Harriet Broughton of Gregg LatchamsHarriet Broughton of Gregg Latchams Lawyers speaks to BusinessLeader.uk.com about employment laws and key points businesses need to consider before recruiting.

Harriet – tell us about you and your role at Gregg Latchams law firm?

“I am an employment law specialist, advising a range of SMEs on a wide variety of employment law issues, from family matters like maternity and paternity, statutory entitlements like holiday and sick pay, through to disciplinary and grievance issues. I aim to give my clients pragmatic and commercial options whilst steering them through tricky employment law issues.

“I support our In-house Lawyer Service clients with employment support including making sure all their paperwork is in order and their business is properly protected.”

When does a business owner/leader need to worry about the law before recruitment starts?

A: Immigration:
“It is a legal requirement that employers check that their new recruits are eligible to work in the UK. If an employer doesn’t check they can be fined up to £20,000 if they employ an illegal worker. In order to defend yourself, you need to check the new employee’s eligibility to work in the UK before they start work. This is usually done by checking their passport. All employees should be checked to avoid a race discrimination claim.”

B: Impact of restrictions and long notice periods:
“You’ve got the perfect candidate, but can they start straight away? How much notice do they have to give their current employer – can you wait that long? What about any restrictions in their current contract of employment? Are they allowed to bring their clients and contacts with them, or are they going to be sat twiddling their thumbs for 6 months? Make sure you factor these issues into your decision making process, as they could impact your business more than you first expect.”

C: Taking up references:
“Has the candidate told you the truth? Did they really work in that business for that long? I’ve seen a number of clients find out after the employee has started work that they’ve lied on their CV. You might think references are not worth taking, as you often only get start date, end date, and job title, but even that will confirm what the candidate has said on their CV, and you might get something more which can help you assess whether you really want the candidate in your business.”

D: Medical questionnaires
“This is a tricky one. Generally speaking, you should not ask about the health of a candidate before you’ve offered them the job, as this would fall foul of the Equality Act. If you do ask about someone’s health then you need to think about what you’re going to do with that information – if you withdraw the offer because of a medical condition then you run the risk of a disability discrimination claim. Remember, discrimination claims can be brought by candidates, even if they’re not employees yet.

E: Checking qualifications
“How often do you check the qualifications on someone’s CV? Do they actually have the skills and experience you need, or have they been creative on their CV? You could wait and see whether they’re actually any good in the job, but what if they’re not, how many months is that going to set you back in your won’t necessarily show you that the candidate will fit into your business, but it means you won’t waste your time with someone who’s not qualified to do the job.”

How does a business owner/leader protect the business post-recruitment?

“Once you’ve found the perfect candidate, checked out their CV, and are confident that they’re the right fit for your business, you will need to think about a contract of employment. You have to provide certain information within 2 months of the employee starting, but you should also think about protecting your business: your property, your confidential information, your intellectual property, and your business connections.”

What can go wrong?

“Employment law can be difficult to navigate whilst you’re busy trying to run your business. Recruitment can be a time-consuming process, and it’s important that you get it right first time where possible. You might find that the perfect candidate isn’t the right fit for the business once they’re in, or that the person in the interview is different in the workplace. Following the above steps and having thorough processes in place, which you actually follow, can help protect you and your business.

“If you need a helping hand in the recruitment process, or making sure that you’re properly protecting your business throughout the working relationship, then give me a call to see how we can work together.”

Lee of Clarity Copiers and IBC makes it a family business

Lee and Ryan Abrose of Clarity CopiersPrinter and photocopier expert Lee Ambrose has marked two successful years running his own business by taking on his son as a trainee. Based in Orchard Street in Bristol city centre Lee set up Clarity Copiers (Bristol Central) in March 2014, following almost 30 years of experience in the industry.

Year two saw the previous year’s turnover doubling and Clarity Copiers (Bristol Central) now has 139 customers, ranging from sole traders up to larger clients including the two Hilton hotels in Bristol and the Great Western Ambulance charity.

