Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lynne Brindley appeals for UK web archiving

http://www.webarchive.org.uk/images/ukwa.jpgI was somewhat surprised to hear Lynne Brindley’s voice in my bathroom as I was brushing my teeth on Thursday morning this week.

It turned out she was being interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about the lack of legislation which would ensure we don’t lose the vast amount of information only published on the World Wide Web.

The British Library has already managed to capture 6,000 sites in our UK Web Archive, but this is mere drop in the ocean compared to the millions of websites (past and present) in the UK alone.

It is reckoned that the average life expectancy of a website is less than 75 days, and that at least ten percent of UK websites are lost or replaced with new material every six months.

The problem is that until UK copyright law is changed, every website owner has to give permission to capture their site, and fewer than 25 percent of owners even reply to our requests.

In the meantime I suggest you nominate websites so we can capture more content.

I am rather proud of the fact that even this humble blog is being preserved for future generations of Infields to read. http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/target/7798801/source/search).

Tweeting snow with hash tag uksnow

As I mentioned yesterday (Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening report), Twitter is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for business, especially small business.

However, thank to some clever mashup programming by Ben Marsh it is now possible to get an instant snow view from Tweeters across the UK.

Below is today’s #uksnow map showing some isolated pockets of snow in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

More impressive is this screen shot from 6 January this year.

#uksnow screenhot

Even more impressive, and my favourite photo so far this year is this NASA image of the UK taken on 7 January. Ironically I was on a skiing holiday in the Austrian Alps when this image was captured, and we had considerably less snow where I was staying. On returning home I had to clear two foot of snow from my path just to get to my front door.

Great Britain

Facebook vs. Linkedin networking evening report

Phil, Richard, Heather and MontyI am glad to report that the evening lived up to its billing, with an excellent crowd, some learnings from our speaker Heather Gorringe of Wiggly Wigglers (WW), and some intensive speed networking courtesy of my colleague Gaby Rose.

Heather explained that her first venture into Social Media was with a podcast, which is now broadcast every Monday on iTunes. Although I notice their blog dates back to September 2005, which puts them amongst the very earliest of commercial bloggers.

Next came a Facebook group because it meant they could send a weekly newsletter to members. But also gave those same subscribers an easy way to opt out, rather than feel they were being spammed, as often happens with email newsletters.

She feels that Facebook allows you to get your personality and your brand out into the public domain. She recommends you join other groups and invite them to join your group, as a way to expand members. Theirs currently stands at 2,218 which is impressive.

Does using Facebook bring in sales?

Heather illustrated her answer to this with the story of a bride who published her wedding pictures on the WW Facebook group. This acted as a wonderful free WOMA marketing (word of mouth marketing), and seems likely to have generated several sales.

The test is that if you are willing to answer questions from you customers, you can generate a lot of interest. WW currently have over 320 topics on their Facebook group. Their followers get to hear about everything special going on with the company, and to participate in special offers which are only seen by the Facebook group.

Twitter

Heather said that she thinks Twitter should really be called Peeper, as it gives you a wonderful opportunity to listen to conversations your customers are having.

She deliberately set up an intriguing profile in order to encourage people to follow her, and suggests everyone does the same.

Why does it work?

She found her current accounting software through Twitter , after two previous failures.

In desperation Heather tweeted complaints about her BT phone service, and from four months of trying to get a resolution, and just ten days to being cut off. Within twenty minutes she had a reply and a meeting with her key contact within two days.

The power of trending topics can be seen in the example of the American farmer who used the moo hash tag. Within two hours the story reached 368,000 people, with the only cost being a little bit of time, resulted in national and international press coverage.

Heather gave the example of a complaint about WW service which have been seen as a PR disaster, but was actually an opportunity to put things right in a very public way, and ended up with some excellent comments from the orginal complainer.

Her tip was to search on topics relevant to you, and then follow appropriate people as they are likely to follow you back.

Also save searches on your company name so you can see when you are mentioned on Twitter.

She currently spends half an hour a day on social media activities, but believes it more than pays for the time invested in building a positive view of the WW brand.

Watch Heather in action

The branding of Amy Williams

Amy Williams.jpgEven for those who have not been following the current Winter Olympics in Vancouver closely, it is unlikely you will not be aware that Britain won it’s first individual Gold medal for three decades.

