
tory grievance and disciplinary process. A
new framework for resolving employment dis-
putes in Great Britain emphasises the impor-
tance of the early resolution of workplace
matters in the workplace.
The legislative measures are based on the
Employment Act 2008. The Act paved the
way for the Acas statutory Code of Practice
on discipline and grievance, which sets out
the principles that employers and employees
should follow when dealing with disputes at
The foreword to the Code highlights that
employers and employees should always
seek to resolve disciplinary and grievance is-
sues informally. However, where an issue can-
not be resolved informally, then it may be
pursued formally. According to the Code, em-
ployers and employees should behave fairly
and reasonably when taking formal action to
resolve their dispute.
This is great news for businesses. Re-
search shows that in some cases, managers
spend up to 25% of their time dealing with is-
sues associated with conflict. Although the
principles managing grievance and disci-
plinary issues should still be applied, the en-
couragement to solve difficulties at an earlier
stage will help companies save money. The
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Devel-
opment estimates the cost of conflict to UK
business as £24bn per year. In a time of eco-
nomic uncertainty, this could be a good time
to embrace new thinking that will help in-
crease efficiencies.
Organisations that fail to pursue options for
early resolution may be penalised in the event
that a case goes to Tribunal.
What is Mediation?
The new Code states “Where it is not pos-
sible to resolve disciplinary and grievance is-
sues in the workplace employers and
employees should consider using an inde-
pendent third party to help resolve the prob-
lem. In some cases, an external mediator
might be appropriate”.
Mediation has been practised in the UK for
the last 20 years. It is a future focussed pro-
cess that is less concerned about who might
be right or wrong. It is more concerned about
solving problems so that they don’t occur
again. In mediation responsibility for finding a
workable solution for the dispute rests firmly
with the parties. The mediator facilitates the
process. The 5 main planks on which media-
tion is based are:
• It is voluntary
• It is confidential
• It is without prejudice
• The mediator is neutral and impartial
• It is non-binding
(until agreement is reached)
One of the strengths of the mediation
processes that it can be applied to individual,
team, departmental, functional or organisa-
tional disputes. A further strength of media-
tion is that it is quick. For example a dispute
that has been rumbling on for years can often
be resolved in one day through mediation. In
the UK, mediation has a success rate of 93%
Whether you run a small, medium or large
business there is likely to be a risk of this type
of scenario happening within your
BM173_Mediation:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:01 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 25
Adv i ce
Clive Lewis author
of ‘The definitive
guide to workplace
mediation and
managing conflict
at work’ looks at
recent changes to
help resolve office
Mediation - the new
tool for business
Case study
A team of around ten consultants from one department in the
NHS had fallen out. The dispute had been running on for
about 3 years. Part of the impact of it was that they had
formed disparate groups. Team meetings stopped happening
because they didn’t want to be in the same room as each
other. Basic job functions such as being on call or providing
additional coverage when needed were also affected. A
calculation was undertaken to indicate the likely costs of the
dispute. The figure was in the region of £1/2m.
The HR director and Chief Executive commissioned
mediation. The mediation process forced the team of
consultants to get into one room and talk to each other. The
session lasted one day and successfully achieved settlement.
The return on investment for this exercise was huge. For a
relatively small fee, the mediation helped to unlock a dispute
that had been tying up highly valued expertise and allowed
focus on patient and customer care to become the number
one priority again.
What should you do now?
For your organisation to also benefit from engaging with
conflict resolution principles here are 5 steps I recom-
mend that you follow.
1. Consider training some colleagues to become accred-
ited mediators. This could be done on an in-house basis.
2. Partner with an external mediation provider. This will en-
sure that in cases where there may be a conflict of interest
to appoint an internal mediator you can call on the services
of an external organisation
3. Review your organisations policies and procedures to
incorporate clauses that promote and encourage early res-
olution of disputes and mediation
4. Review other parts of the HR framework. For example
consider offering training for line manages on topics
such as ‘how to manage difficult conversations’ and
equality/diversity training
5. Link any success from mediation back to the busi-
ness case. Identify savings made and ensure the ben-
efits of mediation are publicised within the business.
BM173_Mediation:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:02 Page 2
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Business Matters issue 173 • 27
t’s official: we’re in the midst of a small
business funding crisis in this country.
Banks aren’t lending, seemingly frozen
in fear of going the way of so many of their fallen
peers, unwilling to relinquish the £billions that
the government has given them specifically to
stimulate business lending. What are we to do
in the face of such illogical hoarding that is only
likely to deepen and prolong the economic
doom and gloom that we are now submerged
President Obama, In a similar business fund-
ing crisis in the US, may have struck on a great
idea. He has decided to place ownership of the
solution squarely in the laps of the banking sec-
tor where the problem began. He has an-
nounced that the 21 largest banks that have
received state funding to keep them afloat now
must report monthly on how much money they
are lending to small businesses. Every other
bank that gets state money has also been
asked to report on small business funding, but
on a quarterly basis. Wonderful, forcing the
banks who have sucked up so many $billions
of tax-payers money to do something in return,
a task that has so far eluded our government as
the banks have seemingly said: ‘thanks a lot for
the generous donation to our coffers – now go
away and let us sit on our gold until we feel like
doing something banking-related in our own
good time.’
Obama appreciates that small businesses
are major contributors to the economy and to
employment. With the $billions invested so far
to stimulate business lending having had about
the same effect as similar attempts in this coun-
try, and US unemployment figures rising to
their highest since 1983, something drastic
had to be done.
Dealing with it
Here in the UK our unemployment figures
are the worst since 1997, and while I have to
admit Gordon has been trying to resolve the
business funding crisis, he has been using the
tactics of a wealthy parent attempting to buy
the love of an unruly over-privileged child.
Merely throwing money at the problem has
had little real effect on business funding as yet
and is unlikely to do so. Requiring the banks
that have so readily drained the taxpayer’s
generosity cup dry to do something positive
to help us out of this crisis is an excellent step
forward. It is agreed by most economists that
helping new ventures to launch and grow is
the most effective way of us repairing the
problems in our economy, and getting the
banking sector back into the business-fund-
ing game is the way to go.
While the papers have been full of the prob-
lems that the UK economy is facing and the
Fi nance
Bill Morrow looks at what
businesses are looking for
government help with
when it comes to lending
failed attempts at stimulating bank landing,
there has been one ray of light for new enter-
prises and small businesses: the growth of
Angel investing as a viable alternative for small
business funding. Angels Den has seen record
numbers of entrepreneurs and small business
investors signing up for an opportunity to
meet one another and discuss the potential of
a partnership. Exciting things have been hap-
pening, and because of the sheer volume of
interest in what we are doing and the suc-
cesses we have witnessed at many of our re-
cent speedfunding events, we are confident
that even when the banking sector gets its act
together the rise of Angels investment for
small business funding will not be curbed. We
are creating business success stories every
week through building strong and profitable
If you would like to find out how we are
doing this or when our next speedfunding
or pitching training sessions are, then
come to our website at
State solutions to
small business
BM173_Bill Morrow:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:05 Page 1
Joined up travel
info could make
commuting a joy
"The train now standing at platform 4 will call
at several stations and then X. At X, Mr
Jones, turn left out of the station and catch
the number 17 bus towards Y (there's no
need to hurry as it's running four minutes
late). Alight at the seventh stop, cross at the
zebra and go down Z Street..."
Wouldn't travelling be easier if all the
announcements were so detailed, person-
alised and up to the minute? In future they
will be - not over the station Tannoy, of
course, but direct to our mobile phones,
satnav systems or public information kiosks.
"Information will be more joined up, so
that when we plan a journey we shan't have
to worry about how we're going to travel,
only where we want to go, when and why,"
says Nick Illsley, chief executive of Transport
Direct, the Department for Transport's online
travel planning website.
A personalised information portal will
present us with the various options and
routes, via public and private transport, with
predicted timings and costs (financial and
environmental), leaving us to make an
informed choice. When we've decided, the
route information will be transmitted to our
phone, satnav or other mobile device.
Avoid congestion
The system won't always suggest the
same route for the same journey. If we're
travelling on business it may assume we
want to travel quickly rather than cheaply,
and be sure of getting a seat on the train and
a WiFi connection so we can do some work.
Or it may know that our firm has a strict
environmental policy and that we'd prefer the
lowest-carbon route.
The system will know which roads are
likely to be congested and when, either from
past experience or by intuition (so it won't
route us past a school gate at 3.30pm). And
it will take account of known variations to the
regular pattern - rail engineering works, say,
or a big soccer match - rather than slavishly
following published timetables.
There’s no need to worry about disrup-
tions on the day, says Howard Wilson,
business development director for transport
at Mastek, a software company that works
with Transport for London. "Travel informa-
tion will become your information about your
particular journey. So the system will contact
you if there's a problem that affects you and
suggest an alternative route, whether it's
your regular commute or a one-off trip."
"Part of the intelligence will be in making
sense of the data and filtering out what's not
important," says Illsley. "If my train is two
Paul Bray looks at how easier travel would be if we
harnessed technology to get around
iBM175_IBM.qxd:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:07 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 29
Adv i ce
minutes late I don't want to know. If it's 10
minutes late I do, and I want to know what
that means for my connections."
Ultimately, says Robin Mannings, resident
futurologist at BT, pre-booked individual
journeys could become part of a master plan
that deliberately divides travellers between
different routes or even different modes of
transport in an attempt to reduce congestion.
If there's an unforeseen problem, the system
could automatically re-book us onto a later
flight if it knows we'll be delayed, or advise
us to park and continue by train if our road
becomes jammed.
Joined up data
For joined up travel and personal journey
planning to function, says Mannings, they
must be supported by several kinds of data.
This will include detailed digital maps,
accurate timetables, historical information
about usage and congestion patterns, details
of planned but temporary factors like road
works or major events, and real-time infor-
mation on current congestion.
Much of this information is already in
existence or being created. Transport Direct
has mapped all of the UK's 350,000 train
stations, bus stops, ferry crossings etc. Sat-
nav and mobile phone companies are
recording millions of pieces of data from in-
dividual journeys to calculate typical speeds
on individual roads at different times of day.
In downtown Singapore, IBM has developed
software that can predict traffic jams up to
45 minutes ahead of time with 90% accu-
The next big step will be fusing all these
disparate pieces of data to create a unified
picture spanning multiple modes of trans-
port. In the meantime, collecting and sharing
travel information doesn't always require ex-
pensive technology. A taxi firm in Cannock
sends customers a text message when their
cab is 10 minutes away, based on real-time
ETAs from its TomTom satnav system. And in
rural Hampshire IBM has a 'tweeting' staff
minibus that uses Twitter to inform would-be
passengers of its precise whereabouts and
whether it has seats available.
The benefits of better, more personalised
travel information will be wide ranging. Many
of us use cars because we're nervous of
taking public transport on unfamiliar routes;
with reliable information and a real-time,
electronic guide we might take the bus
instead of driving, or walk instead of hailing a
taxi. Joined up data about the movements of
vehicles and passengers, both in advance
and in real time, will enable public transport
operators to respond better to demand, so
that a bus driver could wait a few minutes for
a delayed train, or a larger vehicle could be
provided when more passengers are
Creating the information infrastructure to
make all this a reality won't be cheap, and it
will require a good deal of co-operation and
political willpower. But as the number of
travellers continues to grow, and the number
of roads and rail tracks doesn't, the question
is not whether we can afford to make the
investment and effort, but whether we can
afford not to.
iBM175_IBM.qxd:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:08 Page 2
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BM164_035.qxd:Layout 1 1/9/08 01:08 Page 1
e may be facing tough times, with
businesses going to the wall, bud-
gets being slashed and thousands
of jobs being lost. There are things we can do,
however, to give ourselves the best chance of
surviving, and even thriving in this crisis.
The ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of business
painted by TV programmes such as The Ap-
prentice is not necessarily the way forward in
business today. Instead businesses are more
likely to achieve positive results through col-
laboration. Sharing experiences, expertise,
ideas and contacts is essential to business
In short, networking is vital. It helps busi-
nesses become better known, better equipped
and achieve better market penetration than
they could manage on their own.
So, how can networking help you get the
edge you need to succeed and overcome the
current recession?
First of all, networks can help you to build
your profile and your reputation. We all know
the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you
know’. Well, more important is who knows
you….. and what they are saying about you.
A lack of profile will not help any business
succeed. Whether that profile is widespread or
among a very closely defined group of people,
your reputation counts.
The most traditional way of raising profile,
particularly for bigger companies, is through
advertising and sponsorship. Yet for so many
people, particularly in the current economic cli-
mate, such opportunities are out of reach. In-
stead, networking plays a key role.
