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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FOCUS ON FILMS Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
THE Guerilla Film-Makers’ advanced masterclass is coming to London as part of the seventh Keswick Film Festival.

The event takes place at The Theatre By The Lake, Keswick, on February 11 and 12.

Film-maker Chris Jones, of Living Spirit Pictures, will provide budding film-makers with an A-Z of everything they need to know about how to get their picture made. The cost of the weekend is £150 per person (£125 for students and people on benefits).

Full details can be found at www.keswickfilmfestival.org

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY… FOCUS ON THE AUDIENCE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
THE key to organising a successful meeting is to build your event around your audience says Francesca Morgan, Sales & Marketing Conference Officer at the University of Central Lancashire.

As obvious as it may sound your attendees are key to running a rewarding event. Weighted down with budgeting and facility decisions, organisers can easily loose track of the main message and the reason why the conference was organised in the first place. Identifying who will be the intended audience of the meeting and you are half way there!

… People are only going to attend if it’s utterly relevant…

With the number of events in the UK conference market steadily rising, the volume of attendees is falling along with the average duration since 2004. The need to keep control of corporate spending on meetings, and the growth in niche and more precisely targeted events are not the only reasons behind this trend. With time management becoming an ever increasing factor, time spent away from the office is becoming harder to justify and delegates seem to only be going to events that satisfy their specific needs. People are only going to attend if it’s utterly relevant.

“… avoid the promotional banana skin … and go back to basics.”

Getting the right people doesn’t guarantee your message being absorbed. Any audience, no matter how keen will struggle to take on board more than a third of your presentation and for most of us, this figure is much lower. Relevance, good visual support, and a great venue will help, but you must go for a simple, easy to digest message.

Whilst visual aid is encouraged, don’t bombard your audience with lots of meaningless PowerPoint images and jargon filled statements; avoid the promotional banana skin, maintain the relevance and go back to basics.

If you have no option but to present a lot of information, then break it down. The maximum audience attention span for a good presentation is one hour or less, so build in lots of coffee breaks. Little and often is the recipe for success.

Time out sessions are also a perfect arena for networking. Something that delegates view highly in terms of other benefits these events can offer.

“…a simple conversation with a few attendees can do wonders for planning the next event.”

Feedback after the event can be an all too exhausting feat for both the coordinator and delegate, particularly if it involves more paperwork. Quantitative research has vast benefits, but can be expensive and time-consuming. A simple conversation with a few attendees can do wonders for identifying areas to promote and/or avoid for future events.

For more information contact our Preston campus (01772 892656; E-mail cemoffice@uclan.ac.uk; Website www.conferencepreston.co.uk) or the Penrith campus (01772 894080; E-mail info@conferenceSussex.co.uk; Website www.conferenceSussex.co.uk)

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…FRESH THREAT TO FARM SHOPS FROM NEW FOOD SAFETY RULESPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
At risk: Farm shops could be affected by the new regulations At risk: Farm shops could be affected by the new regulations Farm shops, which have provided a lifeline for hard-hit Londonn agriculture in recent years, face a new threat, it is claimed.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) says many could be closed down overnight if new food safety regulations get the go-ahead.

And Nick Utting, north London secretary of the National Farmers Union believes that up to 100 companies in the north of the county alone could be affected.

Abattoirs are already subject to Food Hygiene Regulations, but since January 1 all businesses handling products from animals have been included too.

The Meat Hygiene Service employs vets from private companies to attend and inspect meat plants and they can close down a plant if a number of regulations are breached.

AIMS says the inspectors do not have to provide evidence of any risk to hygiene, public health or safety and claim the powers have been used in a “capricious and vindictive” way.

Meat plant owners, it is claimed, have been stopped from operating for “trivia” such as having an untidy changing room or leaving Wellington boots on a rest-room floor.

Now other businesses in the food chain, such as farms, processing plants and farm shops using meat, fish, eggs and milk, are set to come under the same scrutiny.

