Innovation and enterprise blog

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

8 posts from June 2015

24 June 2015

Winning a NatWest everywoman Award changed my life

Jessica Rose, a young entrepreneur and success story of the Business & IP Centre, recalls the impact the NatWest Everywoman Awards have had in her life – both personally and on her business the London Jewellery School. This is an adapted article from  


To provide context, it's been an uphill struggle and I can't ever forget what I've overcome. After having a tough time at school, dropping out of University, finding out I'm in the bottom 2% of the world in reading due to my severe dyslexia, it was hard to believe I could achieve success. And after years of estrangement from my parents, it meant that I'm not used to support or recognition from others. So, receiving a NatWest everywoman Award was an emotional turning point.

Looking back at what my business was doing before unexpectedly winning the Award, I would say that I was generally happy with how things were going. I run the London Jewellery School which is a centre in London where people from all walks of life can come and learn to make their own jewellery, and I was pleased to be achieving healthy profit margins with a happy team and satisfied students.

However many things have changed since, which I couldn't say are all down to winning an award but it was certainly a huge catalyst for changing my perspective on my ambition and aspirations. To give you an idea, my business has been accepted onto two exclusive programmes for high-growth enterprises; we’ve launched an online site where we offer jewellery making classes for people at home and globally; we have been offered investment from angel investors, and I have a book published about jewellery making. The NatWest everywoman Awards has also resulted in significant PR for me and my business, including an interview in Marie Claire magazine (always nice!), plus we have won a bunch of awards after winning this one, so it has really helped in gathering more recognition.  

But the real change has been in how I see my business. The Award not only gave my business more credibility and great publicity opportunities, but it made me rethink my vision for the future of the company and what I really wanted to achieve. It was only then that I could make plans for expanding, offering more to our students and reaching out to new customers. I have definitely caught the entrepreneur bug, no longer satisfied with running a successful business, I want to change my industry and create amazing experiences for people.

I think the key thing here, for me, has been confidence. Not just for myself but for my whole team and everyone who comes to the jewellery school. It made me realise the thing that I have created is special, and it’s inspired me to push the boundaries and do all I can to achieve our vision. As I am sure you can tell, winning the NatWest everywoman Award has been a life-changing experience. My advice to other business owners, who are considering applying, is to go for it because you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.


Are you running your own business, or do you know someone who is? Nominations for the 2015 NatWest everywoman Awards close Monday 6 July 2015, midnight (GMT).


23 June 2015

Enterprising Libraries: A blueprint for delivering economic growth in UK cities

Kanya King conducting a talk about the Enterprising Libraries project
Credit: Luca Sage

Last night the city library staff, stakeholders and entrepreneurs from across the country gathered at the British Library to celebrate the launch of an independent economic impact study on the Enterprising Libraries project. The event saw Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library, Kanya King MBE, CEO and Founder of the MOBO Organisation, and Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of Arts Council England speak about the success of the project.

Enterprising Libraries is a £1.3m partnership between the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England (ACE) and the British Library which has enabled 16 public libraries, including six Business & IP Centres, across the UK to provide free access to collections and face-to-face advice and guidance for entrepreneurs on how to start, protect and grow their own business.  As a result of the early success of the project, DCLG and ACE, pledged a further £400k to sustain the Business & IP Centre Network and bring on two new pilots over this financial year.

Chief Executive of the Arts Council England, Darren Henley conducting a segment in the announcement about the Enterprising Libraries project
Credit: Luca Sage


Highlights from the report

The findings reveal that a two year initiative to run business support services in libraries has attracted more than double the national average of women to start up their own businesses, and triple the number of entrepreneurs from black and Asian minority ethnic backgrounds. Other findings from the report include:

  • Between April 2013 and March 2015 the Enterprising Libraries have together created a total of nearly 1,700 new businesses and 4,200 new jobs (predicted to rise to 22,000 jobs by 2017)


  • The jobs were predominantly in the creative industries, tech and professional services sectors, and just under a third (29%) were created in libraries in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region, for example Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield


