THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

157 posts categorized "Entrepreneurs"

10 December 2018

Contemporary twists on traditional festive gifts

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas so we decided to catch up with some of our Innovating for Growth alumni whose businesses become even busier over the festive period to get their take on seasonal trends, consumer behaviour and to see what they are offering this year... 

Mellissa Morgan, co-founder and Company Director of Ms. Cupcake in Brixton, has found that traditional flavours remain popular, but are wanted in contemporary and innovate ways, "Big successes this year have been our Stollen Muffin, which is a light and fluffy take on the traditional German treat. Our Mince Pie Squares have been a big hit with our B2B clients, flying off the shelves of their establishments”. 

Ms. Cupcake Grinch Cupcake
It’s also a great time of year to be playful, as Mellissa has seen with their ‘Grinch’ Chocolate Mint cupcakes. 

That’s not the only change in consumer habits Mellissa has noticed. Consumers’ lifestyle choices have also impacted on Ms. Cupcake, “Veganism has been on the rise over the last two years and retailers both big and small are taking note! When we opened the UK’s first vegan bakery back in 2011, we were a novelty. Now that vegan foods have become a firm fixture on the high street, we are in great company!. 

From food to feet... ChattyFeet, co-founded by Gil Kahana, is a brand of quirky, pun-filled, character socks, Gil says, “Here at ChattyFeet, we're very excited about Christmas. We love the Christmas lights, mulled wine and spending time with people we care about. The festive season can get pretty intense so we're also looking forward to chill out in January”. 

Their sock characters, however are causing mischief... Yayoi Toesame insists that ChattyFeet’s Christmas tree will have only circular shapes! Can you imagine? Is it a bit dotty or perhaps she's right? 

ChattyFeet1

Ernestoe Hemingway is doing OK apart from his constant demands. He wants ChattyFeet to let people know that he doesn't want any more books for Christmas (on social media)... Apparently he has enough books to read until 2020! 

ChattyFeet2

And lastly, a bit of an embarrassing one... If you bought Mr. Grrrril socks between 2017-2018, ChattyFeet need to warn you about a possible issue... Some customers sent us evidence of Mr. Grrrril opening up the presents early. 

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It sounds like ChattyFeet have a demanding bunch on their hands feet, but they aren't the only ones with a sense of humour. Rosie Tate, designer of cards and gifts at family-run business, Cath Tate Cards has a range of traditional and humorous Christmas cards. With the rise of digital communications, we asked Rosie if the trend of sending Christmas cards was in decline, “The rise and rise of the internet, email, text and social media might make you think traditional paper greeting card sending was dead, however this is not the case. In 2017 100 million single Christmas greeting cards were bought and in addition, an estimated 900m Christmas cards were sold in boxes and packs”. 

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Rosie add, “Every person in the UK sends on average 33 greeting cards a year. A text or an email is just not going to cut the mustard for Aunty Brenda at Christmas! A paper card is an obviously more thoughtful gesture. 

Which gets us thinking, we should probably make a start on writing ours... 

If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of these entrepreneurs and believe your business has what it takes, is based in London and has a turnover of £100,000 or more, why not apply for Innovating for Growth: Scale-up and take your business to the next level? Register your interest for our next intake today.

23 November 2018

IP Corner: Registered designs and knitting

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When people think of intellectual property what most often springs to mind is patents, closely followed by trade marks. There are other forms of IP though and I came upon a good example of one when looking at gadgets to do with my favourite pastime – knitting.

This is the Wool Jeanie a nifty little device that holds the ball of wool/yarn whilst you are knitting releasing the wool evenly as you knit. The yarn holder is suspended from the frame using magnets and when not in use it can be disengaged from the frame and rested on the platform below.

Knitting

The Wool Jeanie is a UK registered design registered with the IPO UK and given design registration number RD6011452. The full design record can be viewed via the DesignView database upon entering the registered design number in the search box.

