Innovation and enterprise blog

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

6 posts from November 2016

24 November 2016

A Global Entrepreneurship Week thank-you. You made our week!

Thank you to all who attended an amazing week of events making Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 such a great success.

We look back on the British Library’s Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 campaign, kindly supported by Microsoft.


For the Business & IP Centre team, 2016 has been a year of celebration. This is the 10th year that we’ve been helping people from all walks of life to start, protect and grow successful businesses. Since launching in 2006, we’ve been able to connect with bigger and broader audiences each year, and now with an expanding network of Business & IP Centres across the country it’s never been easier to get the help you need to take your business idea to the next stage.

We started the week bright and early on Monday morning, by hosting the official launch of the UK Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign and went on to deliver a jam-packed week of inspiration, insider tips, networking and knowledge-sharing. Here are just some of the highlights:


 Question Time for Entrepreneurs

If you’ve got questions, then we’ve got the answers! Our popular Question Time for Entrepreneurs event brought together some of the UK’s brightest business brains including Edwina Dunn, co-founder of DunnHumby, Simon Devonshire OBE, founder of Wayra and Government’s Entrepreneur in Residence, as well as Helen Pattison, co-founder of Montezuma's chocolates and Lesley Batchelor from the Institute of Export. Our panel discussed their own business journeys and debated a range of topical issues from Brexit to branding, with plenty of opportunities for our audience to ask questions.


Our top tip from Question Time comes from Simon Devonshire who advised business owners to focus on identifying the ‘most powerful action’ (or MPA) in their business - in other words, to pinpoint the one thing they can do to achieve the biggest impact and then do it.

You can also view previous Inspiring Entrepreneurs on our YouTube channel BIPC TV

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: The White Company and Charles Tyrwhitt

Our entrepreneurial ‘Mr & Mrs’ Chrissie Rucker, founder of the White Company and Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt shirts, have both built up formidable retail empires,  with each successfully making the transition from mail order to multichannel (online and bricks and mortar). At this ‘fireside chat,’ both Chrissie and Nick spoke candidly about knowing how they made some mistakes along the way but managed to bounce back.  They also gave very practical advice on how to remain focused and stick to your vision and to always put yourself in the shoes of the customer. One of the main insights that Chrissie gave about building your business was:

“Having a business is a gift. Surround yourself with a brilliant people who share your passion and are right for the different stages of your business.”


Your Life, Your Business

Business and Life Coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru presented his workshop ‘Your Life, Your Business.’ Running a small business will increase the demands on your own time and lifestyle. Rasheed’s workshop helps you to get the balance right, while at the same time helping to set realistic goals for you and the business.  

Rasheed likens being an entrepreneur to being an athlete, and he advises business owners to“study your field, master your craft, gather your team, know your competitors, win and keep supporters, learn from trials and errors and keep your eye on your goal.”

If you missed last week’s workshop, Rasheed will be delivering this on the 12 December

The Idler Academy:  Killer business ideas


Everyone at the Business & IP Centre is passionate about supporting new businesses to succeed and grow.  Therefore we were delighted to be joined by twin brothers Gary and Alan Keery, founders of the Cereal Killer Cafe, which is surely one of the most talked-about start-ups in recent years. Since launching in 2014, the retro-inspired Cereal Killer Café has truly captured the public imagination and the Keery brothers have experienced both the best and worst of being in the media spotlight.  At this frank and entertaining event, moderated by Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler magazine, the boys shared the story of how their passion for cereal inspired a killer business idea.  The brothers implored aspiring entrepreneurs to stay true to their convictions, not to listen to the naysayers and to fiercely protect their brand.  They also stressed that new businesses need to be willing to learn skills quickly where necessary – something that the Business & IP Centre’s courses and workshops across a variety of business topics can help you with. 


Last but not least, if you’re setting up office, we are delighted that Microsoft, our Global Entrepreneurship Partner, is offering our users a special discount on their Office 365 product. Find out more.

