Category Archives: Business

Five telecoms issues you must consider when moving office

If you’re planning to move offices then it is essential you consider your telecoms options early in the process. Far too often they get left to the last minute. At best this can lead to added stress, or at worst long delays and increased costs.

Dave Millett of Equinox has created a useful telecoms checklist for anyone considering moving premises.

1)    Don’t Leave It Until too Late

BT Openreach has a monopoly on all line installs regardless of who they are ordered through. This means there is a minimum wait of at around 10 working days – but it can vary from town to town. For example, in some areas of Surrey the lead time is currently six weeks.

The average time for larger business needing ISDN lines is 6-8 weeks, and larger data connections, such as EFM, can take 40 working days, with some leased lines taking over 60 days.

2)    Property Search

Most companies want fast broadband, and it is relatively easy to find out what is available in terms of speed and providers.   For example, a location that has fibre broadband will enable you to have very fast speeds without the need for expensive dedicated circuits.

However, there are plenty of places where there is a lack of availability. For example, one company moved into premises in September 2012 as the BT website said fibre would be available at the end of the month – they are still waiting.

3)    Your Existing Numbers

Companies often underestimate the costs of changing phone numbers: how many people have your current brochures and business cards; are there websites and blogs you don’t control that have your current number on them; you can tell current customers and suppliers but how do you let potential customers know?

Check to see whether your new offices are on the same BT exchange.  Crossing an exchange boundary can mean different telephone numbers and the loss of fibre broadband.

If you are moving to a different exchange there are ways around the potential problems, for example, moving numbers to virtual inbound – though this can be expensive and you bear the cost of incoming calls.  Alternatively you could consider installing SIP instead of, or as well as, ISDNs, which means you can take your numbers anywhere.  However in some parts of the country this can be very expensive, especially if you need to provide additional data connectivity.

4)    Move the System or Replace it?

Moving to cloud based (VOIP) solutions allow you to take a number anywhere.  However, if you have recently invested in a phone system then your accountant might not be happy to write that cost off.

Ask yourself; how old is the existing phone system?  Is there life or money left in it?  What is the cost of removal and reinstallation?

If you are thinking of going to SIP check whether your existing ‘phone system will support it.  You may be able to reuse the handsets, which often account for a third of the cost.

If you are considering VOIP this link highlights the questions you should ask any potential supplier  http://www.equinoxcomms.co.uk/things-to-consider-before-choosing-a-voip-supplier/.

5)    Watch out for Serviced Office Charges

Before you decide on serviced offices check whether you have flexibility to bring in your own phone and data solution, if not at the beginning, then later on.   Also can they add your existing numbers to their system? If they give you new numbers – will you be able to take them with you when you leave? Finally, what are the detailed charges? We often see mark ups of 200%.

In conclusion, it’s essential to start planning early; all too often telecoms and data get left until last and yet they are often the factor that determines the earliest moving date.   Leaving it too late means a lack of time to evaluate all the options and possibly ending up either in premises with no phones or, even worse, where the lack of broadband will have a long-term detrimental impact on the business.

 

Dave Millett has over 35 years’ experience in the Telecoms Industry.  He has worked in European Director roles for several global companies.  He now runs Equinox Communications, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. He works with many companies, charities and other organisations and has helped them achieve savings of up to 80%.  He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions. www.equinoxcomms.co.uk

5 Ways Storytelling Can Empower Your Business

Claire TaylorStorytelling is a powerful communication tool.  The wisdom of the ages has been preserved because it was handed down the generations through myths legends, fables and parables.  If it can survive thousands of years, then imagine what it can, right now, for your business.

Neurologically we’re wired for narratives; it’s how our brains work.  Stories connect people to each other because of the resonance they create – we identify with stories and think ‘yes that sounds like me too’.

According to Claire Taylor, author of ‘The Tao of Storytelling’ there are five key areas where storytelling can work well to enhance the success of your business communications:

1. Every brand needs a lapel-grabbing narrative

There is a hunger for real stories that has been fuelled by a decade of news coverage showing that all is not what it seems.  There is a dearth of trust between consumers and the corporate enterprises that sell to them.   To close that trust gap businesses need to tell the real stories behind their brands.

