What can your business learn from Amazon Prime Day?

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By Karen Wheeler, Vice President and Country Manager UK, Affinion

Since the first Amazon Prime Day in 2015, the event has quickly become an important date in most consumers’ diaries, and this year was no different. The annual day of promotional deals demonstrates exactly how businesses should look to engage with their customers and is proving that a simple focus on customer needs can go a long way to ensuring brand loyalty.

Prime Day was particularly successful for the online retail giant this year, it announced earlier this week that sales from the first 12 hours were up 89 per cent from last year, while over the 36 hours of deals consumers purchased more than 100 million products, surpassing all previous records.

In addition to its financial gains, Amazon was this month ranked at the top of the ICS UK Customer Satisfaction Index for the sixth report in a row. The retail giant clearly knows how to engage its customers, and its sales are certainly feeling the benefit of this.

But what can businesses learn from Amazon, and its showpiece event? Here are three lessons in customer engagement that all businesses should be aware of:

 

1.       Prioritise the customer in your business model

McKinsey’s CEO guide to customer experience suggests that a business’ strategy “begins with considering the customer – not the organisation – at the centre of the exercise”. Listening to and understanding what the customer wants has been the driving force behind many of Amazon’s products and developments.

Amazon originally launched its Prime subscription as an experiment to gauge customers’ reactions to ‘Super Saver Shipping’ and it was expected to flop. It was clearly a risk worth taking, Prime is now one of the world’s most popular membership programmes, generating $3.2bn (£2.3bn) in revenue in 2017, up 47 per cent from 2016.

A proactive approach will always go down better with the customer, and businesses must look for their own innovative solutions. Amazon is set apart by its ability to listen to what the customer wants and prioritising them over its competitors. CEO Jeff Bezos once wrote: “Many companies describe themselves as customer-focused, but few walk the walk. Most big technology companies are competitor focused. They see what others are doing, and then work to fast follow.”

Prime Day is a clear example of putting the customer first. Customers want deals and value for money, and this is exactly what they are getting from its Prime subscription, so it’s no wonder that Prime and Prime Day continue to grow. Businesses must consider the evolving needs of the customer, and provide solutions; in doing this, companies can increase the likelihood that their customers will remain loyal to them.

 

2.       Personalisation is now the standard

Amazon has recognised the need for analytics and has become a leader in this field. Along with technological disruptors, Amazon has provided innovative customer experience solutions, often leaving the traditional players looking reactive. The online retail giant’s innovative use of analytics has led customers to become accustomed to personalisation and actually expect it as part of their standard interaction with a business.

Prime Day is a clear example of Amazon’s commitment to analytics and personalisation. Data-led insights on customer behaviour allow Amazon to send personalised marketing messages based on members’ previous shopping habits. This allows Amazon to send relevant deals that, in turn promote loyalty and trust from its customers.

Not only does Amazon’s personalised messaging provide customers with offers that they are more likely to take up, it gives them an experience unique to them. At Affinion we believe in ‘hyper-personalisation’. It is no longer good enough to just know a customer’s history of transactions with a company and to send a birthday message, businesses have to create a truly unique customer experience.

It may seem like analytics are only relevant for giants like Amazon, but there are lessons for every business, regardless of size. Amazon stores customers’ shopping history and sends them Prime Day deals for similar products to those they have purchased in the past. Businesses have to understand that customers now expect simple interactions like deals to be personalised and provide unique experiences if they are to successfully engage with customers.

 

3.       Always stay innovative

Prime Day once again proved that innovative products are at the forefront of Amazon’s plans. Among the bestsellers during Prime Day 2018 were the Fire TV Stick, the Alexa Voice Remote and the Echo Dot. Amazon’s willingness to branch out to new products and services has clearly helped to broaden its offering and has shown customers that their needs are at front of the company’s mind.

Proving itself as an effective industry disruptor, Amazon has taken note of the growing need for consumer convenience in recent years. It has expanded its offering for customers, allowing them to carry out multiple tasks using Amazon products, you can now stream films on the Fire Stick, organise your life through the intelligent personal assistant Alexa or read a book on Kindle.

Additionally, Amazon has previously suggested that it could acquire a bank to break into the financial industry and potentially start its own healthcare company. These moves may be ambitious, but show the customer that Amazon is looking for ways to help them. Regardless of size and scope, businesses should always look for areas they can move in to, showing their customers that their needs are a genuine priority.

