Friday, 25 July 2014

Sports Day Poem by Natalie Trice

Natalie Trice blogs about bags, coffee, shoes and her boys. This poem is her ode to Sports Day.

The grass is cut

The air is sweet

The mums and dads are there to meet

They talk about the day ahead

Some wish they had stayed in bed

The children walk out one by one

Fingers crossed no rain, just sun

The track is straight

The lines are bright

We hope our little ones will do alright

A sea of faces looking keen

A whistle sounds, sharp and mean

Legs and arms moving fast

Little red faces shooting past

A bean bag here

A hoop there

Please come first, if you dare

A sticker, a kiss

A photo for the ones who missed

A picnic lunch

Food to munch

Cakes shared, juice passed

A moments glory in which to bask

Sports day is so much fun

Don’t you agree, everyone?

This poem was originally published on Just Because I Love. Find out more about Natalie, the wanna be novelist and blogger, by visiting and You can also follow Natalie on Twitter @natalietrice.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Caroline Garnham, founder of Family Bhive, the one-stop shop for Trusted Advisors and UHNWIs

 ‘Good ideas’ are not good business. Coming up with a good idea especially one that is unique, does not mean that you have sown the seeds of a good business. A good business is finding what is being done already and doing it better. The UHNW community is a little understood minority with a lot of spending power.

From numerous conversations I have had over the years with wealthy individuals as a private client lawyer, they have said that what they want is one platform which provides them with all they need in one place at one time, filtered to their preference, which is why I created for them But how to monetise it? So we looked around for what these people were doing already and then decided to do it better. Both communities want to meet, but the rich don’t want to go into a room full of advisors; they will, however, tolerate one or two sponsors. But they also want to meet each other – they are human just like everyone else and want to meet people like them.

There are now numerous organisers of events which host family office conferences, where the UHNW sit in rows and listen to speakers. But the rich do not like sitting in rows, listening to one talk after another, which is often a thinly veiled product push, they want to meet and discuss deals. This is why I host soirees at my home where the rich can meet and discuss deals for which a sponsor pays a handsome price. The advisors also want to meet each other in the hope that advisors will recommend them to their clients. They attend lots of ‘networking events’. In fact 20% of their time is spent meeting each other, but 40% say it is not very productive and that they always meet the same people time and again.

So this year we formed for them a Trusted Advisor Academy for them to meet a broad cross section of advisors, where they can hear inspirational speakers on how to make their marketing more productive. Both events are sponsored which is good business, we also provide them with the tools they need to improve their marketing; our handbook ‘Eight Simple Steps to Success’, and a ‘Guide on how to Present a Good Case Study’ – good business while at the same time teaching them what the UHNW community want from them! Furthermore it is simply not true that the UHNW don’t look at the websites, they are three times more likely to look at comparison websites than any other community.

Only 1-3% respond to a product push. Everyone who starts a business complains about how slow it is to start, but we sometimes forget that we are human. There is an innate fear in all of us of the influence of strangers, which is why regardless of what you are selling and how much it is needed, only 1-3% will respond to the first approach, whether a cold call or at a meeting. This means that 97% will either not remember or have been put off. This is why businesses to start with are always slow.

It takes 5-12 'touches' to overcome this innate fear of the influence of strangers. How is it possible to build up the requisite number of ‘touches’ when only 1-3% are showing any interest?  There are four ways to overcome this fear:

• Education - Education needs to be distinguished from training. Education is what does my target market want to know more about – and training is what do I want to teach them. If you are selling shoes, what interests the avid shoe buyer;  fashions in shoes over the years, the story of Hush Puppies, what goes into making a good shoe, what makes a shoe comfortable? Education must be pitched at the right level to gather interest.

• Aggregation - If there is a crowd of competing brands, such as at a trade fair, fear is reduced. Retailers understand this which is why similar shops cluster together; Bond Street for luxury, Tottenham Court Road for techy stuff and the Burlington Arcade for cashmere.

• Reciprocation - What can you give someone for free? What the wealth advisory industry forget is that a recommendation from their network to a client is something for free and it builds trust, as is a one hour free consultation. It also indicates that the seller is not just focussed on getting but on giving as well, which helps build trust.