If you are not sure how to use the database, or if you are just interested, you can download our free IP guide A brief introduction to registered designs and registered design searching.

Registered designs protect the outward look of a product particularly the lines, contours, shape or texture, but they can also protect the material or ornamentation of the product. You cannot protect the way the design works, only the way it looks. To protect its functionality you would need to apply for a patent. For a design to be protectable it must be new and it must be unique.

A UK registered design gives the rights holder the exclusive right in the United Kingdom to make, use, sell, import and export any product embodying the design, if it is a shape, or bearing the design if it is ornamentation.

Registered designs can apply to a wide variety of products from packaging to furnishings, from clothing to jewellery and from household goods to textiles. However, registered designs do not last forever. Registered designs last a maximum of 25 years and are renewable every five years to the 25 year maximum. At the end of the 25 years, or if the renewal fees aren’t paid, the registered design falls into the public domain and is there for anyone to use.

So why should a business protect its designs?

By registering your designs you:

  • contribute to obtaining a return on investments made by you or your company into creating and marketing your products.
  • obtain exclusive right to the registered design allowing you to prevent or, if necessary, stop others from exploiting or copying your design without your written permission.
  • have the opportunity to sell or license the rights to the design to another enterprise for a fee.
  • strengthen your brand.

It is worth remembering that a vast majority of businesses today are web-based and the IP registrations the company holds, or the licenses it has to use others' IP, are assets of the business which can help increase the market value of a company and its products.

Within the UK unregistered ‘Design right’ also exists and automatically protects a design for a maximum of 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the design was first sold or for 15 years after it was created whichever is the earlier. However, design right only applies to the shape and configuration of an object.

When deciding whether or not to register your designs it is worth speaking with an intellectual property attorney. Most will offer free 30 minute one-to-one advice sessions and you can find one in your local area via their website.

So what about my Wool Jeanie? Well, it has proved to be one of the best gadgets I have bought it my many years of knitting and crocheting and I am busy spreading the word about it to all my handicraft friends and acquaintances.

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert at the Business & IP Centre London

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.

To see all upcoming workshops, webinars and events, visit our website.

13 November 2018

Q&A with the Queen of Shops, Mary Portas

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We couldn’t resist asking the Queen of Shops herself, Mary Portas, a few pressing questions before she takes to the stage at Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Work Like A Woman with Mary Portas.

Some of our Innovating for Growth graduates and Ambassador, Julie Deane OBE, picked Mary’s brain on surviving in business during a challenging economic climate, the rise of digital and more. Here's what they asked...

Alice Asquith, founder and creative director of Asquith: 

With the closure of some key High Street stores, what advice would you give to someone starting out in this rather challenging retail climate?

It depends on where you want to place yourself. The future of great High Street retail will be around experience, knowledge and incredible service. If you can put that at the heart of your business and you believe your offer is unique and relevant to that market and you’re not being screwed over on rent, you have a chance. There’s so much more I’d ask you but these are the first things you should be asking yourself. Why would somebody make the effort to come to my shop? if you can cover the above you have a chance.

Where would you recommend for women to network if they’d like to meet other like-minded retail business owners?

There are hundreds if not thousands of great networking groups across many sectors. They all offer different things so it’s totally dependent on what you’re looking for right now. If you can’t find one that’s giving you what you need, start your own.

What would you say are the key ingredients and factors to successful collaborations with likeminded partners?

Understand the word collaboration. A symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit and support each other. Collaboration is about being better together than apart. Often collaborations are done with one thinking about their benefit alone. You need to consider your collaborator’s reputation and how they’ll benefit too.

Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company:

Should businesses concentrate on establishing themselves in their home market before casting their eyes overseas?

Absolutely. And especially when you’re selling something that’s connected culturally to your market. I’ve seen too many business who’ve gone international and the power of their brand back home has eroded.