21 November 2016

Co-working spaces - the ideal place to do business

Co-working has grown as a flexible and collaborative working space and environment for start-ups, freelancers and even large businesses. And it is predicted that this will be the norm for the next generation of entrepreneurs, workers and the future of how we work and grow businesses.   

Example of the Modern Home office, with following items: Notebook, Laptop and phone, with a cup of coffee on the sideAs well as being good for  all types of growing and mature businesses co-working hubs are also a viable business model in itself for entrepreneurs and local councils. Revenue comes from memberships or pay-as-you-go fees. Membership terms and conditions can be flexible, such as the number of days or months you buy.

Hubs can host individual working spaces, hot-desking, meeting rooms, cafes, business incubators, informal libraries, and artist galleries. As well as leisure activities such as table football or table tennis spaces. There are often networking and training events too. This article in The Guardian newspaper covers some of the main players and some key financials showing the size of the industry, ‘Where start-up lead, corporates follow – why co-working is the future?’.

Some commentators have compared the growth in co-working spaces to the rise in coffee houses of the 17th and 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. This also heralded a time where ideas became easier to exchange, travel and adopt. Being an entrepreneur is often a lonely experience, especially at the start. But in these new spaces, start-ups have an opportunity to meet, network, and collaborate with complimentary and like-minded businesses. It is easier for open innovation to happen in this ecosystem, and it is one of the reasons tech developers are so keen to set up in this environment.       

A paining in reference to the interior of a London Coffee house, 17th_century

Example of an early coffee house in London

Co-Work Hub is a flexible workspace company that is currently on our Innovating for Growth programme.  They offer hot-desking, quality offices or virtual office facilities, including a gym and breakout areas. Another example is The Workary, who has set up community working spaces in public libraries. We frequently get asked if the Business & IP Centre meeting rooms are for hire and our Orange Room is now available for hire for appropriate business meetings. Interestingly, Vrumi is an app where you can offer or look for homes for non-traditional spaces for flexible working.  It is well documented that the future of workspaces is changing and this is an example of the possibilities and opportunities.

 Co-Work Hub’s TEDx video

We do have a small area in our networking area in the Centre that can be used for informal working for small groups of people. Occasionally we use this space for our own events and therefore it is not available, so please check in advance. You can also use the public areas on the British Library for informal meetings with a difference.

Business & IP Centre attendees networking with other in the networking area

Business & IP Centre networking area

Some local councils have made a concerted effort to help co-working spaces develop.  Luckily, in my neighbourhood in London, there is a new business hub called Central Parade near a busy high street and market.  It is not only a place for flexible co-working, but businesses can also apply for a shop space on a six months basis to test opportunities in the local market.

I have been in touch with bridal wear business Pour L’Amour, who has said that there were several benefits for using the space. Business owner Paula explained the advantages to me; “short let subsidised shop to test the water going forwards; launching a business in this location I would have not been able to afforded a prime site like this otherwise; and great not to have to worry about the everyday running of the space such as utilities, as everything is managed”. There have also been direct results in gaining new customers with this exposure to a vibrant local community.

Paula Moore, Business owner of Pour L’Amour at Central Parade London

Paula Moore at Pour L’Amour at Central Parade London

Co-working is happening in quite a few countries across the globe too with definite increases in spaces in Western Countries as well as emerging markets such as India, Kenya, Panama, and Japan etc.  Not only is it changing where we work, it is changing how we work, who we work with and how our businesses develop. There are many reasons to give it a try!   

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Introducing the European exchange programme for new entrepreneurs


Erasmus for Y Entrepre

The Business & IP Centre in London has a wealth of information on European markets, economic and trading conditions, and best practice to help your business.

Now we are helping entrepreneurs benefit from the experience of people working in European countries through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur Programme. This organises exchanges between new and aspiring entrepreneurs (of any age) and experienced host businesses.

If you are a new entrepreneur you will benefit from the experience of working for up to six months in another European country with a grant paid by the European Commission. There are also benefits to a host businesses as they will bring in new skills, experience and to learn more about another market.  