  • Free business and intellectual property information (85%) was reported as a chief benefit, as well as face-to-face support (82% rated this as important), and the function of the libraries as a ’one stop shop’ for a range of business support needs (48%)


270-001 British Library's Enterprising Libraries infographic_print

Big business for library’s nationally

The British Library has run its own dedicated space to support entrepreneurs, the Business & IP Centre, since 2006. Enterprising Libraries has enabled the Library to replicate the Business & IP Centre model in six major cities, plus collaborate with ten further library services around the country to spearhead a business support service in their local areas. The British Library’s ambition, as detailed in our recent vision, Living Knowledge, is to expand the Business & IP Centre network to 20 city libraries across the UK by 2020.

The results of the Enterprising Libraries project are testament to the power of collaboration across the library network, and the British Library is considering new ways to connect with public libraries, including a proposal, announced today, to work with the Library of Birmingham – already a Business & IP Centre partner – on a special project around the time of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare in 2016.

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:

“The findings published today offer hard evidence that libraries have enormous potential to help businesses to innovate and grow, through their ability to link people with vast amounts of information for free, and thanks to their special role as trusted, welcoming spaces in the community.

As detailed in our vision Living Knowledge, I look forward to working with partners to realise our goal of a UK-wide Business & IP Centre network in city libraries by 2020.”

CEO of the British Library, Roly Keating conducting a segment in the announcement about the Enterprising Libraries project
Credit: Luca Sage

Kanya King MBE, CEO and Founder of the MOBO Organisation and British Library Business & IP Centre Ambassador, said:

“The great thing about libraries is that they are open and accessible to everyone and, as such, I’m not surprised that these Enterprising Libraries have succeeded in attracting such a diverse audience in to use their services. There is so much untapped creative talent among women and ethnic minorities and I’m delighted to see these libraries helping them to turn their ideas into successful businesses.” 

A big thank you for your support

The figures in the report are taken from nearly 1,700 new businesses created over a two year period as part of the Enterprising Libraries project. From our previous blog, we previously asked you to take part in shaping our future by completing our economic survey which has provided the data for this report. Thanks to all who helped us and gave your feedback. As promised, we are delighted to announce the names of those who entered the survey and have won an iPad Air 2 each.

And the winners are…

Elmera Toofan

Michael Moore

Vivien Hamed

Mellissa Beeken

Congratulations to the winners. This project has since been concluded and what a great success the project was in delivering increased expansion to the local economic growth and improved social mobility. By viewing the  Arts Council website you'll be able to see the great outcomes that we're achieved successfully during the duration of the project. For more information on other projects we're conducting around the Business & IP Centre National Network and to find out what entrepreneurial activities are happening in a library near you.


21 June 2015

Book review: How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis

Book Cover of 'How To Get Rich, by Felix Dennis

‘How to Get Rich’ is by entrepreneur, Felix Dennis, who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago aged 67. Felix was a very able, successful and well known entrepreneur who created, published and sold popular publication ‘The Week’. At the time he was told by numerous people including some of the WH Smith team that it would never work and that he couldn’t possibly make a success of it. Felix also became the biggest publisher of computer magazines in the UK, publishing the magazine ‘Maxim’ which was a competitor to ‘Loaded’.

Although Felix was a real competitor he was also a drop-out; he never studied and therefore didn’t get a degree, proving that it is definitely possible to be hugely successful without a formal University education. Felix was notorious for a life that wasn’t mainstream, but was extremely good at making money, amassing a fortune of £950 million.

“Making money is a knack, a knack that can be acquired. And if someone like me can become rich, then so can you - no matter what your present circumstances. Here is how I did it and what I learned along the way.” - Felix Dennis

His book outlines how he succeeded in making money during his colourful lifestyle. The lessons contained within the book are hugely valuable to any entrepreneur and discuss fundamental principles of business  including: turning up to meetings and interviews on time, thinking about good ideas, producing, building a good team that can deliver and thinking laterally. There are many great lessons to be learned from this book for any entrepreneur or business owner.

