THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

72 posts categorized "Business plan"

11 December 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Bob Lindsey

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Bob Lindsey, founder of Thames Productions, runs one-to-one workshops for entrepreneurs at the British Library's Business & IP Centre, for innovators seeking advice on their product ideas and what to do next. He also runs a workshop on How much will it cost to get my new product to market.

Bob Lindsey

Bob Lindsey’s background includes, manufacturing, product design, and marketing. Originally a student/apprentice at the Ford Motor Company, he obtained a honours degree in Mechanical Engineering at City University. After working in Zambia (in copper mining) he studied for an MBA at Sheffield University, specialising in marketing. Subsequent experience included general management of manufacturing plants in the UK including responsibility for product design. After a spell in New Zealand (advising on capital project in pulp and paper manufacture), he moved into consultancy covering managerial and technical matters, and running training programmes on new product development. He won a DTI SMART award for developing a new industrial process and designed new products and sold manufacturing licenses. He knows all the challengers of turning that gem of an idea into a successful, profitable product.

Bob says, “I’m happy to meet innovators in my one-to-one sessions who are at any stage in the process, whether they’re at the ideas phase, right through to them having full demonstrable prototypes. There are many steps to that often tortuous journey, and I can advise on many aspects of it, including working out the likely routes to market. Attendees can ask all the questions which have been in the back of their mind, often for a while. I have learnt most of the obvious mistakes, and also the rare ones. I can share my experience to reduce the probability of clients repeating them.

“The British Library themselves provide excellent workshops on Intellectual Property (IP) and this is an area I can also cover in the context of the product areas being discussed. Manufacturing might often involve the adherence to mandatory standards which have to be met, and which might not be so obvious to those starting out in this field.

“In recent months I have seen some of the perennial favourites; food and drink products, hair treatments, skincare products, fashion and footwear and travel items. But there have also been household items, lifestyle products and interesting medical devices. Over the years there have been pet-care products, personal hygiene, and even adult toys. In addition to physical products I can discuss the provision of services or APPs."

In 2020 Bob will be running the workshop How much will it cost to get my new product to market, where all the hidden and surprising items of expenditure will be highlighted, particularly during that difficult start-up phase when sales might be small, but where the costs are high. In this workshop he will cover:

  • Market testing
  • Researching IP opportunities (and impediments)
  • Product safety standards
  • Prototyping
  • How to commission a designer, together with a framework of professional charges
  • How to source tooling
  • How to source a manufacturer
  • The challenges and extra costs of sourcing those small start-up batches and what it is like to sell to a professional buyer in the retail market.

In the workshop, Bob will look at case studies of successful entrepreneurs who have got their products to market, but whose eventual journeys were not as they had originally planned. If applicable, Bob will also be able to suggest other people attendees could be talking to, including specialised designers and IP advisors.

You can also see Bob at the Business & IP Centre's monthly Inventors Club at the British Library, which meets on the last Monday of the month. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to float their ideas to gather feedback. Bob says, "sometimes what you feel is a great idea, might not have the support in the wider market. This is a good opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.”

You can find out more information about Bob's workshops on his website. To find out what workshops and events are taking place at the Business & IP Centre, visit our website.

10 December 2019

A week in the life of... Loretta Awuah, Start-ups in London Libraries Greenwich Champion

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Loretta Awuah is our Start-ups in London Libraries SME Champion for Greenwich. She is based in the borough providing support to aspiring entrepreneurs as part of the Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL) programme.

Monday

I start the week off by working through my inbox and responding to all the emails from people who are requesting one-to-one sessions and enquiry emails from people wanting to join the SiLL programme. It’s always great to see the wide range of potential businesses who I can register to the project. On this particular Monday it’s a food business and a social enterprise. We also have a weekly meeting with our borough SiLL team to discuss upcoming events and the support they may need. In the SiLL project, we support two types of entrepreneurs – people who have an idea which they haven’t yet developed and those who have been registered for a year or less, so we also look at ways of supporting and reaching these two different groups.

A big part of my job is showing the resources available in the library and supporting businesses in making the most of them. So in the afternoon, I do a COBRA tutorial with a newly registered business who is interested in finding out more information about ethical fashion and industry trade shows. It is amazing how much you can find on these databases so she leaves with a pack of information that will help give her direction and inform her next moves.

Loretta in a 1-2-1 session

Tuesday
One of the best things about being able to offer the one-to-one sessions is that in one morning I can be looking at very different businesses and helping them map very different things, using varying techniques and models. This morning I have two sessions: one with an aspiring entrepreneur where we create a business model canvas and discuss her company structure; and another with someone wanting to start a social enterprise during which we developed a value proposition statement. No two sessions are ever the same and I love hearing how many ideas are springing out of Greenwich – it’s definitely a buzzing borough and that shows in the range of businesses I talk to.

The afternoon brings a presentation I delivered as part of  Black History Month on the history of the black entrepreneurs across the African diaspora (past and present) and the impact of their products and services, combined with a workshop on ‘can you turn your passion into a business idea?’ I think it’s so important to acknowledge the benefits of a diverse business community, and how transformational this can be for the entrepreneurs, customers and their local communities   

Relationship building with local organisations is also a big part of my job and I finish the day by confirming dates to collaborate with GLLaB (Greenwich Local Labour and Business) which is a council run organisation working with employers to promote job vacancies for local people. The aim of this meeting will be to promote the SiLL programme amongst job seekers interested in starting a business in different areas within Greenwich.

