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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…AWARD SHORTLISTPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
A sussex businessman has been shortlisted for the Contractor of the Year Award.

The shortlisted companies in the 2015 Farmers Weekly Agricultural Awards have been named and up for Contractor of the Year, sponsored by Michelin, is John Horsley in Abbeytown.

In the contractor category, judges were looking at crop management, business and marketing strategy, environmental and social responsibility, meeting political and legislative change and a strategy for the future.

The winners were due to be announced at a glittering ceremony at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London on November 30.

Opinion

Can you Find it – Business © 2017 Please click here, not forgetting to include your full contact details should we need to speak to you. OPINIONWE’RE ALL GLAD TO SEE THE BACK OF THE SFP YEAR…
It 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 every…more
MANUFACTURING CONTINUES TO PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN COUNTY
MANUFACTURING is alive and well in London. According to a new survey, 46,000 people work in the sector in the county – a smaller figure than a few years ago, but still very impressive, and a more tha…more
AWARDS AND REWARDS FOR FIRMS THAT SUCCEED
Sussex might not be home to many multi-national corporations – but it is certainly home to any number of top class smaller firms, who could punch above their weight anywhere in the country.The role…more
LEGISLATION BURDEN
WHO would run a small to medium sized business these days? Sometimes it must seem like being in siege, surrounded on every side by increasing amounts of legislation which must be complied with, under …more
HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE NDA STRATEGY
THE Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has laid out its strategy for the future of the nuclear sites under its control in the UK, and is asking for comments on it. Sellafield, and the work that has b…more
CARRS BILLINGTON SNAPS UP CARLISLE OIL FIRM
CARLISLE-based Carrs Billington Agriculture has bought oil distribution company Wallace Oils for an undisclosed sum. Wallace, with a turnover of £17 million and 28 staff, has its headquarters at Willo…more
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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…WHY SO ACCEPTABLE FOR SO LONG?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, January 1st 2015
SMOKING became accepted in society – and even more economically entrenched – long before its terrible hazards became understood. It is a well-known sociological fact that ‘familiar’ risks tend to be underestimated and discounted by people, while risks from unkown technologies are much more widely feared.

Also, the ranks of society’s decision makers have often included nicotine-addicted smokers which have made it much more difficult for the non-addicts to restrict smoking.

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) points out that the tobacco multi-nationals have spent huge amounts of money to ensure that their products remain unregulated and free from Government control.

An ASH spokesman said: “Nevertheless, as the tools of modern science have become applied to the problem of passive smoking, it has become obvious that second-hand smoke creates quantifiable risks to both non-smokers and smokers that are quite large compared to the risks encountered from any other environmental pollutant.”

In the UK alone the estimated number of annual deaths from passive smoking is put at around 12,000 – comparable to the great London smog of 50 years ago, greater than the 10,000 occupational deaths in the UK annual and triple the 3,450 current annual number of road deaths from traffic accidents.

Workplace air pollution (particularly in the wake of the asbestos debacle) has been widely regulated but occupational and environmental health professionals have generally ignored second-hand smoke as a significant air pollutant. This may have been due to the inherent difficulties in measuring indoor air in non-industrial workplaces such as offices, bars and restaurants and because second-hand smoke is generated by people as opposed to industrial processes.

Therefore the issue has largely remained in the province of public health officials who have repeatedly called attention to the seriousness of this problem while lacking any regulatory clout.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HELPING EMPLOYERS ACCESS TRAINING PROVIDERS Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
BUSINESS Link for London are offering a brokerage service, which helps employers to identify workforce development opportunities.

A Business Link Adviser identifies training opportunities and then introduces the employer to a training provider, who contacts them direct.

Stuart McGowan, General Manager of the Holiday Inn, Carlisle says about the brokerage service: “The brokerage service has been a great success allowing members of staff to develop and learn new skills.

“We have employees completing courses in Customer Care, Accountancy, Reception NVQs and a number of staff are considering taking up ECDL. The process was very quick with the providers contacting me directly within a few weeks of my initial enquiry. I was especially appreciative of the help given to me by my Business Link Adviser, Julie Kemp.”

As part of the brokerage service the Adviser can go on to conduct an Employer Skills Offer.

The Employer Skills Offer process involves:

Diagnostic – This is carried out by a Business Link Adviser and used to identify business needs

Training plan – Training needs are identified in the diagnostic and are transferred to a training plan. The Adviser will assist the business in identifying training providers

Brokerage service – The Adviser completes a brokerage activity form and forwards this onto the provider. The provider then contacts the business directly to discuss training requirements

Review – Once training is complete the Adviser contacts the organisation to review the diagnostic and the training plan

Training grant – There is the possibility of a training grant of up to £1,000 which is subject to match funding. All claims must be submitted and paid by 31st March 2016. Funding is not available to the Public Sector.

