Friday, October 21, 2011

Open4Business expands to cover all Dorset

South & West Dorset Open4Business, which began in Weymouth and Portland, now plans to serve all of Dorset.

Julie Cleaver, Managing Director of Open 4 Business Dorset said:  “Open4Business is set to expand and grow its offer in 2012, but will continue as a Community Interest Company supported by local businesses, business organisations such as the Chamber and local authorities."

"Traditionally Open 4 Business has been a 2 week business festival held in October each year, but in 2012 Open 4 Business will offer an annual programme of events, conferences and exhibitions throughout the year with a series of Awards in October/November."

"Originally Open 4 Business was created just for businesses in Weymouth & Portland following the departure of the Royal Navy. In 2007 the geographical area was widened to include businesses in West Dorset, Purbeck and Weymouth & Portland, however in 2012, Open 4 Business will be open to ANY business in the Dorset and the organisation will be known as Open 4 Business Dorset CIC”.

The 2011 South & West Dorset Open4Business festival programme closed with a “Winning Business Seminar” which took place on Thursday 20th October at the Ocean Room, Weymouth Pavilion.

During the 18 day festival over 750 businesses engaged with Open 4 Business through events and awards, a 15% increase on 2010. Award entries were up 10% and 67% of Award entries came from businesses who entered for the first time.
For more information please visit

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review - 'Get Noticed'

Life, it seems, is unfair. Attempts to level the playing field, to give equal opportunities, to avoid favouritism, are imperfect. Instead we often see the well-connected and the confident succeed, leaving the rest of us to mutter ‘if only’ under our breath.

‘Get Noticed’, by Marcus Taylor and Rob Lawrence, promises to change all that. While it can’t fix the inherent unfairness of life, it can help you to join the ranks of the successful by showing you how to raise your profile and your self-confidence.

This short book won't guarantee that you’ll become a major celebrity in whatever field you choose to play in, but it gives you a strong nudge in the right direction.

It is an essential read for anyone wanting to get better results from their business networking.

Having read it, you surely can’t fail, even subconsciously, to implement some of its strategies. You’re probably using some of them already, without being aware of the impact they’re having on your profile with those around you.

‘Get Noticed’ draws your attention to the attitudes and actions of successful people, and explains how they can also work for you.

The simplest things, such as dressing in a way which makes you feel confident, or learning how to engage in meaningful small talk, can make a huge difference to the way others perceive you.

The book builds on these, showing how ‘getting noticed’ can improve your business prospects and leadership skills, giving you the confidence to succeed in many other areas of your life.

To buy the book visit:

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Open4Business festival wraps up

A two week celebration of local business wrapped up with a lunch at the Boat that Rocks, Portland, on Friday 14th October.

The event was hosted by Andy Cooke, President of the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce.

The guest list included Heavenly Bump Maternity wear who recently won the Business of the Year  Award  at the South & West Dorset Open4Business Awards.

Amy-Kate Crane, co-owner of Heavenly Bump said “It was a real surprise winning the top award. My partner Kirsty van Der Goss and I have worked very hard during the past year to grow our on line business, and since joining the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce and with the help and support of Business Link our business has gone from strength to strength.”

The Government is ending all the regional Business Link services from November 25. At the event Matthew Butcher from WSX Enterprise, the company which has delivered the Business Link service in Dorset, told Chamber members that WSX was determined to fill the gap that would be left.
He said: “The Business Link service in Dorset included advice sessions for company owners, business start-up courses and information seminars.

“We know there is real concern that small and growing firms in particular will now be left without any ready source of face-to face advice and support. 

“We need a radical model to ensure that low-cost, valuable and impartial back-up for company owners is still to hand, and at WSX Enterprise we are determined to provide that. We will have more news soon about the services we will be delivering.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

You could win your own business

Have you got what it takes to run and grow a business? Would you like the opportunity to find out, and earn an income at the same time?

Dorset entrepreneur, Stephanie Pettitt, is offering a prize worth £20,000, giving the winner a chance to build their own business.

Through a competition which blends elements of The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den, she’s looking to award someone with a franchise in her successful online accountancy business, Equation Accounting.

The winner will benefit from the systems and brand that Stephanie’s spent years building up, and she’ll provide the mentoring they require to get up and running.

“I left home at 16 and had a pretty tough time. I would like to help someone else by giving them an opportunity,” said Stephanie, explaining her reasons for giving away such a huge prize.

Applicants don’t need to have a finance background, as Stephanie will provide all the training they need. What she’s looking for is someone with the passion and flair to make the business succeed.

More information about the competition is available from the Equation Accounting website.

Applications must be made by November 4th, with judging taking place on November 16th, at Bournemouth University.

This is where applicants will have to pitch their plans before a panel of experts. The winner will have to convince the judges that they have the personality, skills, attitude and business acumen required. The prize will be their own business, which could generate an income for life.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, or know someone who might be, take action now. Winning this competition could be a life-changing experience.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jurassic Safari goes off-road to success

As part of my BT Storyteller role, I’ll be following a number of Weymouth and Portland businesses through their London 2012 experience. They’ve agreed to share the expectations, achievements and frustrations that come with running a business in a major Olympic venue.

