Could you be Hopkins Homes Young Entrepreneur of the Year?

Hopkins Homes and top marketing agency Clarity {Included} are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting project designed to encourage young entrepreneurs of the future to create their own businesses and raise money for local charity Lighthouse Women’s Aid.

The initiative begins in January when James Hopkins will present candidates from University Campus Suffolk with a start up grant of £150 at an exclusive launch event at the company headquarters in Melton. Participants can take part in the challenge individually or create teams of up to eight people.

Once they have received their funds from Hopkins Homes, teams will benefit from a workshop with Emma Pratt, Managing Director of Clarity {Included} normally valued at £1200. Emma will guide the teams through creating a business plan and marketing strategy. It will then be up to young entrepreneurs to generate as much income as possible throughout the first three months of 2013.

Funds raised will be donated to Lighthouse Women’s Aid to enable the charity to continue its life saving work supporting women and children who have suffered from domestic abuse. Jo Cresdee Marketing and PR manager of Lighthouse Women’s Aid says:

“Relationship abuse is an issue that has a devastating effect on the British economy, costing businesses approximately £1.9 billion each year in time taken off sick by men and women to get over the injuries they have sustained. We hope that by being involved in a project such as this we are able to raise awareness of what is often considered a taboo subject and provide more support for local businesses so that they are more able to tackle the issue.”

The project will conclude in March 2013 with an awards ceremony and prizes for the most successful teams. Ipswich Town Football Club is supporting the competition by providing a VIP experience at the last home match of the season for the winning group.

The East Anglian Daily Times will be following the progress of the each business team, providing coverage of the ideas created. Terry Hunt, editor said:

“Entrepreneurialism drives our economy, and the importance of start-up businesses to the economy cannot be over-estimated.”

Perhaps the most exciting element of this initiative is that it will allow budding business minds to show case their talents to a group of the county’s most successful investors and venture capitalists who will be actively looking to candidates to provide viable business ideas for them to fund in the future.

“This is your chance in the Dragons Den of Suffolk, make the most of it, get involved and show us your business idea has potential.” Said Emma Pratt, Managing Director of Clarity {Included}

If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity there is still time to sign up. Please contact Jo Cresdee at Lighthouse Women’s Aid (jo@lighthousewa.org.uk), participants can be any age as long as they are in some form of education.

Read it in the press

For further information please contact Jo Cresdee on: 01473 228 270 or 07944 070 362

 

Joined up Thinking

Many business fall into the trap of taking out ad-hock advertising space. You may have found yourself taking space in a feature that fits with your business, because it’s on offer and you think why not. But in fact this ad-hock approach to paid for advertising space may be cheap but it’s very ineffective.

Advertising works best on a prolonged basis. There is a good old saying that when you get bored of your advertising, that’s the time when it’s really beginning to sink in with your target audience. There are also so many media channels available to you that by utilizing them together is the best way to maximize your reach and generate business leads.

The best way to approach this is to look at what your overall objective is for your business. Identify what products or services need promoting and who wants to buy them. Once you know this you can pull together a targeted campaign that really works for you.

By investing in a more prolonged approach to your advertising you can also develop good working relationship with publications and industry press. They get to understand your business and how you want to work and you can budget going forward.

In short:

  • Understand what it is that you want to achieve for your business
  • Set a budget
  • Know your target audience
  • Research what publications and media channels will work for you
  • Make your creative work for you –don’t forget clear call to action
  • Sell the benefits – this can be hard to quantify but it’s worth identifying what they are
  • Develop good working relationships with the media
  • Develop long term campaigns that have impact
  • Don’t forget to track your campaigns
  • Report on the leads and sales generation – you will soon realise the value to your business
  • Make sure you include other channels to help promote your business – joined up thinking works best

If you want to know more about pulling together advertising campaign call us on: 01473 375071

Data is king

Many companies fail to realise the importance of capturing customer data, having an effective CRM System (Client Relationship Management) in place and how to utilise it effectively as part of their on-going marketing activity.

Not only is customer data the building block of any business, but if analysed correctly it can give you insights into when, how and what your customers buy and what sales have been generated from your marketing campaigns. This information will also help you see purchasing trends and enable you to tailor your marketing campaigns to your customers – helping you drive sales.

Utilising your data analysis can however only really be effective if your customer data is captured correctly in the first place. To do this staff need to be trained and engaged in the process.

They need to fully understand the importance of data capture and how in the long run, simple data entry process will benefit all those concerned. So often, however, we see data inputting being carried out as a last resort with many instances of a ‘quick fix’ being used in order to skip data entry processes.

This simple ‘quick fix’ may save in the short term, but it can have a massive negative impact on the quality of your data reports and can provide you with misleading information.

