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John Mitchell, Chief Executive, Enterprise First

Read All About It!

30th December, 2015 No Comments


book on the desk against books

Recently Amazon announced they are opening a real bookshop, with plans to open more. It was a bit of a surprise to many, but I’m sure they have their reasons. It did though get me thinking about my recent reading habits which have a business focus.

If you are starting a business, running a business, or want to develop your business career, you can improve your performance and increase your chances of future success by learning from the experiences of others. I can’t think of a better way to do this than read a book. It’s portable, always there, you can dip in and out, and with e-readers can be read anywhere, at any time, on multiple platforms.

For me, it’s not about the textbook stuff, or those succinct checklists, but a book that tells a story, based on real life. I want to know about the mistakes made as well as the successes. Is starting a business successfully or turning one around, based on sound business strategies, innovation, gut feeling, risk taking, luck, who you employ etc, and how does it all fit in with the ups and downs of life in general?

There are literally tens of thousands of books listed in the ‘business’ category at Amazon. Whilst I love nothing better than browsing through a bookshop on the high street, with platforms like Amazon, there is the distinct advantage that you can read reviews from those that have bought them, can view lists of books with similar content, and with e-books start reading immediately. There is though nothing to stop you, having chosen your read, to placing an order for a physical book from your local bookshop.

Hidden within the business books section are some real gems, books that do tell a real-life business story, provide a different perspective of well-known entrepreneurs and businesses in the news. Some are better than the usual thrillers and horror stories, with some you just couldn’t make it up! Above all you will learn from the business experience of others.

For new readers of business books, a good place to start would be with the celebrity entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, and the ex-dragons. Building a restaurant business is pretty tough too, so there are also good books by celebrity chefs. You will be spoilt for choice as many have written follow-ups or multiple books on similar topics.

Outside of these my own favourites are:

Best Served Cold: The Rise, fall, and Rise again of Malcolm Walker (Iceland)

easyLand: how EasyJet conquered Europe

Barbarians at the Gate

Enron – the Rise and Fall

American Icon

Hubris: How HBOS wrecked the best bank in Britain

The last four are stories about large corporations – but the issues raised in these can still provide an insight into the world of small business – there are just more people involved and a few extra 0’s on the figures.

Finally if you are of a certain age with fond memories of the British products and brands we used to know so well there is: Surrender – How British industry gave up the ghost.

Once you have satisfied your appetite with business books, the next area you could turn to is the politics section, particularly books about those in power and how government works. Most of these do fall into the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ category!

Happy reading!

Written by John Mitchell, CEO, Enterprise First

 

If reading some of John’s recommended books inspires you to start your own business, contact us to find out if we can support your business through Start & Grow.

Do you have any favourite inspirational business books?  Let us know the title and your thoughts below…..

Six steps to manage business growth

17th December, 2015 No Comments


 

Building blocks only

A good business strategy and effective management involves planning for success. However, how many businesses know how to manage growth when opportunities start to present themselves?

Growth can cause problems by stretching resources putting pressure on cash flow or committing too much of the business capacity to a single project/client. Typically any one of these would place what is ordinarily a stable, cash positive and sustainable venture, into “forced expansion” and possibly turmoil.

Growth is a wonderful challenge, but a stressful one, if a business is not prepared for it. Here are six tips to aid in managing success and avoiding forced expansion.

1. Control and measure your marketing and promotion
Identify and monitor where your prospective clients have come from so you can tweak marketing activity to increase or decrease lead generation eg Press release, pay-per-click sponsorship or ad placements.

2. Understand your service/ production capacity
Endeavour to have an accurate understanding of your businesses capacity/ availability to provide a product or service over a period of time. With this knowledge, a business can control its production flow rate, pledge order commitments that can be achieved and have the ability to manage quality and resource requirements. If a business reaches maximum capacity regularly then an informed growth strategy can be implemented.

3. Spread the risk
It’s often hard to turn work away. A client may want more and more from you if you are doing everything right but be careful one doesn’t account for too much of your turnover.

Consider the following options

Develop a multiple income stream e.g. vary the industries you target a little so trend/ market changes and its impact can be defused and not affect you directly.

Set yourself targets which define the max level any one project will account for your turnover.

