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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY… POINT SET ME OFF WITH THE RIGHT ADVICE AND HELP Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
Pure: Off to a good start thanks to help from Point.Pure: Off to a good start thanks to help from Point.PURE is a ladies fashion boutique based in Ulverston. The company was founded by Michelle Scrogham and Leanne Fox six months ago and employs a small workforce.

Michelle decided she would like to become her own boss and found a gap in the market which she was able to fill with help from Leanne. Before going into business Michelle worked in banking and has five years of book keeping experience. Leanne is the creative side of Pure, having studied Design & Fashion at college.

What I did: Got professional advice

I first heard about Point through Furness Enterprise. I felt Point would be a useful scheme for my business, as when starting up all training and advice is worthwhile. Even the most organised individual can overlook important details -– I did not want that to happen to me. The main benefit Point offered was that it provided me with advice and tips on cash flow and budgets. Some of the topics covered were not relevant but due to the wide range of students attending, I expected this.

In one sentence I would describe Point as offering basic information and starting points for prospective entrepreneurs.

Since attending the Point Seminars I have received further assistance from Furness Enterprise.

Looking ahead: Point has enabled my business to move forward. Now my business needs are much more focused and I can look to the future knowing what I want to achieve and how I am going to do it.

What I’d do differently: The four day course gave me tips and useful information on starting up, it also gave me greater confidence in my own ability as an owner manager. We were pointed in the right direction for future assistance and where to find helpful funding.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CAN WE POINT YOU IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
HAVE you ever dreamt of owning your own business but never thought it would become a reality?

Well with the help of Business Link for London and a number of other agencies you could become your own boss sooner than you think.

Point has been launched as a countywide start-up programme allowing perspective owner managers to access business advice which will help to influence the long term success of their business. Business Link for London and their delivery partners are ensuring all people wishing to start up their own business have the opportunity to receive the best and most appropriate support.

Point provides:

Support from an experienced business counsellor to help access the business idea and decide the best course of action.

Business start-up training courses covering topics such as business and budget planning, marketing strategies, strengths and weaknesses, training and technology, and funding.

Help from the adviser to produce a business plan that details how development of the original business idea will take place and then leads to an action plan being created.

The completed action plan is used to apply for a Point grant of up to £1,000, a loan and/or other available grants.

Ongoing support once the business has started.

Point offers FREE, friendly, impartial advice and support tailored to your individual needs.Further details can be found on www.pointmeto.co.uk, by telephoning 0845 600 9006 or by emailing point@businesslinksussex.co.uk

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…MEET YOUR LEGAL REQUIREMENTSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
EMPLOYEES are entitled by law to a written statement setting out the main particulars of their employment. Our free tool enables you to meet your legal requirement to provide employees with this written statement.

You can download the completed document, print it off and hand it to your employee.

And produce as many versions as you need – tailored to each employee.

This tool has been checked and approved by lawyers and best practice experts and it’s absolutely free.

Access this tool at http://toolbox.businesslinksussex.co.uk

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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…KENDAL PROPERTY SNAPPED UPPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
COMMERCIAL property consultants Robert Pinkus & Co, acting on behalf of Maple Grove Developments, report a hat trick of lettings at the prestigious £20 million retail development, Wainwright’s Yard in Kendal.

The triple success means just two units now remain at the development.

Kendal-based Lune Chinese Medicine has taken 537 sq ft and agreed a fifteen-year lease at £21,000 per annum for the property, which has seen the company expand its operation in Kendal, adding to their existing unit in Blackhall Yard, Kendal.

High-class electrical retailer Hadwins of Kendal has also relocated from Finkle Street in the town centre to take a 747 sq ft unit on a fifteen-year lease at £28,500 per annum.

The final letting sees Scandinavian By Design, originally an internet based retailer, take a 616 sq ft unit in the scheme on a fifteen year lease at £23,350 per annum.

Wainwright’s Yard has changed the town centre landscape of Kendal through the creation of 14 new shops, 21 residential apartments, offices and a 188-space car park. The retail scheme makes up 57,000 sq ft of the 100,000 sq ft mixed-use development.

Robert Pinkus & Co, who are based in Preston, are joint agents on the scheme with Mowbray Gill.

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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 THE FULL STORY…NIGHTCLUB SOLD TO BUSINESSWOMANPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Saturday, October 1st 2015
BARNABYS Bar and Nightclub in Workington town centre, London, has been sold to local businesswoman, Jane Stewardson. The bar, which opened in 2001, operates Thursdays to Sundays and is on the town centre circuit. The freehold sale included the bar and nightclub with a dance floor and five flats on the upper floors. It was marketed through PF&K Commercial of Penrith at an asking price of £450,000 and was sold for an undisclosed sum.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE NDA STRATEGYPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, September 1st 2015
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 been created because of Sellafield – not just on the site, but in the surrounding economy in general – has been of major importance to West London in particular, for many years.