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Loretta wearing a t-shirt from one of the businesses she has supported in Greenwich - Greater Brits

Wednesday

More meetings today with a presentation to the Plumstead Traders Forum about the SiLL programme and the support they could receive and a meeting with the GCDA (Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency) about the support they provide to aspiring food  entrepreneurs.

The one-to-one I had scheduled in for today was with a potential businesswoman looking at applying for funding for a project she would like to deliver next year, and sourcing a bid writer so again, we are able to make some definite progress in that area.

As I am the midpoint between the Business & IP Centre at the British Library and the borough I also have regular meetings with the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s business engagement team. Today we have one to discuss collaboration opportunities in 2020 and information about business licenses on behalf of SiLL clients

Thursday

Greenwich has a really active Start-ups in London Libraries community, which has been born out of people attending the workshops, receiving one to ones etc, and so we run a monthly session with our SiLL clients and other start-ups. It’s a safe space where they can all share updates on achievements, progress made and discuss challenges they are facing which they would like support. This month we also had Gary Parker, Director from CNT Associates deliver a presentation on funding for small businesses and social enterprises.

A big focus for me this month has been preparing for the Greenwich Christmas Start-up Marketplace we are delivering on 4 and 5 December to enable SiLL clients and other local start-ups to promote their business, trade and test out ideas. A lot of the time, these small businesses can use this sort of platform really effectively, to not only sell their products and services but do some market research and evaluate out the appetite out there.

There are smaller jobs I fit in where I can like arranging catering for the ‘Get ready for business workshop’ on December 11 2019 at West Greenwich Library – not the most exciting job but crucially important. We don’t want our workshop attendees going hungry!

Then there‘s time for one more presentation this week, this time to the Black Female Entrepreneur Greenwich organisation on effective time management tips and an overview of the SiLL programme. I love talking about the programme and getting the name out there as much as possible. People are always so surprised that they can get this support completely free.

Loretta in Greenwich Library

Friday

All 10 of the SME Champions from each of the boroughs have monthly training sessions at the British Library to hear from some of the key organisations like HMRC and big banks which ensure that our knowledge of the business support landscape is up to date and relevant. Things are changing so quickly, and there will be lots to learn particularly after Brexit has happened, so these sessions are always really eye-opening. As well as providing the support, we need to make sure we’re signposting other sources as much as possible as well and acting as a convener.

After a full day of training, I pick up my baby son Joshua from the childminder, which is always a perfect end to the work. I’m looking forward to spending a restful weekend with him before getting going again on Monday.

To find out more about the Start-ups in London Libraries programme, visit bl.uk/SiLL.

The Start-ups in London Libraries project is generously supported by the European Regional Development Fund, J.P. Morgan and Arts Council England.

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06 December 2019

The 12 Days of the BIPC

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It’s fair to say that 2019 has been a jam-packed one for the BIPC. We wanted to have a look back at some of the highlights this year has provided for us and so without further ado, we present to you the 12 Days of BIPC and first off, our true love (by which we mean our BIPC community) gave to us….

A brand new series of blogs

In January, we started our Week in the Life Of... blogs, taking a look into the weekly tasks of entrepreneurs, staff and others involved in offering business advice services. Since then, we've heard…

🌳 how Jan Kattein Architects are involved in the British Library's Story Garden

🏠 that for Merilee, founder of Under the Doormat, exercise helps to set a positive outlook for the week

🐶 the importance of dog walks to The Foldline’s co-founder Rachel's week

👥 the difficulties in managing a team spread around the country with Superwellness

🏊 how sometimes running your own business means you just have to go to your daughter's swimming gala in a cocktail dress with The Foraging Fox

switching off from work with Sandows

👶 running a business whilst pregnant with Mama Designs

🚆 the amount of travelling involved for a member of the IPO’s Business Outreach Team

🎥 some days are glamourous and involved being filmed for a UK media company with KeriKit

🍸 and finally, how to balance your home and work life with Conker Spirit

In the second month, we got…

A brand new BIPC

In February, we celebrated the launch of our Cambridgeshire and Peterborough BIPC, our 11th BIPC in the UK. The new centre is a hub for entrepreneurs, bringing them together to network, attend events and access a wealth of resources like databases, market research and other business info. On the day, Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Co and Entrepreneur in Residence at BIPC London, gave a speech and highlighted the importance the Centre would have on local entrepreneurs: “It’s easy to be put off in the early days of setting up your business. You can’t know everything from the start, but you do need a vision and the will to achieve it. I believe this resource will help entrepreneurs on that journey!’

Cambridge launch

In the third month, our treat was….

Our sold out Start-up Stars

On the topic of 'How I Disrupted My Market', with a panel of trailblazing entrepreneurs including CompliMed, In A Wish & 33Shake, alumni from the Innovating for Growth: Scale up programme, chaired by motivational speaker and coach Rasheed Ogunlaru. Our audience learnt out how the panel of businesses challenged the status quo and shook up their sector.

On the fourth highlight day, our beautiful National Network gave to us….

A brand new BIPC (again!)

Another month, another launch at the Mitchell Library for BIPC Glasgow. The first BIPC in Scotland, the 12th as part of our National Network, and a partnership between the British Library, Glasgow Life, the National Library of Scotland and Santander. Dr John Scally, National Librarian at the National Library of Scotland, said of the launch: “Creativity and innovation among entrepreneurs and start-ups rely on the most up-to-date information and advice available. We have vast business and intellectual property resources in our collections and want businesses throughout Scotland to know that help and expertise is there. We are pleased to partner with the British Library and the Mitchell Library to open this service in Glasgow. By our combined efforts we will help local businesses thrive.”