The value
Successful businesses recognise the value
of having a team of people talking about them
and associating them with excellence in their
field. More than ever we are inclined to listen to
our peers when making buying decisions, and
a strong reputation can prove to be the right
foundation for building a business.
Understand where you want that profile to
go and pick your networks accordingly. Are
your potential clients based in a geographic
area, within one or more industries? Do the
people who decide to use your services tend
to be from one or two key roles within organi-
sations, such as Sales Directors or Heads of
HR? Wherever you need the word spread,
understand who those people will be talking
to, where they are most likely to hear about
you and network accordingly.
The growth of online networks has made it
even easier to raise your profile and spread the
word. Clearly, online networks are a much eas-
ier way to reach a wider audience and grow a
global reputation, but there are also a large
number of niche networks on the internet,
serving different industries, interest groups and
A word of warning here, it is one thing to
spread the word about your business, online
or off. It is quite another to manage what is
being said about you. It is important that you
have a clearly defined view of what your
message is and what you want people to say
about you.
Attending networking events and continu-
ally moaning, whether about the state of the
economy, other people in your network or even
the quality of the food on offer, is not going to
endear you to others. Nor is it likely to encour-
age them to talk about you positively.
In a similar vein, simply being seen is not
Mar k et i ng
Business Matters issue 173 • 31
Networking expert Andy Lopata
looks at why now is the right time
to increase your networking
The importance
of networking
in a recession
BM173_Lopata:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:11 Page 1
33 • issue 173 Business Matters
enough. Sure, the more people you connect
with, the more will be aware of you. What will
they think of you though? What will they be
saying to others?
Managing the message that others commu-
nicate on your behalf is the key to developing
a strong reputation networking strategy. Ask
yourself the question before you connect with
anyone else as part of your business strategy,
‘After someone has met me, how would I want
them to describe me to someone else?’
You can be in control of what others say
about you, the key is to think about it in ad-
vance. Picture the impact you have on others,
does it reflect how you would like to be seen?
Do people understand what you do, who you
do it for and why others would want to know
about you?
The dangers
Naturally there are other dangers, much
talked about elsewhere, to your reputation
from social networks such as Facebook. It can
be easy to be drawn into arguments or banter
with other people in your network and forget
that this is a window to the World. Have fun,
show your personal side by all means, but it is
important to ensure that you have your profes-
sional image in mind at all times.
Apart from profile building, networks also
act as a very powerful self-development tool.
As John Donne said, ‘No Man is an Island’ and
this is particularly true now. We need to learn
from others, benefit from their experiences and
expertise and open ourselves out to new ideas
if we are to achieve as much as is possible.
Our networks can provide a lot of that sup-
port, both formally and informally. There is a
good chance that you already have a network
of people who want you to succeed and have
already been through the challenges you are
facing. Have you asked for their advice? Have
you sought their support?
Look for support
If you don’t have the relevant experience in
your immediate network, or if you don’t feel
comfortable asking the question, there are
many networks set up specifically to provide
those resources. From the blogs and clubs on
social networks to events with speakers, the
support is there, you simply have to seek it out.
Many people attend networking events with
speakers without any concept of what they
want to gain from the talk. Next time you go to
such an event have a look around the room
and see how many people are not taking notes
and obviously disinterested.
Instead, outline your key self-development
or business-development needs and seek out
the events with speakers who address those
issues. Set out a list of questions in advance
that you would like answered and listen care-
fully for the answers to those questions during
the talk. You’ll be amazed at how much more
you can get from such an event when you have
a greater degree of focus.
In addition to listening to talks from experts
in their field, there is much you can learn from
other people in similar positions to you. One
growth area in networking is peer-support, or
‘Mastermind’, groups. These range from for-
mally organized membership groups to many
independent meetings, business people at a
similar level to each other meet regularly, share
their challenges and offer their feedback, ad-
vice and suggestions. In the best groups they
will also hold each other to account for their
Additionally, you can gain a lot of the knowl-
edge and skills you need from industry associ-
ations and networks. I developed my speaking
business through lessons learnt over six years
of membership of the Professional Speakers
Association (PSA). I only did so by attending a
large number of meetings and conventions,
listening to the speakers at those events and
interacting with many fellow members.
The third way in which networking is a key
activity in difficult times is probably the most
obvious, and that is as a referral-generation
You need to be patient if you are to build a
referral network. People refer others who they
know, like and trust and that doesn’t happen
overnight. During tough times though, those
referrals are invaluable, opening doors that
have been slammed shut on vendors generally
and bringing your business to the top of the
Mar k et i ng
Attending networking functions isn’t just a business card gathering exercise
Andy Lopata is Vice President of the UK
Professional Speakers Association and
co-author of two networking books.
Read more at:
BM173_Lopata:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:11 Page 2
Business Matters issue 173 • 33
have spent 23 years working as a broad-
caster watching open-mouthed as people
waste opportunities to generate good pub-
licity on TV and radio.
If it’s a live interview they can damage their
brand reputation. If it is pre-recorded, chances
are they’ll be edited out of the feature.
Why does this happen? It’s only talking. We
can all do that, can’t we?
Many people don’t understand the needs of
us media types. We don’t care about your firm,
your product and your statistics. We don’t want
tons of information. All we care about is sto-
ries. If you don’t give us a good story we’ll say
‘so what?’
A trip to a TV studio is like visiting another
country. If you are travelling abroad, you’ll prob-
ably invest in a guidebook, to discover the local
customs, how they tip, which side of the road
they drive on, that sort of thing. You might learn
a bit of the language, just in case talking loudly
in English doesn’t work.
Yet I watch in horror as people gambol into
TV studios, like lambs towards that pretty look-
ing slaughter house. Full of the confidence that
comes from not fully understanding the situa-
tion, they laugh off suggestions of media train-
ing. The higher up the food chain they are, the
more they scoff at the idea.
“I didn’t get where I am today by having
media coaching, Reggie.”
Learning a language takes weeks of evening
classes. You can learn everything you need to
know about being interviewed, in just one in-
tensive day with my team at Talking Toolbox.
My good friend Alan Stevens runs excellent
sessions at his firm Media Coach.
We’ve just written a book together called Me-
diaMasters. We’ve interviewed 25 of the big
names of broadcasting, print and social media,
to discover their insider secrets.
Getting the message
Fi nance
Leading broadcaster Jeremy Nicholas talks to us about when times are hard and
advertising budgets are being cut. If you can get publicity for nothing, don’t blow it.
When on TV imagine you are talking to a
family member or friend.
Michael Parkinson- chat show host
You are usually asked the same old ques-
tions time and time again. Practise your an-
swers and you’ll get better.
Tanni Grey-Thompson- Paralympian
Like it or not the media is important. If it’s
part of your job to deal with them play it
straight and try to be interesting.
Will Carling- rugby star
Always be yourself, there’s no point trying to
be anyone else.
Rebecca Adlington
Double Olympic gold medallist
Don’t be diverted by inconveniences like in-
terviewer’s questions. Say what you want to
say. If it’s good, repeat it!
George Galloway MP
Treat every journalist with respect, even if
you’ve done twenty interviews in a row. A
bad interview can come back to bite you.
Gail Emms-Olympic badminton star
Never lose you cool with an interviewer, no
matter how difficult they are being. It is you
that will look bad.
Iain Dale- political blogger
Remember to breathe. It makes everything
so much easier.
Michael Aspel- TV presenter
Don’t let on if you are nervous. It’s natural.
Dee Caffari- round the world sailor
To get your story in the papers you need to
find the human element. One person’s story
is always more interesting than a corpora-
Phil Hall- PR guru
Here’s ten top tips on how to communicate brilliantly
Jeremy Nicholas with Michael Parkinson
Jeremy Nicholas is the director of Talking
Toolbox, a communications consultancy.,.
MediaMasters by Alan Stevens and Jeremy
Nicholas is published by BookShaker and is
available now on Amazon.
BM173_Jeremy Nicholas:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:15 Page 1
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BM164_030.qxd:Layout 1 1/9/08 01:21 Page 1
n this digital age it is easier for us to dis-
seminate and obtain information than ever
before. The Web means we have informa-
tion constantly at our fingertips. Meanwhile we
are communicating with each other all the time
via email, mobiles and text messaging.” Word
of Mouth” has always been powerful, yet as
the opportunities to voice our opinions in-
crease, its importance is growing rapidly.
Reputation, therefore, is more essential for
companies than it ever has been. It doesn’t
matter whether you are a global enterprise or a
small local outfit. Retaining customers, keep-
ing them happy and, therefore, ensuring you
have a good reputation is not easy.
There are a many myths spoken about man-
aging customers. There is, however, a simple
and effective way for ensuring you are always
mindful of your reputation. In any situation, ask
yourself one question,
“What story will my customer tell?”
It is this question that enables you to decide
how to handle any situation effectively. The
story the customer will tell is how you are per-
ceived by them and, therefore, how you will be
perceived by others. It is this perception that is
all that matters.
The customer’s perception is their reality.
Whether it is right or wrong is irrelevant. Win-
ning the customer’s heart and mind is all about
how they perceive you.
Let me give you an example: There is a story
of an airline that launched a brand new long
distance route. On their maiden voyage the
plane was stuck on the runway for fourteen
hours. At that point what story would the cus-
tomers tell? They would probably tell their
friends and colleagues of a hellish journey that
would infer that they would never fly that air-
line again.
The next day, however, the owner of that air-
line called every passenger personally to apol-
ogize and offer them a discount on a future
flight. The story was managed brilliantly.
You see, the story was now about receiving
a personal call from such a well known and
busy person and the delay became incidental.
Instead of the airline being criticised for a poor
service, the story was all about their excellent
customer service and how much they care.
If you want to ensure you manage your cus-
tomers successfully; you need to be constantly
thinking about the story they are likely to tell.
Just sending them a thank you note when they
decide to use you, will mean they will be telling
a good story. How many companies do that
and yet it is so simple?
During the time they are engaged with you,
ask the same question. For example, If you are
going to send a Christmas gift, ask the ques-
tion; “What story will they tell if I send them the
standard calendar or diary branded with our
company logo? There is a good chance they
won’t tell any story at all. Therefore, what value
have you obtained? The answer is none.
So think of the story.
Find out what they like during the course of
working together. Then, for example, if you
know they like milk chocolate, send them a box
with a note. The impact will be huge and the
story they will tell will be very positive.
Managing customers does not have to be
difficult. Always think about the story they will
be repeating to their friends and colleagues. If
you think it may be negative, think about how
you can turn that around.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money but
you do have to give it a lot of thought. Having
customers talking about you in a positive light
and ensuring you have a good reputation in
today’s market place is invaluable. Quite sim-
ply, you cannot afford not to.
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 35
Grant Leboff is Principal of The Intelligent Sales
Club working with companies on effective sales
and marketing strategies and lead generation;
creating a steady stream of sales opportunities
for businesses. For more information visit or call:
0844 478 0044.
Guaranteeing your
BM173_Grant Leboff:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:17 Page 1
My Marketing Manager has just sent me a
proposal for a major promotion for our
product. He claims it will generate a large
volume of additional sales, but it will require
a significant investment. How do you typi-
cally approach making decisions such as
Every time I am faced with a decision such as
this, I ask a very simple question: ‘If I spend
this, what will I get back? and how fast will I
get it?’
Im always worries that either the natural en-
thusiasm of the people involved or time con-
straints will get the better of me. So asking this
question ensures that you avoid becoming
flustered or sidetracked amid all the noise. It
will also ensure that your decisions are objec-
tive and that you don’t procrastinate. This ap-
proach is so powerful because you can apply
to every single decision you have to make.
Asking this question will also tell you what in-
formation you need to make an accurate as-
sessment accurate and will ensure that you
don’t need reams and reams of paper! You
only need the minimum amount of information
that will enable you to make the decision at
hand. This should rarely be more than one or
two pages.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But unfortu-
nately it’s not quite that easy. It is the imple-
mentation that is critical and there are some
important rules that you need to follow when
you are making your analysis:
1. Do everything on a cash basis: Only cash,
no promises! This means you must estimate
the timing of your cash payments and cash re-
ceipts only when they actually hit your bank
account. A sale is not a sale until the cash ap-
pears in your bank account.
2. Only consider incremental costs and rev-
enues: You are only interested in those costs
and revenues that you incur solely as a result
of this specific project. No complex made up
allocations please!
3. List all fixed costs: Be thorough. Get out
your pen and paper and make an exhaustive
list. Learn to loathe fixed costs! The higher the
fixed costs the project entails, the higher the
costs you incur regardless of whether you sell
anything or not.