 

A customer first approach

Prime Day demonstrates what makes Amazon so successful. Its customer first approach dictates business decisions more than its competitors. Amazon listens to customer needs and acts accordingly, and a personalised approach to marketing ensures loyalty from members. Although Amazon is an online giant and one of the world’s biggest brands, if businesses can retain a sharp focus on the customer, like Amazon does during Prime Day, they can ensure that their customers remain engaged.

Issue 7 2018 Allied Wallet

Issue 7 2018 Allied Wallet

Corporate Vision Magazine is a monthly publication designed to provide you with the latest news and features from across the globe.

In recent news, global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, Epicor Software Corporation has recently announced two new appointments to its executive leadership team. Andy Coussins is appointed senior vice president and head of sales for the international region and Jason Taylor senior vice president and head of global support.

Gracing the cover of this month’s issue, is tech billionaire, Dr. Andy Khawaja of Allied Wallet. Andy takes time to provide us with a detailed insight into the inner workings of the firm which has enabled them to accumulate extraordinary success throughout the years.

Since 2007, Mash has been at the forefront of FinTech innovation. Today, they grace the cover of this month’s issue of Corporate Vision Magazine. Group Chief Executive Officer, James Hickson takes time to discuss more about Mash, revealing more about their innovative ways.

Elsewhere in this edition, Avasant is a leading management consulting firm focused on translating the power of technology into realisable business strategies. Recently, we sat down with Avasant CEO, Kevin S. Parikh who details how the firm prides themselves on delivering high value engagements through industry focused flexible client based solutions.

Also in this issue, we discover more about D2 Creative – a Bedfordshire based RAR (Recommended Agency Register) approved creative agency. They are experts in FMCG, B2B and B2C communications in both the public and private sectors. We spoke to the firm’s Creative Director, Dylan Davies who provides us with an insight into the creative agency.

Here at Corporate Vision Magazine, we truly hope that you enjoy reading this packed edition, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

How can you ask for your employees’ medical records under GDPR?

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It’s essential to have a medical report for an employee if you’re considering dismissing for capability reasons or looking at whether an employee has any medical issues which may constitute a disability, and as a result require reasonable adjustments at work.

Medical reports can be obtained from a doctor, or from Occupational Health, but clearly, it’s a very sensitive piece of information so how can an employer lawfully access these reports?

GDPR provides more protections for data, and in particular, sensitive data. Obtaining a report amounts to processing personal data under the GDPR, and according to the regulations, there must be lawful grounds for processing the information.

So what constitutes lawful grounds?

Article 6(1) identifies six lawful grounds for processing personal data:

– Consent
– Contract
– Legal obligation
– Vital interests
– Public interest task
– Legitimate interests

Consent may be the lawful ground to depend upon when asking an employee to allow access to a medical report. Consent requires a positive opt-in, which means that the employee cannot be sent a pre-ticked form presuming consent. Obviously, you can’t force an employee to see a doctor, so regardless of the GDPR, obtaining consent is key!

Generally, a doctor would provide a report to the patient and this is only released to employers with explicit consent. It is key to note that patients are in control of all and any information that is released to an employer, and they have the right to review and ask for changes before it is submitted to an employer.

So, consent is key – both to see a doctor, and then for the doctor to release the report. Even then it gets more complicated for “special categories”, as the employer has to have a valid reason for processing the data, and also has to satisfy an additional condition under Article 9.

What is Article 9?

The GDPR accepts that not all data is the same, and so gives extra protection to ‘special categories’ which are generally those categories which could be used to discriminate unlawfully against an employee. As a result, the employer needs to give a specific reason for processing the data. In GDPR terms, one given reason may be that “processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights of the controller or of the data subject in the field of employment”.

In more simple terms, it can be justified by stating that it meets the employer’s legal obligations not to unfairly dismiss, not to discriminate against a disabled employee, to identify reasonable adjustments where applicable and to ensure they are fit to return to work. 

Using a pre-employment questionnaire to determine whether or not to employ someone would contravene the Equality Act 2010 as well as GDPR as it is discriminatory and there is, therefore, no valid reason to process the data. The pre-employment questionnaire can be used to identify any potential issues, and allow the doctor to suggest reasonable adjustments and this is a valid reason for processing the data under GDPR.

Confused yet?

