Peter Eales at Dorset Business Angels

It’s about the people they solve the problems

Quick Answer Blog

Question: For Investors is it the people or idea that’s more important?

Answer: It’s about the people they solve the problems.

Angel investors are often asked is it the people or idea you invest in. It looks as if I have given you a simple, clear answer. In a way, I have. It is the people. The reason being, problems change, and you need to know the management team can deal with tomorrow, and future years’ problems. The complete answer is it’s about the people they solve the problems, create value and business models. The key point being, an idea which is fantastic in the mind of the inventor, or today, is of NO VALUE, if nobody buys it, or if it is useless tomorrow.

Great people spot a problem to be solved, choose a valuable idea, solution, business model, strategies, plan and will make it happen. Do their answers add up? Does the story match your understanding? Questions are about people and the business – they are inextricably linked. Especially at the beginning of a business. And when the owner is standing in front of you appealing for funding. Their livelihood literally depending on it. It’s fascinating, life-changing, moving, and we see it happening at our pitches. The situation is clear. For Investors is it the people or idea that’s more important? It’s about the people they solve the problems create value and business models.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Dorset Business Angels and UKBAA Member Benefits for Angel Investors

This a great time to become an angel investor at Dorset Business Angels (DBA), especially with UK Business Angels Association, (UKBAA), where we are a member, doing so much for investors. For example, there will be a new regional member hub opening 22nd March offering a physical focal point from which to build and connect the angel community. As well as free co-working, UKBAA’s Hubs, open to DBA members offers, hot desking and meeting space, and an opportunity for investors to get to know other investors in their region, identify new angel investors, access a programme of training and support and interface with start-ups and scaleups from the local community. The hubs are a new benefit to complement the existing DBA and UKBAA member benefits and bring you some of the best angel investment opportunities both locally and nationally to your door. It can be fun, rewarding, a unique fascinating networking experience with like-minded successful people. Let me share more examples of the work DBA and UKBAA does with members.

UKBAA – their Members and Member Benefits

The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the national trade association for angel and early-stage investment, representing over 160 member organisations and around 18,000 investors. Business angels in the UK collectively invest an estimated £1.5 billion per annum and are therefore the UK’s largest source of investment for startups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow. A wide range of players make up the angel and early-stage ecosystem and UKBAA’s membership services are therefore tailored to suit these multiple constituents – including angel networks, syndicates, individual investors, early-stage VCs, equity crowdfunding platforms, accelerators, professional advisers and intermediaries. There are different types of member including the following.

Individual angels

  • An angel investor, private investor or high net worth (HNW) individual.
  • Can be a member of an existing syndicate, network or fund.
  • Must be self-certified as an HNW or sophisticated investor.

Angel syndicates

  • A small group from 2-50 investors.
  • Investing either collectively or in smaller groups on an adhoc basis.
  • Unregulated or regulated under the FCA.
  • May also have an investment vehicle or sidecar fund.

Angel networks and groups

  • A structured or constituted business angel group.
  • Can be investing through syndicates on an adhoc or regular basis.
  • May be unregulated or regulated under the FCA.
  • May also operate a sidecar or EIS/SEIS fund.

Other Key Membership Types

  • Professional Advisory Firms.
  • Crowdfunding and online investment platforms.
  • Venture capital and investment funds.
  • Corporates – aimed at large leading players in their industry with the capability and objective to play a significant role in the angel and early-stage investment market. Read more on the UKBAA website.

Key member benefits include

  • Events and networking across the UK.
  • Technical support – Guides and tools to support your investments.
  • Tailored introductions – Based on your experience, geography and sector interests – (members only).
  • Exclusive investor events – Network with like-minded investors (members only).

Member Benefits for Dorset Business Angels Investors

Our experienced professional team offer a carefully selected range of high growth companies, all of which receive investment ready training and preparation to aid the investment process prior to our regular company presentation events. We already have a solid reputation for providing access to some of the hottest deals in the UK.

Angel Investment comes in many shapes and sizes. Investments from as little as £5K help businesses advancing their growth, enables you to add value in more ways than in a financial aspect, and is potentially highly tax efficient. By becoming a member of Dorset Business Angels, you join an established, respected and successful network of like-minded business people.

Key Benefits Include

  • Access to four Investor Dinners, book now for the coming pitch event.
  • Networking with like-minded High-Net-Worth and Sophisticated Investors.
  • Opportunities to share in funding rounds from previous pitches.
  • We supply access to investor information via dropbox with member only access. This is managed by our Vice Chair Frank Guinn. Email moc.tenretnitbnull@nniugknarf who manages this for our members.
  • Notification of deal opportunities outside of events that arise via on-line communications.
  • News and opportunities from UK Business Angels Association with 30+ networks, VCs and crowdfunding partners plus links to our network of financial partners.
  • We are partners to Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and have access to specific events, tickets and offers.
  • A DBA Facebook page. A LinkedIn Group. A Twitter site.
  • An Investors’ Conference with national speakers, every two years.
  • We are sponsored by Saffery Champness Chartered Accountants tax experts available to advise, Investec Wealth & Investment and Financial Advisers and Laceys Solicitors recent Dorset Legal Award winners for Commercial Team of the Year 2018.

