27th May, 2016 No Comments
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” Isaac Newton.
Pause for a moment and think about your business. Maybe things are going along nicely; the orders are coming in, customers are satisfied and the staff must be okay as they aren’t complaining. You are doing a great job – well done you!
When you are the boss, who do you talk to about the next step, your vision, and your plans? Being in charge can be a lonely place and even the most self-assured person can sometimes waiver.
You are in a strong position, but maybe it’s time to consider raising the bar further, upping your game, getting ahead of the rest. It is very easy to do what you have always done, especially if it’s working. To be the best however, may require a bit of support. Usain Bolt is a fantastic athlete, but he still has someone working with him to ensure his optimum performance. He described ‘the times when you want to doubt yourself’ and the value of the support from his mentor. You may be a fantastic operator but could you benefit from the wisdom of mentor to drive you further forward?
True mentoring has amazing business and personal benefits. Not to be confused with an advisor or a counsellor, the right mentor will not tell you how things should be done but will inspire, share wisdom and reinforce your self-belief. There is a real benefit in connecting with someone who may have met similar challenges and who can save you time by sharing their story, perhaps stopping you from making the same mistake as they did. Another powerful benefit that emerges from the mentor/mentee relationship is access to the mentor’s personal networks, which can be invaluable – in businesses the ‘know who’ can be as important as the ‘know how’.
The trick is in finding the right mentor, chemistry is everything. You need to be very clear about expectations from both sides, avoiding any potential conflicts of interest. A mentor should be prepared to share experience freely and voluntarily and this relationship takes time to build. It is a challenge, but there are some fantastic examples around. The UK is packed with some very talented caring business people who are happy to share their wisdom and experience.
You’ve got nothing to lose; you could grow your business and develop yourself in ways that you have not considered. All it takes is investment in time, a leap of faith and the rewards could be significant.
Written by Carole White, Chief Executive, TEDCO Business Support delivering business support in the North East
20th May, 2016 No Comments
Starting a new business is full of challenges, opportunities and risks, and is a journey we embark on with trepidation and the hope that it will all work out OK in the end! Investing one’s own resources and/or borrowing comes with a degree of risk of failure which we should do our best to avoid, or at least reduce to a minimum.
Using an experienced mentor can be one way of helping us learn and develop new skills as well as get some constructive feedback on what we are attempting to do. Working for yourself can often be very different from working in a larger company. It can be lonely; it will almost certainly mean you have to work much harder than you probably would for someone else. So it can be stressful and if you haven’t anticipated all the things that could happen you may well end up regretting putting yourself in debt for no good reason.
The obvious answer is to spend some time on the ‘ homework’ trying to figure out if there really is a business to be done. Time and effort spent on researching your market place before you invest serious amounts of money will be well rewarded. Most new business owners do not do enough of this, thinking they have a good idea and customers will flock to their door! Probably not!
As well as preparing a thorough business plan having a mentor assist you to think through your idea can be invaluable. Using a mentor is a means of accelerating your learning by utilising the skills of a seasoned veteran who has been there and done that, probably several times over and made more mistakes than they will ever admit. This can be likened to an apprenticeship, where you observe the master, execute your tasks under supervision and gather feedback, gradually building knowledge which eventually results in mastery! Good performance in many companies suggests this means of investment pays off well. So why not use this experience when setting up a new venture?
A new business means you will take on roles you were not prepared for nor have knowledge about. These demands require new talents and, in the words of one well known executive coach, “What got you here won’t get you there.” (Dr. Marshall Goldsmith)
Mentoring is not the same as coaching. Executive coaches are often superb at providing skills upgrades and feedback on specific issues, but few will have actually done the job themselves. Mentors should be role models, who can offer their experience, wisdom and networks that are highly relevant to the problems in hand. Their experience does not have to be industry specific, but they should have relevant experience that the new entrepreneur can understand so that they have every confidence in the mentors abilities to help. This helps to build trust between mentee and mentor which over time will develop into a strong relationship separate from family and friends who don’t necessarily give you the most honest feedback!