Only five of the printers and copiers Lee has sold to his customers are outside the BS postcode, making Clarity Copiers (Bristol Central) a truly city-based business.

Such has been the success of the franchise that he has now taken on his 18-year-old son Ryan as a trainee service engineer.

The second eldest of four boys, Ryan studied IT hardware at City of Bristol College and will be working with his father for an initial trial period of six months.

“We both need to see if he likes it,” said Lee. “And I mean working with his dad, as well as if he enjoys the nature of the business!

“Clearly there are advantages to employing a family member, in that there are no recruitment costs and, because he currently lives at home with us, he won’t be able to take any bogus sick days either.

“But Ryan’s got a lot of relevant experience from his college studies – he knows about IT hardware, can install printers and scanners, and understands what an IP address is – and has a passion for technology, so he’ll be a good addition to the business and I hope it’s going to work out well.”

Eventually Lee hopes that his other sons may look to join the business also, developing Clarity Copiers Bristol Central into a fully-fledged family firm.

The business is an accredited main dealer for Sharp Electronics. Ryan has enrolled in the Sharp Academy to help with his training and has just passed his first online exam as his learning continues.

Lee, who is 49 and lives with his family in Whitchurch, has worked in the printer and photocopier industry since 1987, starting off with Channel Copiers and later working for Victoria Office Equipment.

He said: “Anyone who has set up a business will know how tough it is from a standing start, with no customers, getting yourself out there and doing the networking and the leaflet drops.

“But I’ve had great support from Clarity Copiers Ltd and the ethics and fairness behind the business model have been a key ingredient in its success.

“My customers like the combination of quality and honesty, at decent prices and with the personal touch added in. We’re entering an exciting time for small businesses, as customers recognise that we can do a better job than the larger companies and at competitive prices too.

“So the next few years look good. I’m excited to be working with at least one of my sons and am confident about seeing the business progress.”

What has Google done now?

On Monday 22nd February Google made a sweeping change to the way that its search results pages looked.

Google Ads

They removed the Ads from the RH side of their search results, when searching from a desktop or laptop PC and this is the first major change since 2010, when Google moved from showing a maximum of 8 Ads on a page to 13 by adding up to 3 Ads at the top of the free results as well as the 8 Ads on the right hand side.

This latest change has wiped out the Ads on the RH side whilst increasing he number of Ads at the top of the page to a maximum of 4 and has seen Google add 3 Ads to the bottom of the search results.

Now a Search Results Page, which used to have up to 13 Ads, will now have a maximum of 7

Why has Google done this?

Google’s logic is that it wants to bring desktop search in-line with Mobile search, making things simpler and saving money.

I know that most people just ignore the Ads on the right. Even Google reckons that only around 30% of Google users actually look and click.

Although this percentage of users clicking is quite low, the revenue generated for Google is huge.

About 70% of revenue comes from clicks and, with Google the largest company on the planet, this represents a significant income.

However, it’s never enough. The hope is that by just having Ads at the top (and bottom) of the page – more people will click on them.

As well as attracting more clicks, Google will be hoping that businesses will pay more to ensure that their Ads are at the top of the page.

What Impact will this have on businesses

For businesses not paying for Ads, the top free results now appear further down the Search Results Pages. This may mean more people choose to click on an Ad rather than your website.

If your site is not in the top 3 or 4 of the free results, you may find that searchers now have to scroll – and they may choose not to.

This could mean more investment in Search Engine Optimisation to move your site higher on the first page.

The other danger is that Google increases the number of Ads at the top of the page. Google could choose to fill the first page with Ads which would mean that the free results would not appear until Page 2 [speculation]

If you are an Advertiser it could lead to increased costs as more businesses compete for fewer opportunities. However, if you sell products and use Product Listing Ads (PLA) these will continue to feature on the right hand side.

What should you do next?

