John Keddie – Flexibility
Flexibility in business is absolutely core to success. Life, and the world of work, is changing so rapidly, the need to be flexible in terms of ideas, thinking and action is critical or opportunities will be missed. For me, agility includes identifying new ideas, challenging the status quo, focusing on the customer, and doing it right first time. Standing still is not an option, as if you do, the world will pass you by.
My story is fairly simple. I’m a scientist by background, with a PhD in biology. I got my first job aged 25 (!) working for the government as a scientific specialist, before moving on to Unilever Research in Liverpool. A few years later, I joined SmithKline Beecham, a global pharmaceuticals company, based in Epsom, Surrey. That company morphed into GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and I moved to work in Harlow in 2000. Working for GSK, I had a variety of jobs and started to work internationally around 2001. I’ve worked in about 40 countries over the years, including China, Japan and India as well as visiting the US over 200 times. My last role with GSK was as Vice President, Global Operations, managing over 40 operations around the world. One constant theme has run though my career – the need to be flexible and to anticipate and adapt to change. What works for the Chinese may not work in India, and Australia is not the UK with sun! It is a different market and business needs to be flexible to succeed.
Since leaving GSK, I have taken on a variety of non-executive roles, including joining the Board of Anglia Ruskin University, and most importantly, Chairing the Board of the Harlow Enterprise Zone. The EZ presents Harlow with a fabulous opportunity to develop the next phase of the town’s success – to attract high quality, high value jobs and to grasp the challenges of the next 20 years. We are agile in our thinking and flexible in our approach to attract the best opportunities for Harlow, but we all need to continue to seek the best ideas and innovative people to drive our success for the future.
MAUD’S ICE CREAM
Esther – originally from Northern Ireland – is the founder of Mauds Ice Cream, Harlow. “I grew up eating Mauds ice-cream, it was such a treat going out for a run in the car and stopping off and getting Poor Bear ice-cream. To this day it is still my favourite.”
Esther met her husband in Afghanistan in 2007 while serving in 152 Ulster Transport Regiment and later moved to Harlow. But whenever she returned to Ireland she would visit Mauds everyday for a ‘fix’ of Ice Cream. “However every year when I came back to England I would look to see if there was a local distributor and every year I was disappointed. I needed to bring the great flavours over to share.”
Mauds was founded by in 1980 by John Wilson – the Pioneer for Honeycomb ice cream – and Poor Bear Delight was born. The first Mauds Ice-cream was born in Northern Ireland in 1982. It was called Mauds after John’s mother. He gave it this name as a Mother’s day present.
Since then Mauds Ice-cream has become Northern Ireland’s busiest ice-cream parlour and has won over 17 Great Taste Awards as well as 5 Irish Food Awards.
Esther is the only distributor of Mauds Ice cream in the UK. She attends events in Essex and Hertfordshire. If you have a school fair, wedding, corporate event or a festival and you would like a novel (and fabulous) ice cream seller please get in touch. They proudly boast a 5 star food rating.
“I am very passionate about our ice-creams. There just isn’t any taste like it and I’m sure you will agree if you taste it too.”
T – 01279 957500
BOUNCING TO SUCCESS
Kimberlee Perry moved to Essex after 10 years in London and the sunny Australian shores of Sydney for the foreseeable future when her fitness business on mini trampolines called ((BOUNCE)) took off astronomically – and it all started in Harlow.
“The local community have been brilliant when it comes to embracing ((BOUNCE)) and I think that’s because in part, Harlow as a town has a vibe that’s on–par with my business motto, ‘FUN, FRIENDLY, FIERCE’ – it’s about being supportive of others, being happy and being determined to achieve. I think residents in Harlow have a lot of gumption, they’re out and about, vocal, interested, its buzzing and I love that about where I live. Australia in comparison is actually super laid back and from the perspective of a business owner, that ‘casual customer’ isn’t really what you need”.
((BOUNCE)) is a jump fitness workout to energising music, but as it’s low impact on the joints thanks to the trampoline mat which absorbs 87% of shock, plus its 3 times more effective than floor-based fitness which also means it’s efficient in shredding calories, plus appeals so almost every age and ability – probably the main factors in its rise to success.
Like any new idea ((BOUNCE)) began from a need, and as a new Mum herself Kim recognised that gym contracts and membership commitments were a factor putting people off exercising, plus parents find it difficult to commit time if they have to leave kids behind, as a result focusing on one self’s health and wellness can get put to the side. So the ((BOUNCE)) business model was created with the focus of financial flexibility for attendees which is why classes are pay-as-you-go and thanks to ((BOUNCE)) operating only in community centres, local halls and primary schools it means the price can stay low and is accessible in local towns all over the UK. Kim’s history of dance and fitness qualifications means that the workout performed is unlike anything you’d find in a traditional gym and the creativity in routines is what really keeps people coming back for more.