• Case studies  - show me don’t tell me. The increase in interest in case studies is 1,227%, and everyone is doing it. Journalists put a human example into every article whether it is on insurance or the plight of Syria, charities do it all the time, as well as politicians. To increase interest further it should arouse emotion; fear, lust or empathy, have a plot; hero or connection, and social proofing, who else is doing it or has found it works.

Put all this together and you have the makings not just of a good idea , but also of a business.

For further information please visit Caroline Garnham is a former lawyer and service broker to the ultra-high net worth community. When a multi-millionaire neighbour complained about the lack of multiple services for the ultra high net worth community, this inspired Caroline to create Family Bhive, an exclusive networking club that caters for the UK’s wealthiest, connecting the UK’s wealthiest with the calibre of advisors who are best placed to manage such substantial affluence - a one stop shop for the rich, if you will, unifying lawyers, accountants, hedge fund managers and reputation specialists, right through to exclusive travel agents, real estate experts, art dealers, auction houses and private plane companies.

Caroline’s first book, Eight Steps to Success: a Culture of Care, is published in September, but a more condensed manual is out now.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Join In and ITV team up to support local sport

The team at Join In blogs about this summer's initiative to get more people involved in sport.

From the World Cup in Brazil to the Tour de France, we have an amazing month of sport ahead. But  no one lifts a World Cup or wears a Yellow Jersey without starting out at a local sports club – and being supported by lots of incredible volunteers.

That’s why ITV are teaming up with Join In. They want to inspire and empower their viewers to get active, be a part of the action, and make a difference in their local communities.

The new ITV Local Heroes campaign aims to encourage more volunteering in local sport – with a target of generating interest in volunteering in community sport from a further 100,000 new volunteers.

Our research suggests that every volunteer allows 12 participants to enjoy community sport (read our story here), so a boost of that kind could mean up to 1.2 million new participants involved in sport in their local clubs.

The ITV Local Heroes campaign kicked off on 4 June with a promotional TV advert (above) during England’s pre-World Cup friendly against Ecuador starring England football legend Ian Wright. The promo for the ITV Local Heroes campaign will highlight the importance of volunteers within community sport.

Local Heroes will also be brought to life in ITV Fever Pitch, ITV’s World Cup beach football fan park in Manchester. During the World Cup, games will be screened every match day in a beach soccer stadium – and in the mornings, a community programme will run where schools from the North West will come down to receive beach soccer lessons from professionals.

“Join In is thrilled to be working in partnership with ITV,” says our Chief Executive, Rebecca Birkbeck.

“ITV Local Heroes will put sport at the heart of communities by encouraging thousands of people to volunteer at local sports clubs and groups across the UK.

“We believe that this collaboration will inspire 100,000 new volunteers to lend a hand and encouraging more people into sport – and ultimately leading happier and healthier lives.”

For more information and to sign up to become a Local Hero, see ITV’s Local Heroes site and information on Join In, visit, on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Beyond The School Run

As the kids take a break from their studies, can the summer be a time to rediscover our talents and skills? Louise Webster, Founder of thinks so.

I was stopped this morning by a mother at my son’s school, who I have past regularly for the past year.  She stopped me and asked if I was the person who set up and told me she had been following it since launch. She said her youngest child will be starting at school in September and now seemed like the time for her to start thinking about engaging with her skills again and yet how would she do that within the hours available to her.

It made me think about how important this summer break from school can be for us all in starting to think, question, investigate ways in which this can work. This is not a well-trodden route (as I know) so we need to create new paths, explore, test and keep going.  Each of us will make a difference in our choices and inspire others. I was inspired this week when I met a mother from my daughter’s nursery who has been running her social media business in the evenings and is ready to grow it once her daughter starts school this September.  We really can learn from one another, share our experiences and grow together if we can only just open up the conversation.  

Let’s make this summer a time of fun, sun and exploration!  I for one will be looking to share as many opportunities, ideas and connections to you via the website and newsletters this Summer – so just register at and together we can make the greatest difference to our lives and the lives of others.

Follow Louise and Beyond The School Run on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

2014 - The Year of the Women Entrepreneurs by Lisa Gagliani, CEO of Bright Ideas Trust

Women still haven’t reached true equality with men in the business world. This was confirmed when the UK government recently set a target of 25% female representation on the board of FTSE 100 companies by 2015. Although the figure has now reached 20.7%, predictions say that the target may fall short by just 1%.

It is a similar case for small/medium businesses and startups, with fewer women founding or managing businesses than men.

There always has been, and continues to be, a shortage of female-led companies. However, it is becoming clear that change is slowly but surely happening. The number of women being promoted to higher roles, taking on the role of managing director or starting their own business is growing. In fact, Forbes magazine went as far to say that 2014 will be the breakout year for female entrepreneurs.

But the question remains, why is the number of women in business still not equal to men? In order to find solutions and answers, it’s important to look at the obstacles that women face, from balancing work and family, to securing financing and gaining support.

As CEO of Bright Ideas Trust, a charity that helps people start their own businesses and learn essential business skills, I have spoken to many women in senior roles, who express the difficulties in balancing a home life with work and how they feel guilty about missing important family events because of their job. Starting their own business and feeling in control of their own time is a tremendous boost for women to retain their talent and contribute towards the economy.

But lack of confidence in themselves and their business startup can greatly affect their chances of achieving success. Women-led startups generally ‘compensate’ by researching ideas more thoroughly and seek out the support of others as defacto mentors. This tendency can and should be seen as an advantage and make women-led startups more investible.

Through continued support and guidance, a woman’s business can flourish. This can be through mentors and trusted advisers who can offer insight from many different industries. I have always seen huge value from this and it’s why we ensure all our beneficiaries at Bright Ideas Trust are assigned a mentor and are offered business lessons to help them learn and succeed.

Moreover, funding is crucial to many in order to sustain the growth of a business and even small loans can make a big difference. But when it comes to finance, women can face particular hurdles. This can be because of a lack of collateral, to feeling uncomfortable in asking for a large amount of funding, to ingrained gender bias – the nurturer clinging too tightly to the purse strings (unless we are buying shoes!). Add this to the fact it is now extremely difficult to borrow money from the bank, and you can understand why getting the right amount of money a startup may be difficult.

However, acquiring funding is less of a challenge now due the Government backed scheme run by The Start Up Loans Company, delivered by many, including us. We can fund many startups, no matter the product or service they sell. This scheme has made applying and receiving funding less difficult for entrepreneurs, and in turn we are seeing an influx in successful startups, run equally by men and women. We can already see this at Bright Ideas Trust, with 45% of the startups being women.

The correlation between the rise in charities and organisations that support people who want to start their own businesses, and the rise in women-led businesses, is no coincidence. Yes, more progress still needs to be made to encourage more women to conquer their inhibitions and follow their dreams in the business world but the future looks bright for women entrepreneurs.

Women’s empowerment will be front and centre in 2014 as more companies, communities and countries invest in female entrepreneurship. And I’m convinced that startups that are run by women, will in turn lead to a rise in number of investments in other companies led by women. Moreover, female business leaders will inspire others, make flexible working the norm, not lose senior talent at board level and encourage more to pursue their dreams and start their own companies.

Lisa Gagliani is CEO of Bright Ideas Trust, a charity that helps young people in London who aren’t in employment, education or training or who haven’t had the same chances as the rest of society to start their own companies and learn business skills that will stay with them for life. It helps by providing funding as well as advice and support from its team of dedicated business mentors and expert advisors. Since January 2013, Bright Ideas Trust has been delivery partners for The Start Up Loans Company. To date, Bright Ideas Trust has helped over 120 new startups achieve funding worth £500,000 and expert mentoring from the commercial world. Follow Bright Ideas  Trust on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Blogging Can Drive Your Business… If You Know How

The internet is used by millions of people every single day. They’re browsing the web, taking in all sorts of information, hanging out on social media and shopping for the best deals.

They are your target market. You know they’re there, but you just can’t get them to notice you and your website; how do you attract their attention?