The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur Programme has been running for a number of years now. But the Business & IP Centre has recently become much more directly involved. We are part of a consortium called Columbus 8 which includes partners from: Italy, Finland, France, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. 

Columbus 8

Columbus 8 partners

Benefits for new entrepreneurs

As a new entrepreneur, you will benefit from on-the-job training in a small or medium-sized enterprise elsewhere in the Participating Countries. This will help in the successful start of your business or strengthen your new enterprise. You can also benefit from access to new markets, international cooperation and potential possibilities for collaboration with business partners abroad.

Benefits for host entrepreneurs

As a host entrepreneur, you can benefit from fresh ideas from a motivated new entrepreneur in your business area. They may have specialised skills or knowledge which could complement yours. Most host entrepreneurs enjoyed the experience so much that they decide to host other new entrepreneurs afterwards.

It is a collaboration where both of you can discover new European markets or, different ways of doing business. In the longer-term, you will benefit from wide networking opportunities and possibly continue your collaboration as long-term business partners.


If you want to find out more please contact Nigel Spencer [email protected] or [email protected]

10 November 2016

First Aid for Life – growing a business, and taking it to the next level with Innovating for Growth

First Aid for Life is an award-winning first aid training business. Our trainers are highly experienced medical and emergency services professionals offering a full range of practical and online training, tailored entirely to our customers’ needs. I established the business nine years ago and we joined the Innovating for Growth programme at a point where, although it was trading comfortably and making a profit, we still felt in start-up phase.

Emma Hammett

Joining the Innovating for Growth programme

We were lucky enough to be one of the earlier cohorts on Innovating for Growth, and the programme helped us look at every element of our business and get everything in place to provide a solid grounding for consistent growth. We secured our IP and applied for trademarks, fine-tuned our branding and focussed on our market segments.

My mentor in the Innovating for Growth programme, Penny Daly, was particularly supportive and inspiring and also helped me implement all the advice gleaned from the other experts. Penny has kept in touch past our involvement in the programme and continues to be an invaluable guiding force and support.

Since that point, we have grown consistently at a rate of 30% per year. We feel comfortable that we have solid financial foundations and have clearly evaluated opportunities to diversify, penetrate new markets and identify new challenging opportunities for the business.

How First Aid for Life has grown since joining Innovating for Growth

We have created and developed the First Aid website which is now the leading provider of online first aid training and has helped us productise our service, enabling us to scale and reach an international market. We offer these as stand-alone online training and fully-regulated blended learning and were first to market with regulated training fulfilling HSE and Ofsted requirements.

We have since diversified further into First Aid for Pets enabling us to connect with a completely new market, many of whom have human and pet first aid needs. These innovations fully complement and integrate our business, positioning us uniquely as first aid experts and engaging customers with flexible training solutions.

We have won numerous awards, including the Federation of Small Businesses Overall Winner Best Business in London and Best Business for Service Excellence two years running. We work hard to nurture our customers and have a sophisticated CRM system enabling us to personalise our communication and send relevant gifts and updates. We have developed free information products, newsletters, videos, courses, posters and published a book in response to client requests and needs.

Innovating for Growth has been pivotal in our success in ensuring we have a solid base upon which to grow and a thorough understanding of business principles to enable us to plan and formulate sensible business decisions.

By Emma Hammett, Founder of First Aid for Life and Highly experienced Nurse, ESOL lecturer and First Aid Trainer and leading authority on First Aid and related topics.

Apply now for over £10,000 worth of business advice

Are you an ambitious business owner, looking to scale up like Emma Hammett of First Aid for Life? Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality.

Covering everything from intellectual property to reaching new markets and branding, we'll guide you through every step of the process.

Find out more about the programme and apply now.


European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Logo

The programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.

