Professional Business Growth without the Hiccups

Professional Business Growth without the Hiccups

Building a successful business is all about cash flowing into an organisation that demonstrates professional accountability in all its policies, practices, and procedures.  Often it is necessary to seek Commercial Funding to break through to the next level of performance, and as soon as you grow, your systems have to grow with you and your staff.

Our Hampshire meeting promised to ease the pain of the paperwork and due diligence associated with Commercial Funding, and to preclude the painful consequences of getting on the wrong side of the Information Commissioner’s Office!

Promotions from Kevin Stansfield, Pam Bates, Kerry Blomerus, and an important announcement from Andy Taylor-Whyte ensured that members who are keen to make the most of our network’s opportunities have plenty to act on in the next few weeks and months.

Commercial Funding without the Hassle or the Hustle

How do you capture an audience’s interest and hold their attention?  So many of our members have different examples of best practice for us to emulate. Dave Clarke, of 2XL Commercial Finance Ltd, used what the professionals call an ‘open loop’.  By beginning a story that you promise to finish at the end of the presentation, we’re hooked!

“A woman is driving through the desert.  She’s desperate for a glass of water.  She drives on mile after mile after mile.  Sand and blue sky… sand and blue sky… Then suddenly out of nowhere she sees this roadside bar.  She pulls into the car park… screeches to a halt… runs into the bar… up to the barman. ‘Glass of water,” she says, ‘Water, water!’  The barman looks at her, reaches down under the bar, pulls out a gun, and shoots just over her head.  Why? We’ll come back to that later on…”

I don’t think any of us were expecting a Lateral Thinking challenge as part of a presentation on Commercial Funding!  Leaving us hanging there, Dave explained that he was a Commercial Finance Broker and what he does in this role: “A business finance dating service!”

Alluding to the golden days of “Blind Date,” Dave’s got, behind the screen, lots of customers who want to borrow money.  In front of the screen, there are cash-rich lenders who are keen to lend to the right people.  Dave’s match-making job is to make sure they get the best deal for one another – a win-win. He makes sure the lead up to the marriage goes smoothly, and that after the loan is drawn, they live happily ever after until it is repaid.

Why Would You Use a Broker?

With banks and other sources keen to lend, why would you use a broker?  Dave’s background includes 40 years in High Street Commercial Banking.  He now has access to over 215 lenders.

You’d engage with a broker like Dave for several reasons.  Firstly, that huge range of lenders means choice.  Demonstrating with a £50,000 loan, Dave showed us that seven lenders would come up with differing offers for the same project.

Secondly, Dave can see through the various offers to the best deal.  You might think you and I could too but these deals are often obscured by jargon and lack of clarity around terms and rates.  Unless Dave demystifies the offers, you could end up thinking you’ve chosen the best interest rate but end up paying an extra £3000 on a typical loan of £50,000.

Thirdly, how much is your time and peace of mind worth to you?  Rather than wade through hundreds of pages, Dave fills out the applications for you.

Professional help precludes the pain that can so easily come if you are not properly prepared and advised.

If we already know that, “Cash is King,” we may not know that, “Profit is not Cash, and Cash is not Profit.”  £20,000 worth of profit does not mean £20,000 of cash in the bank.  Dave’s recommendation is that we should monitor our cash even more than our profit.  Citing the Romsey Boat Builder that went bust with £10,000,000 worth of orders, the point was well made.

Borrowing money is a process that demands patience.  The days of relatively informal arrangements between your personal business banker and you, the business owner, have gone.  Now it’s largely about the due diligence that requires huge amounts of information to be gathered (on average 170-200 questions – multiplied by the number of Directors!)  Let Dave take this pain away from you!

Closing the loop, our lady, desperate for a glass of water, sighs a great sigh of relief after being shot at!  Not the outcome we were expecting but then this was explained in three words: “She had hiccups!”

And the point is that you may know what you want to borrow as well as why, but this is no guarantee that you know the best way to solve your problem.  With more than 12 different ways to raise working capital, it pays to know someone who can solve your problem in the most effective and efficient way – and that’s Dave.

He’s always happy to let you buy him a coffee!

 

“Pour Some Sugar On Me!”

So says the line from Def Leppard song of the same title.  Well, you don’t need that kind of sugar to get an energy rush.  Kevin Stansfield promises us that Brad Sugars, founder of Action Coach, will deliver 3 hours of high-octane content at 200 mph! Promoting his new book, “Pulling Profits Out of a Hat,” Sugars will be presenting on Monday, 30th September.

Tickets are only £20! Kevin also offered sponsorship opportunities to TBN members and, of course, other networks.