Regular sessions with a mentor should be planned and entered on to the calendar of both mentee and mentor, giving the mentee the knowledge that any difficult topic can be discussed at the next meeting. The format should be driven by current business events with the mentee setting the agenda, and the mentor using their knowledge to illustrate similar circumstances elsewhere and tell stories about their experiences. There is a lot of evidence regarding the power of relevant storytelling, and done well it can greatly accelerate your ability to survive.
Written by Mike Gibbs, NBV Business Advisor, Mentor, and Coach
NBV Solutions Ltd is a Cavendish Enterprise partner delivering support to start up and growing businesses in the East Midlands
16th May, 2016 No Comments
As Cavendish Enterprise prepares to launch ‘Cavendish Crowd’ – our own crowdfunding platform – it seems an appropriate time to ask “exactly what is crowdfunding?” “How does it work?” And, more importantly, “how can it help start up and growing businesses?”
Briefly put, ‘Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people who each contribute a relatively small amount, typically via the Internet.’ (Oxford English Dictionary)
Crowdfunding is a way to raise money, awareness and support for a project, from the people around you. It’s a means of funding that allows individuals to make their ideas a reality with the ‘power of the crowd’. It enables people with great ideas to raise the money they need.
The word ‘crowdfunding’ is relatively new to the dictionary, having been added in the Summer of 2015, but the practice of crowdfunding goes way back.
The publication of books has been the subject of crowdfunded activities for centuries: a book would be written and published if there were sufficient people subscribing to buy the book once it was out. In the 19th and 20th centuries the cooperative movement generated groups who pooled together to raise the funds. In 1885 the US government failed to provide the money required to build a base for the Statue of Liberty. A newspaper-led campaign came to the rescue and attracted sufficient small donations from 160,000 donors to fund the building work.
The first practice of Crowdfunding, as we know it today was in 1997, when fans (by way of a fan-based Internet campaign) raised US$60,000 in donations to fund an entire tour of the USA for the British rock group Marillion.
So to answer, in a nutshell, the initial questions set out above:
Crowdfunding is an alternative form of finance – a form of finance that can be used to raise start up and development funds for new and growing businesses alike.
If you have an idea or a concept that people like and can see as having great potential, they are likely to invest. With the imminent launch of the Cavendish Crowd platform, start up and growing businesses across the country will be able to use the dedicated business platform to showcase and promote their ideas and get the funds rolling in.
The Cavendish Crowd platform will have three distinct types of fund raising:
Offering a ‘reward’ in return for funding is a great way to get your idea up and running.
Reward-based crowdfunding has been used for a wide range of purposes, including motion picture promotion, free software development, inventions development, scientific research, and civic projects.
Projects come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you could be looking to raise anything from a couple of hundred pounds, to tens of thousands of pounds for a wide range of different things. For example, Seaweed & Co offers a sample of their product in exchange for funding.
Rewarding like-minded people is the most effective way to
Test and validate your idea
Pre-sell your products
Build loyalty with new customers
Market your ideas
And by getting monetary support through crowdfunding you are proving your idea to be of interest to your audience, and this in turn could provoke interest from more traditional funders to give you backing.
Equity crowdfunding is the collective effort of individuals to support new ideas and products by providing finance in return for equity, or shares in your company. Selling equity in your start-ups or growing business could take your organisation to the next level by inviting people to become investors.
It’s perfect for all types of start-up, early stage and growth businesses and Cavendish Crowd in partnership with Crowdfunder works to help businesses raise an equity stake by harnessing the power of ‘the crowd’, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
3 Community Shares
It has been proven time and time again that communities are stronger when they own the things that matter most to them, and community shares have already been used to support pubs, shops, football clubs, heritage buildings, farms, woodlands, etc.
Community Shares are a great way to raise essential funding by offering people the chance to own shares in something they passionately care about.
Unlike regular shares, Community Shares are about more than just profit as investors will become active and vocal supporters of your project, and will share your vision of community enterprise, each getting a vote in how it’s run. Investors may receive a small return following any financial success of the project, but the importance is that it is wholly owned by the community it serves.
The Cavendish Crowd platform operates closely with The Community Shares Company, who alongside us will work with your organisation every step of the way, freeing you up to engage your community.