In 2014 Kim began ((BOUNCE)) with just 8 trampolines in a Paringdon Sports Centre, but as it started to grow, she knew it needed to be sold as a franchise model so developed a training course for other instructors to learn how to teach it and follow the company’s ideals. Now sells the brand all over the UK of which there are now 200+ studios spreading from Devon right up to Glasgow, including Northern Ireland and now even globally with New Zealand and Australia featuring studio openings in 2017.
The company moved to bigger Headquarters in Harlow this year offering more room for attendees near Staple Tye and featuring beauty rooms plus a warehouse and manufacture their own trampolines and clothing. Brand ((BOUNCE)) is going form strength to strength.
When asked about the company’s success Kim said “I think my franchise model is so popular because it’s aimed to suit people who want to work around other commitments, whether that’s family life, another job, or even to teach ((B)) as a hobby, they can because you can run a ((BOUNCE)) franchise almost how you like: our instructors choose their own studio location to operate from, plus the times they’d like to teach and either a lot or a limited amount of hours per week. This is the key to working with wonderful people I feel, because if you consider your colleagues wants and needs and provide them with an environment they love that pays well, it ensures they’re valued and that transcends into doing a brilliant work and overall customer’s satisfaction”.
Probably the main reason ((BOUNCE)) won Franchisee of the Year at the Best Business Women Awards 2017 and have 30,000 attendees each month doing classes – a mammoth rise from 8 trampolines in the last 4 years and an exciting, local company to continue to watch grow.
Find out more at www.bouncefitbody.com
Being flexible with GDPR
You should all know by now that GDPR becomes enforceable on 25th May 2018. It is intended to extend additional protection for individuals and their data, providing greater transparency and control over where their data is saved and used.
Whilst the GDPR is good news for customers, it is going to force some change on marketers.
As we all review our marketing choices, I would like to suggest a number of ways that traditional mail could help you ensure success in a GDPR world.
YOU WON’T NEED CONSENT FOR DIRECT MAIL
If you can meet the conditions for legitimate interest then you won’t need consent for postal marketing whereas you may need consent for email & SMS marketing and some phone calls. Due to the challenges involved in gaining consent to GDPR standards, brands may have some customers they can only reach by postal mail.
BRANDS WILL HAVE FEWER REGULATORY UNKNOWNS WITH MAIL
As mail in not in the scope of Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation or the proposed e-Privacy Regulation – which has no clear timeframe for implementation yet – brands may have fewer regulatory unknowns when contacting customers by mail in comparison to electronic channels.
MAIL OFFERS HIGHER RESPONSE RATES THAN EMAIL
In a world where trust and frequency of communication are increasingly important, mail is statistically proven to be more widely welcomed by recipients and offers higher response rates than e-mail. Consumers recognise that mail takes more effort than email. So when it is used, it reassures them that companies recognise and value them.
IT’S EASY TO STAY IN TOUCH VIA MAIL
While people are more likely to have multiple email addresses, including ghost ones they do not check – people generally only have on residential address.
THE POWER OF UNADDRESSED MAIL
Door drops offer targeted services that are delivered with addressed mail that enables companies to engage audiences without using personal data.
In another words GDPR with Mail is an opportunity to be flexible and increase success in targeting your market.
Passion isn’t only important when launching a business it’s important when doing business. Always. Whether you are a small start-up company, or a multi-million pound organisation never forget your passion.
Starting a business is something that occurs every minute, every day, every hour. People start businesses to make some money, right? Unfortunately when the focus is purely on making money, the business is likely to result in failure. This idea however, is transferable. If you are working in a business area that doesn’t excite you then instead apply yourself to a sector which you are passionate about. Being passionate helps your personality shine above the rest.
Look at the business from another perspective… instead of seeing all the cracks and failures try to focus on the good (which is often your USP). Being miserable both as a boss and an employee is draining for those around you; this can have a dreadful effect on your customers, too…
“It was clear that they didn’t want to be there”
“Why are they a point of contact for ANYone?! Zero personality”
“Talk about ‘team spirit’; this team were practically non-existent!”
Don’t put yourself in the firing line for comments like these. All it takes is a bit of ‘umph’ and energy to create passion. Remember: what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you. It is good to have tests and trials to remind you of the purpose of your place in business.
Without passion and enthusiasm, very few small businesses will succeed. Anyone who thinks that working for yourself is an easy gig, think again.
Sometimes it can be lonely, no one to bounce ideas off, no one to ask you if you want a cup of coffee, the constant need to market yourself can all take their toll.
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Why? Because I’m passionate about what I do, I enjoy making life easier for other small business owners. Helping them to see the wood from the trees, taking away the things that are holding them back from growing their business.