Let’s simplify: you need to identify the reason for processing the data (i.e. consent to acquire a medical report), and you also need to be able to demonstrate that there is a requirement to process the data (i.e. use the data in the medical report to ensure that you are not discriminating against a disabled employee).

What information can be requested?

The GDPR holds various principles which the medical report needs to align to, including Data Minimisation. Again, breaking this down, it means that the information is:

– adequate – sufficient to properly fulfil your stated purpose;

– relevant – has a rational link to that purpose; and

– limited to what is necessary – you do not hold more than you need for that purpose

Therefore, a medical report should contain only the information required for the employer to fulfil their legal responsibilities. If the employee has any health condition, the employer may only need to know:

i)                    Whether it constitutes a disability,

ii)                   Will it impact the ability to perform a defined role

iii)                 If reasonable adjustments at work need to be made.

For example, details of a chest infection at the time of assessment would be irrelevant to undertaking an office-based role. However, it would be reasonable to disclose information about a chronic back pain, such that an adequate chair and desk assessment can be made before commencing the role. However, not all of this information would necessarily be provided to the employer if it was not relevant.

So what does an HR team need to do?

HR is responsible for ensuring that the medical report is necessary, that the questions asked (and answered) in the medical report are relevant, and being aware that the employee needs to give consent to the medical report. HR also needs to track and monitor the justification for the processing the data.

By Vicki Field, HR Director, and Daniel Fenton, Clinical Director, at Private London GP, London Doctors Clinic.

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Issue 7 2018 mash

Issue 7 2018 mash

Corporate Vision Magazine is a monthly publication designed to provide you with the latest news and features from across the globe.


In recent news, global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, Epicor Software Corporation has recently announced two new appointments to its executive leadership team. Andy Coussins is appointed senior vice president and head of sales for the international region and Jason Taylor senior vice president and head of global support.

Since 2007, Mash has been at the forefront of FinTech innovation. Today, they grace the cover of this month’s issue of Corporate Vision Magazine. Group Chief Executive Officer, James Hickson takes time to discuss more about Mash, revealing more about their innovative ways.

Elsewhere in this edition, Avasant is a leading management consulting firm focused on translating the power of technology into realisable business strategies. Recently, we sat down with Avasant CEO, Kevin S. Parikh who details how the firm prides themselves on delivering high value engagements through industry focused flexible client based solutions.

Also in this issue, we discover more about D2 Creative – a Bedfordshire based RAR (Recommended Agency Register) approved creative agency. They are experts in FMCG, B2B and B2C communications in both the public and private sectors. We spoke to the firm’s Creative Director, Dylan Davies who provides us with an insight into the creative agency.

Here at Corporate Vision Magazine, we truly hope that you enjoy reading this packed edition, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

A starting plan for a career in law

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Pursuing a career in law is a worthwhile endeavour, but you need to plan your journey accordingly. Medical negligence lawyer group Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm have put together this guide for anyone looking for a starting point for getting into law.

Your choice of A-Levels

Keep in mind that, at A-Level stage, you do not need to take law. In fact, universities and potential employers will treat it the same as any other A-Level on your application form and so it should only be chosen if you have a particular interest in the subject.

But you should choose subjects that show best that you can deal with and thrive in challenging professions such as law.

To this end, pick A-Levels that you are sure to display high grades in and are interested in. They should also enable you to work on the skills that you need to be successful in the law industry, such as developing your analytical, communication and research skills — English, history, maths, and science are all great subjects for this.

Remember that courses like General Studies and Critical Thinking are excluded in many universities’ entry requirements, so treat these as additional rather than core.

Also, it is worth noting that the following universities require law applicants to take a National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT):

·         University of Bristol

·         Durham University

·         University of Glasgow

·         King’s College London

·         University of Nottingham

·         University of Oxford

·         SOAS University of London

·         UCL Faculty of Laws

The LNAT is useful for both the university and the students; the university is able to see if the candidate can cope with the demands of a law degree programme, and the candidate can see for themselves if law is a feasible route for them.
 

A law degree, a non-law degree, or an apprenticeship?

With your A-Levels achieved, you have a few options open to you in terms of reaching a career in law.

The most obvious choice is to study a degree in law. This is specifically designed to educate you on the areas of law that you are most likely to come across once you’re a qualified lawyer and settled into your dream job.You will also be taught useful skills to enhance your knowledge regarding critical thinking, analytical skills, logical reasoning, and problem solving.