You need to understand the impact that these changes will have on your website and so I’ve put a special offer together to help.

In-depth SEO review of your website – Special Offer – Save £100.00

Let me take the strain and carry out your audit for you, taking a deep look at your search engine optimisation, providing recommendations to improve and even looking at the way your website is working.

Normal Price Special Offer
1-10 Pages £250.00 £150.00
11-30 Pages £300.00 £200.00
31 – 50 Pages £350.00 £250.00
51 – 100 Pages £400.00 £300.00
Over 100 Pages POA POA

To take advantage of this offer all you have to do is give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and if you need help with any other aspect of your online marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing etc. don’t hesitate to use those contact details to get in touch.

The Three Pillars of Successful Selling

Elatation Sales At Elation, our mission has always been to be able to unpack the complexity of sales and give a business owner a simple guide to getting sales absolutely right in their business. This guide needed to fulfil a simple but fundamental brief:

  • Be cost effective;
  • Be time effective;
  • Get results.

The guide is now something we use daily within Elation and is a fundamental tool in helping our clients achieve more sales. It is formed around an observation we’ve made based on many year’s experience; all sales operations require success in three key areas to make them really successful, and in order for a business to have real strength it needs to have strength in each of the three key areas of selling:

Three PillarsSales Activities

Sales activities are the individual communications that your prospects and clients receive when they deal with you as a business. Sales activities are an organisation’s way of communicating to existing and potential customers, so they must be consistent, represent the business effectively and meet the requirements of the customer. Elation not only assess what activities are being conducted, but the quality and quantity of these activities, as well as how they interact with each other and other areas of the business. We review the following core strengths of sales activities:

  • Diversity
  • Quantity
  • Structure
  • Content

Sales Process

Sales process allows businesses to organise their activities to ensure they meet specific goals. Elation look at the day to day plans for the front lines, which need to be in place to really drive sales. This pillar is about defining the blueprint that controls business success.

In this area we look at the journey your customers take with you across the following areas:

  • Lead generation: how are you finding and creating new clients?
  • Lead nurturing: how are you influencing the buying decision?
  • Account management: how are you ensuring your clients continue to use you?

We also focus on the technology used within each stage, reviewing issues such as:

  • How are you documenting your sales activities?
  • What reporting systems are in place to ensure activities are productive?
  • What systems are in place to ensure opportunities are maximised?

Sales Management

The management pillar is really about who is responsible for the overall sales success, and how they are held accountable. Sales management will focus on two areas; management itself, which is ensuring everything is in place to ensure that the process is happening in the most effective way, and leadership, which requires a strong and motivated team and driving them to reach their goals. When assessing the strengths of sales management, Elation consider the following areas:

  • Structure
  • Performance
  • Communication
  • Training

If your business has real strength in all three pillars then you can be sure that the sales operation is performing at its optimum level and your business is really thriving. Elation work to develop each of these areas to ensure our clients have strengths in each, and that each pillar is operating in cohesion with others.

How does your business stand up against the three pillars? If you’re not sure, or just want to get a bit of advice, then let us know and we’d be more than happy to have a chat.

How Clean is Your Phone?

It’s with us up to 24 hours a day but have you ever given any thought to mobile phone hygiene?

Just think about everything you touch during the course of an average day, keys, door handles, keyboards, pens, credit/debit cards, cash and so on. How many other people have touched those things? How hygienic are they? Have you ever checked your phone in a bathroom or public toilet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you have, apparently most people have checked their phone in a bathroom which goes someway towards explaining why 1 in 6 phones have faecal matter on them.

BacteriaAccording to research, the average mobile phone has 18x more harmful bacteria than the handle on the door of a public toilet.

We go to the loo, use our phone and then pop it into our pocket or handbag, somewhere that’s nice and warm, in other words an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

A little later, we take our phone out of it’s bacterial breeding ground and hold it to our face to use it. Some of the bacteria transfer to our hands which gets transferred to others when we shake hands, touch money or other door handles etc and some gets transferred to our face – where it can cause acne.