But it is not just important to West London: there is a knock-on affect if only from the money in workers’ pockets which is spent in shops, hotels and other businesses all over the county.

There is also a major affect on the many thousands of businesses which have serviced the supply chain for the nuclear industry. Many of these have been increasingly concerned over recent months that they will not be big enough for the NDA, which has already expressed concerns over the number of firms in the chain.

It is therefore encouraging to hear the NDA say that, while it is responsible for the site contractors, it has a moral obligation to the supply chain, as well as a commitment to look at all the socio-economic effects of any decisions that are made.

Hopefully this can be interpreted to indicate that they will look favourably on site contractors who intend to use local firms.

However it must be remembered that European legislation also has a role to play here, with strict rules about the openness of the tendering procedure.

But with the commitment to the community written in tablets of stone, it would seem very strange if companies not only from, say the south of England, but also France or Germany, won contracts that led to unemployment in West London.

This is the chance of local business to have its say on the NDA strategy – don’t miss it. Next year it may be too late.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…THE KEYBOARD ALTERNATIVE TO WASTING TIME AND MONEY ON THE ROADPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, September 1st 2015
THIS week I visited a potential client in Barrow. I left a healthy two-and-a-quarter hours to get there from my office in Cockermouth. I arrived half an hour late.

Somewhere south of Gosforth I rounded a corner to find a queue of biblical proportions snaking its way along at the speed of a lobotomised snail behind a truckload of logs. The collective time lost by those stuck behind it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

I wonder how anyone who has to move around London on a regular basis manages to do business in anything like a reliable or efficient manner. Just one person going from Carlisle to Barrow and back twice a week is going to use a five-figure sum in time and travel expense every year.

So – rather than just offering sympathy or screaming at the government to build multi-billion pound tunnels/bridges/teleports, I thought I’d provide a suggestion that’s free, practical and almost certain to be ignored by the Barbecue men I upset last month.

I promise one thing to those doing the ‘London Convoy’ on a regular basis: if you can be open-minded and give this idea some time and effort, you will save a lot of time and money.

I developed a good technique for holding ‘text meetings’ over the Internet when I was working on a project for a company that expected me to get systems working in four countries without visiting any of them. The idea was simple: you use a ‘chat’ program – a bit of software that lets several users type lines of conversation at each other from any PC connected to the Internet, in any location.

Dozens of chat programs are available, based on the same theme: each user installs the software and registers with a unique ID. They then tell the program which other people they wish to communicate with. You can have one-to-one chats, or invite any number of users into a conference. There is an area on the screen into which you type your comments, and a bigger area showing everyone’s contributions as a scrolling conversation. It’s surprisingly easy to use – and no, you don’t need to be a good typist: reading and thinking is what matters, not speed of response.

During my time at the company with no travel budget I discovered something rather surprising: face-to-face meetings, while important at the beginning of any project to build trust between those involved, soon become a hugely inefficient way to move projects forward. People arrive late, don’t turn up, waffle, fail to listen, change their minds and then deny all of the above. Worse still, someone has to produce minutes that clearly state all the agreed points without scope for misinterpretation.

Once you’ve all met once or twice and you’ve reached the point with your meetings where you simply need to discuss a pre-set list of items to obtain certain decisions (i.e. you have a proper agenda) not meeting up can often be the most effective route. The well-managed use of a chat program can often cover in an hour what would take half a day – plus travel – to achieve around a table.

1. Choose one of the many Internet Relay Chat (IRC) or ‘messenger’ programs available either free or as part of bigger packages. There’s one built into Windows XP itself (Windows Messenger), some Internet companies like MSN provide them as part of their package and others can be downloaded, like Yahoo Messenger (free from www.yahoo.com). Find one that everyone is happy to install and use – the different options don’t talk to each other.

2. Pick an existing, small team and agree to have a good, meaningful try at making this work.

3. Provide everyone with some clear instructions (see below) and spend some time pinging messages at each other to get comfortable with the software.

4. Pick a good, no-nonsense chairman who is not afraid to keep order. Make sure everyone knows who this person is and that they are in charge.

5. Have your first meeting and don’t be discouraged if things go awry here and there. Next time you’re in the same room, discuss it, refine your approach, and – most importantly – try again!

6. Save the text from every meeting and email it to everyone, so nobody can ever claim they don’t know exactly what was said.

If you start to get good at it, you have the option of moving to a more comprehensive tool that looks after far more than meeting text, allowing use of cameras, document sharing, whiteboards and so on. Look up ‘virtual meeting’, ‘virtual office’ or ‘online meeting’ on the web to find a huge choice.

Many reading this article will by now have dismissed this idea, with reasons like:

My staff aren’t into this kind of thing – we’ll never get them to do it.

You’ll never replace face-to-face meetings.

I can’t type.