But a law degree is not the only option. An alternative option is to study something that you have a passion for and that you’re confident will result in you achieving high grades, before completing a one-year conversion course. Otherwise known as a GDL — short for graduate diploma in law — this course condenses what’s taught in a three-year law degree into a single year.

If you don’t want to go down the degree route, you could also look into paralegal and articled apprenticeships, which are becoming popular. Deemed advanced level apprenticeships and introduced in 2014, these school leaver schemes often lead to basic law qualifications being achieved through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and can result in a full-time job being secured as a paralegal.

On-the-job training requirements

To become a solicitor or barrister, you need more than your A-Levels, degree, or apprenticeship. This is because on-the-job training will be a requirement.

If becoming a barrister is your goal, and you have your degree or GDL, the next stage is the Bar professional training course (BPTC), and then a one-year pupillage at a barristers’ chambers. Qualify from this and you’ll become a tenant and be aiming eventually to become a QC — short for Queen’s Counsel.

If you are seeking to be a solicitor, you need to complete the postgraduate course called the ‘Legal Practice Course’ (LPC) after getting your GDL or degree. Once you’ve completed the LPC, you’ll go through a two-year training contract at a law firm. You’ll be known as a trainee solicitor at this point, though upon qualifying, you will work to be an associate and then have the end goal of eventually becoming a partner.

Which job is for you?

Of course, becoming a solicitor or barrister are only two options in law. There are many other roles within law that you can look into. See which of these appeals most to you…

Legal Executive
Legal executives are trained to the same level as solicitors but specialise in one area of law.

Expected salary
Between £15,000 and £28,000 when a starter, increasing to between £35,000 and £55,000 when experienced and up to £100,000 once highly experienced.

Jobs available*
Indeed currently has 5,183 jobs related to the search ‘Legal Executive’ — check them out here.

Barrister
A barrister (also known as an advocate in Scotland) provides specialist and specific advice while representing organisations and individuals in courts and tribunals.

Expected salary
Between £12,000 and £45,000 when a starter, increasing to between £30,000 and £200,000 when experienced and up to £250,000 once highly experienced. Take note that the salary will vary depending on the type of work carried out, the firm you work for and the location of a job. Employed barristers also generally earn less than those who work in a private practice and can pay their own overheads.

Jobs available*
Indeed currently has 509 jobs related to the search ‘Barrister’ — check them out here.

Paralegal
A paralegal undertakes research and prepares legal documents. They also have the responsibility of providing their clients with legal advice.

Expected salary
Between £14,000 and £25,000 when a starter, increasing to between £30,000 and £40,000 when experienced and to £40,000 or more once highly experienced.

Jobs available*
Indeed currently has 4,177 jobs related to the search ‘Paralegal’ — check them out here.

Licensed Conveyancer
Licensed conveyancers are property lawyers. They will be in charge of dealing with all the paperwork and finances which are required to buy and sell property or land across England and Wales.

Expected salary
Between £16,000 and £20,000 when a starter, increasing to between £25,000 and £40,000 when experienced and up to £60,000 once highly experienced and a partner.

Jobs available*
Indeed currently has 736 jobs related to the search ‘Licensed Conveyancer’ — check them out here.

Solicitor
A solicitor provides clients with expert support and legal advice. Clients can be individuals, groups, or companies.

Expected salary
Between £25,000 and £40,000 when a starter, increasing to between £40,000 and £90,000 when experienced and to £100,000 or more once highly experienced. Take note that the salary will vary depending on the type of work carried out and the location of a job.

Jobs available*
Indeed currently has 13,757 jobs related to the search ‘Solicitor’ — check them out here.

*Jobs available logged as of February 27th, 2018.

7

Coaching Top 50

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The Coaching Top 50 launched in order to identify and celebrate some of the world’s most inspiring, influential and innovative coaches, and commend them for their efforts throughout the past 12 months. From executive and leadership coaches, BDOs and career advisers, to life coaches, mentors and trainers, our in-house team sought to highlight those who represent true excellence across the industry.

Our identified professionals can rest assured their recognition is truly deserved, with their selection based entirely on merit rather than company size or popularity. We have worked hard throughout the year to identify those who have gone above and beyond to provide expert training and support to clients.

Discover the Coaching Top 50 Below!

