Facials,Massage,Manicure,Pedicure,Sports Therapy Alrewas Burton Barton Lichfield

Posted by Chris on March 28th, 2010

If you are looking for Facials,Massage,Manicure,Pedicure,Nail Technology or Sports Therapy near Alrewas DE13

then St Leonards House in Wychnor ( near to Alrewas, Lichfield, Barton under Needwood and Burton on Trent ) has a resident Registered General Nurse and Registered Midwife who provides these services by appointment for residents and non-residents.

Included within the Facials are facepacks and massage and the Swedish Body Massage is offered.

Telephone 01283 791077 and ask for Pam.

Website: http://www.st-leonards-house.co.uk/default.html

Database Marketing in the Social Networking age

Posted by Chris on March 28th, 2010

When I started LanSwitch ( which became Voyager ) in the early 90′s I set aside a bedroom for an office and on my desk I had a telephone, a fax machine and a laptop ( initially not connected to the Internet , later connected with a dial-up connection ) with Office and a Contact Manager application and a printer. Luxury, I thought because it was the same as I had at Fibernet and much better than I had at Memorex.

My target market was basically: Companies that had busy Local Area Networks; that were in either The Midlands ( where I lived ) or London ( where I could easily commute to and knew people ). So, I basically targeted a combination of London based Financials and other general companies in London and the Midlands. I think I bought the Computer Users Yearbook as my basic database. ( Actually a very comprehensive and detailed source of information ).

I went through the process of identifying a target market and building a database of prospects and suspects many times over during my sales and business start-up career.

Typically now I will segment by horizontal ( size of company ), vertical ( type of company ) and geographical ( location ) and then various other factors eg structure of company, people within that company eg IT Managers etc etc.

Then a database can be purchased which is targeted and therefore typically lower cost than purchasing 1000′s of contacts many of which are not within your target market.

There are many database suppliers these days so it is possible to get some great offers on targeted data.

The equipment side has obviously come on in 17 years but not incredibly so – broadband and wi-fi; scanning software and fax software; CRM versus Contact Management; softphones ( eg Skype ) and video conferencing ( Skype, Webex etc ); standalone traditional and IP phones;printers. 

Where there has been enormous progress has been in Internet search and Social Network Marketing.

If you know what vertical you want to concentrate on eg Lawyers in Staffordshire you will find much of the information that you need online via Google or some other search engine.

With great timing ( !! ) I have just been reading this article about Linkedin

 http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/24/technology/linkedin_social_networking.fortune/

that I picked up on Twitter ( posted by Jon Besag who is in sales at Linkedin ;-)

This is well worth a read for many reasons. 

This article includes comments about in house and external recruiters using Linkedin to find the people that they/thier clients are looking for . There certainly are a lot of recruiters on Linkedin – in fact when I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a Linkedin trainer he told me that there were about 68,000 people on Linkedin who called themselves recruiters ( I just did a Linkedin search for ” Recruiters ” and got about 48,000 ) and that there were probably about 100,000 because a lot of recruiters did not call themselves recruiters.

I used this fact recently to help a company that I am working with, who are selling multi job board posting software, to target recruiters. From a small, personalised ” mailshot ” to selected Linkedin recruiters we got a few very positive responses and made a proposal to one within a week and got an order from it.

Recruitment is an obvious thing to do on Linkedin but  as said in the article ” The obvious one is jobs, but it’s not just jobs. It’s also clients and services.”

For me the goal is to make a ” personalised ” approach to potential clients and ” personalisation ” requires research. The difference between what you can do now and what you could do 17 years ago is that you can gather far more information on people and companies before you make any approach whatsoever.

If you combine a targeted database with internet and social media search then you have a fantastic tool to help you personalise your ” intelligent ” marketing and sales approach.

 

 

 

 

If you are a member of eg Ecademy, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed,Skype or MSN then each of these have thier own search facilities – some more sophisticated than others.

Just today I was asking someone how they prospected on the Internet and they said Linkedin, Skype and MSN.

Using a combination of Internet search and Social/Business networks you can find out an awful lot about people and companies.

