New pot of funding for SMALL Businesses in Devon & Cornwall available in March 2010.

As an approved supplier for Business Link in Devon & Cornwall, we are always looking out for funding to help our clients – and here is the latest pot to be made available.  It is the TRAIN TO GAIN (TTG) Leadership & Management Advisory Service (LMAS) funding that is aimed at BUSINESS OWNERS & DIRECTORS, which has been around for a while but usually only available to organisations with 10-249 employees.   But in March 2010, a limited pot of funds will be made available to SMALL BUSINESSES with 1 – 9 employees.  As it is limited, it is available on a first-come, first served basis.

The funding available is UP TO £1000 and consists of 2 parts:

  • £500 grant that covers the cost of delivery of a training programme/event ie the business can claim up to £500 back
  • £500 matched funding, where an equal amount of funding is matched against what the business pays for the training.

Therefore if the business claims the full amount, it means you can access £1,500 worth of training for the cost of £500.  You have a wide choice for the type of training or development that is eligible for the funding, including accredited management qualifications, day courses, coaching & mentoring support etc.  For example, you may want to know more about using Social Media or learn about what different aspects of Marketing would be right for your business.  What is NOT covered is any mandatory/statutory training (such as Health and Safety), any technical training that you need to do your job (eg if you run a web development company, you could not claim for update training) or assessment costs for accreditation such as ISO or IiP.

Of course there will be some paperwork to do, but at PPG we usually are able to do this on your behalf – and the TTG support team will help you with the rest! Other considerations you will need to be aware of:

  • The TTG funding ONLY covers the actual cost of delivery – it does not cover VAT or additional expenses such as subsidence and travel – these are payable by the business.
  • To claim both/either the grant &/or the matched funding, you will have had to pay for the training before making your funding claim as you will need proof of payment, so you will need to pay out money first.  However the funding claim process is pretty straightforward and TTG will try to get the funding back to you as soon as possible (typically a couple of weeks).
  • You need to claim the funding claim within 90 days of the start date of any training and development as any claims after the 90 days cannot be guaranteed to be refunded.

Most importantly, this funding is only available during March 2010 with a limited number of applications available, so it will be provided on a first come, first served basis.  Contact Us at PPG if you want to know more specific information regarding your own business and how we can help you access this pot of gold!

FSB Devon Business Awards 2010

The Federation of Small Business in Devon have just launched their 3rd Annual Business Awards with categories that cover Best New Business, Service Excellence, Environmental Responsibility, Training and Development, IT in Business, Enterprise & Endeavour, Best Young Entrepreneur and Employee of the Year.

The Awards are open to any business based in Devon.  Application Forms can be downloaded from the category links on the FSB Devon website.

Closing date for entries is 19th March 2010 and the short lists will be announced on 19th April 2010.

Go on – be brave.  You know your business deserves it!

How Legal is Your Sales & Marketing?

Breakfast Seminar (8.00 – 10.00 am)

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Hall for Cornwall, Truro, TR1 2LL

HOW LEGAL IS YOUR SALES & MARKETING?

Many businesses in Cornwall put a great deal of effort into generating sales and building up their business.  But how many stop and think about those sales and marketing activities? Do you know what you can and cannot say? Do you know what you say actually works? Do you know what you say is legal? This breakfast seminar, hosted by leading corporate/commercial solicitors Murrell Ashworth LLP, will provide an insight into the latest regulations and legislation, plus tips and tools to keep your sales and marketing activities legal and measurable.

The seminar will focus mainly on practical approaches to staying on the right side of the law, for example areas that directly impact how businesses can/cannot promote themselves such as the 2008 Unfair Commercial Practices Directive or the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations. We have three leading specialists in their field:

  • Mark Stuart, Head of Research, The Chartered Institute of Marketing will present a user-friendly overview of what legislation and regulations impact commercial enterprises, including case study examples to highlight where businesses go wrong and how they can get it right. The Chartered Institute of Marketing is the world’s largest organisation for professional marketers, making it the first port of call for marketing information, knowledge and insight.
  • Katie Ashworth, Partner, Murrell Ashworth LLP will review the key areas of law that impact how businesses communicate with potential and existing customers, including how to avoid getting into the minefield that is mis-representation.  Business law for business people – Murrell Ashworth LLP is a specialist law firm comprising a team of high calibre corporate/commercial solicitors who possess the rare combination of city expertise and local market knowledge.  They bring a fresh approach to the West Country’s legal services community, providing tailored practical legal advice from a commercial perspective in language business people understand.
  • Sue Windley, Marketing Director, Pragmatic Performance Group will provide practical guidance on how businesses can measure different aspects of their sales and marketing activities to ensure that they not only stay legal, but can also guarantee effective outcomes for their marketing investment.  Pragmatic Performance Group are business acceleration specialists, providing practical advice, guidance and resource to enable Cornish SMEs achieve sustainable and profitable business growth.
  • SEMINAR TIME & LOCATION: 8.00am – 10.00am The event will start with a buffet breakfast and networking before the seminar gets underway at 8.30am.  There will be time for individual questions and additional networking at the end. Venue is the Hall for Cornwall, Back Quay, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2LL (click here for Map & Directions)
  • BOOKING: Please confirm how many places you wish to book (and if you have any special dietary requirements) by e-mailing Caroline Marshall-Hamilton caroline@murrellashworth.co.uk.  Closing date for bookings is 16th February 2009
  • COST & PAYMENT DETAILS: £10.00, which includes donation to local charity BF Adventure (charity no: 3546772) which supports disadvantaged children.  Please send payment by cheque, made payable to “Murrell Ashworth LLP” to the firm at 14 High Cross, Truro, TR1 2AJ or contact Caroline for account details for e-payment details.

To find out more about the business lawyers for business people, visit the Murrell Ashworth website.

Cornwall Business Awards 2010

The Cornwall Business Awards 2010 are calling for applications to be put in for their various categories in prepartion for the awards ceremony on 20 May 2010 at St Mellion International Resort.

Organised and presented by the Cornwall Development Company in partnership with SWRDA and Business Link, there are a wide range of categories including awards for the best Young Enterprise, Young Business Person, Social Enterprise, Business Improvement through People, Best Use of Technology and Best Diversification.  All category winners then get put forward for the overall Winner of Winners Award for Business.

Closing date for entries is midnight on 14th March 2010.  All businesses based in Cornwall are eligible to apply – click here for the Entry Page on the Cornwall Business Awards website.

First Dangerous Marketing Blog On-Line

Our new blog from Dangerous Marketing has published its first article – The Wonder of Social Media – bringing Outer Space into your home!

Take a look and let us know what you think!

Exeter Chamber of Commerce Networking Lunches 2010

Having attended the first Exeter Chamber Networking lunch of 2010, which provided great opportunities for networking with some great businesses in Exeter and East Devon, here are the dates and venues for the rest of the year:

  • Wednesday 17th February – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 17th March – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 14th April – Mercure Southgate
  • Wednesday 12th May – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 16th June – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 21st July – Mercure Southgate
  • Wednesday 18th August – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 15th September – Mercure Southgate
  • Wednesday 17th November – Thistle Hotel
  • Wednesday 15th December – Mercure Southgate

They take place between 12.00 noon and 2pm – you can book your place direct on the Exeter Chamber website. See you at the next one!

Cornwall Chamber Networking Breakfasts 2010 Dates

As a long time member of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce & Industry (see our company membership profile), we know that THE place to network in Cornwall is the monthly Chamber Business Breakfasts. They take place on Tuesday mornings between 8am and 10am, with plenty of time to get to meet some of the other 100+ guests, plus informative presentations to keep up to date. You can book your place via the CCCI website.

Here are the dates and venues for the CCCI 2010 business breakfasts:

  • 26th January 2010 – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth
  • 23rd February – Falmouth Beach Hotel, Falmouth
  • 23rd March – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth
  • 20th April – Falmouth Beach Hotel, Falmouth
  • 18th May – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth
  • 22nd June – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth
  • 20th July – Truro School, Truro
  • 24th August – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth
  • 21st September – Falmouth Beach Hotel, Falmouth
  • 19th October – Bedruthan Steps Hotel, Mawgan Porth
  • 16th November – Falmouth Beach Hotel, Falmouth
  • 14th December – Penventon Park Hotel, Redruth

Hope to see you at the next one!