If you are looking for a book that will inspire you, want to know how you can make money, want tips for getting your business started from scratch and want to learn the skills not to be daunted by competitors this book should be your guide. On launching ‘The Week’ Felix went against all advice, and believed in his concept and product proving to everyone that they were wrong and verifying his talent for marketing publications.

'How to Get Rich' by Felix Dennis is available in paperback, hardback and electronically, and may also be available from your local Library.

Dr Stephen Fear on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Dr Stephen Fear is Ambassador to the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and is Chairman and Founder of Fear Group, an international organisation he runs with his son, Leon Fear. 

19 June 2015

Celebrating the small business scene: The Guardian Small Business Showcase Award 2015


Photo credit: Alicia Canter

As staff of the Business & IP Centre approached ‘The Yard’ in Shoreditch, the aroma of street food and the sound of Coco and the Butterfield’s hybrid of folk and pop music were welcome signs that this was about as far as you can get from a traditional black tie and hotel suite award ceremony.  The Guardian Small Business Showcase Award Ceremony on 11 June was a friendly, informal, fast moving and hugely enjoyable night out; an uplifting  celebration of some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative businesses as well as tremendous individual achievements. It was also the third birthday of the launch of the Guardian Small Business Network.

The keynote speaker Will King, founder of King of Shaves, opened the ceremony by noting the irony of his presence in a London neighbourhood not commonly associated with the clean-shaven. As if to emphasise the point he introduced the host for the evening, TV presenter and writer, Rick Edwards sporting a luxuriant beard.   From then on we rattled through the 7 awards, each receiving huge applause from the audience, with Rick urging foot stomping to intensify the build up to the announcement of each winner.

Photo credit: Alicia Canter

The first award was presented by Anna Bance, founder of Girl Meets Dress, for ‘Excellence in Marketing & PR’  and was won by See Sense an intelligent light for bicycles who demonstrated great opportunism in using the staging of the Giro D’Italia cycle race in Northern Ireland to promote their business. They saw off tough competition from Paramount, an estate agency, and Moop cleaning company. 

Next was the award for ‘Cashflow Management’ presented by Simon Duffy of Bulldog Skincare.  The nominees for this award were consultancy business Bojangle Communications and Housekeep cleaning company.  The winners were DesignMyNight a guide and booking service that had demonstrated great skill in pivoting their business model to open up new income streams.

The Business & IP Centre’s Nigel Spencer presented the award for ‘Home Business Innovation’ to Meals for Squeals a cookery school which specialises in meals for children and toddlers.  The other nominees were The Bear and Miss Rabbit online toy retail business and MyBeautyMatches an online platform which enables women to personalise their cosmetic purchases.  All of these were remarkable examples of how a business can be run from home with the winner just edging ahead of the other shortlisted businesses.

We were almost half way through the awards in what seemed like no time and the fourth award for ‘Smarter Working’ was presented by Steve Matthewson from the Guardian.  This had proved a very tough category for the judges as the definition of ‘smarter’ had differing personal interpretations.   Eventually the judges had opted for Serps Invaders a digital marketing agency with their imaginative use of a four-day week and home working.  The other contenders were Dynamo PR and tech start-up firm TrueView.  

Photo credit: Alicia Canter

Next was one of the most prestigious awards of the night; ‘Start-up of the Year’.  This was won by Oppo Ice Cream who had experienced a spectacularly successful year driven forward by a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign.  The other nominees had seen years of rapid growth and these were Look Fabulous Forever a cosmetics brand for older women and Honest Brew a personalised craft beer delivery service. This award was presented by Zubair Mohammad and Emma Izatt, from Xero, the event sponsors.

We were now into the two awards for individual performance and the first of these was for ‘Rising Star of the Year’.  The achievements and potential shown by all three nominees was impressive and all were deserving of the award.   The two ‘runners up’ were Amelia Spencer from Paperchain Partnership and Kate Watts from RocketMill.  Dan Milmo from the Guardian presented the award to Korie Mills from Affari Media who had shown how the role of a designer can be re-defined and expanded to have a massive impact on a business.