 

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The best books for start-up tech companies

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Starting a company within the tech industry, you’ll already know how fast the sector moves and changes. After all, speed and change are key factors for the best technology. If you’re going to do well, you need to keep yourself informed of all the latest trends and changes, as well as maintaining an efficient work environment.

Take a look at our list of the best books to help you along the way.


Networking Like a Pro (Author: Ivan R. Misner)

Geared towards entrepreneurs and new starts to the sector, this book is top pick. Read this book, and you’ll boost your knowledge of overcoming various networking hurdles that could hold you back as your company grows.

out is vital for new tech businesses looking to grow. From making useful contacts to develop your business, to implementing an effective referral marketing campaign; Networking Like a Pro offers tools, templates and a results-measuring system to help you action your networking strategy and make valuable business connections.


Conscious Capitalism (Author: John Mackey and Raj Sisodia)

This next book makes the radical argument that capitalism can benefit the world.

Whether you’re new to the tech sector or new to business, knowing how to treat the people who encounter your business, from your employee to your investors, is vital. Referencing several other leading companies — such as UPS, Google and Amazon — Conscious Capitalism gives an insightful and expert analysis of how you can infuse your business environment with positivity for the optimum workplace culture (an essential component of Google’s success and almost expected by many people working within the innovative tech industry today).

Your business’ success hinges on how you sustain a positive workplace to nurture creativity.  


The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (Author: Kevin Kelly)

From the former editor of Wired magazine comes this book about how many tech trends will impact our lives over the next 30 years. The best part of The Inevitable is how it paints a picture of ways in which technological forces will overlap, mix and come to co-depend on each other — crucial to know if any of these trends relate to your business.

From artificial intelligence in manufacturing, to home-used virtual reality, the author explores the long-term effects technology may have on how we work, buy, and live. Want to prep your company now for the customer of tomorrow? Then, get ahead of the game.


How Google Works (Author: Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg)

Google is one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. But how did it all start and how has the firm stayed at the top of the game for so long?

Written by Google executives, this book gives a valuable insight into workplace culture, decision-making, and corporate strategy. Renowned for its innovation, creativity, and ability to bounce back from errors (remember Wave?), this glimpse into the birth and evolution of Google is a must for anyone who wishes to emulate even a part of its success.


The Lean Start-Up (Author: Eric Ries)

Pick up The Lean Start-Up if you’re a new start-up yourself! This book looks at how new companies can launch, adapt and grow within an industry that has fierce competition. Offering real examples of setting up a new business, you get a great insight into how to make a success of your business and avoid the typical pitfalls.

If you want to keep your company innovative as it grows, this book is essential.


Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World (Author: Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler)

Clear but informative, this guide by Diamandis and Kotler is a three-part work that is perfectly tailored for new businesses. The first section gives you an incredible insight into how start-up companies are today going from ‘initial concept’ to ‘multi-million-pounds status’ quicker than ever, and how tech — like 3D printing and androids — might be influencing this trend.

The next part offers trade secrets and tips from the pinnacle of business people, like Richard Branson, before coming to the most crucial part of the book. Bold’s finale discusses the various, actionable ways you can build your company, with tips on creating lucrative campaigns designed to rocket your start-up to the top. A must-read for the big dreamer. 


Your One Word (Author: Evan Carmichael)

At 19 years old, Evan Carmichael had already created and sold his own biotech company. If you want tips on how to emulate his success, make this title the next on your reading list.

This work focuses on the importance of a clear business goal in order to progress. If you need a boost of confidence and an injection of motivation to start making your tech-business dreams come true, immerse yourself in the powerful words of Carmichael.


The Upstarts (Author: Brad Stone)

For those looking for real-life scenarios and advice, The Upstarts is for you. The best thing about this book is the incredibly detailed account of two global companies: Uber and Airbnb. Reading this book, you find out how these giants began and developed to become two of the most respected and innovative brands in the world.

This enticing read will encourage you to look at ways you can change standards, just like the companies detailed in this work. What can your business do to change the world?


The Industries of the Future (Author: Alec Ross)

If you want to learn how to spot opportunities to get ahead in your industry, Alex Ross’ work is a must-read. A New York Times bestseller, Ross delivers an extensive insight into your industry’s most important advances, from cybersecurity and robotics to genomics and big data, using input from global leaders.