A special Bed and Breakfast place near The National Memorial Arboretum

Posted by Chris on March 27th, 2010

Somewhere special near the National Memorial Arboretum for Rooms Bed and Breakfast

As a former Royal Navy Officer ( Weapons Electrical Engineer ) and with my father and stepfather in the Royal Air Force and mum’s brothers in the Welsh Guards it seemed appropriate to be able to offer rooms, bed and breakfast to people attending the National Memorial Arboretum at St Leonards House ( http://www.st-leonards-house.co.uk/bedandbreakfast.html ).

As it happens the National Memorial Arboretum has been massively successful – if successful is the right word for a place of mourning.

St Leonards House is just across the A38 from the Arboretum, not quite walking distance – although you certainly could do it – but a very short car ride.

No doubt visitors to St Leonards House will also be interested in the information that we have about HMS Barham and the story of Harry Dooling, a stoker, second class whose mum worked at Wychnor Hall and who went down on the Barham at the tender age of 18 and who is buried in Wychnor Church next door.

There is a beautiful view from the Church yard over to Cannock Chase.

Start-up Nostalgia & The Fast Track 100

Posted by Chris on March 26th, 2010

I was just Googling around when I came apon this link:

http://www.fasttrack.co.uk/fasttrack/leagues/dbDetails.asp?siteID=1&compID=675&yr=1998

If I remember correctly Voyager was in the Fast Track 100 about 3 years running.

Having acquired Spider Networks in 1996 we were growing at a phenomenal rate with 1998, 1999 and 2000′s turnover getting up to around £13 Million.

By 1998 we were heading for an exit in around 1999. Of course this turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives because of the dot com crash in March 2000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble

Whilst Voyager was growing in the period of the dot.com Boom it never was a dot.com company. Actually it was what was referred to at that time as a ” Bricks and Mortar ” company. That is to say that we had real revenue and real profits and we provided the infrastructure for what we called ” Large and Medium Sized Businesses ” ( LAMBs ). Voyager Networks was a Corporate Value Added Reseller ( V.A.R. ) and Voyager Internet was a Corporate Internet Service Provider ( C.I.S.P. ).

In the above Wikipedia description of the Dot Com Boom it is interesting to note the difference between what Cisco did and what Nortel did. ( Voyager was almost solely a Cisco reseller and a Gold Cisco Partner ) Not only did this ensure the survival of Cisco after the dot com crash but also it’s survival and prosperity through the recent recession

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-2000s_recession

At the outset of the recession I believe that Cisco had about $28 Billion in cash reserves.

The mentality in the 90′s for most dotcom’s was expanding their customer base as rapidly as possible, even if it produced large annual losses. It was:

Think big, Start big ( Spend loads ), Move fast.

The mantra for today, post the dotcom crash and the recent recession is:

Think big, Start small ( Spend as little as you can ), Move fast.

John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco has another mantra aswell:

Visualise, Strategise, Execute.

This was actually how we did things at Voyager in the 90′s – We thought very big ( as Nigel used to like to say ” Punching above our weight ” ), we strategised about how we could achieve our goals, we executed our strategy in a low cost way and we moved very fast.

That, for example is how we built The Voyager National Network and became a Managed Network Services Provider long before it was fashionable to do so.

Nostalgia is actually pretty well what it used to be – to me anyway.


Cisco phone systems are the future in Dorset

Posted by Chris on March 24th, 2010

Cisco phone systems provider Poundbury Systems ( http://www.poundbury.com/ Telephone - 01305 259849  ) is providing futuristic phone and video conferencing systems for Dorset based Small and Medium Businesses under the banner ” Futureline “.

Awareness of the installation of High Speed Fibre Optic networks in Dorset has been raised by eg http://www.dorsetforyou.com/broadband and http://www.teamdorset.org.uk/Business/Broadband-Survey?pgid=153 and Poundbury Systems is building on this awareness by offering local businesses low entry cost phone and video conferencing systems from Cisco Systems
( N.B. BT and Cisco are sponsors of the 2012 Olympics ).

Poundbury Systems are offering a package that will provide Small and Medium Businesses with a phone and web conferencing facility starting at

only £99 per month.

Cisco and Poundbury are thinking ahead to the time when Dorsets roads will be full of people heading to and from Weymouth and Portland and the Sailing Olympics and also thinking back to the recent winter months when snow prevented travel around Dorset.

For many reasons we need to ensure that we can conduct business irrespective of whether we are physically at a place or not. Of course there is always a need to meet people in person but many of the business discussions that we have can be conducted via email, phone, video conferencing and the Internet.