Women Mean Business and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Pam likes putting people together – especially over food.  It’s a powerful way to get to know people – hence the success of the Boardroom Network breakfasts and our Elite Business Women luncheons.

Pam’s event this year will include a ‘Diary Room’ – hosted by our very own Eliot Jones.  There’s a special deal for TBN members who want to take a table at the event, so check in with Pam if you’d like to know more.

GDPR The Next Generation

Simon Humphreys, of South Coast Data Protection Consultants Ltd, started gently with the question,

“How many of you have heard of ‘GDPR’?”

That was a sure winner since we’ve had GDPR on our business RADAR for a significant period, but has it dropped off the scope?

Simon’s next question was instantly challenging,
“How many of you have read the General Data Protection Regulations?”

Whilst many of us haven’t, a refreshingly large number of members had!

How about the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003?  Exactly!  The numbers of members in the ‘know’ dropped hugely.  Clearly, we need ongoing guidance… especially if we do electronic marketing.

Imagine having to cough up £99 million for losing information (Marriott Hotels)!  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is serious – with British Airways getting a £183 million fine for a data breach.

We shouldn’t think it is just the big companies who are attracting the attention of the ICO.  An Estate Agent in London has just been fined £80,000.

Any sized business can receive a “Subject Access Request”.  If this goes to a member of staff who doesn’t really know what to do with it, it can easily be ignored.  There’s only a 30-day window.

The individual who delivered the Subject Access Request can then go to the ICO to declare that the requested information has not been provided.

You can well imagine the workload on the ICO.  They’ll take the fasted route to clarify the situation.

  • Firstly, they will check to see if the business has been registered with them.
  • Secondly, they’ll check to see if the business has a website – and if so, a string of questions will begin…
  • Thirdly, (assuming there’s a website), they’ll ask, “Have they got a ‘Contact Us’ page?”
  • Fourthly, “Is it secure?” If the answer is, “No!” there may be trouble ahead.
  • Fifthly, “Has it got a privacy notice on it?”
  • Sixthly, “Has it got a cookie policy on it?”

Every “No” from point four onwards takes this company into deeper trouble.

Flip these to a “Yes” answer and the ICO will view the company as trying to comply with GDPR – irrespective of whether they’ve breached certain aspects.  The alternative is to attract the attention the ICO are giving to businesses who are not attempting to comply.

You don’t want that kind of attention!  Their practice is to name and shame the organisations they are investigating, and the reputational damage could be severe.

The situation now is that you and I must have demonstrable proof – accountability – for the policies and practices that should be in place.

This means policies such as:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Data Protection Policy
  • Working from Home Policy

Brexit will bring its own challenges.  If we end with a deal, GDPR remains in place.  If we leave without a deal, GDPR in its existing format may longer exist for us, but it will for Europe.  This means that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for European companies to share data with us.

We will put in place GDPR UK but there will be two or three months of uncertainty.

Let’s get our policies in place and train our staff.  A small investment now can preclude both the potential fines and the reputational damage.

I asked Simon what our next step could be and he messaged me this kind offer,

“We do a free initial consultation on any aspects of GDPR and we do various different packages which we can discount for members.”

There is such a thing as a Free Lunch

Kerry Blomerus, Senior Solicitor at Blake Morgan LLP, invited us to an event at their Chandler’s Ford offices to watch England play the USA in the World Cup.  Burgers and fries, fish and chips will add to the networking opportunity to get to know Blake Morgan that much better.  A charity raffle (Countess Mountbatten Hospice) offers some enticing prizes too.

11.00-15.00 on Thursday, 26thSeptember is the time.  Do let Kerry know if you can come.

 

The Castle Club – our new and select premium business meeting and networking club

Breaking News in the style of News at Ten was what Andy Taylor-Whyte brought us.  Engaging the audience in an interactive “bong!” back and forth, Andy let us into the announcement of this exclusive new level of networking for TBN members.

“This focused and limited members group will examine key business topics to provide insights, share experiences, help build strong professional relationships, and business opportunities.”

The Castle Club will meet quarterly at No.10 Castle Street – a stunning venue.  Andy continued,

“The Castle Club will be a place to learn and share business principles and practices in a structured programme of interactive morning sessions – prior to a three-course members discussion lunch – followed by a very relaxed but private networking opportunity.”

Membership is limited to 30 members only.

Your investment would be £480 annually or £40 pcm and the adventure begins Tuesday, 22ndOctober at 10.30 am.

Chat to Andy for membership details.  Andy made it clear that this new venture for TBN would not have been possible without Jacqui’s work over so many years… and we all agree.

[As always, thanks go to Justin Wharmby for the pictures.  The opinions expressed in our blog are mine – Lexus McKee!]