The final award was for ‘Leader of the Year’ and was presented by the Guardian’s Claire Burke. This category was judged by a public vote and was won by Neil Grant who had the wit and imagination to realise that what the Ferndale Garden Centre needed was a sandy beach for families.  The other nominees were Andrew Daniels from Degree 53, Digital Design Agency and Mehdi Nayebi from KweekKweek a ticket selling agency.

And so it ended and the excited winners headed for the Pimms and Prosecco and to share stories with the other nominees and attendees.  The Business & IP Centre team had been joined by Celine a guest who had spent the week with us from Laval Mayenne Technopole an incubator and innovation centre in France.  What better way for her to get a real taste of the UK small business scene on her last night in London.


Nigel Spencer on behalf of the Business & IP Centre


16 June 2015

Six tips for running a flagship store

Maria Grachvogel is a luxury women’s fashion brand with a unique point of view of empowering women through effortless, intelligent fashion. Founder and designer Maria is a current participant on the Library’s Innovating for Growth programme where she is working with brand strategists, among others, to take her business to the next level.

Maria opened her first flagship store in September 2001 to fulfil a growing demand for her designs. In 2011 she moved the shop to a three storey Victorian townhouse which also incorporates the Atelier which brings the whole team closer to the women who wear the clothes. Maria quickly saw the value of a retail store to reflect and reinforce the brand as well as provide valuable feedback directly from the customer. Here she gives her six top tips for successfully running a flagship store. 

Paul raeside - 5154
Source: Maria Grachvogel


1. Retail is detail

When a client buys into a brand they are buying not only the product but also the story behind the brand. It is therefore important that the environment of your flagship store tells your story- says something about who you are and the personality of the brand.

Our brand is effortless, empowering glamour. Women always comment on how amazing they feel in our collections and how many compliments they receive. This is because we focus on how something feels and functions as well as how it looks; therefore it was important to me that my store has a sense of intimacy where a woman can feel totally comfortable. The limestone floor and simple, open space work well with the inherent allure of my collection.

We have specially angled mirrors in the changing rooms, which our clients love as they show how you look from the back as well as the front and this demonstrates the thoughtfulness that goes into every aspect of the experience. I have used my signature artwork print technique to paint furniture, curtains and wall panels and use original Art Deco furniture to display accessories - all of which reflect the intimacy of our brand. It is important that your team are also equally passionate and informed about the brand story and the unique selling point of the brand as well as each product within the store.

During the Innovating for Growth programme, I attended a branding workshop which helped me to see how the brand behaviours should be part of the detail in the store. One way of doing this is by incorporating brand awareness into training with your team. I have now started, to not only train on the values of the brand, but I ask the team to consider how the client might perceive our interaction at every touchpoint and look at ways we can improve from the way we contact clients, how the team present themselves, how we are with a client in store, to the way we package the clothes. 

Model modelling Maria Grachvogel garments
Source: Maria Grachvogel

2. Customer service is everything

Your customers are the most important asset of any business. For most luxury retail businesses 80% of your sales are from the top 20% of your customers. Many of our clients have shopped with us for 20 years and each year the client list grows, mainly by recommendation from within our client base. Therefore nurturing those relationships, listening to customer feedback, learning about their needs and timely follow up are all essential to customer satisfaction.

I train my team to listen and then ask questions to find out more and we record customer comments on our daily report. These, along with any comments/ feedback from emails or other client interaction are discussed and distilled within our team meetings. 

Maria Grachvogel store layout
Source: Maria Grachvogel

3. Marketing is key

In any retail business, marketing is very important to attract new customers. We have regular events both for our existing clients, but also in collaboration with like-minded brands to build brand awareness and attract new customers too.

We are a luxury brand so we tend to use personal phone calls and emails to invite people to our events or let our top clients know about products they would like. We also send regular marketing emails which often highlight key pieces from the season or inform about new collections and we use social media to let our clients know what is happening in the store on a regular basis. In addition to this, we look for opportunities to increase our sales outside of the UK with London Fashion Week playing an important part in our marketing mix as it builds brand awareness globally. 