Authentic brand stories need not only to tell the truth they must also adhere to the spirit of the truth.  Consumers are inspired to hear stories such as the company’s passion for their brands, their concern for consumers’ wellbeing, their sustainability and social responsibility initiatives.

2. Effective teams comprise individuals with integrated stories

Teams are made up of individuals each with their unique set of stories. At the extremes teams can be cacophonous or harmonious and neither is ideal. The art of storytelling can be used to identify sources of discontent and then to create a new empowering team story that aligns people. That in turn builds the energy, motivation and determination that ultimately fuels success.

3. Company culture reflects the harvest of stories on its grapevine

Large scale mergers, de-mergers or other changes to business structures are commonplace.  When these occur it isn’t enough simply to integrate business systems, the people also need to be integrated.  We are storytelling creatures and everyone has a story about every situation that they are in.

People’s stories are windows into their belief systems.  In any organisation there are as many stories about what’s going on as there are people.  When there is an aligned culture within the organisation the stories that people inside the organisation believe and tell are coherent and that creates a powerful synergy to catapult the business forward.

4. Storytelling is the torch that illuminates a leader’s vision

Studies have shown that a well-told story, with a traditional narrative arc, takes people on a journey, stimulates their emotions, causes the release of neurotransmitters in their brain and makes it more likely that they will take action.

The story or stories that are told might be true personal stories, anecdotes from industry or markets, traditional myths or legends that extol the message, or a myth that you craft yourself to engage and stimulate your audience.

5. Personal stories resonate universally

The most powerful use of storytelling by far, is to tell a personal tale with a moral or a learning that communicates your message.  The phenomenal popularity of the brand TED is a testament to the power of personal storytelling to spread ideas.

The more personal a story you tell the more it is likely to resonate universally.  That’s because our personal stories usually tap into fundamental life themes.  So while you might balk at the idea of sharing a story from your personal life it may enable you to connect with your audience and communicate in a deep and memorable way.

Every business problem has at its heart a communication conundrum.  Well used, storytelling is mind-bogglingly powerful at bringing clarity to every area of business communications whether they are customer-facing, such as in branding and corporate communications, or internal such as in leadership, cultural change, team dynamics and innovation.

Tao of Storytelling

Claire Taylor is a Writer, Storyteller, Business Consultant and co-founder of The Story Mill, an innovative organisation that encourages businesses to engage in real conversations using the art of storytelling.  Claire has worked as a Senior Executive for some of the largest brands in healthcare including Novartis, Abbott/Abbvie, Pharmacia/Pfizer, Takeda and Lundbeck.  Claire is author of ‘The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to create empowering stories to live by’. http://www.thestorymill.co.uk/ and http://www.the-tao-of-storytelling.com/

The three types of business video and how to decide what will work best for you

As technology evolves, so do our marketing methods; and right now we’re in the golden age of video.  90% of global consumers now watch videos online and according to Forrester Research, having a video on your site increases your chance of getting a page one listing on Google by 53 times.

However, a good quality promotional video is still a large investment for most companies – so it’s tempting to try to make do with a single ‘one size fits all’ promotional video. But according to Richard Edwards of Quatreus, this approach will actually inhibit your return on investment – not increase it!

There are three keys types of business video, each fulfills a very different role and therefore needs a very different approach. By determining which of these videos your business needs you can be sure to create a video, or series of videos, that will give you a good return on investment.

1)    Online promotional videos

Promotional videos are generally used on your own website, as a YouTube advert, on social media and sometimes within online trade magazines.

So what makes online promotional videos different from other video formats?

Length – Because online promotional videos are disruptive to viewers’ browsing experience they should generally be quite short, around thirty seconds or less. They need to capture the attention of your audience immediately and convey your message quickly and concisely.

Sound – People watching your online video are likely to have their speakers attached and the volume turned up. This provides an opportunity to add music and a voiceover, which can convey far more information than text alone.