Ross has a unique and perceptive viewpoint to offer readers, owing to his time as the senior advisor to former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. His extensive travel has given him access to the some of the most powerful people in business, and his book is packed with astute observations regarding opportunities for growth and the unknown tech forces that are changing — or will change — the world.  


Get your business running right from the start with these top reads in 2018.

This article was researched and created by Where The Trade Buys, a UK-based manufacturer of quality roller banners.

5

Debunking the 5 Major Myths of Entrepreneurship

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There are a great number of myths that engulf the start-up space and many entrepreneurs fall for them hook, line and sinker. According to Peter Tuvey, co-founder of Fleximize, the UK’s first revenue-based business lender, debunking these myths is crucial to maintaining success and innovation amongst start-ups.

You can have a sharp website, a solid business plan and of course a great product, but these will amount to little without the correct support systems in place and a firm understanding of what you have let yourself in for.

Here are five myths of entrepreneurship that can lead start-ups astray in their infancy.


Myth 1: You must stick to a perfect business plan

When starting out, there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ in business. Even the greatest entrepreneurs like Gates and Branson are continually adapting to market conditions and advancements in technology.

Running a start-up is a constant learning process and projecting capital assets, monetary flows, and market conditions is simply impossible. Five years ago, for instance, talk of Brexit was completely off the radar for most entrepreneurs but now, its terms are the most important market influence that start-ups will face, illustrating just how quickly a business ecosystem can change.

The truth is that you can’t fully predict what path your start-up will take. Entrepreneurs need to be agile and react quickly to new opportunities when they crop up as tying your business down to specific targets could stunt growth. Instead of designing that ‘perfect’ business plan, create one that is nimble and easily adjustable, let it evolve as situations dictate.


Myth 2: Venture capital is the only way to grow

This definitely isn’t the case.

Whilst many well-known businesses have raised funds through venture capitalist (VC) funding, there are many – GitHub and Envato to name but two – that relied heavily on their own funds during their early stages.

Although unquestionably a much harder route to take, self-funding or ‘bootstrapping’ definitely does have its advantages.

Despite taking slightly longer for a company to grow organically without a capital injection, this is offset by the ability to maintain full control over the company and make decisions that will best aid long-term, rather than short-term, returns.

One of the many attractive aspects of starting your own company is the ability to be your own boss, and by self-funding, you do not have to answer to investors or have them constantly checking up on progress and timelines.

If bootstrapping isn’t for you however, there are a lot of other finance options to consider, from crowdfunding, to bank loans and revenue-based finance.


Myth 3: In getting finance you must sacrifice equity

This is not always true, thankfully.

If you do decide that funding is the right option, there are now a plethora of alternative ways to get finance and maintain control.

Previously, entrepreneurs would turn to banks for business loans to avoid handing over any part of their business. However, banks are often very sceptical of risky early-stage business opportunities making these difficult to acquire.

Alternative finance providers offer more flexible sources of capital for fast-growing start-ups. Lenders like Fleximize can lend to early-stage businesses that have just 6 months trading and typically make decisions in days, not weeks. Meaning that you can focus on building your business rather than searching for a solution that will sacrifice equity.


Myth 4: Fail fast, fail often

This phrase has become a popular mantra for tech hubs around the globe. Just think for a second though, why start your own business if you’re planning for it to fail? It’s good to have an exit strategy, but why set yourself up for failure?

By changing your mindset to “learn lots, learn often, adapt always” you’ll be in a better position to take every opportunity to learn from staff, customers, family, friends and mentors, and to make important adjustments swiftly. Your approach does not need to be trendy, but it does need to be realistic!


Myth 5: ‘Build it and they’ll come’

If only it was that easy.

It might have worked for Kevin Costner et al. in Field of Dreams, but most start-ups will testify that even the most innovative product on the market risks becoming one of the best products never to see the light of day if you don’t have great people to rely on and to make it happen.

Selecting the right talent to help drive your product is crucial, and so building a business where people want to work is vital. The demand for talented people is rife so you need to make your company and philosophy attractive to them. Don’t forget these are the individuals that will be executing your idea and pushing your product out to market, so source good people from the get-go and your business will flourish.  

Peter Tuvey is co-Founder of Fleximize. Launched in 2014 as the UK’s first revenue-based finance provider, Fleximize offers small business loans from £500 to over £1 million, and has supported a wide range of SMEs across the UK. 