Model modelling Maria Grachvogel Red dress
Source: Maria Grachvogel

4. Manage your inventory

Fashion is seasonal, so excellent stock management is very important. This involves checking sell-through data, analysing the products that are selling well, buying these back into the store if necessary and using sell-through data to inform future buys. Most Point of Sale (POS) systems have sell-through analysis within the system, but you can also easily create a spreadsheet for sell-through which is simply updated daily/ weekly. This should be checked back to actual stock to ensure the data is accurate and we look at ours constantly for reorder opportunities and monthly for analysing how we are doing relative to previous years and checking we are on target and have sufficient stock. 

Maria Grachvogel store interior design and layout
Source: Maria Grachvogel

5. Monitor and manage your data

We analyse footfall, conversion rates, sell-through and we also examine the reason the client came in and purchased. Was it because of customer follow up, because they loved the window display, they were recommended by an existing client or because of a marketing initiative? We have some simple spreadsheets I set up for doing this, where the team simply enter the data and the analysis is done. We discuss the reports weekly in our team meetings and in much more detail monthly, where we properly analyse all the data.

Analysing this kind of information is very helpful to know what is working and what is not and allows you to build on marketing initiatives that are driving sales and monitor client satisfaction (rate of recommendations and sales from follow up) for example.

6. Wow with your window display

Store windows are a very important marketing tool as they can entice people into the store. We always start with a seasonally relevant theme which will create interest from passers by and draws them in. It’s important to consider the composition of the whole window, as well as using colour and silhouette, to create something impactful. We change ours weekly and try and choose a new theme each week and we always go outside and stand back as it allows us to see it from a customer’s perspective.

Retail is a constantly changing environment, so you have to be always evolving, learning and changing to stay ahead. I have found over the years that I have learned so much from speaking with other retailers, both local retailers to understand trends in local clients and footfall and general retailers to exchange ideas and experience. I have found most retailers are very happy to share information, so go and chat with your neighbour, the shop across the way and ensure your network has some great retail mentors. 


Maria Grachvogel store interior design and layout
Source: Maria Grachvogel



We are now taking applications for the next Innovating for Growth programme, find out how you can apply today.


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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

11 June 2015

How to take your business online

First Aid for Life is an award-winning first aid training business and a current participant on the Innovating for Growth programme at the British Library. Established in 2007, by Emma Hammett, First Aid for Life provides quality training courses, taught by highly experienced teachers, giving people the necessary skills to help in a medical emergency. The Business & IP Centre, helped First Aid for Life offer training courses online.  

Source: First Aid for Life

We asked Emma about the challenges that led her to Innovating for Growth, how the programme changed her business and her tips for  taking a business online.

Hi Emma, what challenges were you experiencing in your business before Innovating for Growth?

When I joined Innovating for Growth, much of the business was solely reliant on me. The successful migration from ‘live’ first aid courses to delivering an online platform was something I was having difficulty getting my head around. I wanted to scale up but scalability can be more challenging with a service industry, unless I went down the licensing or franchise route, my practical courses were constrained by the number of trainers within the business.

What vision did you have for your business to scale up?

To achieve my goal of growing the business, I decided to create an e-learning platform to take first aid training from the physical classroom to a virtual one. Development took longer than anticipated, but I am incredibly proud of the innovative and interactive Online First Aid programme which combines video, illustrated step by step instructions and ‘test yourself’ sections to create a truly unique and engaging learning experience. 

The new website offers a range of 32 online first aid courses that comply with verifiable Continued Professional Development requirements, assist with pre-learning for those with English as a second language, and provide an ideal solution for businesses to fulfil corporate and social responsibilities. Bringing my service online has opened up many opportunities including the possibility of joint venture and affiliate opportunities with a range of companies. 

Source: First Aid for Life

How did Innovating for Growth help you to achieve this?

Through workshops and mentoring sessions, I learnt how important it is to develop structures and systems in order to achieve real growth.  The Business & IP Centre helped me to secure my intellectual property rights, develop and grow my team and create a source of scalability outside my core practical business  as well as develop a tangible brand identity. Ultimately the programme helped me to add an online element to my business which has been vital in taking my business to the next level.