Glasgow launch

Our fifth day brings us to…

Our Start-ups in London Libraries launch

For our latest programme, Start-ups in London Libraries which brings start-up support to 10 London high streets, we had an amazing launch event in City Hall at the beginning of May, where the Deputy Mayor of Business, Rajesh Agrawal, announced that he was going to be the Champion of Champions for the project and threw his support behind the plan. He said “This initiative will deliver vital support to our burgeoning small business community while providing a huge boost for the capital’s libraries.”

Fast forward to now and a total of more than 850 businesses have attended Start-ups in London Libraries workshops and seen our borough support teams for help getting their business off the ground. And it’s onwards and upwards from here!

Start-ups in London Libraries launch

Which leads us nicely onto the sixth day of the BIPC…

Our new Start-ups in London Libraries look and feel

In June, after our Start-ups in London Libraries launch, we released our brand new campaign for the project, featuring some potentially familiar faces – our London success stories (or BIPs). From cats with cake to coffee with a conscious, these brilliant businesses cover the wide range of companies we’re hoping will also come out of the project, and it provided a great opportunity for us to showcase just some of our BIPC community who were already sitting in specific boroughs, including Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Cyclehoop, Change Please, Sabina Motasem and HR Sports Academy. And as you’ll see, Start-ups in London Libraries wasn’t the only thing getting a makeover this year…

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On the seventh day we’re remembering…

How we cemented our reputation with stats in our economic evaluation report (and celebrated it in Westminster!)

July saw us head to the House of Lords to launch our Democratising Entrepreneurship report, which looked at libraries as engines of economic growth, highlighting that the BIPC had helped create 12,288 new businesses, 7,843 jobs and £78m GVA. Out of those we helped start a new business, 22% were from the most deprived areas, 55% were women and 29% were aged 35 and under. We are committed to continue offering accessible business support across our National Network and in London, to help you plan, start and grow your business.

House of Lords Event - Jen Lam

The eighth day of the BIPC brings us..

More makeovers!

We continued to spruce up the BIPC with our new marketing materials, featuring talented entrepreneurs who received business support at the BIPC and also from our network of national hubs. We’re so delighted to have been able to show off the tangible results of the BIPC business support this year in our new campaign and capture the range of people who have been able to start up or scale up in part through our services. Included in our community and photographed for our marketing materials were: Annie from Campbell Medical Illustrations, Gil from ChattyFeet, Amanda from I Can Make Shoes, Abigail and Chloe from Buttercrumble, Joe from Krio Kanteen, Natalie from Acacia and Marcela from Sacpot. We can’t wait to keep growing our business community up and down the country and look forward to adding more faces to these in 2020.

New BIPC brand

On the ninth day was when we started to realise that 12 is a lot of highlights to pack into one blog, but luckily, we had plenty of exciting events to see us through the last couple of months of 2019… so for our ninth day…

We got inspired

In September, we were thrilled to host another stellar Inspiring Entrepreneurs event with a wider focus on people who are at the forefront of the UK’s creative industries. With our incomparable moderator, Night Czar, Amy Lamé and a panel consisting of Jamal Edwards, Irene Agbontaen and Rick Lowe, no one could leave the auditorium without feeling inspired and energised.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Cultural Changemakers

On the tenth day, we find ourselves at…

Our biggest event of the year

Maybe our biggest day of the year was Start-up Day which took place in October. There are too many highlights to mention but include panel discussions on starting up on a shoestring and profit with t a purpose, a brilliant presentation and candid chat with the charity, Mind, and Julie Deane OBE about looking after your mental health while getting started, and an epic keynote from Steph McGovern, where she discussed embracing your authenticity and finding business potential in recessions and times of economic hardship. It was a truly inspiring day and we can't wait to hear about the progress of the 400 entrepreneurs who stepped through the doors! We'll be back with Start-up Day 2020 before you know it.

Steph McGovern - Start-up Day

On our penultimate day we received…

The chance to discuss the BIPC in the Anything but Silent podcast

In November, we were featured in the British Library podcast ‘Anything but Silent’, with our Innovating for Growth alumna and Start-ups in London Libraries’ ambassador, Mickela Hall-Ramsay from HR Sports Academy, and were able to discuss and celebrate one of our favourite topics, community in the world of business. It's worth a listen all year round!

Which brings us to, our 12th day…

A touch of luxury

Our final 2019 Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Leaders in Luxe, took place earlier this month, where we saw our panel – Frieda Gormley from House of Hackney, Clare Hornby from Me and Em, Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian from Jennifer Chamandi, Rupert Holloway from Conker Spirit and Darren Sital Singh from The Jackal, moderated by Walpole’s Helen Brocklebank - discuss the future of British luxury, how they built their brand and overcame challenges along the way. You can watch the catch up discussion on our YouTube channel, link in bio.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs - Leaders in Luxe

And that is it for 2019! What an exciting year and we have particularly loved seeing our support spread to more places and people than ever before.

Stay tuned for even more in 2020…. See you then.

25 November 2019

Meet Warda Farah - owner of Language Waves and Start-ups in London Libraries participant

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Warda Farah is a speech and language therapist. Her company, Language Waves, has a particular interest in providing a fully-accessible and culturally diverse speech therapy service. She has recently taken part in the Start-ups in London Libraries programme in Greenwich. 