For further details please contact our Information Team on 0845 600 9006.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…COMMONS CALL-UP FOR CARLISLE TRAINING FIRMPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
Commons call up: Trainers, David Hawbrook (left) and Peter Fulton.Commons call up: Trainers, David Hawbrook (left) and Peter Fulton.CARLISLE-based firm abv Training have been summoned to the House of Commons after winning though to the finals of a prestigious national award.

The company, which has helped hundreds of security staff obtain new door licences, have made it the final five at the British Institute of Innkeepers National Industry Training Awards.

Regional manager Peter Fulton said: “We entered for the Door Supervisor Training Award following the extensive work we have done with security staff prior to and following the new licence requirements. The new course has been very well received but it is great to also be recognised by our governing body.”

The firm, which has bases in Carlisle and Staffordshire, has trained security staff across the country, including Paramount Events and Dempsey’s restaurant in Carlisle. David Hawbrook, Managing Director of abv, said: “It is a great honour to be invited to London for the NITAs, both Peter and I have been before for personal awards and it is always a fantastic event.

Fingers crossed this year will be an extra special celebration, it has been a fantastic year for the company and this would just top it off.”

The final judging for the awards will take place following assessment visits this week from industry professionals including a professor from Oxford Brookes University.

The awards take place at The House of Commons on December 9.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HEADLINEPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
James Cartmell is an investment manager of the Wise Speke division of Brewin Dolphin Securities Ltd. Views ex pressed are the author’s own and are not necessarily held throughout the Brewin Dolphin Group. The value of shares can go down as well as up and you may not get back the amount you invested. Wise Speke is a division of Brewin Dolphin Securities Ltd, a member of the London Stock Exchange, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CARRS BILLINGTON SNAPS UP CARLISLE OIL FIRMPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, June 1st 2015
CARLISLE-based Carrs Billington Agriculture has bought oil distribution company Wallace Oils for an undisclosed sum. Wallace, with a turnover of £17 million and 28 staff, has its headquarters at Willowholme in Carlisle and bases in Dumfries and Stranraer.

Founder Norman Currie has ceased his involvement following the takeover. Derek Wallace of Scotby will continue as managing director. The deal took several months to complete following a search by the company, and Wallace Oils will run as a subsidiary of Carrs Billington Agriculture.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MORE TO MARKETING THAN JUST PROMOTION AND ADVERTISINGPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
IF you are in a small business, the chances are that you are already ‘doing’ more marketing than you think. Marketing is often seen by small businesses as equivalent to selling, promotion and advertising.

In reality, it covers a much broader range of activities, many of which are actually being carried out by small businesses without labelling them as marketing.

Think about what you do. You probably make an effort to get to know your customers well. Your instincts tell you that getting to know what your customers want, and giving it to them, is what will keep you in business.

If this description rings true, then your marketing activity closely fits the definition of marketing advocated by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

So if you are already ‘doing’ marketing, what’s the problem?

The issue is that not knowing that you’re doing it, makes it less likely that you can repeat the activity consistently over time.

It’s not such an obvious problem when your organisation is very small, but marketing ‘on the hoof’ will become less feasible as you grow.

Applying a simple marketing framework enables you to identify which activities are effective and under what circumstances.

You can then plan to use them again when appropriate, and more easily communicate this to others.

Remember the 4Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion?

Let’s apply common sense and planning to promotion. You will generally need some means of communicating your products to your customers as your business grows. Whether your promotional material is just a single sheet or a more complex brochure, folder or catalogue, it must be appealing and grab the attention of your customers. It must be easy to read, and it must enable the customer to identify why they should buy your product.

Remember that customers buy the benefits that they get from your product, not features. If your product has fewer controls (feature) and that makes it easier and less time-consuming to use (benefit), then say that.

Better still, check with your customers as to what they see as the main benefits and use these in your promotion.

These ‘Ps’ need to be combined in the right ‘marketing mix’ as appropriate for your market, and together they form the basis of a marketing plan.

If you don’t normally have a marketing plan, think about the benefits of having something that you can show to others so that they understand where the business is going. It will also help you to keep on track and help others do the same, particularly in your absence.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of marketing reads as follows: “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

The two key words here are right at the beginning: ‘management process’.

So make sure your company is applying common sense and planning marketing activities in your business.

If you think your marketing team could benefit from the experience of other hands-on marketers, the Institute runs events throughout the North West that are open to all businessmen and women offering a chance to update on the latest marketing techniques and network with others in the local business community.

Visit www.cim-nw.org.uk for further information or contact Diane Clare, Regional Director – The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Based on the What is Marketing? Fact File available at: www.cim.co.uk Knowledge Hub Fact Files

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…SITE WITH THE PERSONAL TOUCHPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Wednesday, November 2nd 2015
FOR the self-employed to survive in this highly commercial world it helps if you are multi-skilled. When one arm of the business takes a dip in turnover, hopefully another will blossom.