If we prepare for extreme road or weather conditions then this is a basis for a high speed, resilient, reliable communications system.

It is also the basis for a ” Digital Dorset ” which will encourage inward investment and migration.

Poundbury Systems phone and video conferencing systems is flexible and scalable – phones can be added incrementally – one or two at a time and at very low cost.

Call Clare on 01305 259849

to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Useful Information about Birmingham Airport

Posted by Chris on March 20th, 2010

from this website here

http://www.birmingham-airport-guide.co.uk/

Ten key hooks for investors in early stage businesses

Posted by Chris on March 20th, 2010

Written by Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurship at Smith & Williamson

http://www.smith.williamson.co.uk/entrepreneurs

Family and friends are a great source of funding for start ups and early stage businesses, but raising money from external investors or business angels is challenging.

Here are ten of the key issues that investors will be considering when they meet you or read your business plan.

1. First impressions

First impressions are critical. Most investors will decide not to proceed within the first 30 seconds of any discussion, or within a minute or two of picking up your business plan. Think about your approach, test in on your friends and practise it to perfection. Don’t fall at the first fence.

2. Demonstrable need

Where is the pain and what exactly is the need for your particular product or service? Most businesses offer ‘me too’ opportunities which are not obviously exciting to an investor. Make sure it’s clear how and why yours is different. Is it better, faster, cheaper or is there some other reason why you will succeed when many others fail?

3. Existing Revenues

Raising money for a business with pre-existing revenues is far easier as demand for your product or service has already been partially proven. The fact that you have already established the beginnings of a customer base will carry huge weight in any discussions.

4. Strategy

You may have a great idea, and you may have existing revenues, but what is the future for your business? Do you have a vision? If so, is it realistic or just “pie in the sky”? We have all seen those hockey stick shaped graphs showing an embarrassment of riches only a year or two down the track. Don’t be tempted to over-promise and under-deliver. It’s normally transparent from the start.

5. Business plan

The credibility of your proposal will be reflected in the quality of your business plan. A poorly presented, badly researched plan will kill your proposal before it has a chance. An idea may be good enough to gain the backing of family and friends, but it won’t cut the mustard with any serious investors.

6. Business model

Your business model will determine how and where you make your profits and how you will build long term value in your business. A model that requires huge revenues to deliver small profits is inherently unattractive, whereas a business in a niche market with high barriers to entry will be of interest to potential investors.

7. You

Are you credible in the eyes of the investor? What is your track record and what experience do you have of your business? Most successful entrepreneurs “stick to the knitting”, creating businesses based on their passion (ie something they know and understand), personal knowledge or experience. If this is limited, get the support of a mentor or partner. This will demonstrate maturity in the eyes of your investor.

8. Financials

Businesses go bust because they run out of cash, so be sure to demonstrate a good understanding of your financials. Margins and overheads will be part of the discussion, as well as working capital and cash flow. Remember that small businesses are normally cash constrained and prone to overtrading, so the investor will need to understand how you will manage this.

9. Pricing

Don’t be tempted to overvalue your business. We are a long way from the heady dotcom days when investors were persuaded to part with large amounts of cash based on little more than an idea. Nothing will put an investor off more quickly than an excessive or unsupportable valuation. The more you need, the more you will have to give away, so be realistic, cut your cloth and take in as little external funding as possible.

10. Exit

It’s very easy for an investor to put money into your business, but how will he get it back? A vague idea that you would like to buy his shares back at some future date is unlikely to be attractive. Taking in external funds means that you need to “begin at the end” in terms of thinking about exit, having a clear strategy and plan. This may change as the business grows, but you need that stake in the ground.

These are just some of the issues an investor will be thinking about, often subconsciously, in the short time that he focuses on your business. If you’ve thought it all out beforehand and you can tick all the boxes, you will have a strong chance of success.

Good luck!

Renting a baby buggy or pushchair from the UK

Posted by Chris on March 19th, 2010

WHY BUY A BABY BUGGY WHEN YOU CAN HIRE IT ?

CALL 07581 038763 or email mail@rentabuggy.co.uk

Rentabuggy allows families to ease cashflow and rent top selling pushchairs and buggies on a monthly basis. We stock Bugaboo, Phil & Teds, Maclaren and more.