4. Calculate your profit margin: Estimate the
incremental revenue from the sale of a single
product and then subtract the variable costs
associated with the sale of that product. Only
include revenues that are directly measurable,
no incidentals or knock-on benefits.
5. Find out exactly how many items do you
need to sell to recoup all your costs. This is
your breakeven. This is calculated by dividing
your fixed costs by the profit margin per sale.
6. Compare breakeven with other points of ref-
erence: To assess how realistic the breakeven
is, look for data points or other evidence that is
comparable e.g. perhaps the idea has been tri-
alled previously or a competitor might have
launched a similar promotion.
7. Don’t look back: move on! Don’t waste time
second guessing your decision and fret-
ting. You have done all you can to tip the
odds in your favour.
What tips do you have for maximising the
effectiveness of networking and business
The most important thing to remember
when you attend events like this is that your
goal is to build relationships with people, and
not simply to ram down people’s throats what
a brilliant business you run. People will always
prefer to do business with those people that
they like and instinctively trust.
So make sure you listen to people. Ask
questions about other peoples’ business and
actually listen to their answers. Don’t simply
feign interest. Be enthusiastic about what they
are doing. Their business may not be exactly
what you need right now, but it may be in the
future or they may know someone who is per-
fect for you.
Always arrive at these events with a con-
cise “pitch” about your own business. You
need to communicate simply, clearly, and
quickly what it is your business does and also
to convey a sense of solidity and capability. No
one wants to hear a long winded boast. Be-
careful what you try and sell on the day. Nor-
mally the best you can do is a contact address
and the ability to follow up later. You can eas-
ily destroy any chance of a sale by pushing too
hard at the first time of meeting.
In addition ensure you have the best sales
team available. I often see stands manned with
staff looking bored or worse. It takes energy
and genuine interest in people. I always let it
be known I will come by at some point. This
should keep them on their toes. As mentioned
above have an easily understood pitch.
Depending on the type of business flyers,
hand outs that do not need to cost a great deal
are important. However if possible creating a
reason to contact them post the event is criti-
For an event try and provide a reason for
them to want to give them your details. I will
often speak at an event and then offer to email
the presentation to them post event.
Once the event is over, make sure you fol-
low up everyone you made contact with
promptly. For some people you meet, this
might simply be a quick one line email saying
you enjoyed meeting them and providing your
contact details, for others it might involve shar-
ing further information or setting up a meeting.
Always seek to help others if you can, even
if it doesn’t directly benefit you at this exact
moment. You never know how you might ben-
efit in the future.
The business
One of the UK’s most successful business builders Brad Rosser answers your
questions to help you grow your business and maximise your potential
Adv i ce
36 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_Brad:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:18 Page 1
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 37
s new businesses are being estab-
lished by entrepreneurs across the
country, to suit the market looking for
more individual service, SMEs must focus on
creating a brand that can leverage their busi-
ness financially. Branding is affecting business
more and more everyday, so much so that it is
taking over larger shares of a business' value
and becoming an increasingly important factor
when it comes to differentiating yourselves
from competitors.
Brand is worth the investment – successful
brands command premium positions, cus-
tomers will pay more and economic value will
be added to your organisation. A powerful
business asset, branding can be used to
strengthen customer retention and win new
clients and, maybe more importantly for the
future of business, good brands attract the
right calibre of employee – something that is
often overlooked. It’s estimated that 50% of
Coca Cola's worth lies in its trademark and
we’ve also found this with SME clients who
have honed in on creating a brand, not just a
Let's take a look at an example. Xiros, a
Yorkshire based medical devices manufacturer,
found that potential customers weren’t seeing
the business for what it truly was, an innova-
tive medical design house – effectively missing
out on business they knew was right for them.
After evolving their existing brand and dissect-
ing the product offer, the business recorded a
700% increase in new business generation
within 12 months. This has kick-started a pe-
riod of significant growth over the last two
years. Brand plays a significant part in how the
company is perceived and how it approaches
new business.
The existing customer's relationship with a
As well as attracting new business, a re-
brand lets existing customers know that you
are evolving with the times and are able to
meet their changing needs in the business
world. Selling to existing customers is the eas-
iest (and cheapest) way to increase revenue
and it is these customers who are most likely to
bring you new referrals.
Customers form emotional alliances with
strong brands, ultimately these brands are able
to command a higher price in the marketplace,
providing much stronger financial returns
throughout a business’ life cycle.
Attracting new customers
The current climate means that new cus-
tomers are much more cautious when entering
into new business relationships. They will be
on the lookout for a brand that they can relate
to, one that matches the needs and values of
their business.
This is where brand works most effectively.
Creating differentiation is one of the most im-
portant attributes to a brand. A valuable per-
ception of quality in the mind of the customer
will guarantee you are competing based on
your credentials rather than on price.
The current climate offers great opportuni-
ties for SMEs – larger firms that sub-contract to
smaller independents are looking to cut costs.
SMEs need a good brand behind them to
leverage credibility for bigger contracts.
Interior Surfaces
Interior Surfaces, bespoke manufacturers of
solid and laminate surface products, decided
to invest in their brand as a way of attracting
larger contractors. They invested in a re-brand
because their existing image was not repre-
sentative of their capabilities and they wanted
to appeal to a larger commercial customer
base. They had a 5 year plan in place to dou-
ble their turnover, but achieved this in 2 after
repositioning the business as a complete solu-
tions provider. Turnover rose from £1.2m to
This was put down to the new brand and
strong design ideas bringing a sense of what
they were able to achieve to the company, both
within the business and externally, and have
since gone on to successfully win contracts
with larger clients, and entered new markets.
Design with targets to meet
An effective brand strategy should deliver
results to the bottom line and therefore should
always have targets to meet and be measured
for performance. It should tie into your wider
marketing strategy and flow consistently within
an organisation's internal and external com-
munications. This makes the brand a more
powerful tool.
Branding affects business
Brand equity is turning into a corporate
asset that provides financial return and long
term profits, whilst also adding value to the
customer. From multinational companies to
SMEs the principles are the same - good
brands will be reflected in a stronger balance
sheet with a higher level of profitability for a
given cost of sales – a very attractive proposi-
tion to build a business around.
But what must be remembered first and
foremost is that a brand is not just a logo, it is
paying attention to detail to every aspect of
communication within an organisation, from
stationary to staff. If that is mastered then the
reputation of your company should prevail over
the competitors', and by word of mouth, you
should find yourself with a successful
The value of a
BM173_37:Layout 1 16/06/2009 09:41 Page 1
The leadership
orking life presents many situations for
people where their job must change from
an involved, hands-on role to a very
different leadership position.
It’s a challenge which can present real difficulties if
those involved don’t take the right steps to cope with
the effect on themselves and their colleagues.
The situations can be many and varied, but roles and
relationships can change most radically when there is a
promotion from ‘within the ranks’. People who used to
work on a level playing field not just as colleagues but
as friends must suddenly try to reconcile a change
where, for the majority, one of their own is suddenly
their new boss.
This ‘Peer-to-Power’ situation is confusing and com-
plicated on both sides of the equation – how should re-
lationships change? Can colleagues who used to be
equal have the same conversations as they did before?
It can present the most awkward circumstances, espe-
cially when the leader has to deal with performance is-
sues for colleagues who first and foremost see their
new leader as a friend.
More familiar to most will be when a new leader ar-
rives fresh to a team and an organisation from outside.
Often, a new leader’s instinct is to start to assess the
behaviour and capabilities of his or her team members,
but forget to deal with their own fears or their vision for
the new team.
Then there is the owner-manager who needs to let
go. People who have established and developed a
business from scratch often reach a stage where the
BM173_Leadership:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:21 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 39
Adv i ce
Sue Powell explains what to do when your management role
changes and everyone is looking to you for guidance
growth in their business forces a change in their
role. Many owner/managers find this very diffi-
cult, often citing the belief that they have to stay
very heavily involved just to maintain efficiency.
Failing to hand over even a limited measure of
control and relinquish a hands-on role ends up
being millstone around the neck of a growing
Letting go
Key to ensuring an effective transition in any
of these situations is a mixture of thorough
preparation, self-awareness and ongoing sup-
Being a leader is not just about “doing” – it’s
about being. It is critical that a leader is aware
of his or her own emotions, reactions and im-
pact on others in order to self-manage and de-
Though it’s vital to use the expertise of those
colleagues, resist the temptation to try and un-
derstand absolutely everything from day one.
Those coming in as a leader from the outside will
benefit from being genuinely curious about their
new colleagues – asking plenty of open ques-
tions without assuming to know what the an-
swers will be.
Leaders also need to be aware of how they
communicate themselves and how they are per-
ceived. Asking for regular and specific feedback,
either in person or in the form of a 360 feedback
tool, is so much more effective than guesswork.
Successful leadership starts from within so
new leaders need to think carefully about they
feel about taking on a new, more senior role and
how this might impact others. As a new leader,
be open and honest with colleagues – work out
together how to manage this new situation. It’s
a big shift and relationships can take on a dif-
ferent significance, so start by taking the time to
have an open and honest conversation with
each of the key individuals.
The challenge for the ‘owner-turned-leader’
is to trust the people they are giving more re-
sponsibility to. This kind of self management
means moving from being the ‘doer’ and know-
ing everything which is going on in the organi-
sation, to working on the vision and strategy
rather than the detail. In practical terms start
slowly by assessing the areas of greatest gain
for the business but lower risk.
Look for the people in your team who have
competency in those key areas area or who can
be quickly and cost-effectively trained. Be hon-
est in designing your relationship with them, so
as you hand over work they know what you ex-
pect from them. Get as much training as you for
your own benefit to improve areas such as com-
Being open to support is key too. Even if
your business is so small that you don’t think its
worth having a Board, set up an advisory com-
mittee instead which could even involve clients.
Both new and experienced leaders often feel
that they “should” just be able to lead and are ei-
ther too nervous or too proud to ask for help.
People promoted to leadership positions are
often recognised because of their technical
rather than leadership capabilities. But leader-
ship skills can be learned, so asking for help is
key. Support can be in the form of a mentor who
is a current colleague, an experienced friend or
contact from elsewhere, or a process which in-
volves professional development and coaching.
The choice will very much depend on individual
Both individual and team coaching can help
everyone adapt to new circumstances. Often,
the fresh view and expertise that a third party
can bring can help people not just deal with the
day-to-day difficulties of leadership, but allow
them the breathing space to develop new skills
to make sureeverything works out over the
longer term.
What these options all have in common is a
practical approach to leadership Typically up to
the first 100 days of new leadership set the tone
for the future and often determine the success
or failure of the whole project, team or even
company, so it’s vital to work out how support is
going to be delivered as soon as possible.
For further information visit
BM173_Leadership:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:22 Page 2
Gordon Brown reputedly waited many years
to step into the top job, yet when he even-
tually did he made the mistake that so many
other leaders have made before him. Gor-
don forgot to leave his old job behind.
It is no accident that the only major success
of Gordon Brown’s premiership so far has been
on the world financial stage. This is a world in
which he feels at home and so can use his
strengths and experience to full effect. He has
had somewhat less success however on the
media stage, promoting himself and his gov-
ernment. So many leaders move into a new
role and fail to assess and define the priorities
of the new job, trying instead to use the skills
of old that have served them so well on the up-
ward climb.
It is this transition that can prove to be the
undoing of many a talented star who has risen
through the ranks delivering targets and
achieving goals. The move into a more senior
leadership role often brings with it new re-
sponsibilities, a broader strategic focus and
the need to consider every uttered word that
may be unpicked and analysed for hidden
meaning. Exhausting as it may seem, every de-
cision, every smile and every handshake must
be considered. The water-coolers and corri-
dors of offices can spurn discussions just as
toxic as those in the corridors of power.
Define priorities
It is in this transition that an Executive
Coach can prove invaluable. A coach can help
the new leader define the priorities of the new
job and to distinguish between ‘what I like
doing, and what I should be doing’. By chal-
lenging the rationale, the coach can bring a
unique honesty to task prioritisation, helping to
clarify the needs of the new role in the broader
organisational context. As a neutral party the
coach can also help raise awareness of the
strengths and weaknesses that the leader
brings to the role. An authentic appraisal of
skills will prove invaluable to achieving results.
Only then can the leader begin to shape the
new role and appreciate which tasks they
should take on, and which should be dele-
gated to better suited or more charismatic lieu-
Ultimately coaching is about taking action.
