Archives for October 2014

Start-up Stars: How to finance your new business

Starting a new business requires patience, a variety of skills and money. In this Google Hangout, I chat with Conrad Ford, Managing Director of award-winning Funding Options, to help unravel the minefield of financing a start-up.

For more information of the sites mentioned in this hangout, visit:

UK Government – Business

Funding Wales

Better Business Finance

Kickstarter

Crowdsurfer

Start Up Loans

and, of course, Funding Options. You can also find Conrad on Twitter, at @FinanceConrad

The Value of Reciprocity in Small Business

As humans we are hard wired to, wherever possible, avoid feeling indebted to someone. For example, when invited round to friends for dinner, we are often only too aware that we now need to invite them back at some point.

In business, reciprocity is a fantastic way to help build networks and market our business. One theory of this is the “Neighbour Principle”. Picture this, you move into a new house and visit next door to borrow a bowl of sugar as you’ve run out and the shops are shut. A few days later, and following a heavy snow fall, you decide to clear your neighbours drive as well as your own.

When someone goes out of their way to help us, we can typically feel that deep routed gratitude or indebtedness, and reciprocity doesn’t have to include tangible, physical items.  Of course, not everyone likes feeling indebted, especially Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

However, as the neighbour principle is applied when starting or growing a small business, it can leverage the strengths, of those involved in the relationship, to grow both of their businesses. It’s so easy too at little or no cost. All that’s needed is an attitude of wanting to help others, followed by the idea of sharing resources, knowledge or contacts.

Remember, reciprocity and small business marketing can go together like icing and cake, but don’t expect reciprocation on its own to increase sales.  You still need to build trust to create a deep routed professional relationship and, of course, offer a quality service or product.

Start this by going to a networking event with the idea that you’re going to help someone when you get there. Whether it’s putting them in touch with someone you know will help them, or sending them a blog or news article that neatly follows the conversation you’ve had with them.

See where it takes you let me know when you have @edagoodman or info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com.

A Start-Up’s Guide to Intellectual Property

i Intellectual PropertySo far, in our A-Z Guide to Starting a Business, we’ve looked at topics including bookkeeping, data backup, and funding. With so much to cover, it’s no surprise that intellectual property (IP) sometimes takes a back seat when setting up. 

The World Intellectual Property Organisation describe IP as the “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.”

In this blog, Phil Coldrick from IP Scope, provides us with an overview to IP as well as describing what IP needs to be considered when starting a business…

Q: What IP should I be considering when I start a business?

A: Typical things to consider include your business name – your name and brand is a valuable asset to your business so think about protecting it by registering it as a trade mark. Remember, if you have registered your company name with Companies House this does not mean you are protected. Someone else could still use it.

Other IP aspects include copyright for your website and any other promotional literature you create. Copyright is automatic but beware of who owns the copyright when a third party is involved such as a website designer. You might want to consider having the copyright assigned to you through any contract you arrange with them.

Q: How can I determine if my business needs IP protection?

A: The UK Intellectual Property Office provides a free IP Healthcheck service that takes you through a series of questions to determine how to safeguard your IP assets and provides a confidential report with recommendations for next steps. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/whyuse/business/iphealthcheck.htm

Q: I have an idea, but don’t want to tell anyone in case they steal it. What can I do?

A: It is important that you do not make your idea public before you apply for IP Rights, if you do, you run the risk that you may not be able to patent an invention or protect your design because it is invalidated by the public disclosure. However, that does not mean that you must never discuss your idea with anyone else. Conversations with qualified (registered) lawyers, solicitors and patent attorneys are legally privileged and therefore in confidence. If you need to discuss your idea with someone else before you apply for an IP Right – such as a patent adviser or consultant then a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) can help. NDAs are also known as confidentiality agreements and confidentiality-disclosure agreements (CDA). An explanation on setting up NDAs (including templates) can be found at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/nda.pdf

Overview of Intellectual Property-page1

 

For more information, email info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com or tweet @CamBizLounge.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Sit At Your Desk All Day and What You Can Do About It

DeathtoStock_Desk1In the 1950’s, The Lancet published the results of a study between bus drivers and bus conductors, the results of which showed that the bus drivers had twice the risk of developing heart disease, compared to the conductor colleagues. Why? Simply because they spent so much longer sitting down. The lesson learnt? Standing is good for you and we don’t do enough of it.

Claire Sanderson, Principal Physiotherapist at The Gingerbread Clinic in St Ives, Cambs, has more warnings for people who work in primarily sedentary jobs by adding that “Sitting for long periods of time can cause joints to stiffen up, particularly if we unknowingly fall into poor postural alignment. This can lead to general stiffness and pain in joints.”

There are plenty more statistics, such as:

  • In a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk. (British Psychological Society)
  • Research by Sanlam Private Investments showed that, on average, office workers spend 55% of their working day sat down with almost 60% saying they don’t even take a proper lunch break and instead eat at their desk. (Huffington Post)

The Solution

It doesn’t matter whether you work from home, an office or a coworking space; there are a number of solutions to ensure you stay healthy without impacting on your productivity levels. These are the main three:

1. Sit/Stand Desks

With the press of a button, your desk could move from a seated position to a standing one. This not only alleviates the day-to-day stress on your body, but actually creates further physical benefits. Sam Wilson from Cupaz, a Hertfordshire based office interior fit out and furniture business, says that “People in the 21st century spend a considerable amount of the day at the seated position, either at work, in the car on the way to work and finally sat down watching TV in the evening.” He adds that “Standing for three hours whilst working is no large effort and can increase projection whilst talking, alongside burning calories.” They’re not hugely expensive either, with the cost of a desk ranging from £250 to £900. One test has even shown that users of sit/stand desks were 10% more productive that those who sat all day.

2. Laptop Stands

If you work primarily from a laptop, you’ll already know that they’re not well suited for long computing sessions. First, the scree heights tend to be too low for users. If this is you, you’ll probably tend to hunch over, causing strain on your neck and shoulders. Laptop stands can range from as little as £15 and will raise your screen to your eye level.

There are technical benefits here too, as many laptop stands help to keep your laptop cool. By raising your computer above the desk, it improves airflow which reduces the CPU temperature. This can also help to prolong its battery life since the fan doesn’t have to work as hard.

3. Exercise at work

This doesn’t have to be a complete change of lifestyle, far from it. As Claire Sanderson confirms “Joints love movement. So, every 30-40 minutes, simply get up and move around to increase blood flow to muscles and joints. This is a good way to keep fluidity of movement.” It’s as simple as that. Claire does have a more detailed, personal exercise program for office workers which can be downloaded HERE.

If avoiding sitting down all day is healthier, more energy efficient and increases productivity, what will you do tomorrow to change? Let us know at info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com or at @CamBizLounge