Membership is just £30 per annum with no joining fee. Just contact me, via the Dorset Business Angels contact us page. You will also need to self-certify, please read more below on this. More on this on our DBA About Us Page, speak to me if you need more. It explains how investors need to be High Net Worth or Sophisticated Investors.

Summary

This a great time to become an angel investor at Dorset Business Angels, especially with UK Business Angels Association, (UKBAA), where we are a member, doing so much for investors. DBA and UKBAA member benefits bring you some of the best angel investment opportunities both locally and nationally to your door. It can be fun, rewarding, a unique fascinating networking experience with like-minded successful people.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Startup and growth companies two excellent funding starting points

These are two great website resources, UKBAA member directory and Growth Hubs offering startup and growth companies two excellent funding starting points.

UKBAA

UK Business Angels Association, Member directory.

Filter By:
Choose the elements to filter the search by, or leave a section blank to search all criteria within the section.

So,

Investor type includes:

  • angel
  • venture capital
  • crowdfunders
  • incubators & accelerators
  • grants
  • private equity

Regions of the UK

Investment range – £150k, then up to £10m in bands

Sector Focus

This is also good if you are a potential investor.

Either way, entrepreneur or investor, the UKBAA team will put you in contact with one of their vetted, registered UKBAA members that matches your requirements from across the UK.

About UKBAA

The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the national trade association for angel and early-stage investment, representing over 160 member organisations and around 18,000 investors. Business angels in the UK collectively invest an estimated £1.5 billion per annum and are therefore the UK’s largest source of investment for startups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow

Growth Hubs – Our Second Great Website Recommendation for Funding

Growth hubs are local public/private sector partnerships led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). They join up national and local business support so it is easy for businesses to find the help they need. There is a network of 38 hubs. You can find the growth hub nearest to you by hovering over the map, and click on the map or click on the relevant LEP area in the list on the right to take you to the relevant growth hub website. Both the www.gov.uk website and the Business Support Helpline also offer advice about starting up a business and can direct business to more support. Businesses can call 0300 456 3565 to speak to a business support advisor (9.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday).

These are two great website resources, UKBAA member directory and Growth Hubs offering startup and growth companies two excellent funding starting points.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

New Product

What’s the MVP of GDPR? What to do first, best, quickest

Minimum Viable Product or MVP is a new product or service technique to create sufficient features to satisfy customers. It may not be 100 percent perfect, but you do what’s most important. With the new personal privacy GDPR law for May 25th 2018, let’s adopt this approach for the purpose of this article. Why? Because MVP is great for focusing on putting what is important, practical, what works, and is legally required. I suggest this, for the opposite reasons some may suggest i.e. I may be trying to rush, or be lazy, or even cut corners. No. I think the alternative approach many are following of a slavish line by line, Bleak House style adherence to a frightening rule book, is confusing businesses. And in cases, they end up doing nothing, the worst possible scenario. What’s the MVP of GDPR? What to do first, best, quickest. I would suggest, as the ICO, suggests appoint someone for data compliance, follow the ICO 12 steps, especially focus on your lawful basis for processing and writing a privacy policy. That puts you in good shape. Let me just explain a few points.

Lawful Processing

The lawful basis for processing data is really your starting point. At least one of these must apply whenever you process personal data:

(a) Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.

(b) Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.

(c) Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).

(d) Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.

(e) Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.

(f) Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)

With existing customers, businesses often get confused. So, if you have customers, you will probably have a contract, hence you do not need to get consent to deal with them! Or you may have Legitimate Interest to hold peoples’s personal data. For marketing however you can deal with them on the basis of consent. Your prospects or the market you sell to for example a mailing list, you will need to obtain consent from. Any old data, get rid of if it, or get it updated. You can do this by email, letter or even orally. But you need proof, including a date.

Privacy Notices

The starting point of a privacy notice should be to tell people:

  • who you are;
  • what you are going to do with their information; and
  • who it will be shared with.

These are the basics upon which all privacy notices should be built. However, they can also tell people more than this and should do so where you think that not telling people will make your processing of that information unfair. A privacy notice in most cases is a website privacy notice, for an example visit the ICO Privacy Notice. But they may be required on various documents, online and paper such as for parking, ticketing, rent and so on.

Data Compliance Officer (DCO)

You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements. You should consider whether you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer. The ICO website will tell you more. Your DCO needs to make sure that decision makers and key people in your organisation are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.

Summary

What’s the MVP of GDPR? What to do first, best, quickest. I would suggest, as the ICO, suggests appoint someone for data compliance, follow the ICO 12 steps, especially focus on your lawful basis for processing and writing a privacy policy. That puts you in good shape. For a comprehensive list of what to do we’ve summarised it in this article.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

leader

Leaders or bullies, the people you follow, what’s the difference?