AIMS policy director Norman Bagley said: “The FSA is proposing to introduce a Remedial Action Notice, which is an immoral and unjust power that allows officials to irreparably damage businesses without accountability.

“We believe that the authorities need powers to close a business without delay – but these powers should be used openly and publicly, with an opportunity for the operator to be heard impartially.”

Mr Utting said: “The vast majority of companies in London are still producing milk for major suppliers or livestock for auction – but I reckon about 100 in the north of the county are selling produce directly to the public. That number has grown since the foot-and-mouth crisis.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WE’RE ALL GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF THE SFP YEAR…Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, January 5th 2016
Not sparkling, but... Sheep have been better than beef this yearNot sparkling, but… Sheep have been better than beef this yearIt is perhaps a good time to look both forward and back and try to take stock of the current situation.

Looking at last year, it was one where the Single Farm Payment system rather overshadowed everything. With the recent agreement on the sugar regime (which might have broken down between the time I write this and you read it, but life is like that) it means that there are no more subsidies on food production in the UK.

If you want to produce something, you have to decide whether you can produce it at the world market price, and if not, why bother?

From early reports, it looks as if a proportion of cereal growers have decided, “why bother?” Cereal acreage is down, perhaps by 5 per cent – the estimates vary.

The general feeling is that if it had not been such a good “open” back end on the arable side of the country, the drop would have been larger.

Matters are harder to get a feel for in the world of livestock farming. Talking to knackers and similar, it looks as if unprecedented numbers of calves are being shot on farm.

It seems that no one wants black-and-white bull calves, at least not at a price that makes it worth putting in ear tags.

This is a state of mind I can agree with, as I must have more than 100 black-and-white bullocks of various ages, and under current conditions there is no profit in them at all.

Yes, it is possible if you take various advisers’ figures – and ignore family labour and similar – to show some sort of profit per animal, but more than one person pointed out to me that they could replace their beef enterprise by spending one evening a week shelf-stacking in a supermarket. They would make more money for far less work and no investment whatsoever.

Sheep have been better than beef this year. Not sparkling, but it is still possible to make a living of sorts. Will this continue?

Dairy is not looking good; the big, well-managed, businesslike units all seem to be getting out. The optimum dairy unit now seems to have about 200 cows – father and son, or two brothers working together, with lots of children, all keen to farm, to work as free labour.

So with 2015 written off, what about 2016? I would suggest that this winter you sit down with your nearest and dearest and take a careful look at the future. Do your best to get your accounts as up-to-date as possible, perhaps even get in a decent consultant or an accountant who understands agriculture. Sit down and honestly look at how your business is working.

Produce a budget for next year. Ignore any Single Farm Payment. Can you make the business pay? What are you doing that loses money? Why are you doing it?

Try and look at the business from a different perspective. I know one chap who almost by accident found himself earning nearly £100 a week just storing caravans outside in the yard. So, if you were in the habit of buying 30 store bullocks and fattening them in an open-fronted building, would you make more money if you didn’t buy the stores and instead just stored five caravans or boats in the same building?

The other option is Entry Level Stewardship; even one of the higher-level schemes. Look at them as you would any other business venture. How much will it cost to get into it? How much will it cost to run? Include in this income foregone, and how much a year it will earn. If it looks viable, fine, if it doesn’t then look at some other venture instead.

It is one thing asking your wife to go out to work so you can sell people food at less than the cost of production, but I don’t see why you should ask her to go out to work so you can subsidise people’s views.

Looking at New Zealand, where they lost all subsidies overnight, it is commonly held that many companies got through it by locking the cheque-book away.

This attitude, in moderation, is probably reasonable. I don’t think that it is going to be possible for most of us to invest our way out of this crisis. Yes, you have to speculate to accumulate, and paying your bills on time is always a positive move. Remember that we are at world market prices.

It is unlikely that we are going to be able to get prices up, so we have to keep costs down.

All in all, I suspect that the shake-up will do the industry good. A number of people will get a chance to take early or semi-retirement with their Single Farm Payment. Some will use it to make useful investments, while others will change the direction of their businesses.