Because few of us bother to really clean our phones (wiping the screen doesn’t count) the germs keep building up and they include E-Coli (great for upset tums), influenza and MRSA (causes rashes and skin infections)

So, the next time you have a spot or rash on your face or go down with an upset tummy or the flu, don’t look at who you’ve been in contact recently, take a long hard look at your mobile phone, it might well be the culprit.

So, what should we do? Well, you can buy anti-bacterial wipes specifically designed for electronic devices, or you could use standard rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel. Use cotton buds to get in to those nooks and crannies and, finally, don’t forget to take your cover off and clean that too.

Andy PoultonEnterprise Online Marketing Solutions

IBC Visitor Day – 23 July 2015

IBC Visitor Day 2015

We had one of our regular visitors day yesterday, an open session where business people can just “drop in” for a chat and learn more about the way that Bristol’s Interactive Business Club differs from the myriad of alternatives.

The networking started in the bar area of the Future Inn and continued in our meeting room upstairs where 34 people enjoyed learning about each other’s business, the 11 guests learned more about the informal yet effective way that IBC works and we all enjoyed a 2 course lunch.

IBC Networking in actionVisitors ranged from a cleaning services provider to a specialist in African holidays.

The networking continued after the formal close at 2pm with many people staying behind to exchange contact information, business opportunities and much more.

Although the Visitor Days only happen a couple of times a year, we always welcome guests to our regular meetings so why not come along and give lunchtime networking a go? Just let us know and we’ll book you in


Are you watching Meerkat through your Periscope?

Meerkat and PeriscopeOver the past couple of weeks there’s been quite a lot of chatter in a variety of media channels about two relatively new Apps, called Meerkat and Periscope.

They both do the same thing, enabling you to broadcast live video (streaming) from your iPad or iPhone. Meerkat has an Android App under development and I’m sure Periscope won’t be too far behind with Microsoft and Blackberry probably following later.

One way of thinking about both Apps is as though they offer live video selfies although there’s a lot more to them than that.

Although Meerkat was first to market, Periscope was quickly snapped up by Twitter and so quickly generated a great deal of interest. Both apps are available through the iTunes store and are easy to download.

So, what are they, who are they, how do they work and what do they do?

Once you have downloaded your App and signed in through Twitter – yes, you have to have a Twitter account because that’s where your broadcast is published, all you have to do is to point your camera at your topic of interest and start broadcasting.

As soon as you start broadcasting, a Tweet is sent to all your followers so that they can tune in and watch your stream.

What do people stream?

Business tips, health tips, recipes and cooking, news and updates, views from around the world and TV broadcasts –  the recent Pacquiao / Mayweather bout was live streamed by someone pointing their iPhone camera at the TV and causing great angst amongst the Pay Per View broadcasters because they were charging £20 in the UK whilst App users could watch it for free.

What are the drawbacks

Well, it’s another Social Media channel that you might have to pay attention too, but more importantly there’s the potential cost. If you are streaming on Wi-Fi then you’re OK but if you’re broadcasting on 4G then you might find that you eat through your data allowance pretty quickly and, if you are not careful, even run up some hefty data charges

So, is it a “game changer”

It’s really too early to say, the Apps have only been around a couple of months. A lot of tech journalists have used them to stream from major tech shows, product launches and demos, just like live news broadcasts and just like any live broadcast you have to watch it live or miss it.

In my opinion, it’s certainly “one to watch” and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Andy Poulton
Enterprise Online Marketing Solutions

Safer Internet Day 2015 – 1,2,3,4 I declare a Password War

Top passwords of 2014

1,2,3,4 is the start of The Beatles “I saw her standing there”, it’s the way you “declare a thumb war” and it’s also the 7th most popular password of 2014, up from 16th the year before.