Born and bred in and around the Purbecks, Gary and Carol Fry are in love with the stunning Dorset countryside and coastline. They've converted this passion into a business which allows tourists to explore byways and viewpoints rarely visited by the public.

Powered by a six-seater Land Rover, the tours can range from two to seven hours in duration and cover different parts of the county. "The Purbecks are the most popular," said Gary, speaking of the tour which covers the seaside town of Swanage, sandy Studland Bay and the jagged ruins of Corfe Castle.

So far, in 2011, they've driven around 175 safaris, going off road and through rivers with passengers from babes to several in their 80s. About half are local people and the rest come from across the globe. "Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Indonesia, Russia, Greenland..." says Gary.

Uphill climb for a new business

The inspiration for Jurassic Safari lies 25 years in the past, when Gary's father spotted someone offering Land Rover tours on Exmoor. "We should do that in Dorset," he said.

Brought up on a farm, Gary was always very practical and for a decade he ran a fencing contract business. But in 2009, he was looking for a new direction and decided to turn his father's notion into reality.

It required considerable investment, both financially and in time. Buying and equipping the Land Rover was not cheap and it took months to work through all the practical and legal requirements.

When they finally opened for business, in April 2010, bookings were slow. Everyone who's established a start-up knows those first months can be frustratingly quiet. But Gary and Carol hung on and have been rewarded with a much busier 2011.

The Olympic effect on Jurassic Safari

As with many other local business owners, Gary and Carol are optimistic about the long term prospects for their business following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Images of the Dorset countryside and the Jurassic Coast will be beamed around the world, generating demand to visit this incredible part of England.

Team USA has already enjoyed a recent tour, and their party included Heather Mitts, a US Olympic women's soccer champion. She describes the Dorset coast as "quaint, scenic and peaceful."

The challenge for Gary and Carol is to find ways to keep people interested in safaris during the autumn and winter months. The beauty of the secret places they visit doesn't disappear during these cooler seasons, it simply changes. They're looking forward to introducing more visitors to the hidden treasures to be found on Dorset's byways.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The 2011 Open4Business awards

The 2011 South & West Dorst Open4Business awards have been announced and presented.

The winners are:

Business of the Year: Heavenly Bump - On-line retailer of maternity wear (Sponsored by David Upshall Insurance Services)

Small Business award: Wessex Ecoheat Ltd, Bridport (sponsored by Hive Beach Café)

Learning in the Workplace: Swift Signs, Weymouth (sponsored by Weymouth College)

Business Engagement in the Community: Battens Solicitors, Weymouth (sponsored by Basepoint Business Centres)

New Business: Filberts Fine Foods (sponsored by Humphries Kirk Solicitors)

Export: SALT, Portland (sponsored by Old Mill Financial Planners)

Tourism & Hospitality: Weymouth Harbour Traders Association (sponsored by Resort 2012)

Technology & Innovation: SALT, Portland (sponsored by DJ Property)

Retailer & Customer Service Award: Heavenly Bump , Weymouth (sponsored by Lloyds TSB)

Entrepreneur: Freefly Multimedia (sponsored by Equation Accounting)

Flame Award (Outstanding Contribution to Business):
Female: Sue Moore, Principal Weymouth College  (by Pineapple Business Support)
Male: Roger Dalton, Weymouth Harbour Traders Association (sponsored by Sunflowers Floral Design)

Congratulations to all the winners and the finalists, both on their success in the awards and their contribution to the local economy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sole trader or limited company - how do you choose?

Whether you are a start up or an unincorporated enterprise reviewing its business structure, the question you may be asking is, “Should I set up a limited company or am I better off as a sole trader?”

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers – what is right for one business may not be right for another, but these are some of the factors you should consider when making the decision. And don’t be afraid to get professional advice, especially on the tax position of your business; your accountant or tax advisor should help you to make an informed decision.

1. Simplicity

Being a sole trader is by far the easiest form for a business. You must register as self-employed with HMRC, keep accounts of income and expenditure, and submit a self-assessment tax return every year. There are no registration fees and no requirements to be audited or to file accounts.
A limited company, on the other hand, must register with Companies House and file accounts annually. In addition, it must maintain statutory books and submit an annual return to Companies House.

2. Flexibility

It is easy to set up as a sole trader.  It is also very straightforward to cease trading.  All that is required is to notify HMRC of the change in your business, allowing you to stop easily if your circumstances change, without the hassle and cost of deregistering a limited company.

3. Privacy

A sole trader is not required to file accounts or register a business with Companies House, keeping your business affairs private. Even small companies must file their accounts and submit an annual return, making certain details public knowledge.