Priorities and awareness can only yield results
if acted on. A coach can provide the support
needed by leaders to define appropriate strate-
gies to move forward. As sounding board or
confidante the coach provides a unique think-
ing space which frees the mind from the
shackles of fear and indecision. Helping to
build concrete action plans to enable the
leader to travel to the edges of their comfort
zone but not beyond their realm of compe-
Adv i ce
Carmelina Lawton Smith is a Senior Lecturer & consultant with Oxford Brookes University
Business School and an Independent Executive Coach & development specialist
40 • issue 173 Business Matters
You know you need a
business coach when...
To contact Carmelina Lawton Smith:
You’re facing
a transition
BM173_40:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:25 Page 1
42 • issue 173 Business Matters
Adv i ce
Give your business a
‘cost healthcheck’
recent study by the Chartered Insti-
tute of Personnel & Development
concluded that making job cuts
should be the last resort in the current eco-
nomic downturn, after revealing that the cost
of laying off an employee could be more than
Against this another study revealed that
69% of Financial Directors feel under pressure
from board colleagues to find more ways to cut
costs. With Britain now officially in recession,
how does a business keep costs in check to
maintain a healthy bottom line without neces-
sarily making redundancies? Robert Allison,
Managing Director of Expense Reduction An-
alysts, the world’s largest cost reduction con-
sultancy, believes that organisations can make
savings in the region of 20% on average
through putting the spotlight on a range of
non-core operating costs.
Here Allison provides 10 top tips to trim
business expenditure:
Create a cost
conscious culture
The economic boom over the last ten years
may have affected your employees’ focus on
cost control. Develop a culture where every-
body within the organisation is responsible for
challenging costs, from the receptionist book-
ing a courier to senior management reviewing
their nationwide logistics provision.
Celebrate cost reductions as you do busi-
ness wins. Even create an internal awards
scheme for cost reductions made by employ-
Make staff aware that savings go straight on
the bottom line. Also use powerful and simple
monetary examples to educate your workforce
regarding the quick and significant impact that
cost savings can have on profitability. For ex-
ample, based on a typical 8% profit margin, for
£50,000 of savings a company would have to
increase sales by £625,000 to have the same
positive impact on the bottom line.
It is critical to start caring about cost man-
agement before the situation becomes critical
and hasty decisions have to be made. Also get
your suppliers involved during the implemen-
tation of the cost reduction programme.
Lead by example
Business leaders need to set an example by
demonstrating to employees that they care
about saving money, even on the smallest
items. Don’t book the most expensive flights
and hotels when you are asking your own
management teams to take the budget option
in both cases.
As a business leader you will need to open
your organisation to scrutiny and examine
every cost.
Be marketwise
It is critical that you are aware of the constantly
changing supplier market for the costs you are
examining and any developments that you
may be able to capitalise on. For example the
fact that energy prices are currently going
down and paper costs are on the up. Establish
a supplier market intelligence system and up-
date that system at regular intervals.
To have any chance of negotiating
favourable arrangements with suppliers, you
must have knowledge of the prevailing market
prices and practices. Do not rely on your
supplier for this information.
Also don’t waste time and energy on looking
at individual item costs from different suppli-
ers. By enhancing your knowledge of the
supplier market place you will increase your
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confidence of using one supplier for a number
of items and gaining from a ‘basket’ cost rate.
Don’t purchase things you
don’t need
Buy what you need and not what your suppli-
ers would like to sell you. Suppliers will often
use bait-and-switch tactics to move you onto
their higher margin items or will try their ver-
sion of the fast food pitch “would you like fries
with that?” Many suppliers make much more
money from supplementary services or add-on
services such as service or maintenance
agreements. Be sure you understand what you
are buying and whether you really need it. For
example, do not purchase premium services
unless they are necessary, such as a 10am
courier delivery if 5pm is acceptable.
Establish your costs
You may believe your costs are under control
but your perceived ‘well kept ship’ may not be
as leak proof as you thought. Forensically ex-
amine and benchmark your costs line by line.
It is often our experience that this is where the
barrier to making cost improvements lies as
this demands significant resource. Therefore it
could reap significant dividends to look at
using outside agencies, consultants and
benchmarking services to establish your costs
by getting comparisons against competitors
and other suppliers.
In doing so you will highlight areas that have
the most potential for improvement and will
help you set cost saving priorities.
Keep the green
light flashing
Instil a sense of urgency and create a culture of
cost consciousness where employees act im-
mediately to reduce costs and maximise prof-
itability. If it does not remain high on the
boardroom agenda, employees will see the di-
rectors’ crusades as ‘the flavour of the month’
and the drive to cut costs will fall to the bot-
tom of everyone’s in tray.
Let suppliers know about
your cost review
Rarely will a supplier volunteer a price review.
Let your suppliers know that you are under-
taking a review of all overhead costs. Also
refuse to accept price increases during these
challenging times as well as suppliers’ state-
ments that ‘our prices are higher because we
provide superior quality and service’ or “our
prices cannot be beaten” – remember it is a
buyers market and you will be amazed how
many suppliers will back down to retain the
As highlighted above do your research and
comparison-shopping before approaching
suppliers so that you are able to negotiate from
a position of strength. During negotiations pre-
sent the value of your business to the supplier.
Establish key supplier
In addition to reviewing prices look at
establishing key performance indicators, which
are appropriate for your business. Set them
higher than required and this will add to the
cost base. Conversely set them too low and
this could affect the quality of your service to
your clients and business relationships in the
longer term.
Make sure you obtain management
information from suppliers relating to any cost
increases/decreases, otherwise these could be
easily be hidden, and therefore missed, in an
invoice incorporating a large number of
supplied items. This both helps avoid over-
charging and ensures a transparent relation-
ship with the supplier. Finally constantly
monitor the performance levels and adherence
to the contract.
Jettisoning suppliers should
be the last consideration
Reducing costs is not just about going to a
cheaper supplier. Indeed good relationships in
any line of business are fundamental and the
one with your supplier is no exception. By
following the tips above and working in
partnership with your suppliers to identify cost
cutting strategies you can in the majority of
cases generate savings without affecting or
disrupting standards of service through
changing suppliers.
Create a long-term cost-
management programme
Potential savings are great, but they don’t
mean anything unless they are realised. After
implementing a culture of cost consciousness,
appoint cost champions to drive the
programme forward. Constantly monitor the
situation to ensure staff are not slipping into
old habits; suppliers are charging correct
prices; and that service standards match the
agreed specification. Also remember to
frequently review each business cost category
whether it be logistics, property, banking,
telecommunications, property costs and many
By following these ten steps you should be
able to guarantee return on your cost
reduction programme.
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 43
BM173_Cost heathcheck:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:29 Page 2
ost people associate franchising with
large brands, but it can also be an ef-
fective way for some smaller busi-
nesses, struggling to raise finance in order to
expand in the present economic climate, to
grow at minimal cost. The Forum of Private
Business is campaigning to raise awareness of
franchising as a way forward for many viable
"There is no doubt that businesses in cer-
tain sectors are being hit hardest by recession
and restrictions in the availability of credit,"
said Nick Palin, the FPB's Director of Finance.
"However, others are still capable of expand-
ing because they are in less susceptible mar-
kets. It's our responsibility to tell them about
all of the options that are available to take their
businesses forward."
The FPB has launched an awareness cam-
paign to spread the word, following its part-
nership with Franchise Development Services
(FDS), which has six offices throughout the UK
including one in Altrincham, Cheshire, run by
Tony Urwin.
Mr Urwin had been instrumental in develop-
ing awareness of franchising, including an un-
derstanding of the size and scale of the
industry and how franchises operate. The part-
nership has enabled the FPB to put together
comprehensive information about franchising.
This is now being made available to through
the FPB’s website,, and to mem-
bers via its weekly eNewsletter.
"The FPB's campaign to provide more in-
formation to its members is to be applauded
because at times like these businesses up and
down the UK need to know all the options that
are available to them," said Mr Urwin.
"The FPB holds a lot of sway with business
owners and it's one of the ways our industry
can clarify a lot of the misconceptions about
franchising and offer the right information and
advice to businesses, as a significant propor-
tion of them could use franchising as a route
to expansion, even in the current economic cli-
Essentially, franchising can be described as
a 'business marriage' between the franchisor
(the small business wanting to expand their
brand) and the franchisee (who wants to take
on the license).
In effect, it allows for a business to be
‘cloned’. Budding entrepreneurs bear the brunt
of the costs for the privilege of opening and
operating new locations of the established
business, paying the franchisor an initial fee, as
well as ongoing management service fees, in
return for the training, manuals, and a launch
package to help get them started.
Franchising can be a win-win proposition for
both parties. Franchisees enjoy the opportu-
nity to own and operate a proven business and
enjoy training, support and other benefits that
are often not available to other entrepreneurs.
While is not a process suitable for every
business, for those that have proven to be
workable and profitable with sound medium to
long term prospects, franchising can mean the
beginnings of a nationwide network.
Five tips to help business owners decide if
franchising is the future are:
Is there a product or service that the mar-
ket needs and wants in the long-term?
There is no point in trying to franchise some-
thing that no one will want, so if a business is
in an industry that is struggling, it is unwise to
Has a proven business system been estab-
lished demonstrating practical success?
Franchising an idea is impossible – any poten-
tial franchisee will want to see that it works in
the real world. The best franchisors use their
own business as a model or develop a pilot
product to make sure they get the process
right before they launch a franchise operation.
Is the business profitable?
People who buy franchises invest thousands
of pounds and are looking for a return on that
investment. They are unlikely to settle for re-
turns they could earn by working full-time in a
salaried post.
Is the brand suited to national expansion?
The brand must be strong and exclusive. It is
important to first invest in brand development
in order to create something which people will
want to buy into.
Is there commitment to franchising as a
separate business which will demand con-
stant support and development?
Franchising isn't a ‘get rich quick’ option. The
franchise network will need ongoing support,
investment and may demand a completely dif-
ferent set of skills. It is essential to make the
commitment before you start the process.
Growing by
Phil McCabe from the Forum of Private Business looks at whether you can turn
your business model into a franchise model
For um of Pr i v at e Bus i nes s
44 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_FPB:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:30 Page 1
AM_26:Layout 1 24/03/2009 23:57 Page 26
Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently getting the results
from your cold calling that you could be…..
and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..
henever I’m talking to business
owners or their sales teams, the
topic of new business development
and cold calling in particular always evokes
interesting reactions.
Cold calling is one of those topics that ev-
eryone has an opinion on – even those that
don’t do it! And the salespeople and business
owners that do it normally fall into one of the
camps – love it, loathe it, or tolerate it!
However, no matter which of those camps
you or your team fall into, most people don’t
get the results that they want from cold calling,
so below are some reasons why that is the
case, and also some ideas on what to do about
So why isn’t your cold calling working as
well as it could be?.....
Lack Of Preparation
If this is you, you’re not alone! Most people fail
to prepare for their cold calling sessions prop-
erly. You’d be astounded how many times I
see people ‘start’ a cold calling session by
looking for their list of people to call, trying to
find their diary, finishing off an email, taking a
call from an existing client, tidying their desk,
going to get a drink or have a quick
cigarette…pretty much anything but start mak-
ing the calls!
Often, this means that the calling session
that was due to start at 10.00 now really starts
at about 10.40. Then, by the time the sales-
person has made a few calls, the session is
over! The salesperson might have achieved
their objective of ‘avoiding’ the session, but
has the session really contributed to the suc-
cess of the business? Hardly!
Cold calling is best done in focussed ‘ses-
sions’, with no interruptions. That means no
emails, no incoming phone calls, no interrup-
tions from colleagues, no going to get a drink
etc – do all of that before the session starts.
And if the session is meant to start at 10.00,
then the first phone call should be at 10.00 -
not 10.05, 10.10, or 10.20!
Lack Of Belief
A number of business owners and salespeople
I meet still aren’t convinced that cold calling
actually works, or could work for them and
their company. And those people are usually
the ones who have tried it (or are currently
doing it) and aren’t getting the results that they
could, or they haven’t tried it but have already
decided that it won’t work!
I always find it interesting when I talk to peo-
ple who have this belief as they often say that
‘cold calling just won’t work in my industry’.
Then, when I ask them what they do, they are
in the same industry as someone that I have
trained that is getting great results from cold
calling! Perhaps what the people with the neg-
ative beliefs really mean is – I’m not sure of the
right approach that would make it work for
Whatever the reason, if you or your team is
making cold calls with the belief that cold call-
ing doesn’t work, do you think that might stand
in the way of the potential success of your calls
a little? Of course it will!
In my experience of making and listening to
tens of thousands of cold calls in all sorts of in-
dustries, if you start with that sort of belief, your
activity levels will be lower, your voice tone will
be monotone and boring (instead of bright and
enthusiastic), you’ll accept the first objection
too easily and you’ll do anything to avoid doing
the calls – so is it any wonder that cold calling
isn’t working for you at the moment?!!