Amy Williams the 27 year old slider from Bath in the west country, became a national hero by twice breaking the track record at the Whistler track on her way to becoming Olympic champion in the terrifying skeleton competition.

She was travelling at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour perched precariously on a tiny contraption of plastic and metal, and won the title with a huge gap (for this sport) of 0.56 seconds over the silver medal winner.

As an aside, I can’t quite get over the fact that such a dangerous and terrifying sport (a competitor from Georgia was killed on the first day of the competition) has such a silly name. All of the competitors, ranging from the skeleton to the four man bobsleigh, are called sliders. Even worse, the competition takes place in a slider centre. Whenever I hear the word, I think of ten year olds egging each other on, to see who can slide the furthest on an icy or slippery patch of pavement. In my view the sport really needs someone to come up with a new name which more effectively captures the excitement and skill. Even something as basic as ice racing would be better than sliding.

Which leads me neatly into the point of this post. I was initially impressed by how calm Amy Williams appeared after her first two runs, putting her into the lead in the competition. The next morning prior to her crucial final two runs, she said she had slept well after a nerveless night’s sleep. This was confirmed by her calmness and consistency over those two runs which gave her the gold medal. I was more surprised by her comments during her first interview on the BBC within minutes of realising she was the champion. She said winning the medal would not change her, and how she was looking forward to getting back home to her friends and family in Bath. The interviewer unsuccessfully attempted to get across her view that Amy was now a celebrity and would be the focus of media attention from now on.

A newspaper article a couple of days later was headlined ‘Amy: I’m not a celebrity’, and had plenty of quotes to reinforce this view:

‘I don’t know when I’ll get my life back, but I can’t wait to go horse riding again and do the things I stopped because I had to concentrate so hard this past year. I can’ wait to do so-called normal things again.’

‘I never thought I’d win an Olympic medal, and it’s not going to change me.’

‘I’m just happiest watching a film with my friends and that’s what’s important to me. I’ll never lose sight of my normal life.’

‘My friends have all got their own achievements which are just as good as mine, but in their own worlds. I don’t see myself as being any different.’

Whilst I am impressed by these noble sentiments I will be amazed if the intensity of media attention will not change her. In recent years sport has become the leader in the celebrity stakes, eclipsing Hollywood and business leaders. Just look at the kinds of income those at the top of their sport, from motor racing to golf can earn.

Even for the relatively unknown sport of skeleton sliding you can be sure that now Amy is a Gold medal holder she will attract millions of pounds of sponsors money.

I watched with interest as Kelly Holmes (the winner of two gold medals during the Athens Olympics of 2004, gradually went from a shy and awkward performer in front of the media glare to delivering polished celebrity standard performances in adverts and news interviews, and picking up a Damehood on the way.

I would be very surprised, and to be honest, very impressed if Amy Williams is somehow able to resist the enormous pressures from the media and big business to become ‘brand Amy’ and instead maintain a normal life.

Business & IP Centre supports economic growth

Last week I attended our annual Partner Reception and enjoyed catching up with Goretti Considine from City Business Library, Mark Sheahan our inventor in residence, and many others from the over 150 attending.

This year we also announced the publication of an evaluation report showing how we have supported economic growth in London over the last few years. The report was conducted by economics firm Adroit Economics Ltd and included how many jobs and new businesses The Business & IP Centre has helped create, as well as highlighting some of its success stories.

In summary the report shows that:

  • We have created 829 new businesses for London and sustained 632 businesses
  • We have created 786 new jobs, or 1,615 including the new business owners
  • These businesses have increase their turnover by £32m in the past two years
  • For every £1 invested by the LDA and British Library, we have gained an average turnover increase of £4.61
  • We have generated a Net Present Value of £11.3m to the public purse

The report also shows how much entrepreneurs value our services:

  • 98% would recommend the Centre to others
  • 97% will continue to use the Centre
  • 89% achieved success with the Centre’s help

City Business Library re-opens for business

Picture of City Business LibraryAs a long-standing customer and fan of the City Business Library dating back to my City days, it is good to see them back in business after a move from their previous location.