Rowena Howie, founder of Revival Retro:

Up and down the country there are small specialist shops providing a remarkable in store experience whilst trying to respond to a digital economy. What advice does the Queen of Shops have for bricks and clicks micro-businesses trying to pay a living wage, offer flexible working and create opportunities for amazing people, whilst still paying rampant rents, unfair rates and facing competition on a global level? Where do you consider the focus should be for small retailers looking to grow and create opportunity?

Focus on community, customer experience and identity. If you nail those three you stand a chance.

 

If you missed Mary's talk, you can catch up on our YouTube channel.

12 November 2018

Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week at the Business & IP Centre

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This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is a great opportunity to highlight women, youth and inclusion in entrepreneurship. We are proud that 56% of users to the Business & IP Centres in London and around the country are women and 38% of users are BAME, providing an accessible and inclusive environment for people at all stages of their business life.

Despite living in an information-rich world, sometimes it’s difficult to find what you are looking for, know the quality of the resources or where to go. Awareness weeks such as Global Entrepreneurship Week, allows us to join in these conversations and highlight the importance of our National Network of Business & IP Centres and all that we offer.

Throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week, in addition to our regular line up of workshops and webinars, we also have on offer sessions bringing together hundreds of attendees and many experienced and knowledgeable partners. Workshops include Books mean Business, Diverse Wisdom, Fashion business planning & strategy, Networking for success and more, as well as a special day-long free event, Work Like A Women Day, on Thursday 15 November, before the ultimate celebration of unstoppable feminine force; Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Work Like a Woman with Mary Portas, who will be launching her new book, exploring new ways of working.

We asked the presenters of Work Like A Woman Day, what it means to them to ‘work like a woman’ and here’s what they said…

Amy Tez, a professional actress who helps entrepreneurs and business leaders communicate with power, conviction and clarity
The Listening Leader

“I’m a woman but I see myself as more than that. I’m a human being like any other, doing the best I can. Coming from a challenging background, I bring my fighting spirit to my business and to helping others grow. My only focus is to help us all listen more, trust ourselves more and reconnect to our shared humanity.”

Kim Davies, marketing expert and journalist
The Heroines of Hollywood

“As a New Yorker living in London, I was told I had to completely change the way I did business. ‘Be less aggressive. Speak in a quieter tone. Talk about the weather before you get to business.’ It was exhausting. Over the years, I’ve given myself permission to be both. I took the best traits from both worlds and balanced it with my true self, so that I could grow as a person, but still remain genuine. That’s what Working Like A Woman has meant to me.”

Emine Rushton, Wellbeing Director at Psychologies, founder of The Balance Plan and conscious consultancy Leaf Create
The Purposeful Career

“For me it is about working in a way that is wholly aligned with my values, that puts my own needs and those of my family first, that supports social equality and positive change, and champions messages of kindness, ethics and truth. Utmost of all, never ever feeling pressurised to be anything other than who I am – and never trying to squeeze myself, or my business models, into a pre-defined box.”

We’d love to hear what you think it means to ‘work like a woman’, tweet us with the #BLMaryPortas and we’ll share our favourites!

Our events don’t just end when Global Entrepreneurship Week does… November highlights include Profit with Purpose (Tuesday 20 November), giving lessons and advice on what it takes to launch a socially impactful product and Passion into Pounds with Purpose (Thursday 29 November), which looks at the leap from employee to working for yourself.

We have also rounded up some of the events taking place around the National Network:

Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire

How to write winning words for your business website, Thursday 15 November, 10.00 – 12.00. Delivered by Stephen Church of Copywriter Pro and covers the key elements that will make a website do its job.

