Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

3 posts from January 2014

22 January 2014

Building your business in 2014

2014 has arrived and is already moving fast. Perhaps it's no surprise as this is also the Chinese year of the Horse which indicates power, and moving forward at pace.

Whether you’re starting out or whether you’re looking to take your business to the next level of success it’s important to get clear, inspired, organized and to take focused action. Here are life and business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru's 7 Soul Trader tips to get, ready and set and go forward for 2014.


1)   Clarity: If you don't know where you’re going you’re unlikely to get there. Write a vision, mission, strategy and action plan – covering finance, marketing and operations and review them regularly.

2)   Customers: No customers, no business. Research, network, talk, listen and learn what your (potential) customers need / want. Create and fine-tune your products/ services around them. Excel and they’ll re-use/recommend you.

3)   Courage: Work to and from your strengths and you’ll grow. But also push your comfort zones and try something new too. Be yourself and you’ll stand out. Set backs will come – accept, learn and adjust. Don’t be afraid seek help.

4)   Co-operation: You can’t do it alone. As a small business you can punch beyond your weight by finding like-minded partners and associates. Swap, share, work together, cross-refer to build capacity, skills, sales and clients.

5)   Conversations: everything is a conversation your website, your social media interactions, your meeting pitch. Be clear, crisp, compelling and customer focused and relevant to who you are targeting.

6)   Creativity: Manage your time and energy. Eat, sleep and rest well or you’ll underperform. Simplify, systemize, get organized and use technology wisely.

7)    Compassion: take care of yourself, your health, your customers, contacts, customers, suppliers – and friends/ family – and they’ll take care of you.

+ Change: Accept, anticipate and adjust to change in your industry, business, team and customers. Review your progress regularly. Tweak or change what’s not working. Get expert support if and when you’re stuck or need to move up.

If you want to clarify your goals for this year, come along to Rasheed’s Soul Trader: Your life, your business workshop. Have a look at our calendar for the next one.

Rasheed Ogunlaru on behalf of Business & IP Centre 

14 January 2014

Empatika: fitted furniture with a difference

I first met Tristan Titeux of Empatika when he joined our Innovating for Growth programme in September 2013 after attending one of our special ‘bring a friend’ Growth Clubs.

Empatika specialises in designing and making contemporary bespoke fitted furniture and also offer an eco-friendly option of furniture made of recycled cut-offs (see our post on Recycling Business Resolutions).

They are passionate about what they do, listen to the ideas of their customers, consider their needs and in partnership with them create a design that matches exactly what their customers have in mind.


Custom carpentry

  Random Floating Tubes, designed by Empatika

Although already a thriving business, Tristan applied for a place on the programme because he wanted to grow. Innovating for Growth gave him one-to-one advisory sessions with our expert partners and advice on his business growth strategy, his branding and marketing approach, his product development strategy and his trade mark protection.

 I chose to follow Tristan during his time in the Innovating for Growth programme by attending his one-to-one advisory sessions and observing his progress throughout the programme.

As a member of the Innovating for Growth project team, I did research work for Tristan and helped him identify market and consumer trends in the home and furniture industry, relevant quality and environmental standards, contact details of possible partners. I also helped him with trade mark clearance search, before he applied for new trade mark registration.

The programme helped Tristan identify the essence of his business and the business values that make his products and services different from his competitors, so that he can then establish a network of partners around the UK who will apply the same values and principles under his brand.

As a result, he is in the process of re-designing his website, trade mark and promotional material to reflect his business essence and values. He is also in the process of acquiring suitable business partners who will follow his stated business values and ethos.

Watch this space for the next stage for Empatika!  

If you are an ambitious London-based established business want to apply for up to £10,000 worth of funded advice and support tailored specifically for your business, have a look at our Innovating for Growth programme and apply before 24 March.  

Irini Efthimiadou on behalf of Business & IP Centre 

08 January 2014

Recycling Business Resolutions

As another year begins, it is an ideal time for us to think of those business resolutions that we always thought about but find it difficult to put into gear.  One of my own is to recycle more since taking a tour of the EcoPark at the London Waste Company.

They collect rubbish… but they do so much more such as diverting waste from landfill responsibly by recycling and generating renewable energy.  Some examples are by producing 292,100 Mwh of electricity a year and 10,000 tonnes of compost from the 35000 tonnes of kitchen and garden waste – compost which you can buy from local councils in North London.  Since my eye-opening and nostril-pleasing visit I have increased my own rubbish recycling and gained amazing insight and understanding of the possibilities of recycling rubbish.

There are a number of innovative ways that global and national businesses are doing this in a big way, such as Veolia Environment in this article in the Evening Standard. You may already have ideas in your head, but my challenge here is to research and learn other ways that small businesses and individuals can create a business out of recyclables before it gets to the bin or landfill. 

  Reclaimed bath

 Reclaimed bath at Gilbert’s Garden Bar, St Pancras, London.

Ravensbourne college is a great grassroots example of encouraging innovative designers and sustainable businesses based on recyclables as showcased at their Penrose Festival. Some of these include jewellery, fashion, home wares, laser-cut sculptures, paradox oil lamp made of recyclable light bulbs sourced from the recycle machine at IKEA, and lamp-shades cut into city shapes produced from different shops from around London. 

On a larger scale Treehugger has more examples of items such as washing machines to chairs, vintage bone china tea cups to bracelets and even old phone booths into public aquariums in Japan. 

Closer to home, we have had businesses that have used the Business & IP Centre for setting up and growing their recycling businesses.  Some of them took part in our Spring Market last year, including Boodiblu who design jewellery out of recycled china and Motties who make shoes that are constructed entirely from reclaimed materials that would otherwise go to waste – with £1 from every pair sold going to the homeless charity Emmaus.  In our Innovating for Growth programme we also have an entrepreneur, Tristan Titeaux of Custom Carpentry, who designs bespoke furniture out of waste off-cuts, which otherwise would go to landfill.     

Custom carpentry










Custom Carpentry’s bespoke furniture made of reclaimed materials. 

In conclusion, it seems like it is not only a good new year’s resolution for households and businesses but “trash can be cash”. There are some good business ideas and evidence out there that recyclables can be environmentally responsible as well as can be a sustainable and profitable business. 

Don't forget that we have lots of workshops and resources that can help anyone looking to start or grow their own business. Have a look at our calendar to see what's coming up. 

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre