Are you attending the right networking events?

Article by Sandra Garlick 20.06.16

When you start out in business it is often tempting to attend every networking event you can find. It is often referred to as “He/she would attend the opening of an envelope!” We have all done it in an attempt to make as many contacts as possible in order to fill those long days ahead with new clients and ultimately work.

However, this can have a few negative implications:

• Your marketing budget dwindles fast.

Not all networking events are free and if you have to pay a membership as well as an attendance fee, these soon mount up. It is important to have a budget for networking and to stick to it.

• It may give the impression you have no work. 

If you are out every day networking, when are you actually doing all your work? So many times people introduce themselves and say what they do, followed by a statement that they are so busy…networking. Great if it’s your business but if not it tells another story.

• You increase your waistline! 

 If you attend breakfast, lunch and dinners regularly, you may soon start to see an increase in weight. There are only so many cooked breakfasts you can eat in a week. So ask for a healthy alternative if you find your diary full of events with meals included.

So how do you find and choose the right events to attend?

1. Ask others for recommendations about good events to attend. They may even invite you along as a guest. It is often better to attend an event where you know someone or know something about the event in advance. It can also save you time and money.

2. Take a look at Eventbrite for events that are happening in your local area. It is wise to start locally to build up your network. This keeps travelling time and costs to a minimum.

3. Ensure that you leave time in the week for actually doing your work. If you are out networking all day every day, when are you going to earn the money to pay for it? Plan your week so that you have sufficient time to deliver your work and work on your business.

4. Are breakfast, lunch or evening events best? This largely depends on your capacity and whether you have other commitments. You may not be a morning person. You may have childcare or caring responsibilities. If you are a morning person and breakfasts work for you, that leaves the rest of the day clear.

5. Where will your clients be? Many people often overlook this and just attend events that they like, which is great. However, if you are never going to reach your clients then why are you going?

6. Look for events that allow you to visit a couple of times before you pay a membership. You need to ensure that the event is right for you and your business. If your target client is not going to be there, are there people attending who could introduce you to your ideal client?

7. Try and find free events. There are many of them around and advertised on groups and pages via Social Media.

8. If you have already visited an event and didn’t enjoy it, make a note not to visit again. In fact, make a brief note after you visit every event so that you have data to refer to. It is surprising how easy it is to forget if you are doing a lot of networking.

9. Choose events that resonate with you. You are far more likely to feel comfortable and confident when you attend. There is no point attending an event where you feel uncomfortable as this will show over time. Are you paying a monthly fee for an event which you rarely attend?

10. Think about attending events where you can meet a lot of people in one go. For example, attending a Business Expo will give you the opportunity to browse, connect and network throughout the day. These events are usually free to attend.

11. Include social events in your calendar. It is surprising how many contacts you meet at parties, weddings and on the golf course.

Once you have identified which events work for you it is a good idea to stick at them for a while. Whilst you may attend a networking event and pick up a new client straight away, it is rare. It is more important to build up relationships and trust over time. Once you secure a client, make sure you record where you met them. You will then build up a data trail of which events are working for you.

Happy networking!


Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Public Speaker and Trainer. Sandra is also the Founder of the Woman Who…Awards. Sandra will be exhibiting at the Kenilworth Chamber Business Expo on Friday 24th June at the Holiday Inn Kenilworth from 9am-3.00pm. Entry is free.



Could YOU be missing something ?​​​​

Article by Simon Perkin 15.06.16

As Napoleon Hill wrote, ‘every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit’. Are you looking for your opportunity ? 

In my case, I was struck down with Blood Cancer and my whole world fell apart. I was fearful of the future.

 Why did it happen ? Well. To be honest, we will never know but I believe it was all down to my lifestyle. When I look back, I was working long hours (60 hours plus a week) in a stressful job, drinking heavily (15 pints plus a week) and although I was exercising regularly, my diet was poor. I was no different to about 85 to 90% of the population, not eating my 5 a day in fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, the wonderful NHS, friends, family and the Anthony Nolan Trust and a very kind stranger, who donated their bone marrow, came to my rescue.