Inability To Deal With
This is always an interesting subject. This can
affect anyone, particularly if you’re new to
sales, new to cold calling, or only do it as part
of your role. For example, if your role consists
of mainly account management, if your boss
has just told you that you need to start making
cold calls, or you’ve started up your own busi-
ness and need to start cold calling, then this
could be affecting you right now!
Let’s face it - if you’re cold calling you’re
going to face some rejection. Some of you will
have to deal with the fact that people will give
you objections. Some of you will have to deal
with the fact that people will say ‘no’ directly
to you. And some of you will have to deal with
the fact that people will put the phone down on
you fairly regularly.
When you’re cold calling, the majority of
people you speak to are going to be hesitant,
resistant and say no to you at some level. The
point is, you’re not expecting to get a ‘yes’ on
every call. You’re expecting that 90%, 95%
sometimes even 97.5% of people are going to
say no. The reason you’re calling is to get the
smaller percentage of people that are going to
say yes to you – yes I’ll consider you, yes I’ll
meet with you, yes I’ll look at buying from you.
However if you can’t deal with (or learn to
deal with) the rejection that you’re going to
face, do you think that might stop you making
the calls, or do your best to avoid it? Of course
it will!
Hitting the phone
& getting results
BM173_Andy Preston:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:33 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 47
Adv i ce
Andy Preston is a leading expert on Sales and selling for
small businesses. You can see more about Andy at You can also see more about
Andy’s bite-sized training for small businesses at
Failure To Stay Motivated
Cold calling can be difficult. And because of the
amount of objections and rejection you face it can
sometimes be difficult to stay motivated. However
your failure to stay motivated could actually be caus-
ing you problems on your cold calls.
Many people I talk to find selling over the phone diffi-
cult. Particularly if your role involves selling face-to-face, or
has done in the past. This is because when you sell face-to-face,
you can read the other person’s body language, build rapport faster
and watch their reaction when you deliver your price. However when
you’re selling over the phone, all you have is your voice and delivery.
If your role involves a lot of cold calling, it’s very easy for your mo-
tivation levels to drop later in the day if you’re not careful! For many
people cold calling is about sounding bright, enthusiastic, confident
and certain and all these traits can be heard in your voice tone.
However, I’ve lost count of the amount of calls that have been
made when the salesperson or business owner isn’t motivated.
Their voice tone has gone from being bright and enthusiastic to
bored, tired and disinterested. They might as well be saying ‘Hi it’s
Andy from XYZ company… probably won’t be interested in
what we have to offer…’ve probably happy with your existing
supplier, so please put me out of my misery and tell me to go away,
so I can ring someone else and hit my call target to get my boss off
my back….’.
Now, you don’t have to be a genius to work
out that making that sort of call is
going to produce pretty
much zero results,
do you?!
BM173_Andy Preston:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:34 Page 2
n this digital age it is easier for us to dis-
seminate and obtain information than ever
before. The Web means we have informa-
tion constantly at our fingertips. Meanwhile we
are communicating with each other all the time
via email, mobiles and text messaging.” Word
of Mouth” has always been powerful, yet as
the opportunities to voice our opinions in-
crease, its importance is growing rapidly.
Reputation, therefore, is more essential for
companies than it ever has been. It doesn’t
matter whether you are a global enterprise or a
small local outfit. Retaining customers, keep-
ing them happy and, therefore, ensuring you
have a good reputation is not easy.
There are a many myths spoken about man-
aging customers. There is, however, a simple
and effective way for ensuring you are always
mindful of your reputation. In any situation, ask
yourself one question,
“What story will my customer tell?”
It is this question that enables you to decide
how to handle any situation effectively. The
story the customer will tell is how you are per-
ceived by them and, therefore, how you will be
perceived by others. It is this perception that is
all that matters.
The customer’s perception is their reality.
Whether it is right or wrong is irrelevant. Win-
ning the customer’s heart and mind is all about
how they perceive you.
Let me give you an example: There is a story
of an airline that launched a brand new long
distance route. On their maiden voyage the
plane was stuck on the runway for fourteen
hours. At that point what story would the cus-
tomers tell? They would probably tell their
friends and colleagues of a hellish journey that
would infer that they would never fly that air-
line again.
The next day, however, the owner of that air-
line called every passenger personally to apol-
ogize and offer them a discount on a future
flight. The story was managed brilliantly.
You see, the story was now about receiving
a personal call from such a well known and
busy person and the delay became incidental.
Instead of the airline being criticised for a poor
service, the story was all about their excellent
customer service and how much they care.
If you want to ensure you manage your cus-
tomers successfully; you need to be constantly
thinking about the story they are likely to tell.
Just sending them a thank you note when they
decide to use you, will mean they will be telling
a good story. How many companies do that
and yet it is so simple?
During the time they are engaged with you,
ask the same question. For example, If you are
going to send a Christmas gift, ask the ques-
tion; “What story will they tell if I send them the
standard calendar or diary branded with our
company logo? There is a good chance they
won’t tell any story at all. Therefore, what value
have you obtained? The answer is none.
So think of the story.
Find out what they like during the course of
working together. Then, for example, if you
know they like milk chocolate, send them a box
with a note. The impact will be huge and the
story they will tell will be very positive.
Managing customers does not have to be
difficult. Always think about the story they will
be repeating to their friends and colleagues. If
you think it may be negative, think about how
you can turn that around.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money but
you do have to give it a lot of thought. Having
customers talking about you in a positive light
and ensuring you have a good reputation in
today’s market place is invaluable. Quite sim-
ply, you cannot afford not to.
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 49
Grant Leboff is Principal of The Intelligent Sales
Club working with companies on effective sales
and marketing strategies and lead generation;
creating a steady stream of sales opportunities
for businesses. For more information visit or call:
0844 478 0044.
Guaranteeing your
BM173_Grant Leboff:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:35 Page 1
50 • issue 173 Business Matters
Goi ng i t al one
Going it
t the end of the ‘90’s the air was thick
with revolution. Offices, newspapers
and gastropubs across the land were
alive with rumours that the end of the work-
place as we knew it was nigh. With just a
mobile phone and a laptop, people could work
from anywhere, anytime. For some, tomorrow’s
working world was a freelancer’s haven. To
others, it was all hype.
Whichever way you look at it, the UK’s
freel ance communi ty i s growi ng and i t
i ncl udes some of the country’s most
experienced and talented workers who make
up a highly skilled, highly mobile and flexible
21st century workforce.
Your own boss
Some of the common reasons cited for
going freelance include being your own boss,
making more money, having freedom and
variety and striking the work/life balance.
The pi tfal l s i ncl ude l ess securi ty,
uncertai nty, hassl e i n runni ng your own
business with forms and legislation, working
on your own and being 100% accountable.
One thing that is certain is that as a
freelancer you will be faced with some new
challenges. Having set up and chosen the
right structure that works for you - you will
hopefully have your accounting, banking and
insurance issues as well as tax matters in
place - you can focus on your core business,
securing the work and handling clients.
Devising a plan
You need to research your market –
understand where you fit in that marketplace,
how many freelancers already work in your
area, who’s the competition, how much do
they charge? You can then position yourself
accordingly and decide what you can offer in
terms of price, customer service and terms of
Stephen Sharp has been self-employed for
16 years. After ten years working for BAe
Military Aircraft as an engineer, Stephen
wanted to expand his experience. He has
certainly achieved that and his work has
taken him all over the world. Stephen is keen
to stress that Rome wasn’t built in a day and
perseverance, enthusiasm and a positive
outlook is key if you want to be successful,
even when things are not going to plan.
Marketing yourself is important. As you
move from role to role, your portfolio will
John Brazier looks at the growing trend of staff going it on their own
BM173_50_51_52:Layout 1 16/06/2009 09:57 Page 1
Gong i t al one
Business Matters issue 173 • 51
become your strongest selling tool. It can
demonstrate your successes and highlight
your experience and expertise, giving your
prospective clients confidence in your work.
Look on yoursel f as a product that i s
continually developing and evolving. You
may want to invest in some PR, advertising or
a websi te, al l sound marketi ng
communications tools which, if executed
properly, should bring rewards in the form of
new business.
Stephen bel i eves that preparati on i s
crucial: “It is worth honing your presentation
skills and identifying your unique selling
points so that you can convince potential
clients that they really do need your services.
You need to di fferenti ate yoursel f by
demonstrating a good track record, solid
experience and impressive references that
show where you have added real value to a
Managing good client relations are vital
and building an open and honest relationship
wi th the cl i ent i s the foundati on of any
assignment. It is important to show that you
understand the assignment’s objectives,
needs, chal l enges and constrai nts and
discuss how you will work with the client. It
is important that time is taken to review and
provide feedback on the project itself which
presents a good opportunity to build the
client-consultant relationship. This can be
done at any stage of the assignment and
helps to prevent any misunderstandings.
The importance of contracts is an essential
part of every freelancer’s toolkit and should
not be underestimated. Not only do they
outline the expectations of both parties, but
they also provide a legal framework within
which these will be achieved, and a back up
shoul d l egal i nterventi on be requi red.
Contracts provide a formal definition of the
business relationship between the freelancer
and agency or direct client.
You need to agree with your client whether
you are bei ng taken on as a temporary
employee or a contractor. If your client will
control you closely, guarantee to pay you
whether or not there is work to do and not
allow you to send a substitute if you are ill or
unable to come in to work, then you will be
probably be hired as an employee on a fixed
or short-term contract of employment. You
can then accrue employment rights from day
However, if you are allowed to use your
professional judgement to work out how to
perform tasks, can go home if there is no
work to do or can send a suitable alternative
i f you are unavai l abl e then you are a
contractor with no employment rights.
Just as importantly, agree the objectives
and outcomes of the proj ect you are
undertaki ng – defi ne del i verabl es, set
timescales, agree a start date and negotiate
Most freelance consultants use time as the
basis for determining fees, because it can
flex according to the variations in the scope
and delivery of a project. The time is usually
sold on a daily rate, weekly rate or an hourly
rate. Most common is a day rate and prepare
to set it according to the market rate.
Some freelancers choose to charge a fixed
price to complete a specific project. This
option is arguably only viable if you have
control over the scope of the project and the
process involved. Without control, you could
run the risk of undercharging and short-
changing yourself as the brief often changes
and the business environment shifts.
As a freelancer, you will quickly come to
realise that cash flow is extremely important.
Every year businesses become insolvent
because of cash flow problems. One of the
best ways to improve cash flow is to get
clients to pay their bills more quickly. Some
tactics to adopt include – don’t assume you
have to offer 30 day payment terms, try 14
days; you could offer early discount settling,
send out invoices promptly with clear and
detailed information so that the client has no
reason to query the i nvoi ce and del ay
payment. Chase payment tenaciously.
Facing the Competition
Consul tants can someti mes fi nd
themselves in a difficult situation – when their
experti se wants to be used by two
compani es competi ng i n the same
marketplace. Richard Robson believes the
issue is an ethical one. As director of Project
Pi l ots and a former di rector of PCG, he
‘As a freelancer, you will
quickly come to realise that
cash flow is extremely
BM173_50_51_52:Layout 1 16/06/2009 09:58 Page 2
52 • issue 173 Business Matters
Goi ng i t al one
played an important role in designing PCG
(QS), a UKAS-approved ISO9001
certification tailor-made for small businesses.
He would advise any consultant to get their
contract reviewed by a professional so that it
doesn’t restrain you from trading with others.
If the contract i s not expl i ci t i t i s not
contractually binding and a consultant is free
to work for any client.
If cl i ent A i s not happy, then he may
terminate your contract. As a matter of
delicate commercial sensitivity, it should be
handled accordingly. A consultant should
wei gh up the l osses i f faced wi th thi s
situation – both financially and professionally.
If taking the second contract will cost you
the first, can you afford to damage your
reputation? Under no circumstances should
you start a contract with client B until you’ve
tol d cl i ent A and made a responsi bl e
decision. Don’t be greedy and rush for the
increased rewards. Such a short-sighted
decision could cost you dearly!
Without an explicit contract a consultant
is free to seek further engagements with any
cl i ent he chooses but as a matter of
professional ethics, bring it to client A’s
attention – it gives them an opportunity to
convince you not to but it also allows you to
hi ghl i ght the benefi ts because you’re
developing your sector skills.
Paul Worrall runs Interition and has been a
freelance IT consultant for sixteen years. He
said: “Interition won a contract to implement
a content management system for an online
mapping company. In the contract they
inserted a clause that prevented us from
working with almost all direct and indirect
competitors for a significant period of time
after our engagement had finished. We
already had a client in the pipeline so we had
a conflict of interest.