I am now in a position where I can work on my business, rather than just in my business and can strategically direct it to achieve our goals. My original offline business has been growing at 30% over the last 5 years and I am optimistic that the online training will lead to further growth. I now employ a team of 17 trainers who are medical and emergency services professionals, consequently the business reaches most corners of the UK. Innovating for Growth helped me to delegate and build a talented team of first aiders. The quality of our training and customer services is of tantamount importance and I want to retain the quality of service as the business grows.

Source: First Aid for Life

What were the steps for taking your business online?

I started planning the online courses nearly three years ago; I created the content in the format I required and researched platforms that could support the functionality I wanted. My initial courses were not in an ideal format and it was not until last year that I found the right platform and web designer to really make the courses work in the interactive and fully responsive manner I had been looking for. Once I found the correct platform I worked with a web designer to add the content I had developed, tested it on users and finally launched the new site.

What advice would you give to another business trying to move to an online platform?

  • Be prepared to invest time and money to get it right and test your concept to ensure you are creating something that people will want to buy. 
  • Ideally choose a well-recognised platform rather than anything bespoke so that you can easily find freelance help to make changes and support you as your course develops and you are not beholden to a particular web developer.
  • Carefully think through your reasons for wanting an on-line business and ensure you create courses to achieve those goals.
  • Once the courses are selling they should begin to provide a passive and sustainable income that can bring you real flexibility to your working life.
  • If you need help growing your business – apply for some help with Innovating for Growth.


If, like Emma, you want to win £10,000 worth of free business support, apply for Innovating for Growth today. 

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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund


05 June 2015

The importance of trade marks for your small business

At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre we regularly work with start-up and growth businesses with a focus on all things design. I recently attended ‘I Knit Fandango' at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster, London, which is a huge knitting festival and market bursting with lots of beautiful yarns, fabulous fibre and amazing patterns. The vast majority of the exhibitors were small businesses. Most produced the yarn and designed the patterns they sold themselves.



I enjoyed talking to the exhibitors about knitting, a great passion of mine, and about their use of social media and intellectual property for their small businesses. However, I was surprised at the number of exhibitors who didn’t think intellectual property was relevant to them.

Intellectual Property, or IP, relates to creations of the mind such as inventions, music, poetry, paintings, books and designs etc., as well as the signs and symbols used by businesses to indicate the origin of their goods or services.

On a basic level, having a trade mark allows your customers to find you. Whether they are using the internet or social media or just walking the high street they can quickly identify who they are dealing with when looking for particular products or services.  Having your trade mark on your website and any social media channels will allow customers to recognise and identify your brand with your products. As the reputation of your business grows so will the value of your trade mark.

Choosing a trade mark

How do you choose a trade mark? Well, that is very much a personal choice, but it is worth remembering that trade marks don’t have to be complicated. Take the image below:


It is instantly recognisable as the Nike tick or swoosh and is also recognisable regardless of the country the product is sold in; no words are necessary.

As rumour has it, the word ‘Kodak’ was devised by George Eastman and his mother mainly because the letter ‘K’ was Eastman’s favourite letter. Coined words, as they are known, have the advantage of being easy to protect due to their distinctiveness, but they may also need greater efforts to imprint them on the minds of consumers.



Creating a trade mark is no easy task and it is not helped by the fact that there are really no hard and fast rules as to what makes a successful trade mark. However there are some things you should bear in mind:

  • Firstly, your trade mark has to meet all the legal requirements for trade mark registration in whatever jurisdiction you are intending to register it in.
  • Secondly, your trade mark must be distinctive enough to be protectable and registrable with the relevant intellectual property office.

If you are using a text mark you might want to remember the following;

  • Your trade mark should be easy to read and pronounce in all languages relevant to your market.
  • Your trade mark should not have any adverse meaning in slang (in English or any other foreign language if you intend to trade abroad).
  • Your trade mark should not create any confusion as to the nature of your product.

You can work with freelance designers or design companies to create your trade mark, but you need to ensure that all the intellectual property rights to the trade mark are assigned to you as otherwise they will remain with the person/company who created the mark, regardless of whether or not you paid for the service.