Fours years later, I am probably fitter now than I have ever been. As any leading scientist and doctors will tell you, good health is not just about good luck or good genes, there’s science behind it. My good health is no fluke or accident. I have worked hard at it and I am now on a mission to give something back.

Who do you know who is overworked and under paid ? Who do you know who is not paying attention to their health ? Is it time to get the balance back in your life ? 

Napoleon Hill continues to write, ‘if the opportunity is not immediately apparent, keep on looking. If you still can’t find opportunity, get busy and make your own’.

Imagine if you could, but you never did do anything about your health. 

Feel free to contact me via and let’s meet up for a coffee or a beer / glass of wine.

What numbers help SMEs make key business decisions?

Article by Julia Leak 21.03.16  

Julia Leask of Leask Accountancy Solutions is a Chartered Management Accountant (CIMA) and trainer with over 20 years’ commercial experience working for and with a broad range of sectors. The last 5 years have been specifically dedicated to working with SMEs. Clients have commented that she not only brings her expertise in managing and coaching a business, but also an enthusiasm that comes with treating the business as if it were her own. She is creative and positive, but practical and down to earth and willing to go the extra mile. Your business will be consistently supported in realising it’s true potential.

I guess you are reading this as you want to find out if there is more that you could be doing to help your business. The simple answer to this is possibly yes. Some businesses could do with a bit of help to know which numbers to concentrate on and how to understand what they mean. These are the numbers that help you make the important decisions in your business that make a difference. Unfortunately, there is not a simple solution like buying a piece of software off the shelf. As your business is different it follows that you will need a solution tailored to your specifications. Other businesses’ like yours have been through this process before and been helped, read what some of my clients have said, 


You do want to improve your sales, profits, cashflow, don’t you?

Being able to plan for success would be great, wouldn’t it?

Seeing your numbers in a clearer light would help you sleep better at night, I’m sure.

To start with it is beneficial if you are told that there are three groups of numbers that need to be monitored, controlled and reported. These include both financial and non financial data. It is not just the pounds and pennies that you need know about. If you can measure it you can control, compare against it and change it!

Group A

Key performance indicators (KPIs are specific to your business).

A KPI which is not reviewed at least weekly is useless in helping you manage your business. These should be the numbers that you think about most, the ones that motivate you to take action. They need to identify what good looks like for your business. From this you pinpoint where improvements are needed.

These could include some of the following: –

  • Sales leads​​​​(new potential customers)
  • Conversion rate​(at what rate a lead converts to a customer)
  • Conversion cost​(how much it costs to obtain a customer)
  • Sales per salesman​​(how much each salesman sells)
  • Commission per salesman​(£x commission earned)
  • Number of new customers​(how many new customers)
  • Number of returned customers​​(loyal customers)
  • Average sales ​​ (sale’s value)
  • Cost per sale​​​(direct cost of each sale)
  • Profit per sale​​​(sales value less direct cost)
  • Debtor days​​​(how quickly your customers pay)
  • Creditor days​​​(how quickly you pay your suppliers)
  • Cashflow (12 month forecast of all income and expenditure)

This list is not complete and so it follows that you will find there could be many more KPIs more relevant to you. They will help you measure and monitor whether you are hitting your targets. It is worth noting that many of these figures cannot be taken straight from your accounting records. You will need a bespoke system to calculate them. This should be simple and automated as much as possible so that the results can be checked each day. If you want a systems review to help you model the right process call Julia today 01926 298829.


Group B

Your accounting systems dashboard numbers

These are the numbers produced by your (preferably cloud based) accounting system and are the sort of numbers that might have sprung to mind at first. These are the more traditional money numbers which include total sales, gross profit, overheads, cash (bank and petty cash), creditors and debtors.