07 November 2016

Growing a love of chocolate into a successful business

Founded by Helen and Simon Pattinson in 2000, Montezuma's is a family-owned, British chocolate company and has rapidly built a reputation for producing some of the finest and most innovative chocolate available in the UK. The creative team of chocolatiers take every opportunity to experiment with new flavours and ingredients specialising in the use of spices, herbs and essential oils. Montezuma's entire range of chocolate bars, truffles, fruits and drinking chocolate is made by them near the beach in West Sussex. 

We caught up with Helen ahead of her panel discussion as part of Question Time for Entrepreneurs on Monday 14 November for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016, which has since concluded. 

  Helen Pattinson - Montezuma's co-founder


Hi! Where did the idea come from to start your own business?

The idea for Montezuma’s originated whilst myself and my husband [Simon Pattinson, co-founder] were exploring South America back in 1999. While we were on our travels, we visited a small town in Argentina and saw first-hand the incredible chocolate retailing that was going on out there. The town was simply full of amazing chocolate shops and stalls, selling great quality chocolate with mouth-watering flavours we had never experienced before! At that moment we had a brainwave. With the UK chocolate market in a state of lull, with tired and tested flavours being churned out for years, we felt compelled to change this. Once we arrived back in the UK, we immediately left our stable careers as city lawyers and entered into the chocolate industry. After sixteen years and countless chocolate innovations, we haven’t looked back!

How did the Business & IP Centre help you along the way?

The Business & IP Centre was incredibly helpful in fact, without it Montezuma’s would have been much harder to create! I spent days researching trends in the chocolate industry: the economic climate, consumer buying behaviour, price perceptions – all sorts of things! It really was helpful. It’s amazing the amount of work that has gone on behind-the-scenes at the Centre over the years, and it’s interesting to look back and know first-hand the positive impact it had on us starting Montezuma’s. It’s an outstanding resource and I would advise anyone thinking about going into business to take full advantage of the facilities and information the Centre offers.

What have been your greatest achievements since starting up?

There have been a number of achievements we’re really proud of at Montezuma’s, ranging from opening six stores to being able to create exciting new chocolate flavours! But, I believe the greatest achievement is that we have created a brand that people love and want to shout about as much as we do. We started with a simple idea that we believed in and now here we are, sixteen years later, with an outstanding workforce of over 150 people, helping to bring the magical creation of chocolate to life. That is incredible – I must say, I’m very proud of that.

What one piece of crucial advice would you give to anyone thinking about starting a business?

There’s plenty of advice I would suggest to anyone thinking of starting a business, but my number one pointer would be to stick to your values. That’s not to stay you shouldn’t be flexible, especially at the start, but I believe if you stray too far away from your original beliefs, then you quickly lose sight of why you started in the first place. Our childish enthusiasm for creating innovative and fun chocolate has been the foundation for Montezuma’s from the start, and now after all those years, we’re arguably Britain’s most innovative chocolate brand. Stick to what you believe in, expect steep learning curves along the way, but above all, enjoy the ride!

Are you a budding entrepreneur or small business owner seeking guidance and inspiration on how to grow your business and protect your ideas, products or services?

You’re in luck – as the Business & IP Centre are hosting weekly online events, workshops and talks, structured to further develop your entrepreneurial knowledge. Thus, helping you to grow aspiration to the somewhat daunting process in starting a business and maintaining it.

Don't forget you can rewatch Helen Pattinson's (Co Founder of Montezuma's) segment from Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016. As Helen Patterson amongst our other panel members of big-hitting entrepreneurs and leading business experts, express how they went from small start-ups to big-time successes, here's their stories and top tips.

04 November 2016

Enjoying Fireworks Safely with First Aid for Life

First Aid for Life is an award-winning first aid training business. Their trainers are highly experienced medical and emergency services professionals offering a full range of practical and online first aid training, tailored entirely to your needs.

Having built a solid foundation for their business, they joined the Innovating for Growth programme four years ago and have since grown their business at a consistent rate of 30% per year.

Their founder, Emma Hammett, has provided us with some great safety tips to ensure you and your family enjoy this bonfire weekend to its fullest.