“We brought it to the client’s attention
quickly and explained that the exclusivity
woul d mean that they woul d have to
compensate us for any loss of opportunity –
through a combination of higher rates or a
longer contractual agreement. We were
objective about it and worked with them to
identify what they wanted to protect from
their competition. We ring fenced the work
that fell under the clause and explained to all
parties how to handle it. We explained the
situation to the new client who, whilst they
had not considered there may be a conflict
of interest, was impressed that we were
taking the initiative.
“At fi rst, the cl i ent that wanted the
exclusivity clause was dogmatic but when
presented with a choice between extra cost
or taking the time to break down the clause
more specifically, they conceded.”
Paul believes it is important to give clients
choices and act as a facilitator. He is keen
to poi nt out that whi l st you can never
completely avoid a conflict of interest you
should have quality management processes
i n pl ace that serve to i denti fy potenti al
problems before they arise. Paul added:
“The client could have gone to another
contractor who may have ignored the clause
i n the hope that the i ssue never arose.
Fortunately, we were able to negotiate a
Freelancers are part of a growing trend
towards “the alternative to the status quo” -
neither employer nor employee - that is
i ncreasi ngl y bei ng recogni sed as an
immensely important, contributing sector by
maj or organi sati ons and cruci al to the
success of UK plc. Businesses are scaling
back on thei r expensi ve benefi t-heavy
workforce more and more, recognising the
benefits of tapping into an alternative and
knowledgeable workforce when they need to.
Those freelancers with the skills and tools to
run and develop their businesses will find
themselves in a win win situation.
Freelancers are part of a
growing trend towards
“the alternative to the
status quo” - neither em-
ployer nor employee
John Brazier is MD of The Professional
Contractors Group (PCG),, a not-for-profit organi-
sation that was established in 1999 to
provide representation, support, and
advice to freelance consultants. Today,
PCG boasts 15,000 members.
BM173_50_51_52:Layout 1 16/06/2009 09:58 Page 3
Technol ogy
Business Matters issue 173 • 53
24” LED Cinema Display
Apple’s 24” features new advanced
LED technology, for brighter more
accurate images. Connect your Mac
to the LED Cinema Display and take
advantage of the built-in iSight
camera and charge your MacBook
with integrated Mag-Safe adapter, all
in the greenest-display ever.
Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard
The worlds most advanced Operating System, with 300 new features
like Time Machine, back-up quickly and efficiently, Stacks to keep all
your files organised, Finder and Cover Flow to flip through and preview
your files and much much more.
Wireless Keyboard
Featuring a low-profile, anodised alu-
minium frame that will match any
Mac. Apple Wireless Keyboard con-
nects via Bluetooth, allowing you
freedom to move around.
G-Tech G Speed eS
G-Techs high speed RAID solution, designed for Video Editors can
support up to 6TB of hot-swappable drives. Connect up to four G Speed
eS units to your Mac Desktop for up to 24TB of storage, with access
speeds up to 600MB/second!
Final Cut Studio
Final Cut Studio brings together six post-production suites to work
together seamlessly, including Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack 3
and DVD Studio pro 4. Allowing you to Move intuitively from editing to
colour grading to creating motion graphics to sculpting audio to
multi-format encoding to DVD authoring.
iPod Touch 8GB
Apples funnest iPod ever! Download
Games, Apps, Music, Films, TV
Programmes, surf the web, and
much much more with one touch!
iWork ‘09
Apples productivity suite is the easiest way to create stunning
documents, spreadsheets and presentations with flair! Introducing brand
new features in Pages ’09, improved functionality in Numbers ’09 and
even more beautiful templates in Keynote ’09.
MacBook White 2.0GHz
Enclosed in a durable white-polycarbonate shell, MacBook has some-
thing for everyone. Built-in iSight Camera, mic, speakers, Wi-Fi and a
13.3” glossy widescreen display all in a compact design to carry with
you anywhere.
24” iMac 2.66GHz
With a fast Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of memory and pow-
erful NVIDIA graphics – all as standard – iMac brings you more perfor-
mance than ever. Not to mention iMac is beautiful, with its anodised
aluminium and glass enclosure and stunningly thin design, why choose
between brains and beauty when you can have both?
15.4” MacBook Pro 2.4GHz
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is thinner, more
powerful and years ahead of its time. The
stunning, ultra-thin LED-backlit display gives
you instant full-screen brightness. NVIDIA
graphics provide even faster
performance. The all-new,
smooth glass Multi-Touch trackpad
is clickable everywhere, so you have more control and more room for
new gestures.
Equanet, the leading specialist provider of IT products & solutions for small businesses
and the public sector and the largest Apple Authorised service provider in UK is giving
away an iPod Touch to one lucky reader.
To be in with a chance of winning simply tell us why you should be the
proud owner of the iPod by email to:
Apple Macintosh computers used to the preserve of media businesses like graphic designers and architects but
over the past 10 years they have become not only a credible alternative to PC’s. They are now many businesses
chosen option given their lower ongoing costs, easy of use and stylish design. Here we look at the top 10 Mac
products to help you manage your business IT in a better and more stylish way.
The Mac alternative
BM173_Mac:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:43 Page 1
Adv i ce
Under the
We look at some of the latest business related gadgets designed to make yourself
or your business more efficient. Our man who strives for power plug led efficiency
Mark Prigg investigates...
Gyration Air Mouse
Portable, compact, lightweight
design with laser precision sensor
is perfect for the traveling note-
book user. The Air Mouse enables
you to navigate your desktop and
take complete control of your con-
tent from the comfort of your desk
The Air Mouse features in-air control
with MotionSense technology providing the freedom to unleash
yourself from strain-inducing surfaces.Incorporates 2.4 GHz RF
technology without line-of-sight limitations and a range of up to
100 feet (30m)
The Gyration Air Mouse is simple to use and easy to install - If
you have a PC (There are no obvious Mac drivers available). Just
plug in the USB receiver into an available USB port, slide the Air
Mouse switch to on, press the connect button on the USB re-
ceiver and Air Mouse, and your computer will automatically de-
tect and configure the Air Mouse – there are no drivers to
manually install. Place the Air Mouse on your desktop for use as
a traditional mouse.
The mouse features ambidextrous design with right and left but-
tons and 3 assignable buttons for customer control of applica-
tion commands and if you are a rehular:
Corporate business users
Frequent traveling notebook users
Corporate presenters
Professional lecturers
Trainers and instructors
PROS: Good solid tower PC
CONS: Not a cost-effective process to upgrade the RAM
Freecom Hard Drive XS
The world’s smallest
3.5” desktop hard drive
offering storage capac-
ity of up to 1TB. This
makes it perfect for
both home users and
professionals who want
to back up their data or
carry it on the move.
Designed in collabora-
tion with acclaimed Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz, the sleek
new Hard Drive XS is covered in a form-fitting rubber enclosure
that ensures optimal grip and reduced vibration, combining func-
tionality with refinement. The fanless system means the drive is
almost silent and weighing in at just 860 grams, it is easy to trans-
port and makes sharing data more convenient than ever. In addi-
tion, the Turbo USB 2.0 connection offers transfer speeds of up
to 30 percent faster than competing solutions for downloading or
uploading data.
With the explosion of Web 2.0 applications and new media – from
digital photos and ‘home videos’ to downloaded music and TV
programmes, computer users are running out of places to store
their data
There is very little that you can say about this device apart from
it does what it is supposed to, in silence and looks nice.
PROS: Small and the rubberised casing
CONS: THe outer casing can look a bit tatty after a while
54 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_54_55:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:45 Page 1
Adv i ce
Apple mac iMac 24”
We tested the fastest-available, 2.8GHz
version with the optional 750GB hard
disk, which added about another £100
to the price tag, bringing the total cost
of our configuration to £1,559. For
more on the design, features, and ser-
vice and support of the fourth-gener-
ation iMac, check out our in-depth
review of the 20-inch, 2.4GHz iMac.
When we tested the 20-inch, 2.4GHz
iMac, we came away impressed by
its application performance, with it
more than holding its
own against competing
Windows-based, main-
stream desktops. The
same can easily be said for
the 24-inch, 2.8GHz iMac.
With its faster processor, the 24-inch, 2.8GHz iMac is expectedly faster
than the 20-inch, 2.4GHz iMac on all of our application benchmarks -
- as well as many similarly priced Windows machines.
The test performs simultaneous video and audio encoding, which typ-
ically taxes the resources of most systems.
Serious multitaskers and some prosumers can definitely gain addi-
tional screen area to support more open applications on the desktop,
and the modest performance bump can make a difference during
longer video or audio renders. Perhaps the ideal user is someone who
needs as much processing power as possible from a Mac but can't
justify the much costlier Mac Pro.
PROS: Very stylish,very fast & virus free
CONS: Will not be 100% compatible
IRISCard 4
So you go to a trade show and collect 300 business cards. Now that
activity really seemed to be great idea when you were doing it, but
now back at the office the rubber band bound piles of business cards
need to be dealt with.
The device is small, fast and very accurate. It has good OCR capa-
bilities which connect directly into Outlook, Word and most leading
PC and Mac software.
There is very little to do apart from feed it your business cards and
then click on the scanned image to tell the sotfware which is the
company name, address, phone number, email etc.
PROS: Good, fast, quality scanning
CONS: Could struggle with really demanding tasks
Freecom Media Player II
The MediaPlayer II holds up
to 1TB of data – it can store
and play back up to 220
full DVD movies, 200,000
MP3s and 668,000 digital
photos* – and is also
ideal for those who need
extra storage space on their home net-
work, doubling as a fast USB 2.0 external hard
drive. With HDMI video capabilities (up to 1080i), the Medi-
aPlayer II also supports open source format mkv files and includes
a BitTorrent client for managing downloads trouble-free.
For around £320, it's intended for businesses that want to lower their
energy costs, or for energy-conscious users who want to be kinder
to the environment.
With a fast hard drive, JPEG viewer, and video and music player all-
in-one, Freecom’s portable MediaPlayer II system is designed to
make data-sharing with friends and family fun and simple. Further-
more, its small size (203 mm x 160 mm x 46 mm), noise-free oper-
ation and handy remote control make it the perfect addition to any
By connecting the MediaPlayer II to a PC or network router, users
can simply drag and drop their desired content onto the drive and
then directly connect to the audio or visual medium of their choice,
making audio and video playback effortless.
Furthermore, the Media Player II comes with an optional Wireless
LAN (WLAN) adapter, enabling consumers to move their content
around easily and to stream movies and music without having to
leave the couch.
PROS: Cheap & Better than having to watch video on PC’s
CONS: Not that easy to integrate and use painlessly
Business Matters issue 173 • 55
To be in with a chance to win
these & other business gadgets
log-on to:
BM173_54_55:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:45 Page 2
56 • issue 173 Business Matters
Adv i ce
What would you do if your IT system crashed, burned
or got stolen? Get a free professional audit of your IT
disaster plan... if you have one. Call now and quote BM0808
We’ll make your IT work for you...
T 01923 654 900 E

BM173_40:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:53 Page 1
hy do larger companies get the
benefits of new software first?
When productivity-enhancing appli-
cations like CRM, sales management and even
accounting software are introduced, they’re
typically aimed at big organisations with big IT
These applications trickle down to smaller
businesses eventually. But even then, costs
are still high: the software has to be pur-
chased, licensed, maintained and supported.
Hardware often needs to be upgraded. And it
all serves to distract you from running your
However, there are new types of software
application that offer even larger benefits to
smaller organisations than to larger ones.
These are cloud computing applications, which
can level the playing field and make powerful
business software available to any business –
from a one-person start-up to an organisation
with a turnover of £20m or more.
Cloud formations
How do cloud applications do this? Put
simply, instead of purchasing the software ap-
plications you want, and installing them on
your own computers (with all the associated
upfront costs), the applications are hosted on
secure servers that you access over the Inter-
net – that is, in the cloud. You use the appli-
cations, and input or extract data and files, via
your web browser.
This works in the same way as web-based
services such as Hotmail, Google Mail and
Amazon. These are all methods of storing and
accessing data via a web browser, making
them classical cloud applications. And in the
same way, a major advantage of cloud appli-
cations is that someone else is taking care of
all the awkward, costly parts of business com-
puting – buying and running servers, maintain-
ing the software, handling upgrades and so on.
With the upfront and ongoing costs of soft-
ware removed in this way, you just pay to use
the applications as you go along – typically a
low monthly fee (around £25 per user). And
you have the ability to add functions and users,
as you need to. You pay for cloud computing
services just like you pay for electricity or water
– as you use them.