They summarise and confirm your daily figures and give you a (slightly) bigger picture but they tend to lack the details you need for making key decisions. With a good cloud based system you should be reviewing these figures weekly and discussing them monthly with your accountant. As bookkeeping has become more automated, most good accountants should be offering you a monthly fees plan, that includes a discussion about your performance and the improvements you can make

 Group C

Year end figures otherwise known as your Statutory Accounts 

These are prepared months after your Yearend with all your historic data. They are perfect for ensuring that you are compliant with all your legal requirements and supporting your tax return.

However, as far as being used for quick decision making they have little or nothing to contribute. The overheads they detail are primarily needed for HMRC, to support your tax calculation, rather than planning performance and efficiency. With the development of cloud based systems most good accountants will offer these services as an add-on to their value-added services as the software takes care of your compliance. If your accountant is only doing year end compliance and not offering you any business advice you may be losing out. 

A and B numbers (the first two groups) are crucial for planning your businesses success. These need to be known daily or weekly so that you can act on them as soon as they stray from your ideal. Making decisions in your business has to be supported by up to date information. Knowing YOUR important numbers is key for YOUR business.

So, what are your important numbers? Make a list of the top 10 numbers you think are vital to your business, can you find them easily?

Are you struggling to work out which numbers to monitor? The chances are that your systems probably already provide some of your key numbers so you just need to record and review them regularly. If there are some that are a bit harder to identify then email me, I would be delighted to speak with you

You do not need to wait for your accountant to highlight the bad news in your business months after it happened. By putting simple processes in place to review your daily numbers you will remain in control whilst also being able to delegate a great deal of the work to others.

Julia Leask ACMA MiP, CGMA 

Leask Accountancy Solutions

Tel: 01926-298829

Mob: 07855-275099
Linked In Profile:


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The Key To Success using LinkedIn

Article by Dawn Adlam 09.03.16

We are well into 2016 now, I hope the year has started off well. 

Speaking to a couple of people recently we had conversations about using LinkedIn as a sales generation tool. 

The question: What happens when you get a new connection you don’t yet know?
The answer: I send them information all about my company and what we do.

The Solution: Please don’t do this! No one likes being sold to, so don’t do it to them. Should you be “selling” on LinkedIn or should you be “helping people to buy”? There is a huge difference here. Look at your sales process, how many people have brought from you previously but you have never actually spoken to them? You have never engaged them in a conversation or offered to help them.

The next step once you have a new connection is arrange a follow conversation with them. Can you work together, is there a strategic alliance opportunity? Start building a relationship together before you send me a price list! 

The other question is should you connect to everyone who asks? My advice would be to respond to the person (without connecting) and ask them why they want to connect and how can you help? This is easy to do – in your pending invitations click on the speech bubble of that person and reply without connecting. 
Having a good strong set of 1st line of connections has far more value than 1000’s of people you have never actually spoken to.
I am always happy to offer help and have conversations, sometimes the slightest change to your Profile or a response to new connections can make a massive difference to using LinkedIn as an effective sales and marketing tool.

Call me on 07880725564 or drop me a line….
Kind Regards
Dawn Adlam

Dawn Adlam The Biz Links M: 07880 725 564 | L: 0121 371 9430 46 Spinney Drive | Cheswick Green | Solihull | B90 4HW 

“Now is the winter of our “bizcontent”…with apologise to Shakespeare

Article by Ernie Boxall 13.01.16

In Chinese 5 Element Theory. Winter is the ‘Water Element,’ the time where all the seeds of the next harvest are below the earth being nurtured by the nutrients in the soil so that when spring comes the plant will be healthy. The DNA of the flower/vegetable is already set so that all that all it needs is the right climate to allow growth.

So what has this got to do with business?

I have tailored my knowledge of the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine to my business so that my plans can be part of 90 Day Goalsetting for the sections of my work and life. To outline what this means let me explain briefly what the 5 Elements of Business are.

Fire… The spark…the idea for our business.

Earth… The support for our business.

Metal… The financial and ethical elements of our business

Wood… The fuel for the next business idea

Water…The direction/speed of our business and the nurturing of the seeds we have planted.


How Do I Use Winter?