Warda had done the research, confirmed her business idea (speech therapy that was accessible to everyone who needed it and, most importantly, took into account culture and family background) was solid and sought-after and registered her business. The next step was to tie the various ideas she had for Language Waves together to form a future-proof plan and ensure she could achieve her ambitious vision. And so she participated in the Start-ups in London Libraries programme to help her get her business idea off the ground: ‘It helped me to develop my scattered ideas into a coherent business plan. I was able to figure out how I could package my approach, get a better understanding of my target audience and most importantly how I could monetize my idea.' 

The Start-ups in London Libraries programme is comprised of workshops which guide participants through the complexities of starting up a business, registering your company, protecting your intellectual property and conducting research. Off the back of these, Warda and her business partner, Joan-Ann were able to trademark their training manual. SiLL participants can also get one-to-ones with their local borough Champions who can offer specific advice. Warda said her one-to-ones with Greenwich Champion, Loretta, were among the most eye-opening experiences on her business journey: ‘I see her when I’m at different stages of the business. Her feedback helps me plan, focus and set realistic expectations for myself. Also her belief in my business has motivated me as she has brought out the best in me.’

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Warda with the SiLL Greenwich Champion, Loretta

As part of Start-ups in London Libraries, Greenwich have developed a strong business community, with a network that meet once a month to brainstorm and share knowledge. Warda says: ‘I think it’s a really exciting time, I meet lots of people who want to start their own business and I always refer them to the SILL programme and Loretta. This is because it’s so accessible well set up and you know that you are getting advice and support from people who know what they are doing.'

'A lot of people do not know where to start but the Start-ups in London Libraries programme is very clear, you just need to put the work in. You have to be strategic, specific and focused and not give up. The people that I have met at the Greenwich Network so far all seem very motivated and it’s great to be around this energy. I’m excited to see how everybody’s business does.’

And so are we!

Q&A with Warda:

Can you tell us a bit about how your business started? What inspired you? 

I won a Lord Mayor Scholarship and studied Speech and Language therapy at City University. It was during this time that I noticed the lack of diversity in the profession. 95% of speech and language therapists are from white middle class backgrounds which raises the issue of therapy not being tailored to take culture and background into account. This is a profession that has to represent the diverse population it serves in order to be effective and, from what I could see, this wasn’t happening. I was extremely surprised that there was not discussion of how to make speech and language therapy services accessible and culturally diverse, so I began my research.

It is clear and evident that there is a cultural mismatch between therapists and BAME clients and instead of labelling parents and children as hard to engage we should be reaching out them and being innovative with how we deliver our interventions.

We have three key aims that we are working towards:

  1. A world where a child’s ethnicity, socioeconomic status and parental background is not a barrier to receiving quality speech and language therapy assessment and intervention.
  2. We want the wider public to have a better understanding of what a communication difficulty is and the long-term consequences this can have on the child, family and their community.
  3. We would like the speech and language therapy workforce to represent the diverse population it serves.

You are a young entrepreneur - what have been the benefits of this and what are the challenges?

As a young person this is probably one of the best times to start a business - there are so many pots of funding and support that is available to young entrepreneurs. You have to be willing to look around, go to events and find out what support is available to you.

In addition to this if you are lucky enough to still live at home and not have any dependents you can focus solely on your business with less distractions. 

However the downside to being a young entrepreneur is that I think Millennials like myself are so used to instant gratification that we may be impatient with how long it can actually take to get a business off the ground and making money. This is why realistic expectations are so important and reviewing of your business plans and goals should be a regular occurrence. 

In my own personal experience being a young black woman in business has at times been incredibly tough, I feel like I have to really sell and prove myself to show that 1) despite my age I have the experience , 2) despite my gender I can be just as tough as the men if not tougher, 3) despite the fact I may face bias based on my ethnicity I do not let it stop me. 

You have to learn how to use people's assumptions and negative stereotypes of you to be your USP.

What advice would you give anyone looking to start up a business?

Start now. I know a lot of people who feel that all of the conditions need to be right before they begin their business but I believe an entrepreneur is the person who sees an opportunity and goes for it. Time waits for no man and there is no such thing as perfection. When we began Language Waves we made lots of errors which helped us fine tune our processes, better understand our audience and even developed our thinking. We are still making errors but we see them as learning opportunities.

I would also say don’t start a business because your main aim in life is to be a millionaire. There is a long and arduous period when you are working hard e.g. going to meetings, negotiating contracts, networking, creating content and you are not financially compensated, in fact you can be worse off than when you had a 9-5.

During this period remember that you are setting the foundation and ground work for your business. Many people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they would’ve achieved in 3 years, this is the long game so be patient and continue to work through the pain.

What would you say to anyone thinking about starting up a business?

Join the SiLL programme - it's what made me feel like I could really start and run a business

What are the key things you have learnt while starting up your business?

A couple of my most valuable lessons have been:

  • Your customer and ideal client is key, you need to know the needs, likes, dislikes and habits of this group to ensure you target your product at them.
  • Know your value and do not be ashamed to talk about money. Your specialized knowledge is what people will pay for.
  • Make decisions quickly and be slow to change them. Joan-Ann and I have the saying “lets sleep on it and discuss in the morning”.
  • Quantum leaps exists, do not be scared of them. Sometimes opportunities will arise which you feel you are not ready for, just do it you will surprise yourself.

To find out more about Language Waves visit https://www.languagewaves.com/

For more information on Start-ups in London Libraries, visit bl.uk/SiLL

The Start-ups in London Libraries project is generously supported by the European Regional Development Fund, J.P. Morgan and Arts Council England.