Clear benefits
So you access the business applications
you want to use – from accounting, and e-
commerce to CRM, stock management and so
on – online in a single ‘dashboard’ display in
your web browser, with their files and data se-
curely backed up on servers in the cloud.
This has several key advantages, quite apart
from the obvious low costs and avoidance of
upfront investment in new software. First,
you’re no longer dependent on one particular
computer to access and work on business
data. As long as you have a connection to the
Internet, you can retrieve files and access or
manipulate business data anywhere – whether
at your desk, at home, via a WiFi hotspot or 3G
on a laptop or web-enabled handheld device.
So you can take your business wherever you
Second, the headaches of managing and
maintaining the applications are removed – you
simply use the applications, without the need
to dedicate resources and manpower to sup-
port them.
Let’s take a look at a case study of an
established business that’s benefiting from
using cloud computing applications.
Allgas is a Yorkshire-based specialist
supplier and maintainer of gas and electrical
appliances and accessories. Allgas carries a
large stock of appliances, accessories and
spares, totalling some 30,000 items across its
two sites, and is building an e-commerce site
to enable customers to order parts online
In particular, stock management was
becoming an issue for the growing company.
Managing director Elaine Whylde said: “We
were looking for a cost-effective solution to
provide a single, real time view of our central
stock position, both internally to the business
and externally to our customers through our
e-commerce web site.
Allgas chose an application, which gives
access to stock information, purchases and
transaction records, so stock levels can be
managed efficiently. It gives a constantly
updated, real-time view of the company’s
current position, and can be accessed securely
from any web-enabled device at any time,
helping with planning and decision-making.
Put simply, cloud computing gives a way for
smaller companies to access enterprise-class
business software applications, and get the
same benefits, without the enterprise price-tag
or maintenance costs.
Adv i ce
Business Matters issue 173 • 57
Will cloud computing
lift your business?
What is cloud computing and what can it do to help
your business cut costs and grow? Dean Miles
helps us as we look to the sky for the future
BM173_clouds:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:54 Page 1
Legal Adv i ce
58 • issue 173 Business Matters
ith over 200,000 SMEs expected to
go bust in 2009 those that will
succeed are companies that
understand the changing nature of risk and
are willing to adapt.
As many businesses are trying to reduce
costs cutting their cover can often be
tempting. However, without it the
consequences could be far reaching and
potentially devastating for a company’s
Consult a professional
While your needs may seem simple and
small the most important thing for any small
business is to take on board professional
advice such as a broker. As your business
changes so will the needs of your cover and a
good broker will be able to tailor your cover
specifically to your needs. More importantly,
they will also be able to keep you informed of
any legislation changes and HR updates, and
therefore help you avoid any future fines or
With the growth of comparison websites,
many are tempted to choose the cheapest
option that ticks the most number of boxes.
However, as a result of insurance providers
wanting to appear as high up the list as
possible and so often have to hide costs that
come into play later on.
Many will charge high interest rates on
monthly direct debit payments or have high
excesses on claims. So before making any
purchase decisions ask someone to take you
through the details so that you are aware of
any further costs down the line.
Make sure you forecast properly
When deciding on the right package for
your business it is important to ensure you
forecast for your needs over the time it is due
to run. If you take on more staff, increase
stock or change your premises then you may
find you’re not covered. It is however possible
with many companies to update your policy
but you must ensure they are notified of any
changes at the earliest possible opportunity.
Business continuity insurance
Another common mistake made by SMEs
is the failure to take out business continuity
insurance or instead a very cheap package.
However, before making this decision you
must think through the possible
consequences of a worst case scenario. If
your premises suffered a fire, would you be
able to keep trading? How important is
another office to you? If your IT failed
would you be able to operate elsewhere? Do
your customers expect you to maintain a
service at all times? Could you afford to not
trade? It would be wise to talk through this
issue with your professional advisor and try to
find a package that offers the right support.
Are you
David Greaves, Director of Deals & Small Businesses at RSA gives up
some practical tips on ensuring that cutting back on insurance costs
doesn’t mean you find yourself uninsured if you need to make a claim
BM173_insured:Layout 1 16/06/2009 10:06 Page 1
Business Matters issue 173 • 51
Adv i ce

BM173_37:Layout 1 16/06/2009 10:41 Page 1
The difference between a good
restaurant and a good hotel is that in a
good restaurant you expect to find high
standards of service and product,
decent value, and then also originality,
flair, wit and sophistication, whereas in a
good hotel you just cling to the dream
that it won’t be utterly dismal.
I go to hotels quite a lot, overnighting
after an evening function somewherer and,
honestly, it is so dispiriting.
It goes without saying that provincial city-
centre chain hotels (called things like Cheap-
Sleep and Bog’n’Bed), and those slightly
cheaper versions of them that cluster on
ring-road roundabouts (called CheapSleep-
Quick and Bog’n’Bed-Budget) are too de-
pressing even to commit suicide in (“A
doorknob strong enough to hang yourself
from? That’ll be a £10 supplement, I’m
A couple of steps up from there you ar-
rive at those ones with a restaurant-of-sorts
(open from 7pm till 8pm), where regional
sales managers can eat a £17 fish cake
made of pipe-lagging and pilchard with two
pints of warm lager, and then retire to a
polyester cubicle for feats of lonely onanism
with husband-of-the-Home-Secretary-level
cable pornography for £6/hour.
And then, if you start paying £100 a night
or more, you might get a restaurant which
carries the name of a chef you’ve seen on
telly but is equally awful, a gym containing
one broken exercise bike and a yoga mat
with a terrifying sticky patch in the middle,
and one or two staff who don’t have visible
boils. There’s a weeny kettle all clogged with
limescale in a drawer, which can just about
make enough hot water to fill a cup and a
half, and some old,
stale sachets of Lip-
ton’s with an invitation
to call reception for
fresh milk, which you
do, and then wait while
your stale, weak tea
goes cold, and then
another half an hour,
and then they bring
you an ironing board.
But I’m not talking
about those. I’m talk-
ing about the places where rooms start at
£200/night and head up into the strato-
sphere. The ones with Michelin-starred
restaurants and beautiful photos on their
websites of Palladian architecture and rolling
fields, and lakes, and beautiful maids, and a
vast swimming pool.
Sleep - pah
These always turn out to be bang on an
A-road carrying trans-national freight all day
and night, above whose rumble you strug-
gle to make your complaints about the whin-
ing, not-cold fridge and armpit-smelling
pillows heard, and in the presence of which
sleep is no more than a tasteless joke.
They always appear to have only three
staff (two mute Slavs and a hunchbacked,
drooling thing that was no doubt drummed
out of its village with broom handles and
saucepans when one too many cats went
missing in the dead of night), so that if some-
one is checking in a new arrival at the front
desk there will be nobody to man the bar on
the other side of the house, and you have to
prowl the corridors looking for someone to
mix you a bad gin and tonic, poking your
head into empty kitchens and terrifying,
“staff only” store cupboards in the search for
The Palladian architecture turns out to
typify only the small main hotel, with four
lovely rooms available to honeymooners
who book three years in advance, but not
the vast, freezing, 100-room annexe they’ve
put you in. The rolling fields and lake are an
hour’s drive away, the swimming pool is only
eight feet long and is closed for mainte-
nance, and the maids turn out to be down-
loaded stills from Youporn (which cannot,
incidentally, be accessed from your room
because the broadband connection is down
until October!).
It’s true the restaurant has a Michelin star,
but the room is a morgue. The place where
pelmets go to die. In the gloomy light sit
three dozen of the wealthiest local reptiles,
coughing. You are forced to drink a bad
cocktail (“Sorry, we only have Beefeater”) in
a terrifying lounge and order from the sofa,
then proceed through to where your fancily
stacked mousseline of something is devel-
oping the texture of elderly human skin, and
the whole place has the carrion whiff of truf-
fle oil. At least, you hope it’s truffle oil.
Which is why it is so extraordinary what
they’ve done at Babington House. I’m just
back from my first ever weekend there – it
celebrates its tenth anniversary this year so
that’s quite speedy journalism from me – and
I am stunned. Stunned.
This, I now realise, is what I have been
looking for. This is why I kept on trying. And
this is where I will now always go. Always.
I booked late, on a whim, and they had
only one room left, a small one, they said,
and apologised for its size. It was under the
eaves in the lovely big Georgian house itself
(a miracle!) and there was a little bit of stoop-
ing to do at times, but there was a huge,
soft, white bed and dinky attic windows and
loads of light and a big flat-screen TV, and
then a sitting room with another telly, and a
big, freestanding iron bath, and the best rain
shower ever, and free mineral water (free, do
you hear me, free!) and views out over the
rolling lawns, which actually roll out from the
actual house, down to an actual lake. Would
i go again, arguably, yes. Would it be my
second or third choice, quite possibly, which
is a shame.
Reviewed: Babington House
Di ni ng Out
Location: Near Frome, Somerset
Tel: (01373 812266)
Hotel: 10
Restaurant: 9
Score: 9
Price: the food is reasonable, the rooms are
very expensive. The smallest room and a
sausage roll, will set you back £304.
60 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_dining_motoring:Layout 1 16/06/2009 08:38 Page 1
How comfortable is it?
The interior is similar to the smaller and more familiar X5 but with one big
difference. BMW has given it 4 seats rather than 5 to provide a more
coupé-like feel. The seats are big and comfortable, with plenty of
legroom too, but the sloping roofline restricts rear headroom for the
tallest adults.
What is it like to drive?
The low centre of gravity combines well with BMW’s xDrive technology
which distributes the power between the axles according to traction
available. There is plenty of power on tap too, with even the 3.5-litre
diesel powering from 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds. The X6 is better to drive
than other premium SUVs, but several more conventional vehicles at
similar price levels leave it trailing.
Will it impress?
The X6 is big, fast, expensive and wears BMW badging. That used to im-
press, but no longer. SUVs have lost many fans, high performance is
coming under increasing fire and brash ‘loadsamoney motors’ are out of
tune with a punch-drunk economy. So a boldly styled performance SUV
will only impress the most gauche.
Does it make financial sense?
The range extends from a 235bhp 3-litre turbo-diesel at £42,355 to a
299bhp 4.4-litre petrol at £53,770. From October you can even opt for
a 555bhp twin-turbo V8 X6 M. Leasing costs around £750 pcm for the
most basic models, with rates that are 5-10% higher than an X5.
What else should I consider?
If you want a BMW, then a 5-series estate makes more sense. It it’s got
to be an SUV, then go for the X5. If you want to stay German, then a top
model Audi A6 Avant is a more practical alternative, while a Mercedes
CLS four-door coupé is more stylish. The Jaguar XF saloon is tempting,
too, as is the facelifted Range Rover Sport.
Any toys and gadgets?
Lots of goodies are standard, and right at the moment BMW is offering
a complimentary Dynamic and Media package upgrade including sat-
nav, sports seats, 19” alloys, electric, memory seats and Bluetooth
phone connection. This could have something to do with less than buoy-
ant X6 sales.
What does it say about me?
On the plus side, it emphasises a drive for high performance, wealth and
a willingness to stand out from the crowd. At the same time, it suggests
a rather impractical, attention-seeking tendency – and a blinkered loy-
alty to the BMW brand exceeding the boundaries of common sense.
Under the bonnet:
Mot or i ng
What do you get when you cross a coupé
wi th a 4X4? An X6 ‘Sports Acti vi ty
Coupé’. The rarity of this BMW suggests,
however, this untimely crossbreed is the
answer to a question nobody wanted to
ask, says Dave Sumner Smith
Business Matters issue 173 • 61
BM173_dining_motoring:Layout 1 16/06/2009 08:38 Page 2
Today's global professional needs accessories that can take
them anywhere at a moments notice. The Densworth
passport case, in sturdy saddle-stitched calf leather, is hard
wearing and style-savvy for today's modern professional on
the move. The fresh pumkin colour cover, is classic in looks
and functional in design for when organisation, safety and se-
curity is your highest priority and style is unquestionable.
Links of London £50
Passport Holder
Handmade by Master
Craftsmen and meticu-
lously crafted from solid
wood, then hand bound in
the most beautiful Black
English Bridle Leather.
Aspinal of
Hand made carriage
The Aspinal luxury leather desk set is handmade in a a range
of beautiful vegetable dyed leathers and each piece simply
oozes quality and handmade luxury from a bygone era. The
bases are all hand crafted in fruit wood and then over bound
and finished in sumptuous Mock Croc or English Bridle calf
leather to an exceptional hand finished standard. pencil and
pen pot.