The period around our deep winter month of December can be used to make the plans for the next 90 days of the New Year. By now we have been using the days before the Christmas period for networking and growing our contacts. We should have been easing down in the weeks leading up to Christmas so that the few days available to be with family and friends can be taken without fear of missing out.

But while we may not be in the office or on the road so often, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be making connections and plans, so that when we get back to full time work our schedule can be managed more easily.

How Can We Nurture Our Business?

At this time of year, few people will appreciate a phone call concerning work, but social media is alive and well. Connecting with people through social media to wish our contacts our best wishes; to leave messages asking for, or suggesting New Year meetings; to setting up special offers for our services. In this way we can not only begin to nurture contacts or the next year, we can also begin to fill our diaries with meetings and business plans.

• What Are The Physical Aspects of Winter?

The physical element of winter is water and when we think of water we think of the merest trickle at the source, becoming a stream; a brook; a river and eventually an ocean. Water flows forward. It flows at different speeds and creates different outcomes.

The gentle forward movement of water represents the steady growth of our business from its inception. The speed increases as we grow our contacts and we have to make sure we are protected against stagnation: The business grows and the speed of our distribution increases, still moving forward but manageable: The business increases in size and the depth and width of our enterprise moves forwards towards our goal for the business plan until we reach the ocean of a completed contract and look to the next business idea.

What Can Go Wrong?

What are the negative aspects of our Water Element?

As with all aspects of Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang, there are negatives to our business plans. As we continue the Water Element what does this mean?

The trickle at the source can be blocked by debris. Our plans put on hold by small difficulties, minor problems and small setbacks. As the trickle becomes a stream or a brook, it can meander this way and that, procrastination and a lack of forward movement means that the business wavers. The situation can become so extreme that the water stagnates and all the plans die or lack of energy. Or more dangerously, the river becomes a flood which sweeps all of our ideas away and we lose our connections. The speed of the water rips away all of the pillars we have in place to support our interests and our connections. The earth, which has directed the flow of business falls away and creates a waterfall which just cascades onto the rocks below.

Which direction is your business flowing? – What plans do you have for the next 90 days?

What speed is your business flowing at? – Are your contracts being managed efficiently?

Is your support in place? – Have you kept in touch with your connections; thanked your staff or partners for their work over the year.

Is your business moving forward?

That is the question only you can answer.

If you would like details of the ‘5 Elements of Business’ by booking Ernie for a presentation contact him at or call 07962 216833

The Spring Element will follow @GrowLeamington in February until then plan your next three months in business.




12 Steps To Make Auto-enrolment/Workplace Pensions Easy.

Article by Rebecca Mason 23.11.15

Do you employ anyone? If you do, then, you/your company must have the facility to provide your employees a pension (this is known as auto-enrolment/workplace pension). When do I have to do this? I hear you ask. This blog is designed to help you through this process.
One year before your company stages for auto-enrolment/workplace pensions you will receive a letter from The Pension Regulator informing you of your staging date and what you should do. The best advise from me is, don’t panic, you have a year to get things done, if you are unsure, ask and your payroll provider should be able to do all the “hard” work once you have picked a pension provider.

1. When your company receives it’s initial letter about auto-enrolment, contact The Pension Regulator and inform them who within your company is the point of contact. This is usually the person who processes your payroll. This can be done via this link:

2. As a company owner/employer, it would be advisable to sign up for the e-newsletter from The Pension Regulator for regular bite size information.  

3. If you already have a pension scheme in place for your employees, that’s great. All your company has to do is check with your existing pension provider to find out if it is a qualifying scheme for auto-enrolment. If it is not, they should be able to advise your company of how to change it to a qualifying scheme.

4. If you don’t already have a pension scheme in place for your employees, then you will have to chose one and register with them for auto-enrolment. Don’t worry, there are 3 major providers who specifically equipped up for small businesses: NEST, NOW Pensions and The People’s Pension.