Business & IP Centre Liverpool

  • Product development clinic with Def Proc Engineering, Tuesday 13 November, 17.30 – 19.45
  • Be Your Own Boss advice drop-in with St Helens Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday 14 November, 14.00 – 16.15
  • Entrepreneur In Residence, Cllr Gary Millar’s business advice drop-in, Thursday 15 November, 13.00 – 16.00
  • Research your market! workshop, Thursday 15 November, 18.00 – 19.30
  • Smarta Business Starter advice drop-in with Alt Valley community Trust, Friday 16 November, 10.00 – 14.00

Business & IP Centre Hull

  • Using the UN Global Goals to unleash social business ideas, Tuesday 13 November, 10.00 – 15.00. Delivered by Chapter 3 Enterprise C.I.C.
  • Intellectual Property Clinic, one to one appointments, Wednesday 14 November, 14.00 – 17.00
  • Social Media for Business Clinic, one to one appointments, Thursday 15 November, 13.00 – 17.00

Business & IP Centre Sheffield

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01 November 2018

Working in business as a couple: Bad idea or bliss?

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We met Franck when he took part in the Innovating for Growth: Scale-up programme in 2012, with his partner Brijesh. Since then, their London-based photo and video studio, Kalory, has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2011 and in 2017, they launched a second venture, Heating & Plumbing, lifestyle accessories with a tongue in cheek attitude. We caught up with Franck to get his take on working together as a couple and how it affects their home and business lives...

Working and living together definitely has its advantages, but it also brings a lot of new challenges on both aspects of life: personal and professional. Our personal relationship was already very established, as we had met over 10 years before whilst working in New York. We both had corporate jobs for years but were always tempted by the freedom that entrepreneurship gives. Brij was the first one to take the plunge and he went freelance in 2005. Not to have a boss and the politics of a corporate life makes you start the month with an invaluable amount of happiness. We never really questioned the idea of starting a business, nor working together, it came really naturally. We didn’t even have a discussion about it. It just built up progressively before we took the jump. On both sides our parents have worked together for over 40 years, so we never really questioned ourselves on how feasible this was. Sometimes you just end up replicating, in part at least, your family model.

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Brijesh and Franck © Kalory Photo & Video

The fact that we never clearly discussed it or put any types of guidelines in place, doesn't make it always easy. Business life obviously takes over our personal life and manages to penetrate every aspects of it. You don't even notice it sometimes; you could be having the perfect G&T moment in the middle of Devon on a beautiful sunny bank holiday weekend and the conversation slips to the business. The right balance is to accept the fact that your personal and professional lives have merged, but to make sure it doesn’t become only about the business. It becomes a way of living and doing things. One of the big pluses, is that you also never have that Sunday night feeling anymore, thinking of going to the office on Monday is no
longer spoiling your Sunday evening. It is kind of a continuity.

One of the challenges we meet, is having holidays at the same time. Our businesses are small and when we leave it is the whole management that’s off and that has an obvious impact on the business. The plus side is that we have the same rhythm. If we both were working in a different field, it might be a struggle as our peak period would be most likely at different periods
in the year.

One of the keys to success of working together is having different skills. For us, the separation of task and decision making has been very natural. One of us is the technical and creative side of the business, whilst the other one handles the business and make sure projects stay in line with the brands' guidelines and the clients’ briefs.

We also have very different characters which helps, but this is also our main source of conflicts. Our level of optimism is very different for example. That can be a real boost for the most pessimistic one. But, seen from another angle, pessimism and the doubts and stress it can bring, can also very annoying for someone who is naturally relaxed and positive.

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© Kalory Photo & Video

Money is also something that you need to be comfortable with and being partners in life and business is probably not advised for young couples. The fact is that you have to be fully comfortable with the idea that: what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine. A working relationship like a personal one has to evolve too. People change, and the business does too.

Working together has been easier or more difficult depending on the stage of development of the business. When we set up the business, the overheads were very low as we were working from home. We had really good clients right away through our personal connections. We had no commute and a level of work was very manageable. We always had time for a nice home-cooked lunch, would go and swim at 3pm at our local gym, and make money in a very relaxed way. Growing the business meant committing to a monthly rent (and commute), as well as employees’ salaries, being on time at the office (at least for one of us!). This means having enough business every month to cover the cost to break-even, and of course to make a living. This definitely increases the level of stress. We get often told: 'I don’t know how you do it, I would never be able to work with my partner', the answer is probably that if it feels natural, it is meant to be. If you are starting to ask yourselves questions and you are finding a list of reasons why it wouldn’t work, this is probably not a good idea for your relationship.