You can advertise, sure, but that cuts into your budget quite a lot. You can use social media (and probably already are), but again, it’s hard to attract their attention because you’re limited to what you can share and talk about.

This is especially true for small startups and those branching out online for the first time. The internet can be a harsh and scary place (I know, I’ve been there!).

If you don’t have a blog, you’re traffic will suffer

The first thing you should be asking yourself in today’s online age is, “Does my business have a blog?”

If you’ve answered no, then where have you been?! According to QuickSprout, companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads, and 61% of consumers feel better about a company that has a blog.

For full infographic, visit QuickSprout

Even well-established and recognised brands use company blogs. They don’t necessarily need to. But they still do. And here’s why:

1. Blogging increases traffic to your site, and all that traffic has the potential to be turned into customers.

If you’re providing valuable content, and are promoting that content properly (don’t worry, we’ll discuss in detail this further down), then you’re going to receive a large amount of traffic that you definitely wouldn’t have reached through advertising alone.

All of this traffic has the potential to be converted into customers.

2. Blogging is a form of free advertising

Your blog is your very own platform to say whatever you want to. You can promote your latest products, share your industry expertise and give your business a personality.

3. Blogging helps with your SEO efforts

Each new blog post is another indexed page on your site. This tells Google, and other search engines, that your site is active, which is one of Google’s factors when it comes to ranking your site.

What’s more, blog posts allow you to target and rank for certain keywords. This doesn’t mean writing a blog post with the sole purpose of keyword stuffing – that will get Google’s attention for all the wrong reasons.

4. Blogging makes your Social Media efforts a lot easier

Blogs and social media work in partnership with each other, to make your job a lot easier.

It can be difficult to know how to tackle social media; finding interesting and valuable content is a pain, and when you do find something of value, you ultimately end up driving traffic away from your site and your business.

However, if you’re the one posting interesting and valuable content on a blog that you own, not only are you keeping the traffic in your ball court, you’re also giving people another valid reason to follow your social media pages in the first place.

“But I have a blog, and I haven’t had any of these benefits”

Having a blog is a great start, but that’s just the beginning. The next questions you have to ask yourself, are “Is my business blog active?”, and “Am I promoting my blog posts effectively?”

It’s all very well and good to have a blog these days, but if you just publish a couple of posts every now and then sit back and wait for the traffic to pour in, you’re doing it wrong.

Top 5 Common Business Blogging Mistakes

Mistake #1: Not promoting your content

How easy is it for people to find your blog? Do they even know you posted some really cool industry tips yesterday?

Promoting your blog and your blog posts is essential for getting traffic and reaching out to new audiences. People aren’t going to come to you. You need to go to where they hang out online and place your awesome content right in front of them:

Promote your blog posts on social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon etc.)
Join Google+ communities and Facebook groups
Use hashtags (#)
Reach out to influencers in your industry, asking them to comment/share your post
Guest blog on relevant and authoritative sites in your industry

Mistake #2: Inconsistency

You need to be regular with your blog posting. Decide how many blog posts you can write a week and stick to it.

A consistent blog is an active blog (remember how much Google likes active sites?), and relays to your audience that you are dynamic and up to date.

As people learn your publishing schedule, they will become more likely to subscribe and/or follow you.

Mistake #3: Being too self-involved

Yes, do include your latest company news in your blog. But don’t make your business the only thing you talk about.

This is a huge mistake I see all the time, and the terrible truth is that no one cares.

The trick is to think about what your audience wants. Inspire them, share tips and information they can’t get anywhere else. Answer their burning questions and provide them with useful material.

Mistake #4: Boring design and layout

You need to make your blog posts look pretty. It may sound silly put like that, but if your blog posts contain no images, and have large chunks of text that haven’t been broken up, you’re going to see a high bounce rate.

If possible, use a featured image that is as engaging as possible. Avoid using logos and stock images if you can, and use sub-heading and bullet points to break up large paragraphs of text.

For full infographic, visit MDG ADVERTISING

Mistake #5: Missing the point

Remember why you started your blog in the first place? To increase traffic and by doing so, to increase your sales.