5. Once you have a pension provider in place, inform your staff of who they are and how it will affect them. Your pension provider may aid you with this, if not, this link should help you:

6. Once you have a pension provider in place, inform your payroll provider/staff member who they are.

7. As a company, you will have to liaise with your employees and pension provider to get all the required information from them to set up the scheme before your staging date.

8. About 1-2 months before your staging date, as a company you should ensure that your payroll software can send the correct information to your pension provider each pay period. This may require you to buy and install additional payroll software. If you have a payroll provider, they will take care of this for you.

9. On, and after your company’s staging date, your payroll provider/staff member should run your payroll as normal, ensuring that you now encompass the auto-enrolment obligations. Your pension provider should write to all your staff members informing them of their services and how to opt out if they wish to do so.

10. Keep your staff informed about auto-enrolment as and when required.

11. Ensure you opt out any employee who wishes to do so when you are informed by your pension provider of their wishes to do this.

12. Within 5 months of your staging date, your company should complete the declaration of compliance.

Once you have done all these steps, each pay period you will just have to do step 9, 10 and 11. Ensuring that you keep a record of all communications you have with your employees (some payroll software will do this for you). Remember: every 3 year, you will have to enrol all eligible staff and they will have to make the decision to opt out again if they wish to do so.
As a payroll provider, I can offer a fully integrated payroll & auto-enrolment package. For further information on this, or, advice on auto-enrolment, please feel free to contact me on either or 07531051264.


10 Top tips to save time 

Article by Ruth Lowe 09.11.15

We all could do with more hours in the day. So in keeping with the subject matter of saving time, here is a really quick list of time saving tips, in no particular order.

• Figure out what your biggest time wasters are – once you know what they are you can either stop doing them, change how you do things, or limit your time spent on them.

• Live by routines – it may be boring but it makes your life more efficient, and you have to think less, feeing up your mind and some time. 

• Plan your meals – this will save you time and money (see previous post on meal planning).

• Record your favourite TV programmes – you can watch an hour’s programme in about 40 minutes if you fast-forward the adverts.

• Make lists – keep them simple and it keeps you focused.

• Live by the “two minute rule” – if something should take less than 2 minutes, do it straight away. You’ll spend two minutes finding your list, writing it down, reading the list, and putting it off again, and it won’t even be done!

• Set your clock or watch 5 minutes ahead – ok, so this doesn’t save time, but it helps prevent you from being late!

• Say “no” – sometimes you need to say no, or you’ll get burned out. Give yourself permission to say no every now and then.

• Delegate – the ultimate in having more time – get other people to do things for you!

• Pre-make breakfast the night/week before – for example, buy individual yogurts, and prepare 5 bags of muesli or fruit to add. Or make up pancake mix/scramble the eggs, ready to cook in the morning.

I hope that you’ve found these tips useful. Thanks for reading. If you want to see more of my tips visit my website, or follow me on facebook or twitter. And if you want to do some delegating, that’s what The Time Fairy is for!

Ruth Lowe

07928 553658

Twitter: @UKTimeFairy





The First Leamington Hour’s Christmas Business Fair

Article by Gary Jones 06.11.15

I am proud to announce a partnership with Love Handmade Fairs for our first Christmas Business Fair.
We have over 50 spaces available for you to exhibit your business. The handmade fair starts at 5pm and the networking starts at 7pm and finishing at 9pm.
You have the opportunity to meet with over 10 suppliers of the nicest handmade goods in Warwickshire. You can buy your presents there and the other half with never know (well until Christmas that is!).

 We have 3 great presentations starting at 7.30pm from Zak Roby, Kelly Taylor and a special guest speaker!! 

Food and drink will be available on the night and if you wanted to sponsor this or bring food along then please let me know. 

Expecting over 200 people to visit the exhibition and come to the networking event!!

If you would like to get more information or get a stall then email me at 

The stalls are FREE but spaces are limited. (Please note we cannot supply tables or props but the spaces are large enough for them). We will have space for leaflets and pull banners. 

If you have a pull up banner then you can exhibit!!

To get your free ticket then click on the link below.

See you there!!