Follow us on Twitter to ensure you’re the first to hear once the platform is launched #CavCrowd
Written by Davina Young, Marketing Manager, Cavendish Enterprise
Has crowdfunding helped your business raise finance? Tell us about your experience.
10th May, 2016 No Comments
As an entrepreneur time is precious, so you need to make the most of it. One of the best ways to save time is to make use of tools that make completing your tasks that much easier. This list is comprised of the top apps that can help you do your job more efficiently. Not every app will be relevant to your start-up but take a look through and you can be sure that you will find something that can save you time, stress and maybe even money.
Google Drive – Docs, Sheets, Slides
As a start-up you naturally want to save costs where you can. Paying for an office suite can be costly for individuals and even more so for businesses. Google Drive is the perfect free substitute consisting of four individual apps; Drive – an online storage app, Docs – a word processing app, Sheets – a spreadsheet app and Slides – a presentation app. Google Drive has great features and works across all of your devices; it also allows multiple users to edit a single document which is a great collaboration tool that even paid alternatives don’t always offer. The apps load documents seamlessly and if you’re worried about people using other versions of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications and not being able to open yours, don’t, because they are all compatible with the most popular file types.
Working in business it is easy to get lost in your inbox and being an entrepreneur will only add to that! Relying on your mobile or tablet’s built in mail app can be dangerous, with multiple accounts and lots of emails to get through; you will need something more simplified. Cloud Magic is easy on your device’s battery and even easier to use. Add from a huge range of email providers and create contact cards for your recipients. This app is certain to change the way you handle emails. It has custom folder sync settings and is even connected with a range of top apps to allow you to share files easily. Rated as a top app on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store you should definitely give it a try.
Organisation is a key trait that is essential to the success of your start-up business and any tool that can help you perfect this is worth its weight in gold. Trello allows you to organise your tasks into boards, allowing you to keep on top of absolutely everything. You can also invite colleagues, friends and even family members to view or edit the boards, allowing you to keep everyone in the loop with the projects you are working on. The ability to attach files and photos really does set this app apart from the rest. If you want to unlock more of its great features you can sign up for a paid account, but it really is brilliant as it comes.
A team communication app that allows you to get more done and spend less time attending meetings and sending lengthy emails. This app has great features; you can split your staff into individual teams, but also be a part of more than one group, so it’s brilliant for small projects. The app also has hundreds of integrations with other popular apps and services that allow you to quickly share files and other content. Slack transfers easily from your tablet or phone and it can also be used on your desktop, which makes it a worthy alternative to email. The app is free but you can pay for other features such as more file storage and extended message history.
This app is the ultimate time saver. Using your camera on your phone or tablet, Evernote Scannable allows you to scan any document wherever you are. Forgetting to scan small documents like business cards or receipts is a thing of the past, you can easily scan as you go and save them as PDFs or JPGs and even email them straight from the app. Also, the ability to scan full documents is extremely helpful; not needing an office scanner will save you a lot of time. The quality of the scans are great, although this does depend on the quality of your device’s camera, but most smartphones feature cameras of a reasonable quality.
Finding a free social media management tool that works for your business could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to your start-up. Hootsuite supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even now Instagram, which is great if your business is selling a visual product. Allowing you to send posts straight away or schedule them weeks in advance, this app can really help you get on top of your social accounts, freeing you up to focus on other things. Hootsuite is also available on desktop, allowing you to keep everything under control.
The live steaming app Periscope has recently celebrated its first birthday, and what a year it has been. Snapped up by Twitter before it had even launched, Periscope was an inevitable success. Periscope is a great way to let your customers know what your business gets up to on a daily basis, share special events and stream conferences, workshops and events straight on to your Twitter feed. You can even do a live Q & A or just give a tour of your workspace or shop and let your customers see how you work. With over 200 million broadcasts in the first year and 110 years of video watched every day, this relatively new social network is something you can’t afford to ignore.
All of these apps are certain to improve your efficiency – a crucial necessity for entrepreneurs. They are all available across both Android and Apple devices as well as most having desktop equivalents. Get downloading! You can thank me later.
If you would rather face to face start-up business support, mentoring or help to achieve a business loan there are additional resources available to make your business dream a reality.
Written by Tara Gillam, Head of Enterprise, Business West – business support and advice in the South West