Key focus – Since the viewers of online videos are going to be mainly end-users, your key focus should be on them and how they will benefit from your product. As such your messaging should be benefits led and personal..

In the Apple video http://www.youtube.com/embed/Zr1s_B0zqX0  we see lots of shots of people actually using the products while the voiceover tells us the benefits and USPs of the brand. By activating the imagination of your target audience, you can create a desire to buy

2)    Video for presentations

Video can help to transform a boring slideshow into an interesting, engaging and professional presentation.

So what are the unique elements of a presentation video?

Length – As these videos are designed to give more in-depth inforatmtion that are often between three and ten minutes. However, it is still important to keep it concise and avoid waffle, otherwise it will become boring and viewers will switch off.

Sound – This will depend on whether you are using the video to accompany a live presenter or the video is supplementing the presenter.

Key focus – The focus of this type of video is to explain your product or service so as well as detailing the key benefits, you might also want to include technical specification, markup potential, sales so far, design and production process, quality assurance, customer service and history of success. Again, it’s crucial to remember that these always need to be brought back to how the viewer will benefit.

Overall, presentation videos should demonstrate the connection between your business and the end-customer. This connection will help convince investors and other business professionals of the opportunity your company offers them.

3)    Exhibition and trade show promotional videos

 At exhibitions a video can providing a rolling demonstration of the key features and benefits of your product. Exhibition videos also have their own particular requirements:

1)    Length – Your visitors will not stand around for a long period of time staring up at your video screen. As such you will want to keep your videos concise and around one minute in duration.

2)    Sound – At most exhibitions there will be a lot of background noise, so make sure your video does it job without the need for sound.

3)    Key focus – The video needs to convey detailed information of your product features and benefits, as well as giving a good impression of your brand – all through text and graphics.

The video must also be aligned with both your exhibition stand design and your product marketing. This is more important than in other promotional video formats since the video will be using mostly graphics and text to convey information.

So before you go rushing into a large-scale production of just one video, ask yourself: can I really use this video in all necessary settings? Perhaps with some tweaks you can shoot one longer video and then edit it for each required format, or perhaps you could use the same locations, actors and production crew for each video, reducing overall cost.

Whatever approach you decide, a well-planned and executed promotional video will help set you apart from your competition.

About the author

Richard Edwards webRichard Edwards is a Director of Quatreus LtdQuatreus specialises in creating face to face experiences that strengthen relationships and improve communication – for both internal and external audiences. Activities include customer facing events and activities, exhibitions, trade-shows, road-shows and interactive experience centres, as well as conferences, AGMs, and staff and stakeholder engagement programmes. For more information see: www.quatreus.com

Eyecare news: Optometrist Creates Another First for Kingston-upon-Thames

Judy Dench and Stephen King are both affected by Macular Degeneration. Now John Rose of John Rose Eye Care Centre, Kingston Upon Thames, has taken another step forward in preventing sight loss from the condition in the local area with the acquisition of a MAIA visual fields machine. This machine can help detect eye disease at an early stage and ensure that you get treatment if you need.

Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of sight loss in the UK. If left untreated it can lead to central sight loss. The good news is that, if picked up early, some types of Macular Degeneration can be treated and your sight can be saved, but early detection is critical. See rnibspotthesigns.org.uk for more information on the current national RNIB campaign to help people detect signs of macular degeneration.

MAIA is simple to use, patients can be tested in less than 3 minutes per eye. John Rose explains, “By comparing macular indexes in patients with and without retinal pathologies, MAIA is very effective at measuring functional changes due to disease and to treatment. It can also help monitor the course of retinal diseases and the efficacy of treatment.”

John Rose adds: “We are also involved in referrals to London Eye for the exciting new laser developed by John Marshall for early treatment of dry AMD, which means that  Kingston residents can get access to both ground breaking assessment and treatment.”

The John Rose Eye Care Centre has invested heavily in pioneering technology and is only one of four Eye Care Centres on UK High Streets to have such advanced technology.