Aspinal of London £495
Keeping organised
Fine piano lacquered wood,
from sustainable sources, and
precision engineered stainless
steel commbine to produce the
ultimate in office style
Bureau hole punch £91
Stylish desk
It’s not all doom &
62 • issue 173 Business Matters
AM_24_25:Layout 1 16/06/2009 10:27 Page 24
Recognised as one of the ten best briefcases by The Inde-
pendent newspaper, this is one the largest and most beau-
tiful in our range. It is ideally suited for business people
who need to carry plenty of paperwork (plus the option of
a large 17 inch laptop).
Maxwell Scott £315
Keeping in together
Stylish in design, the Greenwich Alarm Clock is an ideal travel-
ling companion for all those short and long-haul trips.
This portable alarm clock is perfect for your office desk or for
travel. Easy to read and complete with alarm, this clock puts
time on your side. Ideal as a gift for the busy professional.
Links of London £110
Traveller Clock
Luxurious gift for a special man. This
is the ultimate shaving set.
From the Diffussion Range of Edwin
Jagger, we bring a Classic Horn shav-
ing set, pair it with a rich scented
sandlewood shaving soap
for a rich lather and com-
plete the set with DR Har-
ris lightly scented
Aftershave Milk.
Edwin Jagger £198
Ultimate grooming
When water is calm, the reflection becomes clear. Upper elements
meet lower elements in a state of perfect balance. This idea is at
the heart of hydrohealing, a unique spa and wellness centre where
you can escape to rediscover your centre.
Each experience is therapeutic and yet luxurious. It’s not rocket
science, but it is science. It’s good for you, but it feels so good
you’ll forget the science
Hydro Healing £45
Reflect upon a reflection
The Grosvenor satchel brings
creative design and effortless style
to the season. The perfect accessory
to compliment the smart preppy
look, this spacious bag is part of
the London Collection, Radley's
premium collection of uniquely
designed bags and unmatched
quality and is owned by Lily Cole,
Erin O'Connor and Anna Friel.
Radleys £300
Bags of style
gloom, so...
Business Matters issue 173 • 63
AM_24_25:Layout 1 16/06/2009 10:28 Page 25
The business
Bill Gates once said, “Suc-
cess is a lousy teacher. It
seduces smart people into
thinking they can’t lose”.
Successful individuals and
organizations often feel that
they are entitled to contin-
ual success in the future.
As a result, they risk be-
coming complacent, com-
fortable, and mediocre.
Instead, they should con-
tinue searching for fresh approaches to improve prod-
ucts and services, and focus on staying lean and agile.
In Seduced by Success, author Robert J. Herbold
demonstrates how successful companies can lose their
way as the world changes and as they become com-
placent about building on their best business practices.
He uses instructive case studies to show how certain
top companies were seduced by their success, and he
provides insight as to how to put success into per-
spective by outlining nine traps every organization must
Seduced by Success
Plain speaking has never
held Peter Hargreaves back.
In this candid and outspo-
ken book, the multi-million-
aire founder of investment
company Hargreaves
Lansdown tells the story
behind its extraordinary
success and gives his
forthright views on what it
takes to be successful as
an entrepreneur and as an investor. Starting from his
spare bedroom with a single phone and borrowed office
equipment, Peter and his business partner Stephen
Lansdown set out to build a business that would con-
sciously be different from that of all their competitors.
They have held fast to their unconventional ways ever
since, regularly turning the companyâ TMs strategy and
business model upside down in their relentless effort to
give their clients the best information, the best prices and
the best service. Widely recognised as the number one
firm in their business, Hargreaves Lansdown was floated
on the London stock market in 2007, valued at £800 mil-
lion. In For A Penny is a must read for anyone who wants
to understand how the investment business works,
what's wrong with conventional management wisdom
and what's right about the true meaning of en-
In for a penny
64 For further information on how to advertise Tel: 0870 116 2854
Book s
The business
book shelf
Bill Gates once said, “Suc-
cess is a lousy teacher. It se-
duces smart people into
thinking they can’t lose”.
Successful individuals and
organizations often feel that
they are entitled to contin-
ual success in the future.
As a result, they risk be-
coming complacent, com-
fortable, and mediocre.
Instead, they should continue searching for fresh ap-
proaches to improve products and services, and focus
on staying lean and agile.
In Seduced by Success, author Robert J. Herbold
demonstrates how successful companies can lose their
way as the world changes and as they become com-
placent about building on their best business practices.
He uses instructive case studies to show how certain
top companies were seduced by their success, and he
provides insight as to how to put success into per-
spective by outlining nine traps every organization must
Seduced by Success
In The Writing on the Wall,
Will Hutton traces the his-
toric development of
China’s economy from the
Imperial Dynasties to the
current “socialist market”
economy. The question of
whether China can be-
come a great economic
power without democ-
racy and genuine capitalism is
examined. Hutton also ponders whether the West,
particularly the U.S., will be wise enough to continue its
free market policies with China.
China can dominate the twenty first century if it em-
braces the economic and political pluralism of the West.
This pluralism is defined to include the rule of law, inde-
pendent legal institutions, a free press, independent sci-
entific research, and representative government. China
currently lacks these ideals and institutions, which will
make the country’s current economic and political
models unsustainable. Hutton argues it is imperative for
the West to continue to engage China in international
trade and idea exchange and believes the world’s future
specifically hangs on whether China and the U.S. can re-
sist the temptations of rivalry and find constructive ways
to conduct business with each other.
The Writing on the Wall
BM157_64_65:Layout 1 27/1/08 23:45 Page 1
64 • issue 173 Business Matters
BM173_64_65:Layout 1 16/06/2009 01:59 Page 1
Book s
At 30, Duncan Bannatyne
had no money and was en-
joying life on the beaches of
Jersey. He saw a story of
someone who had made
himself a millionaire, and
decided to do the same.
Five years later he had
done it, and now he is
worth 168 million. In this
remarkable book,
Bannatyne relives his colourful path to riches, from ice
cream salesman to multi-millionaire, explaining how any-
one could take the same route as he did - if they really
want to. Hugely articulate, and with numerous fasci-
nating and revealing stories to tell, this is an autobiogra-
phy and a business book unlike any other - but then
Bannatyne isn't like any other businessman
My Way - Duncan Bannatyne
There couldn't be a better time for these business
guides from The Economist - They're a handy guide, with
some dry humour and stern disapproval thrown it to stop
things getting too dull - These are interesting and excellent
reference guides to those interested in the markets, or who
own shares. Anybody who thinks they have nothing to
learn from these is asking for trouble, or raised eyebrows
at the very least.
Almost every access of business - and indeed human
life - involves negotiating skills, whether you are striking a
deal, organising a team working on a project, seeking a pay
rise or a pay-off, or simply settling such important matters
as who is going to do the shopping or the household
chores. This witty and intelligent guide looks at the theory
and practice of negotiating and provides a wealth of illu-
minating insights into the skills and psychology of negoti-
ation that can make all the difference to how successful
you are. Following an introductory essay on how negotia-
tion has developed, the A-Z covers everything from Add-
uon and Assumptive close, through Lifeboat clause and
Manipulative ploys, all the way to Yesable proposition and
Zeuthen's conflict avoidance model. Appendices include
information on training resources and suggestions for fur-
ther reading. Gavin Kennedy is Emeritus Professor at
Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, and the author of several
successful books on negotiation, including Everything is
Negotiable and The Perfect Negotiation.
Negotiation - An A-Z Guide (The Economist)
Dan Germain joined Innocent
in 1999, shortly after his three
college buddies began the
London beverage company.
His role is head of creative,
which covers things like
copywriting, design, ad-
verts, web stuff and gener-
ally making sure that the
company looks, sounds
and feels just right.
In this book he talks about how Innocent be-
coming the company that it is today and really is a good
book for anyone who is thinking of starting their own
business which involves fresh thinking and for anyone
who has been told that their business model will not
work, when everything inside of them tells them that it
will. The book is a very easy read and you could come
away from it with some really great ideas.
A book about innocence
Business Matters issue 173 • 65
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Get t i ng t o k now y ou. . .
66 • issue 173 Business Matters
What do you currently do?
I'm Managing Director of SFEDI Enterprises
Ltd. We're the enterprise arm of SFEDI, the
Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative.
SFEDI are the UK national standards setting
body for business enterprise and also carry out
research into the needs and issues of small
business. Originally government funded we're
now an independent organisation run by en-
trepreneurs for entrepreneurs. In terms of how
we work together, SFEDI does the thinking, we
do the doing!
With my background in psychology and
technology my interests lie in providing support
systems for small business based on current
and emerging technologies. My philosophy is
based around the online open-source move-
ment, in that access to best practice tools, re-
sources and support should be based on
principles of sharing, peer review and should
be free for all. By exchanging knowledge and
experience the small business community can
only become stronger. My circle of friends in-
clude a number of other small business owners
and I know that if I have an issue, it's highly
likely I'm not the first. Ask around and find out
how other people solved it, what they used and
where they got it. Small businesses helping
other small businesses. By pooling our exper-
tise we make the whole community stronger
than its composite parts. That's what SFEDI
aims to make happen. A national, collaborative
small business movement.
Who is your inspiration in business?
I think it's a close call between, Steve Jobs,
co-founder of Apple and Pixar Studios, and Bill
Gates, Microsoft's former CEO. Starting out in
computing in the 70s when it was all unknown
territory and creating hardware and software
systems that changed the face of the way we
do business today is no small undertaking.
Bill Gates' dream of having 'A computer on
every desk and in every home, all running Mi-
crosoft software' is one of the most aspira-
tional statements I think you can make, and
made inspirational by the fact that he went on
to achieve this seemingly impossible goal.
Against todays technological backdrop such a
claim would be bold but not unbelievable, but
it was originally made at a time when comput-
ers filled rooms! The idea of home computing
was unheard of.
Steve Jobs has created, in my opinion, the
worlds greatest brand. He's influenced not only
the world of technology but their brand and de-
sign has crossed into so many other arenas,
not least music.
Whom do you admire?
My admiration is for anyone who is able to
take new paths and exert a positive influence
on those around them. Passionate people,
from whatever walk of life, who are able to take
their passion and enthuse others are key to a
progressive society. If I had to pick one person
it would have to be Berry Gordy, founder of
Motown Records. He was passionate about
music and its power to forge social change. He
understood his own abilities as a businessman
and was able to recognise talent and abilities in
others. He went on to form not only a business
but a musical genre and through that a social
movement. He knew that in order to achieve
his goals he would have to collaborate with
others with the skills he didn't have and de-
velop networks. From the back room of a stu-
dio in Detroit he went on to create a global
phenomenon that still influences the industry
today. He was one of a number of pioneers in
music at the time but he stands out in my mind
as a formidable businessman who took a
structured, well thought out approach at a time
when an industry was in its 'Wild West' phase.
Looking back, are there things
you would do differently?
I try not to look back with any sense of re-
gret. Of course, there are things that perhaps I
wish I hadn't done and things I wish I had but
the art of the entrepreneur is to continually look
to the future. How can I make things better?
How can I use the experiences of the past to
positively influence what I'm doing now? These
are better questions to ask than to wish you'd
done things differently.
What defines your way of
doing business?
I think freedom of expression and a sense
of community are key to my work philosophy
and way of doing business. As a sometime
musician I experience such a strong sense of
community and collaboration, where the final
output can only be created by working to-
gether and utilising each persons own special-
ism, that it cannot fail to influence the way I do
business. Each and every on of us has our own
unique skill and knowledge base. There's no
way I can assume to be the best at everything,
and it would be arrogant to think otherwise. By
working together with my colleagues, partners
and clients then we draw on the best that each
individual has to offer.
I'm lucky in that the majority of my working
life I've been my own boss. This has afforded
me the freedom to think and do what I want. I
find that I thrive in these conditions and try to
nurture this same environment for those I work
with. Do as you would be done by.
What would you say to businesses who
are worried about tough times ahead?
Tough times for small businesses can come
at any time. Successful small companies must
be prepared for tough times at all times. Dis-
aster can be just around the corner. It's when
you get complacent that problems can arise.
In terms of the current economic situation it
provides an opportunity to focus on areas of
your business where improvements can be
made. Necessity is the mother of invention and
difficult times can focus your mind.
By viewing the current situation as an op-
portunity to be more efficient and innovate
small businesses can come out of the other
side as stronger, leaner more effective organi-
sations. The small business actually has an ad-
vantage over big business in that they are more
agile and can move quickly to take advantage
of change to improve the way they do busi-
ness. Don't get bogged down by worry and
allow it to lead to inaction. Pro-active busi-
nesses can and will prosper in tougher times. If
you can maintain your success in harder times
it makes it that much easier to prosper when
things take a turn for the better.
Nat Hardwick
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