Value of Marketing Metrics

As I am sitting here preparing a first draft of my 2010 series of presentations on marketing metrics, my Twitter home page has just popped up with an interesting article from MyVenturePad.com about how we undervalue marketing we cannot measure. MVP’s Tim Berry posed the question of how much value is placed on the aspects of marketing that are immediately obvious in how they can be measured such as “…getting mentioned in a major publication. Or being included in somebody’s book. What if those marketing wins produce a value we can’t measure?…”

This is something close to my heart as I am often working with SMEs (Small & Medium sized Enterprises) who do not believe they either have the means or the resources to measure and analyse the outcomes of their marketing activities.  My starting point is that the measurement does not always have to be purely statistical – but that what is used as a measurement is consistent, so that the business will have a means of comparison across each operating period.

If you want to know more, my first presentation on Marketing Metrics takes place on 24th February as part of a Marketing and the Law Seminar hosted by Murrell Ashworth LLP in Truro, Cornwall or Contact Sue Windley via PPG‘s website to discuss more specific requirements.

Follow that Balloon – how MIT demonstrated the power of Social Media.

At the start of December 2009, a section of the US Defence Department set up a very interesting competition.  They were going to release 10 weather balloons from secret locations across the USA and their challenge was that the first team to use social media to find out the correct latitude and longitude of all 10 balloons would receive prize money of $40,000. And the members of the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Laboratory decided to take up this challenge – and in the process of winning the prize, may have provided a valuable insight into how social media can be used to mobilise resources during emergencies.

The article A Social Network that Ballooned written by Larry Hardesty on the MIT News web pages explains how MIT’s Media Lab team came up with the winning approach (against 4000 other teams).  They used their expertise in using digital media to analyse and alter the behaviour of large groups of people, in particular when looking at large-scale collective problem solving.  The resulting data will be very interesting for government agencies to learn how to use social media to collect and manage resources in disasters and emergency scenarios.

The key to the winning approach was that it was based on a very simple way of motivating individuals through incentives.  Essentially the team simply offered to share the prize money between everyone that help to find a balloon across the country.  How big their share would be depended on their involvement in finding the balloon – if you provided the correct co-ordinates, you would get $2000; if you were the one that had invited that person, you got $1000; whoever invited you got $500, and so on. What was really clever about this was that the MIT Team worked out that no matter how long the chain got, the total payment would never be more than the prize money!

So if a 5-person team at MIT can mobilise people across a country as large as the USA by using social media, just think what social media could do for your business!

Find out more about the MIT Team’s Red balloon Challenge at their website or visit the MIT Human Dynamics Lab to find out more about their research into Reality Mining.

Learn how to Communicate from the BBC!

The Guardian On-line today reported that the BBC is offering free masterclasses in journalism online – which will be a great tool for small business owners to use in learning how to communicate with the outside world.

The Corporation’s College of Journalism, which is part of the BBC Academy, was established in 2005 in response to the Hutton Inquiry (prompted by issues over note-taking and working with confidential sources).  CoJo (or BBC College if you want to follow them on Twitter!) designs and delivers training to all BBC journalists in the UK and around the world.   This means you can access any aspect of journalism, such as writing and storytelling skills; the technical skills required to operate in a digital, multi-platform world; social media and the web; and ethics, values and law.

And now that the BBC has opened this up, it means members of the public can now get access to material delivered by the likes of John Simpson, Robert Peston and John Humphrys. Just a quick glance at the website shows how you can access masterclasses on every aspect of communications, from the basics of journalism, to how to get headlines (that you want!), to how to handle yourself on TV, radio and other media through to how to write copy for different types of media.

It’s definitely worth a look – next five minutes you have for a coffee break, go to the Skills section of the website and see what you can pick up.  Alternatively if you want to learn about how to promote your business – either in person, in print or on-line – but don’t want to work for the BBC, Dangerous Marketing can also offer access through coaching to some of the south west’s top PR and Journalism specialists.  Contact Us at PPG for more information.