Register your trade mark

Once your trade mark is designed you will need to register it.  I should say here that you don’t have to register your trade mark but having a registered mark gives you the right to sue anyone who infringes it and to prevent competitors from using/registering an identical or confusingly similar mark.  For an unregistered trade mark you would have to rely on the common law of ‘passing off’ for protection and that can prove extremely difficult.

Registering a UK trade mark costs a minimum of £170 if you register online or £200 if you register on paper. Fees are not refundable and do not guarantee registration of your trade mark, so before you register you might want to:

1. Search to see if the trade mark you want to use is already in use

Although it is not requirement to filing an application, in the Business & IP Centre we would encourage you to search the free trade mark databases to see if any marks have already been registered that are similar to your mark.  A list of the free search databases can be found and accessed via our website.

If someone else is using a similar trade mark to yours check whether it is being used in the same class of goods or services as yours. There are 45 classes of goods and services and it is possible for proprietors to have the same trade mark, provided they have registered their mark in different classes.  An example would be “Polo” mints and “Polo” the Volkswagen car.

2. Think about it long term

Think about where you want your business to be in twelve months or in five years’ time. A trade mark lasts for ten years, and can be renewed every 10 years, so actually has the potential to last forever. When registering your mark you should take this into account, and include in your registration, all the classes that you intend to trade in within the following five years. Why five years if the trade mark lasts for ten? Well, if you do not start trading in all of the classes in which your mark is registered within five years of registration, opponents can apply to the Intellectual Property Office to have your trade mark revoked in the unused classes.

3. Don’t do it alone

Understanding how to protect your intellectual property can sometimes be a minefield.  However, there are ways you can access free or low cost assistance to guide you through the process. If you need some help searching databases to see if your logo or a similar one already exists then come to the Business & IP Centre where our Information Specialists will be more than happy to guide you through the free trade mark search databases. We also offer a number of intellectual property and business workshops. Including:

For advice regarding the fees or the process of registration your should contact the Intellectual Property Office or for legal advice book yourself a free 30-minute advice session with a trade mark attorney in your local area via the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys website. 

Is it worth it?

Many of the exhibitors I spoke with at ‘I Knit Fandango’ hadn’t thought of protecting their brands and one exhibitor even asked “Is it worth it?”. It is worth remembering that your trade mark or brand will be the most valuable piece of intellectual property you will have. This is because we, as consumers, buy into brands as these assure us of a certain level of quality or of service. When we find a brand we like we tend to stay loyal to it and it is the goodwill a company builds up under its brand that gives it its value.

At the Business & IP Centre we regularly help those who have unknowingly infringed another’s trade mark or who have had their trade marks stolen or used incorrectly. In order to protect your company’s identity – protect your trade mark from the start.



Maria Lampert, Information Expert at the British Library

Maria has worked in the field of intellectual property since she joined the British Library in January 1993. She is currently the British Library Business & IP Centre’s Intellectual Property Expert, where she delivers 1-2-1 business and IP advice clinics, as well as intellectual property workshops and webinars on regular basis.


01 June 2015

How to be effective at trade shows

Rose Hill Designs is a creative independent design company. It promotes a trademark style of British Pop Art for greeting cards, stationery, artworks & commissions. Founder, Rose, has featured her products at some of the UK’s largest trade shows including Top Drawer and is a current participant on the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme. Here she gives us her advice for being effective at trade shows.

Rose Hill Designs at Spring Fair 2015, featuring the stall's setup with her products well represented for potential customers

Whether you are an independent or an established company, trade shows are a really important part of getting new customers. Additionally, you meet lots of other relevant people including buyers from chain stores and independent boutiques, other companies selling similar products (or different products) and it’s your chance to meet with overseas distributors.

Trade shows can be an expensive affair with a minimum stand size being 3 x 1 meters costing around £400 plus VAT per meter. Minimum stand cost alone is around £1800 and you will also need to add costs for lighting, PR and marketing packages, public liability insurance, furniture, van hire, hotel costs and lunch - so the total is usually in the region of £2250+ even for the smallest stand.