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Coaching Top 50

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Discover the Coaching Top 50 Below!

 

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Coaching Top 50

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The Coaching Top 50 launched in order to identify and celebrate some of the world’s most inspiring, influential and innovative coaches, and commend them for their efforts throughout the past 12 months. From executive and leadership coaches, BDOs and career advisers, to life coaches, mentors and trainers, our in-house team sought to highlight those who represent true excellence across the industry.

Our identified professionals can rest assured their recognition is truly deserved, with their selection based entirely on merit rather than company size or popularity. We have worked hard throughout the year to identify those who have gone above and beyond to provide expert training and support to clients.

Discover the Coaching Top 50 Below!

 

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How important are apprenticeships

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How important are apprenticeships to the construction industry?

There are concerns with the multi-million pound construction industry that the sector is experiencing a skills shortage.  City & Guilds have revealed that 87% of employers last year were already finding it difficult to recruit the skilled workers that they need. According to Construction News, official figures show that 12.6% of UK construction workers come from overseas, with 5.7% originating from the EU. This rises to a staggering 60% in London. Furthermore, 30% of British-born construction workers are now over the age of 50, meaning businesses will feel the pinch of those departing over the coming years through retirement when Brexit comes into play.

It’s no surprise then that some experts believe apprentices could solve many of the problems. Apprenticeships could be more crucial than ever before, especially following Brexit. Nation Apprenticeship Week was at the beginning of March, and with an influx of publicity circulating, it has encouraged employers to think about the future of their workforces — could apprentices fill the employee shortage?

Niftylift, retailers of work platforms, takes a closer look:  

Construction, along with Engineering and Manufacturing, Planning and the Built Environment are within the top five sectors for apprenticeship starts. In the 2016/17 academic year, the Engineering and Manufacturing sector witnessed 74,000 starts, while the Construction sector had 21,000. Leading UK housebuilder, Redrow, released its second annual research report which revealed that, thanks to a positive shift in attitudes and the perception of construction, the apprenticeship pathway has improved, with a 14% increase in young people considering a career in the sector.

Karen Jones, who is the Group HR Director at Redrow, stated: “This year’s results illustrate that apprenticeships and careers in construction are being viewed in a more positive light.

“Apprenticeships are a way of futureproofing the UK workforce, particularly in sectors where there is a skills shortage, such as construction, so it is pleasing to see that progress is being made.”

Is the new apprenticeship levy, introduced last year, the saviour of apprenticeships?  The levy certainly brings with it a new way of funding apprenticeship programmes. Whilst some employers have snubbed the new levy as just being ‘another tax’, both large and small employers can benefit from the fund, meaning that 90% of apprenticeship training costs are funded by the government. Furthermore, employers within the construction sector can use up to 10% of the funding to train employees across the full supply chain — something not to be snubbed with the current shortage in skilled workers.

Apprenticeships continue to prove successful – according to UK Construction Media, a huge 86% of employers say that apprenticeships are helping them develop skills relevant to their organisation, and 78% believe they help improve productivity.

Apprenticeship programmes are working, says Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training: “Working with some of the UK’s largest utility firms, our success rates have been very high. We and our customers have no doubt that, managed well, apprenticeships do work.”

He added: “New initiatives such as Trailblazer Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy have raised awareness across the UK. Even so, and despite huge skills shortages, many employers are still only scratching the surface of what they could be doing to use apprenticeships to attract new people to join the industry and improve the skills of existing employees.”

So, what of the future? Downing Street has committed itself to creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. The construction industry could be on the receiving end of a large chunk of those programmes, which will be an opportunity to deliver a new generation of highly skilled workers — something that the industry is experiencing a lack of right now. In fact, the Director of the National Apprentice Service, Sue Husband, predicts that 2018 will be crucial for programmes. As more opportunities become available, now could be the time to cut yourself a slice of the apprenticeship programme success — and secure your future workforce now.

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Top Tips for New Startups

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Award-Winning eCommerce Entrepreneurs Offer Top Tips for New Startups

Product Innovation and Quality is the Key to eCommerce Success, say Online Sportswear Specialists

Startup power was the theme of the evening at the Europas Awards last week, with no less than thirteen of the thirty-five awards dedicated to celebrating the new and brave of the tech generation. In response, the founders of international award-winning eCommerce sportswear brand, Proviz, have come forward to offer their hard-earned advice for the benefit of the digital entrepreneurs of the future.


Jersey-born brothers Anthony and Rupert Langly-Smith (both marine geographers by training) have built an international sportswear brand, now distributed in 40 countries, and offering the largest range of specialist enhanced visibility sports products on the market. Their success has come despite launching the brand at the height of the UK recession in 2008.


The key to success lies in spotting a gap in the market for products that are innovative, high quality and fulfil an unmet need, the brothers say. The best ideas are often born out of necessity, and it was whilst commuting in London by bike during the dark winter months that they noticed the inadequacy of traditional fluorescent high viz protection. This, they thought, looked like a very real gap in the market. “We got to thinking ‘what if we could make the cyclist themselves the source of light?’” says Anthony.


With no design, manufacturing or retail experience to their name, the brothers took a leap of faith and set up their own firm, creating and selling a small set of highly reflective products. “We made quite a lot of mistakes in those early days,” says Rupert, who was tasked with figuring out the design and supply chain side of the business. “We didn’t know about simple things like labelling, tags. I remember trawling through all these sourcing sites to figure out how to get hold of good, reliable suppliers.” The hard work soon paid off, though, and their first piece of kit was the Triviz lighting device, which used electroluminescent lighting, typically used in advertising billboards. The device went on to win a Red Dot Design award and, just two years after deciding to go for it, Proviz had a small selection of products and was taking its first orders.


But the real turning point was the development of its iconic REFLECT360 range. “One Guy Fawkes night we took the family out and all we had was some of our early Nightrider jackets,” says Anthony. “They had these really bright reflective strips and I remember being caught in headlights and cars clearly slowing down. I said to Rupert, ‘imagine what that would be like if the whole thing was reflective?’ You’d know if you’ve seen someone wearing one of these jackets, since they light the wearer up like a Christmas tree when car headlights hit them. This is possible thanks to millions of tiny reflective beads that are embedded within the fabric. The beads can’t be seen by the naked eye but when a direct light, such as car headlight, hits them, they literally light up like a beacon.”


So, working with their suppliers, the pair designed and made a jacket just in time for a big trade fair and suddenly found themselves surrounded by press and retailers wanting to get a look. “We got our biggest ever order from a major retailer just off the back of one jacket on one mannequin,” says Anthony. “It was a real game-changing moment for us.”  Four years later, the REFLECT360 range continues to be one of the company’s most popular collections and has turned Proviz into champions of high visibility. “Proviz is about visibility, and that’s what we focused on right from day one,” says Anthony.


The key, though, to any successful brand is to keep moving forward and for Proviz that means constant innovation. Ten years on, it is still doing just that, with the launch of its new elite performance gear. “Traditional reflective materials are rigid, non-breathable and don’t typically lend themselves to comfortable high-performance clothing,” says Rupert. “We’re particularly pleased with our growing elite ranges especially since we were told a decade ago this would never be possible.”


Anthony and Rupert’s 5 tips for Budding Entrepreneurs

Don’t give up your job too soon:

“When anyone ever asks us about setting up on their own we always say, ‘make sure you have a steady income’ – even if it’s just a part-time job – from somewhere else in the early days. You’ll want to put all your energy into your new endeavour, but it takes longer than you think to get revenue coming in and the last thing you need is to get six months down the line and have to pack it all in because you can’t pay the rent.”

Specialise in what you do:

“Really focusing on the high visibility aspect of our industry has been key to our success. We think very carefully about the types of products we want to sell and why. Decide what your offering is, why it meets a specific need, and stick to developing what you do well.”

Be innovative:

“Don’t rest on your laurels – we’ve seen some competitors who are still making the same stuff they were making fifteen years ago. We want to be seen as the high visibility sportswear brand and every idea, concept and technical innovation is in service of that.”

Be willing to take risks:

“You’ve got to take punts. We discussed whether a fully reflective jacket would just be too much – we wondered if it might be a bit ridiculous? But there was nothing else out there on the market and it’s ended up being the best thing we could have ever done. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s how you learn what works.”

Research your market and suppliers:

“This was something we found quite tricky to begin with. For instance, we had no concept of minimum order quantities, so suppliers would say ‘yes, but the minimum is 500 units’ and we had no real budget at the start, or anywhere to put everything. The more research you can do the better. That goes for any regulations that your market might have, too.”

Website: https://www.provizsports.com

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