10th February 2015 is the 12th “Safer Internet Day” and we’d like to make it a day where people change their simple passwords for something much more secure.

Why is it important?
hacker-insideSafer Internet DayEvery day millions of websites come under attack, ranging from simple personal sites to complex e-commerce sites and online email service providers.

Just think about your information that’s “out there” and what could happen if your business or personal security was breached.

What’s in your Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook.com mailbox, how valuable would that be to a cybercriminal? What if they hacked your email account and sent emails to your contacts and connections, as you, then tried to use your email address for more nefarious purposes?

How about if, after hacking your email account, they used your credentials to try to break into your bank account, your building society account, your credit card account  or use them to set up fake accounts that they can then use to steal your identity, borrow money in your name and have it sent to their bank accounts, buy products online that are delivered to them and billed to your address – the list goes on and becomes even worse if it’s business data that has been stolen.

Business bank accounts typically have more money in them with longer lines of credit, your servers may contain enough information for the cyber criminals to target your customers, there may even be ideas, designs and other pieces of Intellectual Property that could be sold or misused in a  variety of other ways, all to your disadvantage.

You know it makes sense to have stronger passwords but a lot of people, as evidenced by this list, obviously can’t be bothered – maybe they deserve what comes their way?

I don’t think they do, which is why I’ve published this blog post as part of “Safer Internet Day” and I’d ask you to review your password policy, both internally and personally and follow these simple tips and guidelines to minimise your risk.

What should you do?Pasword Box
Don’t use the same password on every site you log in to, ideally, each site that you have an account with should have its own, unique, password.

I know that sounds hard but it’s remarkably easy if you use one of the many, secure, password creation and storage sites such as KeePass, LastPass or PasswordBox. These will automatically create strong and unique passwords and save them in your databank and automatically fill in the boxes whenever you are on one of your sites that require secure access.

Many also come as Apps for installation on your phones and tablets so that you can always access the sites you need to, whenever and wherever you are.

They run in your browser so that you can access your passwords and other log-in data from any internet connected computer, at home or abroad, on holiday or business trip – just make sure you remember to logout if you’re using a public computer.hacking.jpg

If you don’t want to use an App then make sure your passwords are at least 8 characters long and are comprised of a mix of UppEr cAse and loweR case, 1nclud3 a numb3r or 2 and m@ke use of spec!al character$ wherever possible. You can check the strength of your password at HowSecureIsMyPassword

If you are concerned about any of the security aspects for your business, then send me an email, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk  or give me a call on 01793 238020 for a hack free, zero obligation chat and I’ll be delighted to see whether I can help secure your business from cyber criminals and make sure that you don’t become a victim, like Sony did at the end of 2014.

Responsive Design – what is it and what’s all the fuss about.

Computer MonitorsWhen the internet was quite new, we were working on screens of 800×600 resolution – that’s 800 tiny dots [pixels] wide and 600 high computer monitors. As screen technology improved we moved to 1024 x 768 and then wide screen monitors began to take over.

Web developers faced a bewildering range of screens and no solution was ideal.

If they designed sites for smaller screens then websites that were viewed on wide screen monitors had large expanses of empty space, if they focussed development on the wider screens then small screen users were left with two options, scroll across the page horizontally or go to a different site. The majority voted with a click and chose to go elsewhere..

Sony P990 Smart PhoneSmartPhones are going through a similar metamorphosis. screens are getting larger and resolution is getting higher which means content [words and pictures] has a tendency to look smaller. One of my early Smartphones, a Sony P990 had a screen that was 2.7″ with a resolution of 320×240 whilst my current phone, an HTC One has a screen that’s 4.7″ across with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, the same as a full HD TV in other words.

This means that desktop sites designed for widescreen monitors do “fit” on the screen but the text is so tiny in most cases as to be unreadable. Yes, i know that I can use my fingers to zoom in and zoom out, but like many people, I find that’s just too much of a faff and websites that don’t make it easy for me to read and navigate simply get ignored.