However, there are great opportunities to keep an eye out for, like 'Spotted' at Top Drawer, where you can be featured among the newest talents never to be seen before at a trade show. 'Spotted' allows you to test whether trade shows are right for you and you only need to pay for 1 meter. The costs are instantly cut down by a third and everyone wants to go to the newbie stand and find a gem. Other opportunities to test trade shows are at 'Launchpad' at Pulse, and 'Springboard' at PG Live. These are brilliant spaces to showcase your work and are a lot cheaper as they include some costs such as lighting and are smaller spaces to rent.

There is a lot to know about doing trade shows, but the four main areas to concentrate on are:

  1. Preparation (it is KEY)
  2. Setting up
  3. The show itself
  4. The follow up

Rose Hill Designs products (Cards). One design (Left) has the imagery of a Lion with the other card design (Right) is a 'Happy Birthday'card with imagery of a Birman cat with speech bubble of meow meow


What would make a trade show a success for you? There are many different reasons to do a trade show: to get new stockists, raise your profile, get at least 100 names for your address book and to meet face-to-face with your customers.  Make sure that you think about what you want to achieve from the show, and then plan to make this happen. 

Think of a list of potential key clients you want to sell to and invite them as well as your existing customers. Make sure you have a business card, flyer and product sheets of your products and price list ready to hand out.  Another really important thing to do is to read the online exhibitor manual and write down all the key deadlines. Make a list of all the things you will need for the setup and during the show and order them in time.

Then start to think about how you will display your products. Presentation is so important for a show and if you are creative then it’s a really fun part of the process. You definitely need to work this out before you get there so you know you have all the right tools, products, display units, etc. If possible make a mock-up at home as, believe me, it always takes much longer setting up than you expect, even after doing many shows, as the size is never exactly what they say it is. It’s good to have a few options prepared of how you would like it set up so, if it doesn’t go to plan, you have a plan B.

Don’t forget to think about who will help you to help set up on the day, to man the stand and to tidy up and pack your stand and products away. Don’t underestimate the work involved – a helping hand is crucial. 

Rose Hill Designs at the Top Drawer trade fair, sept 2014

Setting up

Make sure you know what time you can set up and all the things you will need: tools, products and everything else you will need including all the relevant paperwork. You will definitely be grateful for the prep work you have done for it, often something unexcepted occurs when actually setting up.

  Rose Hill Designs products (Mugs). (Left) artwork imagery of penguins on the mug, (Right) artwork imagery of a dog on the mug

The show

Try your best to sleep well the night before and arrive on time. Trade shows are very tiring but the adrenaline will really help, especially when it’s going well.

When a potential customer is near, smile and say hello, be friendly and chat but let them browse without bombarding them as you can scare them away. Make sure you don’t look bored or be on your phone; aim to look busy but convey that you can easily be interrupted if someone needs you. Tell stories which show the passion you have for your product. Be yourself.

I don’t like to eat on my stand but eat nearby so I can pop back at a moment’s notice. Everyone always comes at once and it’s usually the second you leave your stand! Make sure you get everyone’s contact details - if anything, that’s the most important thing from the show since they are your potential customers. The more leads you get at the show the more value for money exhibiting will ultimately be. 

Rose Hill Designs pet animal representation artworks displayed in a homely environment

After the show

The follow up is very important! It’s very rare for big chain stores to order at the show, but lots of independent boutiques often do. Send a friendly thank you email (I usually attach a picture of my stand or flyer so people remember who I am) straight after the show, or within two weeks otherwise, they may forget you.

Prioritise your workload straight after the show: what needs to be done first and who your key contacts are. Also, update your contact list with your new leads and customers. Evaluate the outcome against your original goals. Did you achieve what you wanted? What worked? What didn’t?

And have fun! This is where you see all the hard work you have put into your products pay off. It’s amazing to see the reaction from people about your work and makes it all worthwhile.

Rose Hill Designs Wirebound notebooks. (Left) imagery of a Tiger on the cover, (Right) imagery of a Cat on the cover


If, like Rose, you want to win £10,000 worth of free business support, apply for Innovating for Growth today.

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