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Where there’s a Will there’s a Way

– By Craig Williams

Business owners can cause big problems for their families and their companies if they do not make a will. Serious complications can arise unless a well-drafted will is included in succession plans for director shareholders. Failure to draw up a will can also leave families with an unwelcome and unnecessary tax bill.

While many are well aware of this, it isn’t unusual to come across younger entrepreneurs and business owners in their 30s and 40s who have not yet made a will and are not fully aware of the implications of this omission. In fact, about 50% of adults in the UK do not have a valid will at all, according to a survey by Will Aid, which represents nine charities. Continue reading →

Surviving a PR Crisis when it all Hits the Fan

– By Marc Cowlin

Warren Buffet famously observed: “‘It takes years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.” Given how precious that reputation is, you need to be prepared for the fact that it might come under threat, sometimes through no fault of your own. When that happens, the temptation can be to stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. But being an ostrich is the last thing you should do. Instead, be prepared and follow a few simple processes to turn the crisis around. 

Step 1: Take a deep breath. When a PR crisis arises, the first thing you need to do is nothing.  Stop, close your eyes and take five deep breaths. You need to be calm because people are depending on you. We make better decisions when we are calm and in control than we do when we panic. Depending on how things go, you may need to repeat this step a few times. Continue reading →

Plug that Hole! Dealing with a Data Breach

– By Susan Hallam

Every business has a legal responsibility to keep both the data it holds about individuals as well as confidential business information secure.  But despite your best efforts, things can go wrong. So what should you do if you have a data breach?

Whether the data has been leaked a result of a malicious attack, or more likely an unintentional release of secure information by one of your employees, you need a plan of action. Your business must have a response plan to contain the situation and enforce damage limitation, as well as a robust recovery plan. Continue reading →

Don’t Get Caught Out

– By Shirley Barnes

It might be well-intentioned, but some employment legislation poses a real risk to businesses on a number of levels. Consider, for example:

  • The time taken up by keeping up to date with the legislation
  • An unscrupulous employee threatening litigation or being disruptive
  • Trying to improve employee performance against a backdrop of national decline in productivity
  • Juggling resources to ensure the business functions as optimally as possible through its highs and lows, and gaps left by employees on leave or off sick

Apart from having to sort out issues such as shared parental leave pay and claims of unfair dismissal, businesses large and small also have the new legislation about paternity leave to contend with. Continue reading →

A compilation of bizarre insurance claims

“I was driving along the motorway when the police pulled me over onto the hard shoulder. Unfortunately I was in the middle lane and there was another car in the way.”

“Going to work at 7am this morning I drove out of my drive straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.”

“I started to turn and it was at this point I noticed a camel and an elephant tethered at the verge. This distraction caused me to lose concentration and hit a bollard.”

“The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other on the car behind.”

Continue reading →

Don’t be Different for the Sake of it

– By Andrew B Morris

It’s all very well wanting to do things differently. But it’s important to identify WHY you want to be different rather than trying to be different just for the sake of it.

Stand-up comedians love the challenge of improvisation, but few can really pull it off. When it works it can be mesmerising, but even the most talented tend to give into the safety of preparation and rehearsal.

As we hone our skills and our confidence grows, we can become lazy at preparation and opt instead for the high-wire adrenaline rush of spontaneity. We like winging it, responding off the cuff, using our wits and our senses. Spontaneous action is fun. Continue reading →

Are you Thinking in 3D?

– By Andy Hanselman

It has become a mantra of mine that the best businesses think in 3D. They’re ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different‘ from their competitors. They do things that their competitors don’t do. Even better, they do things they can’t do.

Gary Hamel encapsulated this in his book, ‘Leading the Revolution’ when he said: “Better, faster, cheaper is not enough. Others will always get there first or quickly catch you up. You need to be profoundly different, with a radically different customer-centred offer.” Continue reading →

Shake up your Thinking

– By Jurgen Wolff

Shaking up your thinking and being open to new ideas can be hard, particularly if know too much about a topic or have been doing something a certain way for a long time. So how can you forget what you know?

1: Assume the opposite is true
Write down the half dozen or so core assumptions you make about a challenge you’re facing. Then write their opposites. Brainstorm what you could do if the opposites were true. Your logical mind may resist, but treat it as a game.

Example: The usual assumption is that the way to make money from books, whether traditionally or self- published, is from royalties. The opposite: You are not allowed to make money from royalties.

The brainstorm: What alternatives could there be? Attach the books to another product as a bonus. Provide them on a rental basis. Get people to fund them before you write them. Find a patron who will give you a flat rate for writing the book. Charge for giving talks and include the books in the price. Continue reading →

Case Study: Silence is Golden

Glenn Watkins is Chair of Academy 88 and Academy 08 which cover North and West Central London, Watford and Harrow. In May, he sat on the panel of London’s first ever Mindfulness Summit for business leaders in London.

Last autumn Glenn decided to sign up for an intensive meditation retreat in early June as one of his personal goals for 2015. The programme took place in a 22-acre property in deepest Herefordshire, set in beautiful wooded grounds.

The meditation technique used is called Vipassana and dates back 2,500 years ago. It is agnostic, non-religious and non-dogmatic, a pure form of meditation. And there was no talking for the 10-day duration of the course. We had to find out more. Continue reading →

If Only they’d Seen Things Differently…

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” (Charles H Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office, 1899.)

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” (HM Warner, Warner Bros, 1927.)

“We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.” (Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962.)

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” (Nashville club owner, Jim Denny, firing Elvis Presley after his first performance.)

“So we went to Atari and said, ‘We’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ They said ‘No’. Then we went to Hewlett-Packard; they said, ‘We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet’.” (Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs on how he tried to get Atari and HP interested in the personal computer he and Steve Wozniak had devised).