It is good news on many levels. Before the move they were almost impossible to find in one of the many City of London (also known as the Square Mile) winding back streets. Also they were located in the a basement, which made for a somewhat oppressive atmosphere due to a lack of natural light.

Now they have moved into Guildhall, which is the headquarters for the City of London (previously known as the Corporation of London).

Along with the move they now have a shiny new set of library and IT equipment, making for a very impressive space.

City Business Library Relocation

The City Business Library has moved to Guildhall.

The  new address is: City Business Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH

Directional map showing the new location of CBL (157kb)

Collections

The City Business Library is a public reference library specialising in current business information which is intended to be of practical use. If you need information more than five years old, or you are interested in business history, we advise you to contact Guildhall Library.

If you wish to consult student textbooks, theses and dissertations or academic journals we advise you to contact an academic library.

Company information

We have electronic and printed information on both British and foreign companies. We subscribe to a number of company information database which you can use free of charge in the library.

If you would like more detailed information please download this guide:

Company information UK and worldwide (100kb)

Country information

Our collections include business directories, economic background reports, business periodicals, financial and trade statistics and guides to doing business in other countries.  If you would like more information please download the following guides:

Country information (90kb)

Market research

We have market research reports for both the UK and foreign markets, with an emphasis on consumer goods and services. Many reports are now published only in electronic format and are only available via online subscriptions. However, you can view them free of charge in the Library.

If you would like more detailed information please download this information sheet:

Market research (97kb)

Other collections

We have smaller collections on the following subjects:

  • Management including financial management, human resource management, and marketing
  • Finance & Investment – information on the financial markets including information of interest to private investors
  • Starting a business – download information sheets on:
    Starting a business (88kb)
    Starting an ethical or green business (96kb)
  • Importing & Exporting – download this information sheet on:
    Importing and exporting

Please note that any copying, whether downloading / printing from the databases or photocopying from printed material must be within the Copyright law.

City Business Library RelocationThe City Business Library has moved to Guildhall.

The  new address is: City Business Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH

Directional map showing the new location of CBL (157kb)

See us at our stand at the City of London Meet the Buyers event on 9 March 2010

Collections

The City Business Library is a public reference library specialising in current business information which is intended to be of practical use. If you need information more than five years old, or you are interested in business history, we advise you to contact Guildhall Library.

If you wish to consult student textbooks, theses and dissertations or academic journals we advise you to contact an academic library.
Company information

We have electronic and printed information on both British and foreign companies. We subscribe to a number of company information database which you can use free of charge in the library.

If you would like more detailed information please download this guide:

Company information UK and worldwide (100kb)
Country information

Our collections include business directories, economic background reports, business periodicals, financial and trade statistics and guides to doing business in other countries.  If you would like more information please download the following guides:

Country information (90kb)
Market research

We have market research reports for both the UK and foreign markets, with an emphasis on consumer goods and services. Many reports are now published only in electronic format and are only available via online subscriptions. However, you can view them free of charge in the Library.

If you would like more detailed information please download this information sheet:

Market research (97kb)
Other collections

We have smaller collections on the following subjects:

* Management including financial management, human resource management, and marketing
* Finance & Investment – information on the financial markets including information of interest to private investors
* Starting a business – download information sheets on:
Starting a business (88kb)
Starting an ethical or green business (96kb)
* Importing & Exporting – download this information sheet on:
Importing and exporting

Please note that any copying, whether downloading / printing from the databases or photocopying from printed material must be within the Copyright law.

Creativity comes half a second away from death

I don’t normally stray into the area of patents and inventions, as this is covered so well by my colleague Steve van Dulken on his Patent Search Blog.

However, whilst drifting off to sleep recently, listening to John Ronson on his BBC Radio 4 show, I heard an interview with Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who claims to hold the world record for number of inventions, at over three thousand. He has a target of six thousand before he dies at the age of 144 years old.

His technique for coming up with new ideas awoke me from my slumbers. The closer he is to death, the more creative his mind gets.

“I have a special way of holding my breath and swimming underwater-that’s when I come up with my best ideas.” Interviewed by Chic Thompson for Creativity at Work.

Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu holds more than 3,000 patents, more than double the 1,093 held by Thomas Edison. The next closest competitor holds just 400. For the past seven straight years, Dr. Nakamatsu has won the grand prize at the International Exposition of Inventors in New York City.

Dr. Nakamatsu invented the floppy disk and licensed the technology to IBM. “Does he get a royalty on the millions of disks sold every year?” I wondered; I discovered later that he does.

Among his many inventions are the compact disc, the compact disc player, the digital watch, a unique golf putter, and a water-powered engine.
http://www.creativityatwork.com/articlesContent/Nakamats1.html

Apparently, the key to his creativity is the lack of oxygen:

How do you “trigger” an invention?
A lack of oxygen is very important.

A lack? Isn’t that dangerous?
It’s very dangerous. I get that Flash just 0.5 sec before death. I remain under the surface until this trigger comes up and I write it down with a special waterproof plexiglas writing pad I invented.

Do you do that a lot? Putting yourself in that kind of situation to come up with a new invention?
Of course.  This is the Dr. Nakamatsu method.
From an inteview with Brainsturbator.

Somehow, I don’t think I will be reommending this technique to my clients.

40 schoolboy errors start-ups make

Smarta - think create growThe wonderful Smarta website has come up with a simple but hard-hitting list of basic errors many start-ups make.

Everyone is entitled to make a mistake or two on their journey (it is the best way of learning after-all), but make too many and your business is dead in the water. I have come across many of these mistakes during my advice sessions with inventors and aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly number 1.

Below are the headings, with more detailed descriptions on the SMARTA website.

The basics
1.    Assume ‘everyone will want this’.
2.    Can’t sell, won’t sell.
3.    Lose focus.
4.    Quit your job too soon.
5.    Don’t understand the industry.
6.    Don’t tell everyone you can about your idea for fear it’ll get nicked.
7.    Think a great idea alone is enough.

Planning
8.    Haven’t accounted for late payments in your budget.
9.    Not enough market research.
10.    Bad name.
11.    Make pie-in-the-sky forecast figures.
12.    Think your sales forecasts are accurate.
13.    Think big but don’t think about scale.

Pre-launch
14.    Don’t register your business trademark early enough.
15.    Forget to think up consistent stationary and signatures before starting.
16.    Don’t user-test.
17.    Don’t set targets.
18.    Agonise over  minutiae.
19.    Pay thousands for a website you don’t need.

Day-to-day business
20.    Rush into a deal before properly evaluating whether it’s worth it.
21.    Get intimidated by what the big boys are doing.
22.    Don’t keep in contact with potential clients.
23.    Hard sell.
24.    Don’t take negative feedback graciously.
25.    Explain your business in 10 minutes rather than 10 seconds.
26.    Stick too rigidly to plans.

Money
27.    Don’t have a numbers person on-board. Whether it’s an accountant, an FD or a partner who knows their onions, you need to have someone who can unravel the numbers for you if you want to make money.
28.    Don’t look after cashflow.
29.    Don’t draw up a contract when borrowing from friends, family or fools.
30.    Forget to include something major on your budget
31.    Travel excessively when you could do things remotely
32.    Overspend on office space.
33.    Rely too much on your accountant.
34.    Ignore the advice of your accountant.
35.    Forget to bargain on everything.
36.    Take investment too early.

The team
37.    Try to do everything and control everything.
38.    Recruit too soon.
39.    Don’t sack quickly enough.
40.    Don’t share the vision.

Company Partners blog goes live

http://www.companypartners.com/blog/wp-content/themes/vibrant/images/logo.jpgOne of our newest partners at the Business & IP Centre, Company Partners has started a blog aimed at anyone starting or growing a business.

“You use the Company Partners site to find a Business Partner. That business partner may be someone to join with you to start a business, or to join an existing company to bring additional skills into it. Or it may be that you are looking for a Non-Exec or Mentor. Or how about an Business Angel / Investor?”

The blog is going to cover:

* Elements of starting a business
* Growing existing businesses
* Anything about Business Partners, Mentors and Business Angels
* Raising business angel investment
* Finding rewarding business investment opportunities

The author is Lawrence Gilbert founder of Company Partners, and has already covered:

Why businesses don’t get started.

Be tenacious in making your business idea work – but not blinkered

How long does it take to find a Business Angel?