Recently, I spent a day with a client in her home office. When I arrived, she said that she hated going into the room, not because there was anything wrong with it, but just because it was full of ‘stuff’ that she no longer knew what to do with. By the end of the day and after some ruthless shredding, she stood at the doorway and said she couldn’t believe it was the same place. Not only that, she was looking forward to starting work in it the next day.
That’s why I do what I do. It may not be saving lives or finding a cure for cancer, but I do make a difference to people if only in a small way, and that really matters.
2018 marks a big year for the Ovenden family as they celebrate 75 years in business. We spoke to James Ovenden, Managing Director of Ovenden Papers (link) to find out how it all started, his plans for the future and what motivates him as a business leader.
“Ovenden Papers started in 1943 when my great grandfather Frank Ovenden and his business partner Stanley Everard opened the doors of their stationery company Everard Ovenden & Co Limited, in High Holborn, London, where they supplied local businesses with a fine selection of writing papers, envelopes and kraft wrapping paper. Over time they established themselves as a leading paper supplier to the city of London. Outgrowing several premises, they relocated in 1968 to larger premises in Epping where they continued to service London and the surrounding areas for the next 40 years.”
In 2012 with James now in charge, the company marked a significant milestone in their history by relocating to a 94,000sq foot warehouse here in Harlow in preparation for more ambitious growth.
James says that being a paper merchant is well and truly in his blood and that he is very honoured to continue the family tradition and work closely with the Hayward family in taking Ovenden Papers forward.
“This is a fantastic industry to be part of and continuing the legacy of Ovendens is a great privilege and one that motivates me every day. As the fourth generation of Ovenden to lead the company, I want to ensure its ongoing success and continue to build on the strong foundations that my father Michael laid down during his time at the helm. As a company, we collectively take a lot of pride in what we do and continually strive to give our customers the highest level of service.
Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for what they do and to do it to the best of their ability. Our culture focuses on collaboration. From the Chairman, my uncle Nigel, through to our delivery drivers, we have an openness about the way we work and we all share in each other’s success. This has created a really positive working environment and having strong lines of communication plays an integral part. Over half of our 84 members of staff have been with the company for over 15 years and together we make Ovendens. It’s a simple philosophy that has served us well for 75 years.”
Today, Ovenden Papers is the leading independent paper merchant in the South East of England supplying a wide range of papers, boards, envelopes and other products to the commercial print sector. With offices in Harlow, Ipswich and Croydon, the company has seen continued growth by consistently providing printers with an exceptional choice of materials at competitive prices, all held locally for same day, or next day delivery.
“Being an independent family run business we are very flexible and agile in the way we go to market. This gives us a great advantage with our customers. Like us, our customers are continually looking at ways to diversify and to generate new revenue streams and we are here to help them do that.
Over the next few years we will continue to develop these new markets while continuing to serve our existing customers with our traditional product and service offer.
With one eye on the future, James and his young management team are keen to develop the digital side of the business. “We want to ensure that our customers are able to trade and communicate with us in multiple ways that suit their style of doing business. We aim to becoming a seamless extension of their business and by working closer with them in a variety of ways we can provide them with an even greater level of customer service.”
It’s your business. Your idea, your USPs, your creation. But is it your passion too?
In 2007 I began selling books online. It was only a few a day at first but it generated a couple of hundred pounds a week – which was a lifesaver at the time. Of course, the stock was finite, and within a few moths the money started to dry up us the books were sold. In a (faintly rare) moment of clarity I sourced a new supply – I approached as many charity shops as I could find in the East End and took their excess stock for a donation…and, blow me, I had my very own cottage industry!
I converted my shed and shelved it from top to bottom in cheap mdf – this meant I could ‘hold’ as many as 500 books. I specialised in ‘pre-isbn’ or ‘antiquated’ books – those that held the most value – and soon the £200 a week became £300 then £400… I’d generated an income, a living wage, out of items other people had thrown away. I was shocked – and believe me I was very passionate about it!
With a friend I incorporated the business as FNM Books Ltd. We rented a warehouse and set out to buy up all excess, pre-1971 books in London and Essex, at one point we had over 70,000 on the shelves. All rustled up from nothing – the immediate outlay was negligible – of course the premises and logistics turned out not to be.
In 2010, or there abouts, I met with a chap called Arthur Maxfield who was doing the same thing down in Worthing, Sussex. He invited us down to his place to see how his operation worked. I was greeted by 60 articulated lorries, two facilities the size of Wembley and 300 staff. Arthur was passionate too. His company? World of Books Ltd.
Passion alone will not make you as successful a businessman as Arthur Maxfield, of course. There’s determination, logic, bravado, wit, intelligence, management skills. But…
…it’s a damn good start…