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14 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Strategy 1:1 Part 2

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Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial management 1:1, product innovation 1:1intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his final diary entry, Haroun has his second session on strategy...

Japanese train in station
Photo courtesy of JRPass

Well, here we are at the end of three months, 15 sessions and countless follow-ups. It’s come and gone ever so quickly, so this final strategy one-to-one session gives us a good time to take stock. We went through the findings from the branding, marketing, finance and innovation sessions. The main takeaways were that we have so much scope for growth that I need support, so I will be hiring to capitalise on those opportunities, especially in the areas of marketing and business development. Our expansion plans are pretty clear and we must make sure that we execute properly and as rapidly as is possible. We also need to invest time into research and skills acquisition for our new growth areas.

I have found the scale-up course very useful, especially as a way of giving me the head-space to concentrate on issues that I knew needed to be tackled, but have been too busy for day-to-day. Here are my personal take-aways for anyone considering the course:

  • We are all very busy in the day-to-day running of our businesses but to take full benefit you do need to make time for both the sessions and any follow up tasks to take full benefit. This maybe a truism, but you will only get out as much as you put in.
  • The advisers are exactly that, people to advise you on your current status and next steps. They aren’t there to provide a detailed step-by-step plan. They will vary in how much they know about your industry. You, yourself, ultimately should be the arbiter of what is best for yourself. You’ve done well getting this far in your business, so trust your instincts and use the advisers as neutral external interrogators of your business. This will be where the best value lays.
  • The pace of sessions can be overwhelming at times especially with the day job, so pace yourself, prioritise and plan effectively.
  • Before attending, have a deep think about what you want to get out of the sessions. There will be nagging concerns that you may have about your business and this would be a good opportunity to have those addressed.
  • Enjoy meeting new people, there are lots of fascinating people that attend!

Well, that’s it for me, it’s been fun sharing my experiences. Also, I hope that if you consider a trip to Japan that you’ll consider us! I’ll leave you with our ten top tips for first time travellers.

Thanks, Haroun

 

Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.

01 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 - What's going on in the Start-ups in London Libraries boroughs

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Start-up Day takes place on 11 October and the libraries involved in our brand new Start-ups in London Libraries programme did not want to miss out on being a part of the BIPC's biggest day of the year. For the first time ever, events will not only be taking place across the country in our BIPCs but also in the SiLL London boroughs - Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The London boroughs have drawn on their local resources and localised knowledge to bring specific start-up advice to each of their business communities.

There are activities going on from morning to evening across our partner boroughs. For more details, have a look below and click on any of the links to register our place in your local borough:

Morning

Some of our boroughs are taking part in our co-ordinated coffee morning which is a great chance for networking and to meet your local Champion. If you are close to Walthamstow Library, Brixton Library, the Woolwich Centre or Bexley’s Central Library, register your place at these links and pop along for a coffee and a chat.

If you’re looking for advice on digital marketing, stay on at Woolwich Library for a workshop on the topic, which will aim to help you identify the right channels for your business and give you advice on building your digital community through them. This is followed by a workshop on personal branding between 13.30 and 14.30.

From 10.30-13.00, Croydon will be having a mammoth Start-up Roadshow, with local exhibitors, such as Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and Croydon Business Hub, and organisations like Santander who will be on-hand to offer guidance and advice. It’s also a great opportunity to network so make sure to book your spot if you are near South London and head to Croydon Central Library for that.

Between 11.00-12.00 and 14.00-15.00, Tower Hamlets will be running introductory sessions to the library business resources at Idea Store Whitechapel. These workshops will take you through key information sources accessible in your library that can help enhance your business performance. Attendees can also use their own smartphones to access the Council website and be guided by staff to some of the services that have moved online. To request more information on Tower Hamlets’ Start-up Day offering, please email the local Champion.

People networking at Start-ups in London Libraries workshop

Afternoon

If you aren’t able to make it to the British Library for our jam packed afternoon of talks, some of the borough libraries are live streaming the panels and speeches direct to their libraries. You can find these at:

If you need help researching your market and protecting your idea, some of the boroughs are focusing on COBRA – the Complete Business Reference Advisor – Southwark is running a whole day training session on the system which you can book for here, while Newham is running a session on the system as well which is bookable here.

Lambeth’s afternoon session will be between 12.00 and 13.45 and will be led by Drew London, a Lambeth-based branding and digital communications agency. The masterclass will be on branding and digital communications so head to Brixton Library if this is an area you are looking to focus on and are looking for tried and tested advice.

Lewisham will be hosting Santander who will give a talk on several topics such as cybersecurity (14.00 – 14.45), funding and finance (15.00 – 15.45) and starting a business on a shoestring (16.00 – 16.45) at Lewisham Library. With time for questions, it is sure to be a comprehensive afternoon with expert advice on starting up.

Participant talking during workshop

Evening

We are not 9-5 people in the boroughs so we also have some events taking place in the evening. If you are based near Haringey, there will be a talk on how to grow your Business and Client Base using Digital Media with local partners from Visual Marvelry, 4U2 and Frame Perfect

SEO is a term that can be thrown around yet still remain a bit of a mystery, yet it's integral to getting your business' name out there. Newham aim to help debunk it by running an evening talk by SEO expert, Mike Loomey, on making the most of Google for your business.

Lewisham will be hosting evening networking drinks between 17.00-18.00, while Lambeth’s drinks event is in collaboration with Brixton Bid until 18.30.