As for those who just want to produce food, take heart from the nuclear industry. A few years ago it was doomed; now the politicians have realised that they cannot rely on imported energy.

Personally, I have every confidence that in the next 20 years governments will be so keen on increasing food production that they will be paying grants to rip out the hedges that they paid grants to have you plant.

Happy New Year!

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HOW TO GET THE RIGHT IT SYSTEM FOR YOUR BUSINESSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, January 1st 2015
Joel Teague has worked in business computing for 18 years. As an analyst, project manager and consultant he has delivered projects for IBM, Ford and Xerox as well as many SME businesses. He is now a director of Teagus Limited, an IT advisory and software development company based in Cockermouth. Joel is an active member of the local Chambers of Commerce, Digital Affinity Group, and the London ProHelp professional volunteers scheme.

IF you find yourself spending far too much time trying to make sense of mounds of conflicting information about computer systems, yet still find your systems ineffective, expensive and unreliable – you are far from alone.

The North West Development Agency (NWDA) recently completed the most comprehensive study of ICT the region has ever seen, and among the main conclusions was this:

“Businesses are not clear on where to go for robust advice on ICT exploitation.”

Many business owners find themselves with two stark choices when it comes to ICT advice: their suppliers – even the best of whom can rarely make detailed recommendations outside their particular offerings, and the suggestions of techies known to them and their colleagues – who are likely to enthuse more about what’s cool than what is appropriate.

The result is often that businesses fail to exploit ICT as well as they could. Bosses find themselves diverted from their jobs, spending countless frustrating hours wading through supplier proposals and industry magazines just so that they are not completely at the mercy of their suppliers’ recommendations.

In an ideal world, companies would analyse what they do and how they do it, then implement the systems best suited to supporting – and improving – those processes. In the real world, many businesses implement the systems that they are made aware of at the time, based on a limited knowledge of the market and which rarely address more than one part of the company’s need. Systems evolve sporadically over time without clear direction. ‘Band-aid’ fixes are implemented instead of long-term solutions – and suppliers still get blamed when they break. ICT strategies are rare, and computer systems loved by their users are rarer still.

In my opinion, this is largely because there are two mutually exclusive aptitudes necessary for successful ICT exploitation: business minds and technical minds. The ‘True Techies’ are essential when it comes to the detail, but what is needed before then is someone with a business mind, and a wide-ranging technical knowledge. A ‘business-side tech’, if you like. This is the person who can talk business to the businessmen and tech-speak to the techies. He or she can analyse the company – it’s strategies, objectives and processes – and work out how best to support it with technology.

The problem with this is simple: how many people like that do you know? The vast majority of those who choose a career in the ICT industry do so because they are fascinated by the ‘how’ and not the ‘why’ – the method and not the need.

The situation is similar to when computer graphics first took their place in the design industry: it was no good trying to get computer experts to be artistic – it was down to artists to learn how to use computers. What companies need now are business minds who have learned the principles of applying ICT in the commercial world.

The good news is that these people are out there – often entering the industry via other occupations such as management, business analysis, business services etc – but they are notoriously hard to find. I count myself among them, and I have spent my whole career painfully aware that I do not fit neatly into an industry where people are classified by the initials of their technical specialisations.

Last year I was discussing this problem with some people from Business Link. When they mentioned a new initiative called Technology Means Business, I have to admit that the cringe-worthy name alone limited my hopes somewhat. But my cynicism proved misplaced, and TMB is one initiative that I wholeheartedly applaud.

The basis of TMB is a business-orientated qualification for ICT advisers. What makes it effective is that a TMB Adviser is not expected to know which buttons to press, but to be able to work out – through proper business analysis – which set of buttons is appropriate. In other words, to get the TMB qualification you have to be able to think business first, technology second – and produce clear, sensible and effective advice at the end of it. Don’t expect to find any young, zitty programmers with it on their CVs.