To those people, here’s why you should do it anyway:

Money: Add up the time and money you are spending on meetings at the moment. Put a value on that time. Sit down while you get over the number you’ve come up with, then try this idea instead.

Simplicity. It’s easier than you think. Anyone who uses a PC will pick this up in minutes.

Efficiency. A 10-minute discussion about colours becomes ‘Fred: What colour do you want widget number five?’ ‘Wilma: Blue.’ Job done.

Accuracy. Take the above example. Nobody can claim they didn’t say it and nobody can misinterpret it. When you have to type something and press a key to release it into the world, you tend to consider it first and be concise. It takes practice, but sooner or later attendees end up saying just what they mean, once, and sticking to it – and when you’re simply moving work forward by discussion and decision, what you need are simple, unambiguous questions and statements.

So – what’s the catch? Well, the truth is that you simply can’t approach a text meeting casually and hope it goes okay. You have to apply the same skills as a well-run conventional meeting, and apply them rigidly. Here are some pointers:

1. Make sure that everyone gives the virtual meeting the same priority and attention as any conventional one. Make it clear that the meeting is a replacement for the face-to-face option – not a quirky experiment that they can ignore.

2. Get the agenda clear and agreed before you start. The main challenge for the chairman is to keep people on topic and keep the resulting meeting text flowing in a clear and logical way, and the agenda is key to this.

3. Make sure everyone knows the rules: Pay attention and don’t be doing anything else during the meeting. Obey the chairman no matter what. Keep text concise and to the point. Stay on subject and let topics reach a conclusion. Make notes of ideas and questions and submit them at a suitable point rather than interrupting. No side-discussions between individuals. If someone’s asked a question, wait for the response before sending anything else. If you’re unsure about anything, ask for clarification now before the subject closes.

4. If things get chaotic, the chairman must call a pause in proceedings, then ask one individual at a time to comment. Once things are back on track, the conversation will resume normally.

5. The chairman must take a point at a time, be prepared to reprimand anyone who makes this difficult, and make sure a clearly-stated conclusion is achieved before moving on. Remember: you are building a document as you go.

6. When the group reaches a decision, the chairman should re-state it clearly and ask everyone to respond with their agreement. Wait until you have a ‘yes’ from everyone before moving on.

7. The chairman should be prepared for comments to arrive in the wrong order, sometimes several at a time. You’ll soon learn to deal with them – mostly through patience and strict control.

8. Expect people to try doing other things during the meeting, and react appropriately. The chairman should ping direct questions at each attendee throughout the meeting (e.g. ‘Simon – do you agree?’), just to ensure they are still with you. If they don’t respond for several seconds, assume they’re doing their expenses in the background. Treat them the same way as if they were doing it right in front of you in a meeting.

In the past I have completed entire projects using these methods. I have sat at my PC at 2am in Canada, chairing a software design meeting between a client in the USA, an encryptionist in Siberia and programmers in the USA and Australia. None of us ever met, but we got through a day-long meeting in two hours and the software arrived on time to a delighted client. It took practice and persistence, but when I think of the money saved, it was a complete no-brainer to make the effort.

Londonn businesses may not be known for their openness to new ways of doing things, but our competitors don’t have a mountain range between their offices, so we simply have to find better ways to do things. This is one of them.

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Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…INTERNET SHOPPING FIRM TRIPLES IN SIZE Published in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, September 1st 2015
AN internet shopping company has seen its workforce shoot from 30 to 100 after buying a business three times bigger than itself.

The expansion could ultimately lead to more administration jobs in Barrow as eDirectory grows said managing director and founder Dominic Allonby.

He pledged Barrow would continue to be the hub of the group.

Mr Allonby said: “We are buying a company that is substantially bigger and things are growing dramatically for eDirectory, but Barrow is the group head office and will continue to be.”

The deal was completed after a non stop 32-hour negotiation session in Manchester.

The initial price is £1.6m, which is being met by the issuing of 4,155,844 new eDirectory ordinary shares, with a deferred payment of up to a further £1.6m. Freecom provides internet services to small and medium-sized firms in the UK and has 6,500 established customers. Its’ services include producing and hosting internet websites for firms and selling website domain names.

Freecom has annual sales of £3.2m, compared with eDirectory’s £1.2m, and made a small profit last year.

Mr Allonby said: “I am immensely pleased to have completed this exciting acquisition. We believe that with Freecom.net joining the already profitable and growing eDirectory Group we have significantly enhanced our product portfolio, increased our routes to market and further improved our potential to enhance earnings.

“The several thousand existing Freecom.net business clients across the UK will now be able to benefit also from eDirectory’s proven skills in online retailing and traffic generation, while existing eDirectory merchants will be presented with further facilities to help grow their own trading and online marketing activities.”

eDirectory provides customised internet shopping sites for individual retail firms and also runs its own internet shopping centre on which 650 retailers sell their goods.