You need to convert your new audience, by using strong call-to-actions (CTAs).

A CTA is an image or line of text that prompts your traffic to literally take action and converts your audience to an engager or potential customer.

For some ideas and examples of effective CTAs, HubSpot has a great blog post that I’d recommend.

Start blogging today

Create a blog or look over your existing one
Decide how many posts you’ll make a week and when you will publish them
Brainstorm original post ideas that provide value to your audiences
Decide how and where you’ll promote your blog posts
Include a CTA

Remember, blogging won’t get you heaps of new traffic overnight, but after time you should notice an increase overall.

Blogging is only one branch of your marketing strategy, and won’t replace other traditional methods of advertising.

Got something to add? Disagree with one of my points? Comment below to share your experiences.

Louise Dickens is an experienced blogger with a degree in journalism, who currently works as a Content Marketer for Aptitude.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Travel Photography: Your Passport to the World by Maxine Bulloch

Not that you may need an excuse to, but carrying a camera can feel like a license to talk to anyone.  They say that strangers are friends you haven’t yet met, and that is so true.

There’s a common perception that travel photography means going away to far-flung places, or certainly going on umpteen holidays, taking pictures of astounding scenery, or capturing a culture far removed from what is usual for you. As nice as this would be, it is on the whole inaccessible and unrealistic to most, as there are things such as budget and responsibilities to consider, as well as that little thing called a job which we do to support our hobbies and interests.

Here’s the thing: the only difference between travel photography and ‘staying put’ photography is that generally you’re more inclined to take pictures when you’re in a foreign circumstance to capture that ‘foreignness’. Which means really that if you want to, you can find foreignness and points of difference in your everyday life and consider travel a daily occurrence. Even a trip to the shops can be classed as travelling, and when you bear this in mind, the possibilities for travel photography are endless!

A great idea I heard about a while ago is to make sure you always have a trip lined up. Not only is it something to look forward to, but the moment you’ve booked tickets the trip feels like it’s started already. So far this year I have been on one big trip to Kazakhstan, and lots of smaller trips around the UK.

Kazakhstan was incredible, surprising and different. Obviously I wanted to capture much of it on camera, but one of the things I’ve learnt is that you have to be mindful of the circumstances you’re in when you have a camera in your hand. Traveling solo makes you hyper aware of yourself and the situation, and to a certain extent you want to remain inconspicuous. I like to observe and be the fly on the wall, but a lot of the time you get noticed by others, and your presence can dilute the impact of that which you’re trying to capture.  It is a tricky dilemma, but I managed to devise an alternative way of capturing what I saw which was the ‘shot from the hip’ method, where I didn’t look through the camera to see how the picture was composed but rather held it at hip height and hit the shutter button whenever something ahead looked interesting.

Of course this didn’t always result in a good shot: a picture of three pairs of black boots, or a street worker throwing salt towards the camera to clear snowy roads: but I did also get lucky with a straight shot of a Kazakh lady perfectly posing at a bus stop in her fur coat and hat, and a pigeon feeder hiding amongst the trees. Of course, the boot and salt photos were not what I envisioned but actually the imperfections of these images make me like them even more.

 Projects such as these give a focus to photographing adventures in a foreign country, and I would really recommend setting yourself on-going projects that can be continually added to. You’ll find that the theme and way you look at it evolves, and makes the whole project richer.

Smaller trips this year have included weekends in Brighton, Norfolk and Broadstairs, as well as day excursions around London including the beautiful Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney. I’ve looked at themes like the old shop fronts along the beachfront in Brighton, and got portraits of the flower sellers in the market.

My current project is called #wetravel.  I take portraits of people I stop on the street and ask them a few questions related to travel. I’ve met some amazing people so far including one guy who speaks Shona (the native language of Zimbabwe) and British Sign; a lady who leads tour groups around the world, and a man who spent time when he was young rearing bulls in the outback of Australia.

This is it really, the best thing about travel photography - the chance to meet new people and learn about their lives.

Maxine Bulloch is a freelance photographer in London, England, working in PR during the day. For more information, visit Follow Maxine on Twitter and Pinterest.