4. Risk

A sole trader’s private assets are at risk if the business fails. There is no legal separation between the business and its owner, making a sole trader personally liable for the business debts. A limited company, on the other hand, is a separate legal entity and the owner’s liability is capped. Their liability is limited to the value of their shares, or a fixed sum in the case of a company limited by guarantee.

However, incorporating does not always remove the risks associated with being a sole trader. Directors of small companies are frequently asked to give personal guarantees to secure business bank loans.

5. Succession

It may be preferable to incorporate if you want to sell the business or pass it on in the family. A limited company may be a more attractive proposition than an unincorporated business, making it easier to sell. A sale can be completed easily by the transfer of shares.

6. Tax advantages

As a sole trader, if your business makes a loss, this can be offset against other income; a company can only offset its losses against its own profits from other years.

However, there may be tax advantages in operating an owner-managed limited company. As a sole trader, all your profit is taxed as income on the individual. , Income can be withdrawn from a company in two ways: as a salary, subject to tax and national insurance or as a dividend. Dividends are paid out of profits after corporation tax has been paid, which is more tax efficient.

Dividend payments can only be made out of retained earnings, so if there is no profit, you cannot pay a dividend. The board of directors must approve each dividend and officially record it in the company’s minutes.

7. Credibility

Some people feel that a limited company structure gives more credibility with customers, suppliers and banks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Snazzy Specs look good for the money

We like to support and encourage small businesses here on Bizoh. So when Snazzy Specs, a new online retailer of spectacles, offered us some glasses to review, we thought: "Why not?"

Andrew Knowles, freelance writer and founder of Bizoh, bought his first pair of reading glasses a year ago. He only uses them occasionally, but gets frustrated because he forgets to take them places. Having one or two spare pairs would be really useful.

That's where Snazzy Specs comes in handy. Each pair of men's reading glasses costs around £16 and, as a bonus, comes complete with a soft case, cleaning cloth and a neck cord.

Here's the verdict on four pairs - including feedback from Andrew's wife and teenage daughters.

Zebra: Animal print adds life to the most functional of items, and this pair of specs is no exception.

Verdict: 'Gok Wan' said the teenagers the moment this pair was slipped into place. Not that Andrew knew who this was.

Matisse: You don't want all your specs to look the same, do you? This unisex pair caught our eye because, well, it's not just Andrew who needs some spare glasses.

Verdict: Andrew's wife immediately staked her claim on these and the daughters confirmed that 'feminine' was the appropriate verb. This purple pair looked particularly good on the 15 year old, but she preferred to take the photos.

Fleet Street: Let's be honest: the name was part of the attraction here. But Andrew wanted to try a pair which was not completely framed.

Verdict: These created a funky, geeky look which could work well when Andrew's out and about talking to clients about social media.

Harvey: Thoughtful, serious glasses; black, with a touch of silver to show they mean business.

Verdict: Probably the best pair in the selection, well-balanced and supplying the mature, intelligent look that Andrew needs when he's writing. But do you agree?

Our overall impression is that Snazzy Specs provide great value for money. At £15.99 for most pairs, they're around a tenth of the price Andrew paid for his first pair of glasses.

He'll continue to prefer his original specs, because the frames are much thinner. But being reluctant to spend lots more on a back-up pair, he's pleased to discover that Snazzy Specs glasses provide an ideal solution.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Business support infographic

We recently posted an article about how useful infographics can be to businesses.

And now we've come across this one, prepared by Business Link, which helps firms to understand where to go for help.

Business owners and managers can benenfit from assistance at many points during the set-up and running of their commercial operation.

There are a whole host of bodies out there who can provide assistance, ranging from accountants to trade organisations.

This infographic is useful quick reference showing the places that you could go for help with various issues. You may find it useful to print it off and pin it to a noticeboard, where it could act as a handy quick reference and reminder.

Free Sustainable Business Exhibition in Bournemouth

This year’s Sustainable Business Exhibition, organised by Dorset-based businesses greenmessage and The Passionate PA, is being held on Thursday 10th November between 10am and 4pm at AFC Bournemouth.

“Our purpose is to bring together the region’s environment and sustainability professionals and give them a platform for demonstrating the changes that can be made to help improve a business’s ‘green credentials’.” Kate Chastey, Owner of The Passionate PA

The exhibition will provide visitors with the opportunity to meet with environment and sustainability professionals to discuss case studies and best practice as well as the options available to suit them and their business. Expert advice will be on hand to explain how energy and resource efficiencies can produce cost savings.

Entry to The Sustainable Business Exhibition is free and provides an excellent opportunity to engage with the leading sustainability experts in our region. There will also be a programme of highly informative workshops and talks throughout the day, run by chosen professionals on varied topics. More details of these will be published in due course.

“The response we’ve had so far has been amazing, this promises to be a great event for the local business community – whether you are already sold on the positives of a greener future, or just beginning to think about how your business could make changes, this event is for you.” Bryan Benjafield of greenmessage.

There are still exhibitor packages available - If you are interested please contact Kate on 01202 802 863 or email [email protected]