So, how do you go about making sure that your website isn’t ignored by mobile users?

There are three options, although one of them isn’t really an option, it’s simply to turn a blind eye to the problem and ignore everyone that uses a phone. They won’t like that, and will probably ignore you and Google will probably ignore you too – and neither of those are good for business.

Mobile version of websiteThe second option is to have a mobile version of your website developed and hosted at http://m.yourwebsite.co.uk. This is not too expensive to achieve and can easily and quickly overcome many of the obstacles. www.dudamobile.com will even get you on your way for nothing, nada, zero. It took seconds to produce the simple version of this very site and, with a little more time spent on editing, it would become extremely user friendly and usable.

However, the third, and for the moment, the best option, using something called Responsive Design.

Responsive DesignSimply put, Responsive Design is built in to this site, it’s not a stand-alone mobile only version, which makes it suitable for tablets as well as phones. Responsive Design is able to assess the resolution and size of the screen being used to access this website and automatically re-size the site to make the navigation easy and ensure that the content is easy to read.

A word of caution though, it does mean that your website will have to be completely rebuilt and it could add to the cost so it might only be an option when you are ready to revamp your site.

However, don’t leave it too long. You’ll get left behind and your clients may very well choose to vote with their fingers.

Need more time? Here’s 10 Top Time Management Tips

1. Days always fill up, often faster than you anticipate.
Be realistic, and never plan for an eight-hour day. Instead, always factor in some buffer time. Cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter was right about time planning in his Hofstadter’s Law: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

2. Work more when you’re in the zone. Relax when you’re not.
This is a lesson which comes with maturity. Some days you’ll feel alert, inspired and raring to go; but other days you’ll be struggling to maintain any sort of focus. Learn to identify these times when you’re in the zone, and maximise them. Then on the days when you can’t seem to focus, you’ll be more justified in taking a break.

3. Stop multitasking. It merely kills your focus.
Many years ago, a boss and mentor of mine taught me this very valuable lesson, and it’s one I’ve never forgotten. Learn to categorise your work into sets of tasks, such as emails, phone, writing, preparing a presentation etc. Then plan to work through one category at a time. Your brain will work more efficiently this way, you’ll be able to focus better, and ultimately you’ll be more productive.

4. We’re always more focused and productive with limited time.
Never was a wiser word said! It seems many people produce their best work when the deadline is tight. So set shorter time limits for your tasks to keep the pressure on to get things done.

5. Work is the best way to get working. Start with short tasks to get the ball rolling.
Begin your day with simple actions that you can easily complete. This will help you to cross off smaller items from your to-do list so you can feel productive immediately, inspired and ready to delve into more mentally taxing work.

6. More work hours doesn’t mean more productivity. Use constraints as opportunities.
I learnt early on that just because people sit at their desk for longer, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re being the most productive. Aim to complete your work within normal office hours so that working late is an exception rather than the rule.

7. Organise meetings early in the day. Time leading up to an event is often wasted.
This is one of my favourite time management hacks. I often find it hard to concentrate on other tasks, if an important meeting is scheduled for later in the day. So get meetings over and done with early on, so that you can concentrate on other things.

8. Keep the same context throughout the day. Switching between projects/clients is unproductive.
Much like multitasking, switching between projects and clients is often unproductive. If you’re able to keep a consistent focus, it will give you the chance to think more deeply and creatively about the task in hand.

9. Work around procrastination. Procrastinate between intense spurts of work.
I figured this out in my days of revising for exams. Concentration works best in short bursts. You may find Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique worth trialing. It allows you to break your work into 25 minute increments, with five-minute breaks in between.

10. Only ever work on the thing that will have the biggest impact.
If you’re already in the habit of writing a to-do list at the start of the day, be sure to identify the task that is the highest priority. Once you’re in the zone, get to that task as soon as possible, so that you don’t run out of time.

With thanks to GoToMeeting for these tips