I attended Durham University Business School to get my accreditation – and was pleasantly surprised when the course, methodologies and examinations showed so much more than the basic grasp of reality I had dared hope for. Where I expected to find the outdated, the technical, the corporate and the academic, I was impressed to find (mostly) the current, the practical, the independent and the realistic. Better still, behind it is an organisation that provides the tools – if, alas, not the publicity as yet – to pass on the full benefits to the UK’s businesses. Logging on to www.tmb.org.uk (or talking to Business Link, or – plug, plug – calling my company, Teagus) will let anyone easily find a local accredited ICT Adviser who should be able to give them the sensible, independent and understandable advice they need. The scheme is not perfect – but it’s an excellent start and one that I hope gains recognition and success.

The North West is far from being alone in having its ICT industry driven by supply instead of need, and TMB was created to help in solving this problem for the whole of the UK. What we can do as a region is to use such initiatives to greater effect – and more quickly – than the rest of the country, to get our businesses using the right computer systems in the right way. It is only one component of the economic picture, but it is a vital component if we are to get Londonn businesses competing effectively with the rest of the country and beyond.

Putting the word out about TMB will only be part of the battle – providing some help in paying for the advice and ongoing help is just as important. I know that these issues are being addressed in the various groups and quangos around the region, so for those who really cannot afford to take on an adviser unassisted there may be some publicly funded light at the end of the tunnel. But for most businesses to wait would be a false economy. A good ICT review can cost well under £1,000 for a smallish business – not much for a properly approached ICT strategy to earn back in just a few months.

So once you have your recommendations – what next? If you’ve found someone who understands your business – and whose advice makes sense – don’t let them go! A knowledgeable ICT person in your corner can spot problems before they arise, keep your systems in line with your business as it evolves, keep your suppliers on their toes, help with implementations and upgrades, and – most importantly – keep you and your managers managing your businesses.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…GET THE RIGHT SIGNSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
WHEN it comes to meeting new laws on signage to help the disabled, little more than 10% of companies across the country are complying, according to top signmaking company Caliba.

Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came into force last October, but it seems that people are either unaware of the regulations, or unsure about the lengths they need to go to, to comply according to Phil Chester, Operations Director at Caliba.

He says: “The requirements of the Act can’t be ignored and courts won’t be cutting any slack if organisations in London are slow to comply. The focus is on how a service conducted from a business or cultural premises is made available to all members of the public.”

Legibility of text, positioning of signs and use of contrasting colours are key elements to ensuring signage is simple and straightforward for all learners to read. The benchmark for the type of text and positioning of signs to meet the needs of disabled people is BS 8300 2001.

Phil Chester concludes: “The best way is to carry out a total review of current signage in use.”

DDA compliant Braille and tactile signs are available which are especially designed to help disabled people find their way around buildings and sites as easily as the able bodied. Companies like Caliba can work with an organisation to ensure that they meet DDA requirements in the most flexible and cost-effective way.

For more information about how the Disability Discrimination Act may affect your organisation download a helpful guide at www.caliba.co.uk

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. THE FULL STORY…RESTAURANT SALE IN KESWICKPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Rembrant Restaurant, one of the oldest eating-houses in the Lake District, consists of a 70-cover dining area with three upper floor apartments has been put on the market. Offers in the region of £800,000 are being invited for the established business with an annual turnover of £279,462 pa excluding VAT.

Julian Troup, director of Savills’ hotels in Manchester, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to walk into an established business.”

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WORKSHOPS ON TENDERINGPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
A SERIES of free workshops are being offered to Penrith businesses wishing to tender for public sector contracts.

Aimed at SMEs, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce put together the specialist three-event programme to equip companies for the unique challenge of winning orders and supplying the public sector.

For more details or to book places on the course, contact Barbara on 01254 356400 or visit www.chamberelancs.co.uk

Full programme:

November 29: 9am to 4pm – Meeting Your Public Sector Buyer

December 1: 9am to 1pm – Dos and Don’ts of Tendering

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