4. Price right
If the demand for your service is medium/high but you don’t wish to grow too fast then modifying or increasing your pricing policy can be a good way of managing the volume of interest but retain the quality of clients you seek. Combining this with the control on marketing mentioned above is a very powerful mix.

5. Partnerships and referrals
Consider developing partnerships or referral relationships with competitors and/or related organisations. Funneling work to others can be profitable if a referral-fee structure can be arranged for times when you are not able to commit, a competitor has also been turned into an opportunity and you have dodged the negative PR effect of turning work down and the pitfalls of “forced expansion”.

6. Get a Mentor
It is always good to have an objective view from outside of the business to help identify issues, to aid in planning forward and be an experienced sounding board. Look locally for mentoring organisations and appoint one that has been there and done it before or is still doing it.

Written by Fardad Amirsaeedi, NBV Enterprise Solutions

If you are looking to expand or grow your business contact one of our partners for expert support and advice.

If you re a start up business with aspirations for high growth in the early years, the Start & Grow business support programme will be invaluable to you to help you reach your goals.

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There’s probably never been a more exciting time to create your own job

1st December, 2015 No Comments


Ability, motivation, attitude

Michael Heseltine has been heavily criticised for his recent comment that it’s probably as good a time as any to lose your job and find another, stating that the current jobs situation in Britain is exciting.

For those whose jobs are at risk, looking for another job is not your only option.

There’s probably never been a more exciting time to create your own job through starting a business. Opportunities abound, technology gives you access to a global market and there is a whole raft of invaluable support available. Enterprise and entrepreneurship have, in the past been less prominent options to the mass population than alternatives such as employment, higher education or apprenticeships but they are now moving firmly from the periphery and into focus.

If you have ever considered running your own business but don’t know where to start, or feel that you don’t have the ‘right’ skills – there is more than one way to become your own boss. Entrepreneurialism depends on the development of an idea that can be transformed into a viable business and as a practice, it is inherently risky. People who have become accustomed to being an employee may not necessarily be an entrepreneur but they are very likely to possess the skills, enterprising attitude and experience needed to run a business.

Starting a business with a proven business model and established brand can be one way to launch a business. Franchised businesses have weathered the recessional storm extremely well, which is hardly surprising when we consider how easy it is to quickly recall 5 popular franchises when asked.

Perhaps you are looking to buy a business or feel you have a strong product or service with a clear marketplace.
The most important thing to consider is laying down firm foundations for your business. If you cut corners at the start up stage you will be forever catching up and could cause significant difficulties for yourself. A sound business plan really is your route map on the road to success.

It pays dividends to talk to other people who have gone through a similar experience and are prepared to share their wisdom about not only the pitfalls but the positives, what helped them to achieve success. The UK is full of incredible business people who really do want to help you. In addition there is an excellent range of business support available to help you with

• Accessing finance
• Finding routes to market
• Making the right connections
• Putting together a business plan
• Knowing who to turn to when things are difficult

Give your new business the competitive edge by getting ready to launch your new business properly. You could be creating jobs for others as well as one for yourself as your new boss!

Written by Carole White, Chief Executive, TEDCO Business Support

If you are looking to start a robust business with the potential for high growth, and to employ staff, the Start & Grow initiative might be just what you’re looking for – a premium support package to help you start up and grow your business over 3 years.

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The value of expert help for entrepreneurs

27th November, 2015 No Comments


Starting a business on your own can be a daunting task to say the least, and many people are discouraged by the idea of having to manage every aspect of the venture themselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a multitude of support networks have been put in place up and down the country to help guide and advise you in every aspect of business.

The value of expert mentoring is something that should not be underestimated. According to research by the Federation of Small Business, 70% of entrepreneurs that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double that of non-mentored entrepreneurs.

Start up advice statistics

Even if you know your product and target market inside out, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, as there is still a lot to do after the initial stages of product development. Every start-up business has access to a support network and they should take full advantage of it. Support networks and expert help from mentors will not only help your business to grow, but to thrive.

Mentoring is a relatively new concept for businesses, but it is something that has become readily available over the past few years through various business support networks. It is usually provided by established business owners who want to give back to the local business community and help entrepreneurs succeed. Let’s have a look the different ways in which expert mentoring can give you the best chance of success.