That is the business philosophy, which has served Steve Marshall and Ally McGurk well. Take a look at their fascinating website and discover a fine example of how small businesses can use the internet to its full advantage.

Not that Steve and Ally have a small business exactly; their site contains information about a series of small businesses that are brought together at www.marshallmcgurk.co.uk

Move through the layers and you can learn a great deal about musical instruments, rush seating, map-making and last, but by no means least, website design.

Visitors to the site linger longer because of the welcoming appeal of the pages. It is hard to put your finger on what draws you into Steve and Ally’s world, but before you realise it you have spent half an hour browsing and clicking from one fact-filled section to another.

There is no hard sell, here. You can take your old woven seat to be repaired by Ally at her farmhouse in Crosby near Aspatria. If you have the time to attempt the repair yourself, you can order the materials – rush, cane, seagrass, raffia and much more.

In fact, you are almost encouraged to do-it-yourself and you can tell that any advice you might need would be only a phone call away.

As Ally explains: “Sometimes I will receive an order form for something and I get a gut feeling that the person has ordered the wrong thing for the job they are doing, so I will phone them up and make sure they know what they are doing – they often don’t! They seem to appreciate this personal touch.”

That personal touch is even evident when you come to order your materials. Thoughtful instructions explain that you can use the site’s order form in two ways, either in PDF format or the old web page format.

You are not left to find your own way around this site. It is almost as if there is a handrail to help you on your journey. Surely, it is this kind of care and attention and a genuine interest in the customer that builds a reputation and encourages repeat orders.

“A lot of our business is by word of mouth, but we get one or two orders from the United States, from the Highlands of Scotland; even from France,” said Ally.

It is easy to imagine that visitors would warm to the homespun atmosphere of the website. But there is nothing amateurish about the site’s design principles. The choice of typefaces, colours and, of course, language, is all crafted to fit the style of the business.

Ally, a self-taught web designer, has a background in design and technical drawing, and her drawing skills help add that little extra to the website furniture. So what has she learned, both from her own business use of the internet, and from her work creating successful sites for others?

As I expected, Ally was happy to share her knowledge.

Her first tip is to always put your contact details on every page. “There is nothing more annoying than searching a website for a phone number,” she said.

Secondly, make use of alt tags – those little yellow boxes that come up when your mouse goes over an image – these are read out loud to users of blind people’s browsers.

“Put a full description of the image in the alt tag, and use key words that Google will find.”

Thirdly, it is important to keep the site up to date.

“I am always tinkering with it, but if I am honest I probably do not do all the things that I advise others to do. It’s just a matter of time. I should get on it more.

“You need to realise that you get a better rating with a search engine like Google if you make frequent changes,” she said.

Ally also believes it is worthwhile spending timing choosing the correct type fount for your website. Body type has to be chosen from a very limited range. Verdana and Tahoma were designed specifically for the internet and are clear and easy to read on screen.

For a friendlier look, try Comic Sans, which most computers have.

Founts used for page headings, link buttons and so on can be treated as graphics, so you can use anything you like, but there is a huge variety to choose from. Decide if you want your site to be laid back and friendly, or stiff and formal, or trendy.

Avoid long lines of text, stretching all the way across the screen – these are hard to read. Break the text up into small blocks with eye-catching headlines, and into columns like those on this page.

Pictures are important. Everybody looks at pictures. Choose images carefully to convey the spirit of the business. Remember that not everybody has broadband, so do not use enormous images that will take ages to download. It is better to use small thumbnail versions of the pictures. People can click on these if they want to see a high-resolution version.

“Believe it or not, there are still some people out there who don’t know how to scroll down a webpage – all they ever see is what appears at the top of the screen, so never put anything vital near the bottom of the page,” she advises.

Links are also important. If you link to another site, you should expect them to provide a reciprocal link back to you. The more sites that link to you, the better ranking you will get with Google.

But Ally has a warning: “Don’t link to people who are in direct competition with you!”

Choice of colour is very subjective, said Ally, but subtlety is probably the key unless you own a business that is brash by nature. She recommends a restricted palette.

“Choose two colours that go well together, and maybe try a few darker and lighter versions of these. Your text font can be in something like dark blue instead of black, to match the overall colour scheme of the site. Try to make the whole site look homogenous,” she said.

So what about the value of an online ordering and payment facility? Is it worthwhile, I wondered?

“We still use snail mail. This is mainly because it is quite expensive to set up credit and debit card facilities, and quite honestly we do not get enough business to warrant the expense,” she said.

Prices would have to rise if they did this, and Ally suspects that customers would prefer to pay less.

“Foreign customers can pay us by Pay Pal.”

So there we have it, a do-it-yourself guide to website building.

Now click on to Ally and Steve’s site and get that old chair repaired, and see if she is practising what she preaches about website design.