You also have to be very entrepreneurial at heart. The business is going to become an entire part of your life, so you have to enjoy it. We always have different projects. We started our second business only very recently, but already have an idea for the next one. This has time to change, as the main goal for now is to grow the existing ones, but it is fun to be always thinking of the next venture.

Franck Jehanne, director & co-founder of Kalory Photo & Video, Corporate Portrait and Heating & Plumbing

If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Franck and believe your business has what it takes, is based in London and has a turnover of £100,000 or more, why not apply for Innovating for Growth: Scale-up and take your business to the next level?

19 October 2018

IP Corner: Happy 20th Anniversary Espacenet

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When I first began working at the British Library patent searching was very much a manual process which involved using a Catchword Index to find your patent classification, then looking that classification up in the accompanying Classification index to get the relevant subclass and finally, looking the classification and sub-classification up on microfiche to find any relevant patents. It was a fairly labour intensive and time consuming process, but it worked.

Then in 1998 the European Patent Office launched their free search database called Espacenet. Espacenet revolutionised patent searching for the ordinary ‘man on the street’. If they had access to a computer, either at home or more often through their local library, they were able to carry out patent searching using keywords or names or numbers or dates or all of them together.

Espacenet was however kind of a two edged sword, since without any experience of patent searching it was (and still is) possible to convince oneself that your invention was new and innovative because you did not find it when in fact you were simply using incorrect keywords.

The Business & IP Centre's Introduction to patent searching workshop takes delegates through the Espacenet database explaining the searching process and providing hints and tips on how to get the best from the database. Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of inventors I have helped learn how to use Espacenet effectively, preventing some from wasting time and money pursuing an idea that already exists and helping others start on the road to protecting and producing their new product.

If you can’t make one of our workshops you can download one of our IP guides, which are free to access.

In the last twenty years Espacenet has grown from a basic search database to a database that can be used to search worldwide through 100 million documents, both published patent application and granted patents, from over 90 patent granting authorities. Searchers can now check legal status of patents, find out if patents are still in force using the European Patent Register and gain immediate access to the application files or ‘file wrappers’ from the world's largest patent offices using the Global Dossier. Full copies of patent specifications can be downloaded onto a hard-drive, or printed out if preferred, for later consultation by the searcher.

Espacenet is one of my favourite search databases mainly because it costs nothing to use but also because it empowers new inventors by helping them gain an understanding of patents, patent classifications and patent searching so that they can have informed conversations and make better decisions regarding their proposed inventions.

Happy 20th Anniversary Espacenet. Here’s to many more!

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert at the Business & IP Centre London

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.

To see all upcoming workshops, webinars and events, visit our website.

10 October 2018

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Black Britain and the Creative Industries book recommendations

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As part of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs series, we hosted a panel of leading lights in the creative industries with stories of what can be achieved with the right attitude and determination to celebrate the success and cultural impact of Black British entrepreneurs in the creative sector. The panel included MOBO CEO and founder Kanya King CBE, Femi Oguns MBE, actor and founder of Identity School of Acting and Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, co-authors of Slay in your Lane.

As part of the Q&A the panel were asked which books had inspired them. You asked us to compile them; and your wish is our command: 

Elizabeth:
#Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
“Without Lean In, we wouldn’t be here… that book was such an inspiration”

Yomi:
Black Feminist Thought, by Patricia Hill Collins
“A book which helped me grow a lot and I’d recommend anyone, from any background read. If it wasn’t for me having read that book, I wouldn’t have understood my position in this society as a black woman”

Rasheed:
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman
“A magical book about life, trust, flow and mastery in being yourself”

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber

Business as Unusual - the Journey of Anita Roddick and the Body Shop, Anita Roddick

Femi:
Book of Ecclesiastes

Kanya King:
What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, by Phil Knight

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki
“I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do to generate an income… my mother told me whenever I wanted to do something, she’d say ‘no’ as she was very risk adverse. But you do need to take calculated risks… how you think about money, good debt and bad debt.