We also do holiday rentals…

Have you noticed that when you are going on holiday you struggle to get all the kids clothing in suitcases along with all the toys that they want to bring and yet there is never enough space for the pushchair! You seem to spend hours trying to make it fit but instead if your going on holiday then why not hire your buggy? For a small charge, we can deliver your choice of items to where you are staying, ready for your arrival! You don’t even have to worry about it being sent back as we pick it up too!

For smaller items, why not try one of our new Holiday Welcome Packs. Designed to incorporate nappies, wipes, snacks, toy and other essentials they are a great solution for more room in the suitcase!

Are you looking for something that isn’t listed? Please ask us as we are quite happy to tailor make any orders as requested.

Please note due to an influx of orders on our monthly rental pushchairs, orders are taking approximately 3 weeks to despatch.

CALL 07581 038763 or email mail@rentabuggy.co.uk

Wow !! Fantastic Health Club Membership Offer in Burton on Trent

Posted by Chris on March 14th, 2010

I found a fantastic Health Club Membership offer at the exclusive E3 Fitness club

that seems to beat all the other Health and Fitness Club Membership offers that I came across in Burton.

They are doing Memberships from £29.95 per month AND there is no Joining FEE !!

Now I don’t know if you have been down to E3 but this is a rather special health and fitness club anyway and getting a membership for this price is really just amazing !!

It’s run by Jason Stennett who is a really experienced personal trainer and health and fitness club manager and just a really nice guy. I guess it helps ( with the girls anyway ) that he is pretty good looking although of course I wouldn’t know about that. wink

Anyway him and Mike ( who is completely mad ) run a really fun operation and everyone is not only talking ( revelation !!!! ) but also having a laugh.

Don’t know about you but if I can get fit, lose weight and have a laugh at the same time it’s a bonus !!

Anyway, I don’t think they will be doing these special prices on memberships for very long so probably best to swing by E3 and have a chat to Jason or Mike.

Might even see you there sometime ..

Another company fails to sell after using their accountant !!

Posted by Chris on March 13th, 2010

It was only a chance discussion really.

I was out the front of my house doing a bit of a clear up when one of the neighbours walked by and asked how it was going.

We had a discussion about the economy and I was telling him about some of the conversation that I had had recently with James Martin, a partner at Begbies Traynor that I know.

http://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/begbies-traynor/

Surprisingly, Begbies ( who are known for their insolvency work ) are not quite as busy as you might have thought – because for lots of reasons companies are not going  bust in the numbers that you would think was happening. Loads of reasons for this and I will try and get James to come on here and outline his thoughts on the subject soon.

Anyway – back to the point – so one of my neighbours tells me that he had failed to sell a company where he was a shareholder.

Or, more to the point their accountant had failed to sell the company ( but had managed to walk away with a substantial amount of fees ! ).

The one bidder ( !! ) had unsurprisingly ( to me ) managed to find loads of reasons why they should not complete the deal.

A ” dummy ” competitor had been contrived but the ruse failed because the M.D. of the one company called the M.D. of the other company and  said something like ” are you really looking to buy this company ” to which the answer was ( of course ) – No !!

So, that was the end of that little plan !!

In fact I have been working with a number of companies recently who finally realised that the only way that they were going to get a result was by creating serious competition for their business. Not pretend competition but real competition.

Selling a company ( like raising finance for a company ) is not an accountancy exercise it is a sales and marketing exercise. The chances of an accountant understanding this are close to zero.

The main problem is one of the main reasons that I started this blog – most business people do not know where to go to to get advice and guidance on how to sell a business. Because of this they end up going to their lawyer, accountant or ” one of their mates ” .

We nearly made the same mistake ourselves when we sold Voyager. In fairness our F.D. had raised his sights above our day to day accountant and was talking to Deloitte & Touche ( who we had earlier used for an acquisition ) and Deloittes have a lot of experience in selling businesses. However the key decision that we made at that time was to have a ” beauty parade “. I still remember the day that we wondered around Birmingham while Deloittes, Ernst & Young and someone else ( I can’t remember who ) presented to us on why they should be our representatives in the sale of our business.

In the end we chose Ernst & Young ( after much discussion ) for loads of reasons – we liked them, they had the best process, they would market us globally, they understood our market and the opportunity etc etc

The way to get a great result is to pick the right adviser in the first place – it is highly unlikely to be your lawyer ( although we did use the same lawyer for the sale as we did for the acquisition ) or accountant !!


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