You know the goals for your business and you know your product inside-out, but you may need assistance with marketing, financial planning or developing a business plan.  Working in these unfamiliar areas will most likely bring about complex problems that you may not have encountered before. This is where your expert mentor steps in. Your mentor will be able to guide you through these problems so that you can learn how to get past them and eventually tackle these tasks yourself.

Your mentor will also be able to identify areas that may need a lot of attention, areas that you may not have even considered, all helping your business to gain a competitive edge. Having a trusted person to talk to when your business is encountering problems is also very important and a reliable mentor is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Your mentor will be able to give you an honest opinion and will be on hand to talk you through any problems that may arise.

One of the common barriers for start-ups is business planning. If you are applying for a start-up loan or grant, you will need to ensure that your business plan is up to scratch. You will need someone to provide a second opinion and there is no one better to do this than a start-up expert. Starting a business isn’t an easy task, but can be made easier by taking advantage of the support available. You’re not alone, and you’re not the only person who wants to see your business succeed!

Written by Tara Gillam, Business West

The Start & Grow programme will support you and your business through the start up stages and for a further 3 years after you commence trading.  Contact your local Cavendish partner for more information.

* statistics from CEEDR Report – ‘Research to understand the barriers to take up and use of business support’ undertaken for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills – July 2011.

Start & Grow is funded by the Regional Growth Fund, and delivered in specific areas across England by the Cavendish Consortium partners.

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Cavendish partners feature highly in this week’s National Enterprise Network Conference and Awards 2015

24th November, 2015 No Comments


This year’s National Enterprise Network Conference, sponsored by NatWest and taking place at RBS’s conference centre takes place on Friday 27th November and looks set to feature insightful and thought provoking discussions around the theme of ‘Synergy and Success’.  The conference celebrates encouraging enterprise support with strengthened partnerships, delivering locally.

L NEN RGB_OnlineUse (June 2011)

The conference will kick off with an interactive debate between key sector contributors, discussing the outlook for the economy and the impact it has on small businesses. There will also be a closer look at the self-employed and identify the trends and predictions that could impact in the future.

Simon Devonshire will be around after the networking lunch to share his view on the importance of scaling-up, why it matters and how to do it.  Simon is himself an entrepreneur, co-founder, investor, and business blogger and will lead a Q&A session after his presentation.

There will also be time to look at the programmes and partnerships that are making waves within the enterprise support sector. and an in depth look at ‘Enterprise impact – the growth of a start up business’ with an interview with Paul Ogglesby, founder of Riverlite.  Paul has come from a one man start up business in 2008 to having a multi million pound turnover today.

The 2015 Conference will be rounded off with a celebration of achievements in enterprise support.  The NEN Awards recognise ‘excellence in the delivery of enterprise support; encouraging the exchange of good practice and the development of improved services and organisations’, and the categories are designed to match to enterprise support activity – no matter what an agency’s size or specialism.

Cavendish Enterprise is delighted and very proud to see 3 of its partners short-listed for a few of the Awards and we wish them all the very best of luck for Friday.

THE 2015 NATIONAL ENTERPRISE NETWORK AWARDS SHORTLIST:

Local Enterprise Agency of the Year:

* Britain’s Energy Coast * Colbea * Enterprise First * Menta * Northumberland Business Services Ltd * Nwes * Rotherham Investment & Development Office * Stanta * Yorkshire Coast Enterprise

Future of Enterprise Support Award:

* Britain’s Energy Coast * Business West * Enterprise First * Rotherham Investment & Development Office * South Durham Enterprise Agency * Yorkshire Coast Enterprise

Client Engagement Award:

* CENTA Business Services * Nwes * WSX Enterprise

Enterprise Communicator of the Year:

* Economic Solutions * North East BIC * North Somerset Enterprise Agency * Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

Enterprise Team of the Year:

* BEC * Business Sheffield * Business West * Staffs Chamber

Enterprise Coach/Mentor of the Year:

* Hammie Tappenden – Enterprise First * Joe Barrell – Nwes * Martyn Benson – Rotherham Investment & Development Office

Unsung Hero of the Year:

* Alyson Eyval – Business West * Emma Milroy – Ignite Business Enterprise * Jenn Crowther – Yorkshire Coast Enterprise * Martyn Cooper – Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

… and good luck to all the other nominees too!

We look forward to bringing you the Winners next week together with a roundup of the main issues discussed and raised at the Conference.

Click here for more Conference information.

 

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