In short:

  • Research what CRM systems will work with your business
  • Know what reporting will be of value to the decision makers
  • Make sure that the CRM can deliver this information at the reporting stage
  • Get your data entry process in order
  • Train your staff and get them engaged in the processes
  • Identify data champions within your company that can help maintain data quality
  • Get buy in from staff with clever and clear communication about your data strategy
  • Analysis – use data reports to help you tailor your marketing activity and campaigns
  • Most importantly use your data to drive sales and increase revenue

If you want to know more about data management email us on: 01473 375071
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What makes a brand valuable?

Interbrand’s latest brand research published in January on the world’s most ‘valuable’ brands, using their own special formula, not the ‘price’ of the company. Some interesting reading.

What of your own brand? How much would it be worth alongside against its competitors? What are your customers using to choose you or perhaps your competitors? Your brand can be a huge help to your competitive edge, if you are interested in developing your brand presence, give us a shout.

Getting start-up investment

If you need funds to launch, beyond what you can supply, you have a number of routes to investigate.

1.  Your own funds: first port of call, what can you invest yourself? Worth noting that if you seek other sources of funding expect to have to answer why haven’t you backed with more of your own money?

2. Friends and family loans: usually offered as straightforward loans (rather then equity stakes), unlikely to based on detailed financial analysis as they trust you and want you to do well, significant personal implications if something occurs and you can’t pay back.

3. Bank loans: hard to come by in these times of limited lending but not impossible.  Will require a solid business plan with decent back-up of how a loan will be repaid, and what it will be used for.  Benefit of being a loan to a limited company, saving some elements of personal risk.  Although a personal guarantee can be required.

4. Equity investors: your very own dragons.  They will want to see a solid business plan, and will expect a slice of the business for the money they put in.  They will generally also offer contacts, expertise and guidence where you need it (but not always – some will just be a straight cash injection). When you get an equity investor, you get someone with a legitimate say in your business – so choose carefully.

Need extra help, get in touch we should be able to help you out.

PS – Valuing your business when taking on equity partners is a whole other ballgame – how much for how much… confused, give us a call.

Cash flow forecast (yawn) but it could save you life

Thinking in detail about what your business start up, or business expansion, is going to cost you and exactly when can stop a business with the potential to achieve from failing.  We see many people who rightly attempt some analysis of what their business will cost to run, essential to working out if it can yield the profit you need from it.

Most get as far as demonstrating some knowledge of required start up costs in year one.  This is where it can get very misleading.  Shown against your potential revenue it gives you a loss or profit figure for that year.  What is doesn’t show you is just how far into the red you need to be able to afford before the business turns.  This is where you need a ‘caah flow’ forecast.  This can be used to map outward expenditure by period (day, week, month) against forecast revenue.  This will tell you how much capital you will need at the most costly point.  It will be quite different from the year end figure shown in your annual forecast of profit and loss.

Peter Jones Academy Launch

As a partner organisation in Fulcrum Venture, we sponsored the launch of the Peter Jones Academy in Suffolk.  This fantastic development, shaped and driven by so many of the wonderful educators and business people of Suffolk, centres around a course in business and entrepreneurship for 16-18 year olds being taught at Suffolk One (www.suffolkone.org).  All supported by the team and business partners of the Eastern Enterprise Hub (www.eehub.co.uk).  If you are based in East Anglia, and can do something to support our young talent please get involved.

Fulcrum Venture – effort into results

Clarity Included is a partnership member of the newly formed Fulcrum Venture organisation.  Fulcrum Venture has been created drawing together the investment resources, management expertise and contact networks of key independent business people.  Its aim is to work with young enterprises to help accelerate their growth potential.  If you have a business you would like to start, or speed up its growth please talk to us: www.fulcrumventure.com

Why a failing business is like a plane crash

Have had someone clever point out to me recently that planes don’t just fall out of the sky.  When a plane crashes it is generally the combination of seven consecutive errors, each too insignificant to take the plane down alone, but in succession critical.  The errors are usually made by people, and often very highly trained people.  This is why plane crashes are rare.

Having spent time recently with a couple of businesses needing to turnaround or risk failing themselves, I realise the echoes of this analogy.  A combination of minor errors within your business process (or people) can combine to catastrophic consequences.  Each may seem minor, which is why I think they are often left alone, but boy do they need fixing, really as soon as spot them. If you would like a fresh pair of eyes to take a look, give us a call.

What’s market value?

It’s a pretty important question for businesses with a less tangible end product, how should their output be priced? 

There are a number of dynamics at play, your own break even cost, the opportunity cost (i.e. what else could you be doing with your time), your appetite for the work, the stage in your development, what kudos or brand damage might be attracted, clients depth of pocket, history, competition and so on.  Then comes the question of price vs. value.

I prefer to keep it simple. 

What you charge should be based on the market price plus what ever premium you can happily attract from your cutomer for the level of differentiation you have created.  If you want to know how, then give us a ring.