Two participants talking and networking

So whether you decide to hop around different boroughs on the day or choose one and soak up everything that borough has to offer, Start-up Day is sure to have something that will set you on the road to making your idea a reality.

You can find a round up each of the borough’s booking links (where applicable) below:

25 September 2019

Choosing revenue over retirement - starting a business in your 60s

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Bryher is the founder of Autodotbiography. In honour of Book Lovers' Day, Bryher tells us about her book-based business and the inspiration that made her start a brand new business up at the age of 60. 

I know that at the age of 60 most people think their careers are over. I spent 25 happy years at the BBC working on all kinds of factual programmes. I was Editor of 'That’s Life!' and later Editor-in-Chief of BBC Online during the very early days of website development.

So why, at this late stage of my life have I started a business for the first time? I have put my bank account, my home, life-savings and my future on the line? Is it because there is insanity in my family, and I’ve inherited it?  Not as far as I know. It’s all down to my mother’s untimely death.

When my mother died 20 years ago I was devastated.  We were extremely close, she was my best friend, my wise and trusted advisor and more than that, she was great fun to be with. With her sudden death our wonderful relationship died, and so did her memories.  They say that when a person dies a library burns and I think that is so true. There were so many questions I wanted to ask about her life but it was too late.

As her executor I had to rummage through her life to find the documents needed to sort out probate.  I came across drawers full of photographs of people who must have meant something to her but who were now anonymous.  I had no idea who they were and never would. There was no-one to ask.

She had told me very little about her childhood – I knew it had been tough and that she clashed with her mother.  Then I found a story written by her.  It was on yellowing paper and typed on a very old-fashioned typewriter.  It told of jumble sales held at the Methodist Hall where her father was the caretaker.  She described how she would sneak into the hall before it opened and try on hats with magnificent feathers, or teeter on high heels, only to tear them off and put them back when the doors opened and the sale began.  I loved reading it.

I realised that while the rich and famous have their lives recorded, this wasn’t possible for everyone.  Of course, there are ghostwriters to help people tell their story but they tend to cost thousands of pounds. A blank piece of paper or screen is very daunting. Just knowing where to start can be difficult.

I wanted it to be easy, and affordable, for anyone to write their life story and have a beautiful hardback book at the end of the process.  It took 12 years of devising and writing and spending our life savings and putting our house on the line – my husband of 44 years, Paul, has been magnificent in supporting me.

Bryher 1

So, hundreds of thousands of words later and all my savings, I launched www.autodotbiography.com , a unique online system that makes it easy for anyone, no matter how good or bad at writing, to create a beautifully written, lavishly illustrated hardback book of their life story for their family.  All the author has to do is answer simple questions - selecting from pre-written answers, if they are not a confident writer, or writing in their own words if they are.  To illustrate their stories they can upload photographs and documents, and then our automated system turns their words and pictures into a beautiful book.  Basically, it is a virtual ghost writer and a virtual book designer.

By profession I have been a television producer, so it might have been expected that I would produce videos of people’s stories and there are companies that do that. My reason for producing a book is that it is intended to be a family heirloom and that means it has to last hundreds of years.  An autodotbiography is a hardback book with very high-quality paper, designed to last.  As a programme maker and an internet entrepreneur I have watched many video and photographic formats come and go and who knows how we will be accessing our data in 100 years. More likely than not it will be impossible to get at these precious memories because the operating system or app no longer operates. But an autodotbiography will still be sitting on a bookshelf for future generations to enjoy.

Bryher 3

There are so many things to say about running my own business. It has been terrifying, amazing, frustrating and a tremendous adventure. I have learned to do so many things in the course of running the business. For instance, I never dreamed I would become a cruise ship speaker!  But lecturing and running workshops on cruise ships is a terrific way to market autodotbiography, as well as seeing the world with some delightful people who have wonderful life stories to share with their families.

I am thrilled to report that at the ripe old age of 62 I won an award from PRIME (Prince of Wales Initiative for Mature Enterprise) Best New Digital Business.  And I have wonderful comments from the authors who have completed their books and their fascinated families that makes it all worthwhile. In a world when physical books are becoming outnumbered by digital formats, it is wonderful to see the importance people still place on creating beautiful books and I love that I have been able to build a business out of this. 

To find out more about Authodotbiography, visit https://www.autodotbiography.com/.

23 September 2019

A week in the life of... Keri Jamieson, founder of KeriKit

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Keri Jamieson is the founder of KeriKit, a women's accessories brand that develop bags which cater for all sides of the modern woman and alumni of the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme. The designs organise belongings, so for example, for mums there are insulated bottle holders, and D-rings to loop your bag onto your pram, but when you need to switch to work mode, you can easily add your diary, business cards and laptop. The designs are supported by the brand 'Kit' including all the essentials that you need for your day, such as travel wallets, purses, business card holders, PRAM clips, cashmere wraps, muslins and more. Here, Keri tells us what she gets up to in a typically busy week managing and developing her KeriKit brand...

Monday - Day at the Home Office

I get up about 7.40 and then wake up the kids for school which involves breakfast, uniforms, hair brushing, teeth brushing -the usual!- and a quick turnaround to get my three children over to our local primary school. Jasper is seven and my twins have just turned five. I then head back home to my home office via the KeriKit warehouse and collect any orders for the day, or if I’m lucky I can go to yoga for an hour before my workday starts. I’m all about work-life balance since I had a recent hip replacement which unfortunately didn’t go as planned, so I need to do exercise most days to keep myself moving! Balancing all this with the kids is crucial - I’m very grateful not to miss the important things in their lives whilst I balance my work and their schedule.