  • Every year, over 1,000 people are injured by fireworks in Britain during the four week period around 5 November
  • 60% of these accidents occur at home or at private parties
  • Around 400 injuries involve children under the age of 13. *

*based on 1994 statistics

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at an organised display. If you are going to buy your own fireworks to set off at home, check to ensure they conform to British Standard (BS 7114; 1998) and that they are suitable for the size of your garden.

At a minimum, you should always have at hand:

  • an appropriately stocked first aid kit
  • a bucket of sand, easy access to plenty of water, and a fire blanket
  • a bottle of sterile saline to irrigate eyes if sparks are blown into them.

Always follow the Fireworks Code and never return to a firework that has not gone off and keep everyone, children in particular, well clear of any danger.


  • Sparklers get up to six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil or as hot as a welder’s torch and can, therefore cause serious damage
  • They are not suitable for children under five
  • Sparklers should be lit one at a time and you should always wear gloves when using them
  • Supervise children and ensure they remain a safe distance from others.
  • Be particularly careful with children in fancy dress as costumes are rarely fire resistant.

No matter how careful or prepared you are, injuries can still happen. The following first aid advice covers the most common eventualities.

Minor burns

  • If someone is burnt and the affected area is larger than the size of the casualty’s hand, you should phone for an ambulance
  • Hold the affected area under cold, running water for at least 10 minutes
  • Special care should be taken if the burn is on a young child or an elderly person. All deep burns of any size will require urgent hospital treatment
  • Once the burn has been cooled for at least 15 minutes, the burn can be covered with cling film, a burns dressing or if the burn is on a hand, it can be inserted into a sterile plastic bag
  • Never rush to dress a burn. The most important treatment is to cool it under cool running water
  • All burns should be assessed by medical professionals.

If clothing is on fire:

  • stop the affected person panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames
  • drop the casualty to the ground and wrap them in a blanket, coat, or rug. Ensure they are made from inflammable fabrics such as wool
  • roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.

Severe burns

A severe burn exposes the casualty to a greater risk of infection, hypothermia and shock.

  • Instruct a helper to dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance
  • Start cooling the burn immediately under cool running water. Use a shower or hose if the burns are large. Keep cooling the burn while waiting for professional help to arrive. The area should be cooled for at least 10 minutes. Ensure you are cooling the burn and not the casualty, keep areas that are not burnt as warm and dry as possible
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, if appropriate, lie them down and elevate their legs
  • Whilst cooling, remove any constricting items (the area may swell), such as jewellery or clothing, from the affected area unless they are stuck to the burn. Wear sterile disposable gloves if they are available.

With all burns, never:

  • touch the burn
  • use lotions, ointments and creams
  • use adhesive dressings
  • pop or puncture blisters.

Sprains and strains

It is easy to sprain or strain something by falling or tripping over in the dark. There may be pain and tenderness with swelling and difficulty moving the injured area.

  • Advise the casualty to sit or lie down
  • Support the injured limb in a comfortable position
  • Apply a wrapped ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling
  • Apply comfortable support to the injury by surrounding the area with a thick layer of padding, such as cotton wool, and secure with a bandage
  • Raise the injured part to reduce swelling
  • If the pain is severe, or you are worried, send the casualty to hospital, otherwise advise them to rest
  • If the injury does not start to improve, they should request an x-ray to ensure nothing is broken.

Eye injuries

Sparks from fireworks and bonfires can land in eyes and be extremely painful.

  • Wash your hands or wear sterile gloves before touching the affected area.

Open the casualty’s eye and look carefully:

  • If there is anything embedded in the eye, cover both eyes and phone for an ambulance
  • If you can see an object moving freely in the eye, use a sterile eye wash and gently irrigate the eye to remove it
  • Seek medical advice if the casualty is still in pain or discomfort.

It is strongly advised that everyone attends a practical or online first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

By Emma Hammett of First Aid for Life

First Aid for Life is an award-winning, fully-regulated First Aid Training business. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. is the leading provider of interactive regulated and non-regulated first aid e-learning. 

First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.