 

Of course, we can't miss out Slay in your Lane, written by Elizabeth and Yomi (currently available to purchase in our bookshop) and, as revealed at our event, one to look out for in the future, Kanya King's first book, we can't wait!

Slay in your Lane

To watch the speakers from the evening, visit our YouTube channel and to see other upcoming events, visit our website.

28 September 2018

Top tips from Start-up Day 2018

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Activities in 17 libraries around the UK. 101 business events delivered. More than 1,000 attendees across all locations. Webcast around the world. Start-up Day, in collaboration with Santander, once again proved to be a huge success. 

With a full day’s worth of events, there’s a lot of information and words of wisdom to take in from each speaker. Need a recap of what was said? Missed a crucial top tip? Want to relive it again? Or if you missed it, we’ve compiled all the videos of the speakers in this post, along with a key take away tip from each...



Top tip from Mintel senior consumer lifestyles analyst, Jack Duckett: Consumer confidence is on a growth trajectory, meaning there are opportunities for brands to grow.



Top tip from Google Digital Garage's Chami Coomasaru: Set yourself goals, think how you want your brand to be perceived and choose the platforms which are appropriate for your business.

Top tip from author and motivational speaker, Anis Qizilbash: Steep in your purpose... your success does not mean another person's loss. The more you make, the bigger impact you create.



Top tip from public speaking coach, Elaine Powell: [Your pitch] is never going to be perfect. Always ask for feedback and take your performance to the next level, and the next level, and the next level. Never give up, it's a journey, not an end destination.

Top tip from author, motivational speaker and business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru: [Networking] online is the window to your world, meeting people in person is the door.



Top tip from former CEO of Tangle Teezer, Matt Lumb: Don’t try and do the 80 hours a week thing. You will burn out. Try and get that balance as you scale.



Top tips from:

Precious Jason, founder of Etieno Skincare: Being in business you have superhero days and you have days which are not so great… Be kind to yourself. 

Rebecca Slater, founder of Shine Creative Solutions: Believe in the idea you’ve got and to try and plan out the three most important things you need to get right.

Amy Fleuriot co-founder of Hiro + Wolf and Artisans and Adventurers: Don’t expect it to happen overnight. If you’re having to work alongside it, that’s ok… Just keep at it.

 

Start-up Day 2018 was in collaboration with Santander. To see our events throughout the year, click here.

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19 September 2018

Start-up Day: Meet the Speakers

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With Start-up Day fast approaching, here's an introduction to a few of the speakers who will be giving their expert advice on the day.

How to understand the UK market right now
Jack Duckett
@mintelnews

Jduckett@mintel Headshot (B&W)

I am the senior consumer lifestyles analyst at the market intelligence agency Mintel, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my presentation with you.

My presentation has two goals; the first is to help you to get a better sense of the breadth of Mintel research that you have access to at the British Library and the network of libraries around the country. The second is really to give you a sense of the important role that we believe market research plays for businesses today.

For start-up business owners, it can be taken as a given that you know your product and customers extremely well. But, when it comes to your Dragons’ Den moment, whether that be with your bank manager, an investor or a retail buyer, market research can provide the information you need to support your brand and help it to stand on its own. The second core benefit to market research is in helping you to know where to go next with your business, enabling you to see what is changing in your category and helping you to be prepared for the future.

How To Build an Authentic Business Network
Rasheed Ogunlaru
@RasheedOgunlaru

Rasheed Image 1

“Networking, love it or hate it, building a genuine network, is vital in starting and growing business.” says Rasheed. “This session will help session will help you network strategically, effectively, authentically and nerve free.”