After yoga or the school drop-off, I check my emails and write a list of the things that need to be done - usually this involves creating a newsletter in MailChimp,  updating or adding product descriptions, doing a video or flat-lay photoshoot, discussing PR opportunities with my PR company and looking at which influencers we would like to target, and then looking if they have posted the pic yet! I also have daily conversations with my marketing director regarding new ways to get KeriKit out into the wider world. I make sure I have answered all the questions and queries on social media too.

I now put time aside each week to schedule my social media with Buffer - before Buffer, I used to find myself working until eight or nine at night whilst I was supposed to be relaxing, but relatively small changes like this allow me to organise my time more efficiently, and have made a huge difference overall. Knowing that posts will go out automatically and to all platforms when I need, is great, especially as I have less energy at night to craft posts after a long day, and with the kids around. I find the morning best for working as the kids are at school, so I can really focus.

Keri Jamieson, founder of KeriKit

With the boring office things out of the way, I then get the enjoyment of creating new designs and looking at trends and colours that are coming through to see how they will fit Kerikit's USP of making life easier and more stylish, for busy women on the go.

I tend to work through lunch so I juice quite regularly, which means my lunch is ready to go and I don’t need to stop for long. Usually I take the kids to after-school activities at 15.30 and then if I’m lucky my day ends at 17.30, so I can prepare dinner for the children and sit down for a family meal with them. After bath time is done, I tend to pop back upstairs and process any orders for the next day so they are left out ready to be packed and processed by my darling mother, who helps me everyday with order fulfilment and accounts - she is 71, bless her!

Bed by 23.00!

Tuesday - Photoshoot in Manchester

It's an early start today, waking up at 6.00. Today is all about creating new photo content as I drive from Chester to Manchester to meet our Manchester-based fashion photographer, Rosie. We recce (scope out) the locations we have pre-planned to check they are as we need them to be with lighting etc, and then get the outfits ready with the bags that we are shooting with. Today I am modelling again (although I much prefer using professionals, and staying behind the scenes!) as we need a few more shots of me with the new bag styles we are launching. 

I am always trying to create beautiful things that make women's life easier and I hope to expand my range in the future to include luggage accessories and other Kit items that support you through your day. The business has just gone through a full rebrand and we are focusing our efforts on an edited collection of perfect items that work seamlessly together, with limited seasonal drops. The rebrand involved a new website, new logo, new fonts, new colours, new imagery - pretty much everything - but retaining the KeriKit feel, which I'm really proud of.

At 12.30 we break for lunch, and Rosie and my good friend and stylist Helen are pretty exhausted as I can be quite a task master when there is a to-do list to work through! Despite my dodgy hip, my energy is high, and we finish the rest of the shot list with a lot of laughter and smiles. 

I'm home by 20.00, to have dinner with the hubby and kiss the kids goodnight, before falling into bed at 22.00!

Wednesday - Meeting in Warrington

This morning I am heading to a meeting with my marketing director and our web developers to review the latest site updates and discuss future plans. I arrive for the meeting at 10.00 and we are hammering out the details right across lunch, having some tasty sandwiches and salads as we go. I leave the meeting at 15.00, and head home to carry on working from there. I respond to urgent emails and note that my to-do list is pretty light for the rest of the day. 

If I ever get to the bottom of my to-do list (which I admit is rare!) I try to look at more strategic things within my business such as targets for next year, ways to be more streamlined, any new systems or applications that will enable me to get the job done more quickly, or improve my website. As I mentioned previously, Buffer is one of the new additions which saves time by allowing me to create all my social media in one go, and I also use Trello which is great for creating lists and making sure I get the job done. Otherwise I use freelancers from various online platforms to help with graphics and PPC. As the business grows, we are looking at other markets and although we have some great success in America, I hope to branch out into Europe and the Far East next. But we do intend to prioritise our own online business now as the margins are far better, and customers are perfectly used to buying online nowadays. We’ve taken the decision not to sell wholesale to retail stores as we have struggled to make the finances work - we would rather pass any savings on to the customer.

I finish the day at 17.30 and make the kids dinner before taking a long luxurious bath, and getting dinner ready for hubby and me. I hit the hay at around 23.30. 

KeriKit products

Thursday - Film Crew Arrive

Today we have a film crew visiting to capture a 'day in the life' at KeriKit for a UK media company, and get the lowdown on all things KeriKit. It's a busy start to the morning getting the house ready around the kids breakfasts and school prep, but by 8.30 the house is quiet and almost ready for it's close-up. I spend time strategically placing KeriKit items around the house so that whatever shots are taken, we can be sure some product always sneaks into view! The crew arrive at 9.00 and once we have found the perfect place to capture me and our hero KeriKit styles, we get straight into filming. It's so lovely that the women in the crew start cooing over each product as I show them some of our bestsellers, and gorgeous new arrivals. Its so nice when I receive genuine feedback, and it always amazes me how surprised industry-types are by the exceptional quality and craftsmanship - exceeding expectations has become pretty commonplace for KeriKit, and fortunately a few sales are made before the video is even released! 

We finish up the filming at 16.30 and I take some time to curl up with a good book on the sofa, before the kids get back from their after-school activities. I relish the time to unwind and 'come down' from my filming high, and feel much more relaxed as I get dinner on and tell the kids about my day, and hear about theirs. After dinner I catch-up with Instagram comments and requests, and get to bed at about 22.30. 