To book an eye examination and make the most of the equipment which is unique to John Rose Eye Care Centre call 0208 546 9292 or visit www.johnroseeyecare.co.uk.

#END#

For further press information, please contact:

Antonia Chitty on 07900 580 668, 01424 810 272,   or email at mail@antoniachitty.co.uk

 

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Notes to editors:

About John Rose:

John studied at Aston University from 1981 to 1984. He graduated in 1984 with Honours Degree in Optometry and Visual Sciences. After graduating he spent his pre-registration year split between private practice and the contact lens department of Moorfields Eye Hospital gaining a wide range of experience in all aspects of optometry. After successfully completing his professional exams he was first registered as an optometrist in 1986.  He set up the John Rose Eye Care Centre in 1997.  During his time at Aston University he developed an interest in dyslexia and a special interest in glaucoma. Hence, his practice has specialised in these areas of interest.

 

 

Eyewear News: First for Hastings Optician

Rhodri Luff Wilson Wilson Hancock wearing Bambooka Sunglasses smHastings Opticians First in England to Support South African Bamboo Project

Hastings residents will be the first in England to have access to a revolutionary design of sunglasses that supports people from South Africa.

Bambooka sunglasses are made by real people, not machines or robots, from fast growing bamboo. Bamboo is natural, light and strong – an ideal combination – and the project has been created by a non-profit company with a mission to help people in Africa set up sustainable businesses. The sunglasses are currently only available at Wilson, Wilson and Hancock Opticians.

Did you know? Because they are made from natural bamboo, Bambooka sunglasses will float!

Baz van Cranenburgh from Bambooka says, “Bamboo is a wonder crop because of its ability to enhance the environment whilst providing a valuable multi-use product for the rural area. When responsibly farmed it conserves water, sequesters up to three times more carbon dioxide of typical forest crops, improves the soil structure and improves the quality of the air that we breathe. From food to firewood and construction to spectacle frames bamboo harvests provide many opportunities for sustainable income generation. People love Bambooka sunglasses because by using a natural material each one is unique. This ‘flawsomeness’ adds to their appeal .”

Rodhri Luff (pictured wearing Bambooka) at Wilson, Wilson and Hancock says, “It is great to be working with Bambooka to support this innovative project. We hope that the people of Hastings really get behind this initiative – the response we’ve had so far has been great. Do visit us to try on the sunglasses.”

Bambooka sunglasses come in three designs, and one design can be fitted with prescription lenses if you need. They cost from £45 and are available exclusively from Wilson, Wilson, Hancock, 12-14 Cambridge Road, Hastings. Pop in, give the practice a call on 421717 or see www.bambooka.org to discover more about the sunglasses. Find out about the charitable work their sale funds at www.pepe.org.uk.

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More images and images in higher resolution are available. Call Antonia Chitty on 01424 810 272 or 07900580668

Notes to Editors

About Wilson, Wilson and Hancock

Wilson, Wilson and Hancock is an independent optician. Its Hastings practice is one of the largest in the county, with two directors, four additional qualified optometrists, five qualified dispensing opticians and support staff. The group also has practices in Tenterden, Rye and Lewes. Wilson, Wilson and Hancock was founded in 1949 by F. E. Wilson. It offers a thorough examination for every patient to monitor the health of the eyes and to determine the exact nature of the patient’s visual needs.

Do you self sabotage?

Antonia ChittyIs there one thing that you’d really like to achieve, but that you keep putting off?

At the moment I have a good balance of work: a book to complete and some features to write. I also have the time to work on some writing that I have been putting off for ages. I really want to do it, yet today I found myself doing everything else first!

I’m the kind of person who likes to work in a fairly clean and tidy office, but it can be all to easy to spend all my time cleaning up rather than working. When I first started writing books I was very disciplined and wrote first, before switching to check my emails and get on with the rest of my work. With experience, it became easier to switch on to writing, so I got in the habit of checking my emails first. Now I think I might need to make the decision to work on my stalled writing project first thing in the morning before anything else, just so I get it done!