Rasheed’s top three quotes and tips on networking and building an authentic business:

  1. Always have something shrewd to say and valuable to bring to the table
  2. Your online, website and social media presence are the window to your world - meeting people in person is the door
  3. What people feel and say about you when you leave the room is your job while you’re in the room.


How to be an entrepreneur
Matt Lumb
@mattlumb1

ML headshot

During Matt’s seven years at Tangle Teezer he transformed the brand from being a “Dragon’s Den reject” to one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and a household name. Matt talks openly about the challenges he and his team faced whilst trying to manage exponential growth overseas growth, UK manufacturing capacity, the importance of IP as well as copycat and counterfeit issues and the grey market. The Tangle Teezer story is a fascinating one as he took it from a start-up to having a valuation of £200M inside five years.


Start-up Stars: How I turned my business idea into a reality

Amy Fleuriot
@hiroandwolf
@artisansandadventurers

Amy Fleuriot

Starting your own business can be an equally exciting and daunting time. I founded Hiro + Wolf five years ago with my wonderful business partner, Bee Friedmann and we have learnt so much on our journey. What started as an accessories brand for people and their pets has grown into two distinct businesses as we launched Artisans & Adventurers two years ago with the help of the British Library. My expertise include design, branding, marketing, ethical sourcing and everything that goes into the day to day running of two shops, an online store and wholesale business. I am looking forward to hearing what challenges new businesses are facing and hope I can offer some advice on the start-up stage.

For more information on Start-up Day, to see which libraries are involved around the country and to sign up to the webcast, visit our website.

07 August 2018

If the Shoe Fits… Finding your Business Niche

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Finding your niche in any market can be tough; who is your customer? What do they want? What are your competition doing? Amanda Overs, graduate of the Business & IP Centre’s Innovating for Growth: Scale-up programme and founder of I Can Make Shoes, set up a shoemaking school after being unable to find a course to make shoes, without the need for heavy machinery.

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I Can Make Shoes workshop

“I was sick of being told ‘you can’t do it like that’” (by traditional shoemakers). With the demand for slow fashion and a resurgence of sewing and crafting, Amanda decided to put a positive spin on the negative backlash and eight years later has gone from running classes in her living room by herself to employing five part-time members of staff and running workshops almost every day of the year in both London and New York.

Research was crucial in finding out exactly who I Can Make Shoes’ customers were. Amanda says, “There has been a lot of trial and error over the years, but what I have found is the fastest, most efficient way of doing research is to actually ask your customer what they think. I regularly do surveys when I have a new idea to see what my audience think of it and recently started a Facebook community so that I can see for myself what it is that my students and customers really want and need.”

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I Can Make Shoes now run workshops in both London and New York

Amanda is always looking at ways to improve I Can Make Shoes’ offering and the business is always changing and improving. Something Amanda says is “key to staying ahead of the competition”. Not only do they run workshops for members of the public, they also have online shoemaking instructions, sell components, and train designers from major high street brands such as ASOS, River Island and Adidas.

The Innovating for Growth programme has helped Amanda take I Can Make Shoes to the next level, “It’s helped me to step back and reassess the business as a whole and identify the key areas of potential growth. I started in a bit of a whirlwind and have been treading water ever since, so to have fresh (very experienced) eyes and non-biased opinions on my plans for the future has been absolutely priceless”.

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"Fail fast, learn faster and move on to the next thing.”

What tips does Amanda have for finding your niche? “Trust your gut. Don't over think every detail. Fail fast, learn faster and move on to the next thing.” Amanda lives by her rules, due to popular demand she will be offering a new sneaker course launching soon...

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

If you are already running a business and are looking to take it to the next level like Amanda, our three-month Innovating for Growth programme can help turn your growth idea into a reality. Applications are now open, so find out more here and apply now!

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This programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.