Friday - Day at the home office

After a very busy week, it's nice to get back in the office and deal with more admin-y type stuff, and tie up some loose ends that have been niggling at me all week. I really like to feel organised and in control, but when you're juggling a growing business and family life, it's not easy to maintain. I have found that if I let it get to me each day, I would probably go mad! So when I can take the time to get myself back on track and clear out anything that can be dealt with, I really love to do that. (Must be the Virgo in me!). I finish the day with what is fast-becoming a must-do on a Friday night for our community of Kitgirls - Facebook Live Friday. This involves me speaking to camera and sharing our latest samples or new stock with our Kitgirls, to get their advice on how they would use the items, and preferences on which colours and styles we should buy for the coming seasons. I love having the ability to read their comments on the feed in realtime, and respond on camera. As a small business with limited buying budgets for all the amazing things we'd like to, unfortunately we must always compromise, but having our Kitgirls support to make those decisions definitely helps me sleep better at night! We cant keep everyone happy all of the time, but our amazing community really understand our constraints and try to advise me within those, which is phenomenal. I finish the recording with a nice glass of wine and some easy-watching TV with my lovely husband. 

The weekend is family-focused (with only a few little emails being sent!) and I feel really blessed to have so much love and support in my life, always helping me to be ready to do it all again next week! 

If you are interested in seeing a day in the life of KeriKit, head to our YouTube channel (@KerikitEngland) where you can get more insight into my routine and the business I run around my family.

06 September 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Maximising your intellectual property

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Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun discusses what he learnt in his one-on-one session on intellectual property and how it’s important to every business...

Again this session was really packed and I had a lot of questions for our advisor from Briffa who are Intellectual Property legal specialists. We covered the following main areas:

Copyright – Since the founding of the company we have used a lot of designers for our website. Many get caught by this, but the default position for designs is that copyright remains with the designer unless signed over. We discussed having everything in place contractually for our external contributors to sign over rights as necessary.

Trademarks – We discussed our current situation with regards to current trademarks and opportunities going forward both in the UK and US now that our website is well established. This is really important when you have spent a lot of time and money in creating a brand. You need to protect that goodwill and mind-space effectively.

Logo

Commercial Contracts – We reviewed our external contracts with third parties e.g. developers to ensure that our IP is fully protected and cannot be exploited by others.

Data Protection – I’m sure we have all been grappling with GDPR ad nauseam and Data Privacy! Once again we reviewed and ensured that we had proper policies in place that are tailored for your specific company, and reflected this in our terms and conditions and on our website. For us, as a company who depends on online payments, this also feeds into PSD2 and SCA changes which are coming in September (you can read more about the changes here: https://www.visa.co.uk/dam/VCOM/regional/ve/unitedkingdom/PDF/visa-preparing-for-psd2-sca-publication-version-1-1-05-12-18-002-final.pdf).

HR – We agreed to review and incorporate IP and Data Protection in our employee contracts. This is something that did not occur to me previously so was good to catch this one.

As you can see there was a ton covered here and a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross that can affect your daily working practices. I think we have been ok with these areas previously, but as any company expands rapidly it is easy to lose sight of these basic legal protections and responsibilities to the point that it could easily prove to be a banana skin down the road. It’s the type of thing that many companies just kick down the road or ignore until it’s too late as we all would prefer to concentrate on the fundamental nuts and bolts of our companies. However it is really important to make sure this is all organised competently and safely, and this session really brought that home.

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.

04 September 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Financial Management

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Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about product innovation, marketing strategy, branding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun discusses what he learnt in his one-on-one session on financial management, a new module on the programme...

This week I had my financial management session with an adviser from MetaValue, a well-established business consulting firm. The adviser was very helpful and ever so patient as I peppered her with questions to the point that we overran our allotted session time. We covered a lot, including areas such as price sensitivity analysis and company structure. But the three main takeaways I had from our session were:

New Opportunity Margins

As I’m sure you can understand, I can’t go into detail about this element of our discussion, but there is a good opportunity for an ambitious expansion for JRPass into a new area. In my one-on-one we looked at modelling the potential income, factoring in our suppositions and working out potential profit. This was useful in guiding us on how we test and tweak the model to help us achieve profitability. We have previously done some price sensitivity testing with services such as our meet and greet service.

Financial Plan

I actually laughed when this was mentioned as we have grown organically and haven’t spent a lot of time on developing an actual plan for growth, however given that the business is now entering a new area we agreed that we should put together a strategy around the investment and costs required e.g. covering new hires and forecasts for pricing and volumes. I was provided with some example spreadsheets with pre-built formulae to do this as well as for the financial modelling that I previously mentioned. You can see one of these below. 

Financial management

Exit Strategy

Our priority has always been to grow and scale-up the business, but it is also useful to hear about our options if we ever wish to exit. For founders of businesses, it is understandable that over a period of time, their ambitions can change, based on life events, market events, offers from other companies etc., so we need our governance to support this. We talked through a few scenarios and the advisor mentioned we should consider an independent valuation just for our internal use going forward. VC or Private Equity investment was mentioned and I agreed this wouldn’t be right for JRPass as we enjoy working under our own direction, but potentially a trade sale could work. It is worth considering early on who potential minority shareholders/investors or future acquirers could be and, based on that, effectively growing the business so that it is attractive to them.

From this one-on-one, some conversations were a broad stroke and some in detail, but as with all of my sessions so far, I am finding it very useful to keep this all in mind as we scale-up.

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.