What sort of work do you put off completing? Here are some ideas to help you ‘get it done!’

  1. For some jobs the ‘do it first’ approach works. Complete the job you have been putting off first thing one morning and you’ll feel better for the rest of the day.
  2. For other jobs, it might be worth contracting the work out to someone else. This applies if you are delaying something because you don’t have the expertise.
  3. successlIf you are delaying because you simply lack confidence in your own abilities, here is something that has worked for me: self-bribery: I’ll buy a pack of my favourite biscuits and sit them in front of me. I can only open the pack once the job is done! On a deeper level, write down some of the good things that will happen once you have done the job: you’ll feel more confident, and there may be business or personal benefits too. Remind yourself of these as you work through the task.
  4. Finally, you may need some accountability. I’ve been working with a fab group of writers this year. We’re all trying to improve our writing together which is really motivating. We also have word count targets, prompts and challenges which help me get things done. Who could help you achieve your own goal?

If you want to work with someone on your business or personal goals, do get in touch with me about mentoring.

Last Chance To Enter: Win Mentoring with Antonia Chitty or Amanda Alexander #sagebusinessexpert #BizMakeover

Today is your last day to enter the Sage #BusinessMakeover competition. To enter, all you have to do is tweet @sageUK or mention @Sage (UK) Limited in a status update on Facebook, stating their biggest business challenge for 2013, using the hashtag #BizMakeover. The competition closes at 2pm GMT today, with one lucky winner receiving a bespoke Business Makeover package.

The prize will consist of two half day coaching sessions (or the equivalent) from  Sage Business Experts Antonia Chitty or Amanda Alexander, free use of Sage business software for up to two years, and a tablet, pre-loaded with Windows 8 and key Sage Business apps.

The winning business will be selected at random and announced on Sage’s blog next week. Sage will also be sharing the insights gained from the challenges micro-businesses say they are facing as well as providing some useful resources and advice for those looking to overcome their business barriers.

So, think what’s holding you back right now, and get tweeting or facebooking! You’ll help Sage come up with resources for small businesses and could get some mentoring to help you break through your own business barriers. 

8 tips for Promotional Materials to promote your business

successlIf you ask most people about ideas for promoting your business, they will talk to you about flyers and other printed materials. With the ready availability of high street instant printers, there is lots of scope for even the smallest business to create great promotional materials. Here are 8 tips to make sure you get it right:

  1. First, consider the materials that are used every day within your business. Do they reinforce your current marketing campaign or back up your brand values?
  2. Do you love your promotional materials? When you and your colleagues attend networking and business meetings do you have business cards and flyers to hand out that you are proud of, or do you apologetically explain that you need to get them updated?
  3. What’s the: “Who, what, where, when, how and why” of your promotional materials? Asking yourself these questions will make sure you don’t waste your money, and help you know if you are using the right thing at the right time.
  4. What results do you get from each type of promotional material that you are using already? Keep track of these figures and tie them in to the cost of producing the materials and the time taken to distribute them.
  5. Do a quick audit of the materials you use to promote your business already. Make a list of the regular materials that are used. When and where do you use them? Does each item have a clear call to action? This could be as simple as ‘Book Now’, or if you want to encourage people to act in a timely manner ‘Book within the next 7 days to get 10% off’, or whatever offer you want to make.
  6. Are all your promotional items are clear and legible? Use larger print and fewer words to make sure that every patient can read your materials. RNIB suggests 14 point as a minimum size for easy reading.
  7. Aim to keep your promotional messages short and simple. Whether you have a banner outside your store, an A-frame stand, or a devising copy for an advert in the newspaper, cut back on long words. As you review promotional materials, wield your red pen. Score out unnecessary adjectives and stick to facts. Strike through jargon, and try to find a simpler way to say things.
  8. Finally, look at the visual aspect of your promotional materials. Do they reinforce a coherent brand for the business? Do you have consistency in colours, logos and images? Look at attractive promotions for other businesses and see how yours match up.