Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is yours one of the zombie companies holding Britain back?

The British economy is struggling to emerge from recession. One factor that may be holding it back is the abundance of zombie companies – those that are limping on, making little, if any, profit, with their finances stretched to the hilt, and contributing little to a struggling economy.

An article in the March 2012 issue of Economia states that, “The recent recession has left Britain with thousands of ‘zombie’ companies – surviving rather than thriving.”

In an earlier article in the Daily Telegraph last September, Jeremy Warner declared that: “Britain has become a zombie economy. Capital is no longer being allocated efficiently.” He maintained that zombie companies were sucking up some of the limited capital investment available when it could be better employed in helping successful businesses to grow.

Identifying a zombie company

Here is our checklist of some of the characteristics of a zombie company:
  • Reduced turnover
  • Lower profits
  • Reduction in market share
  • Poor management information
  • Operating at your overdraft limit
  • Pay cuts and redundancies
  • Loss of regular customers
  • Regularly paying suppliers late
  • Arrears of PAYE and corporation tax, with or without a Time-to-Pay agreement
  • Breathing life into a zombie company
Whilst zombie companies may be artificially extending their lives using credit facilities to limp from one month to the next, they are not all without hope.

If the underlying business proposition is still sound, what may be needed is a fresh injection of capital to enable the company to invest in the future rather than just survive the present. This may allow the business to reverse the trends that have turned it into a zombie – increasing turnover and market share by investment in new staff, capital equipment or marketing.

The difficulty is acquiring this extra working capital when finances are already stretched and you may already be working at your overdraft limit.

One way that firms are increasingly turning to is invoice factoring or discounting. This releases the money tied up in your sales ledger, effectively selling your debtors for a cash advance. Invoice factoring has the added advantage of credit control, leaving you more time to concentrate on running your business.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adding business exhibitions to your marketing mix

Exhibiting at a business show is not something to be taken lightly. Face to face marketing has great impact and business exhibitions are growing worldwide as brands become more innovative and competitive.

Putting on a great exhibit is not just for large brands and multinational firms, SMEs can have a unique strategy and maximise their involvement by simply going back to basics.


First things first, it’s all about what you are selling! Having a great product or service is the foundation for success. Consider your competition; is your product strong enough to compete at an exhibition? On the other hand, an exhibition is a great way to benchmark your competition. An exhibition can be a great opportunity for you to launch a new product and demonstrate it to your target market in an interactive and engaging way.


Is the price right for exhibiting at an event? Exhibitions are going to cost money but its all about ROI and the return you get. Consider what you need to get out of the show and set targets for yourself. Consider the price of your product/service. Offering unique prices to contacts who visit you at an event is a relationship catalyst.


Exhibiting at an event in your geographic location can really put you on the map and raise your company profile. Consider where you do business, where you would like to do business, if you are looking to grow; investing in a new target geographic location may be costly initially but will establish you in an area.


Maximise the opportunity to really promote yourself. How can you differentiate from the other stands?
Make sure your stand is eye catching, informative, clear and well recognisable. Be engaging and interactive, talk, listen, adapt! Give away branded items, keep your brand in their mind! How can you work with the 5 senses and make an experience out of visiting your stand?

Live marketing – utilise every bit of your exhibit. The people manning the stand, think about what they could wear, make it a feature.  Attract visitors to your stand as if it were an outlet. Having competitions at the stand encourages footfall and gets you contact information! Think smart.

Remember it is the human interaction that makes live exhibitions so powerful!

This is a guest post for Bizoh by Jobserve Events, who specialise in high profile exhibitions across the UK and Ireland.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dorset charity discovers the fundraising power of social media

Dorset's oldest animal rescue charity has discovered that simply sharing a problem on Facebook can generate the necessary funds and volunteer help - all within 24 hours.

Staff at Margaret Green Animal Rescue, near Bere Regis, were desperately seeking funds to fence a new off-lead training area for their rescue dogs.

"We needed funds to buy fencing in order to enclose an area of our site. This helps us so much with exercising, training and socializing our dogs off- lead in readiness for successful adoption,” said Claire Ross, Manager of Margaret Green Animal Rescue, Lincoln Farm.

The charity put an appeal on Facebook asking for people to “sponsor” a metre of fencing at just £1.50 in the hope of raising some of the money. The public response was fantastic. They spent a Saturday evening updating the Facebook page as donations kept coming in and were absolutely delighted with the support they received.

"Within just 24 hours, we had achieved our target of £352 as well as been contacted by experienced volunteers to put the fence up for us,” said Claire.

Once the team at Lincoln Farm had bought the fencing and posts, three volunteers spent two weekends putting the fence up – even in the snow.

Staff and dogs at Margaret Green Animal Rescue are delighted with their new rehabilitation area – made possible through incredible public support.

"The volunteers were absolutely fantastic – they put up a total of 235 metres of fencing, plus made a gate for the entrance to the field. Two of the days they worked on it they were battling with the snow!”

"We are so pleased with their efforts and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that helped us. The happy faces of our rescue dogs in the new rehabilitation area say it all!"

Margaret Green Animal Rescue re-homes thousands of animals throughout Dorset each year, including re-homing in Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth.

Anyone who is interested in re-homing or would like more information can contact Lincoln farm on 01929 471340.