Do you watch Room 101 on television when they select their least favourite items from a group of celebrities? If I were on the programme I would include noisy, talentless, bullies who claim to be leaders. A problem with leadership is that often the difference between a good leader and these sort of people is not always clear. It’s a matter of circumstances and opinion. Who is to say? And it takes a strong personality to make bold decisions to tackle some problems. Churchill, Thatcher or Napoleon were right for their time, but take them out of context and less appealing aspects of their characters might be more apparent. So, do you turn a blind eye to the colourful excesses of strong egos? I have always worked with entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders, and some of them are great fun. A good number very challenging. And I am sure you can think of similar characters. Suppliers too, especially who live on their wits. Perhaps a change-management consultant or website or SEO expert, their very modus operandi is to convince you, that in some specific way you are weak, or your business is failing. You’re no good at “it”. But they are. So, shut up and listen. And give them money. Don’t get me wrong, they could be right. Or is it just their force of personality looking for fooling weak followers? Leaders or bullies, the people you follow, what’s the difference? Leadership is doing the right thing. The leader is the visionary, with ideas, energy and inspiration to make the organisation work. I’m going to focus on leadership, what is it, how it differs from management, and how it varies in small and larger organisations.

Manager and Leaders

Leaders or bullies, the people you follow, what’s the difference? Is it just a title? A populist thing? Peter Drucker has the best answer, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” The former, management, focuses on effectiveness, whilst leadership overlays this with, innovation, vision, embracing opportunities, winning hearts and minds and possessing a moral compass – this is not a complete inventory of leadership qualities! In an age where all evidence suggests people, employees and customers, buy and are motivated by more than money, this is critical. In an Industry Week article, “The Most Important Leadership Quality” it quotes an IBM report which finds an one vital new leadership characteristic which is to “serve as mentors and teachers for their employees and eventual successors”. On a wider more strategic level Warren Bennis, one of the pioneers of contemporary leadership studies, was fond of saying, “The manager administers; the leader innovates.” Andy Boynton give a nice summary of essential leadership qualities in his Forbes article, Nine Things That Separate The Leaders From The Managers. He writes, ” Without leadership, there’s no agenda for change and improvement. There’s no vision.”

Popular leaders – does it help or hinder?

Does this mean leaders have got to be popular? Tony Robins criticizes many leaders for “doing what’s popular not what’s right” in this interview.  They need to be visionary, in his view, storytellers, inspiring employees based upon what clients and customers tell them not focusing on the product. So, no, leaders do not have to be popular but emotionally intelligent, yes. But is there any hard evidence of this or is it anecdotal? An example of this in practice was data collected from 134 midlevel manager in a large company in the energy sector. Leadership, effectiveness, emotional intelligence and personality had a measurable effect. In a smaller company it’s about performance or as Dr R Ted Prince puts it in his article Style and Substance – What to look for in new leaders, “Style without substance is a common problem among first-time leaders. No-one teaches you how to be a CEO.” He stresses employees quickly fail to trust the CEO, Investors too. Listening is the most powerful tool the CEO can apply. A leader has to ultimately get results. It earns employees cash, bonuses, and pensions. And delivers shareholders their returns on investment. But of course ideally an emotionally intelligent, focused leaders is the full package.

The Confident Leader

The body language and demeanour, tone of voice combined with other key aspects of emotional intelligence will push a leader through, such attributes as:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

However much leadership training is given to less confident people, in smaller companies ambition is apparent. In larger organisations the wider panoply of emotional intelligence is essential for success. There is also a difference between the “driving” CEO and the COO role, the latter perhaps more the completer finisher – well described by Belbin.

Heroes or Egos?

There is a fashion in recent years to “dis” larger companies and “play-up” every small company as a paradigm of perfection. Nothing is perfect, per se. The current move of large  and small companies to work together is positive. It’s a marriage of resources and agility. Having been a plc director and still working with larger charities and larger organisations in a voluntary capacity and as clients, I see the challenges and weaknesses that come with size. But nothing is perfect. There are often overlooked benefits of size such as:

  • Top talent – you can buy the best
  • Training capabilities
  • Great infrastructure
  • Systems and processes – for example delivering GDPR and ISO
  • Cybersecurity – the resource to do this properly
  • Pension provision

….just a few benefits

Weaknesses have been often times listed such as politics, bureaucracy, lack of agility and innovation.

Does Size Matter?

Here’s come typical recruitment website advice to younger people on working for larger or smaller employers. What I think is often less well described is the challenge of working with the likely leader types in small and larger organisations. A good outfit is a good place to work, “period” – to use the vernacular. A large company that falls down on the people side, I’d suggest frustrates because of size, lack of innovation, lack of proximity to risk, and consequent potential lack of dynamism from management. But some, smaller companies can suffer from “napoleons” and the “not invented here” syndrome, limiting the advancement and opportunity for employees. Large, small or medium can all be successful with the right leadership and great people. Leaders or bullies, the people you follow, what’s the difference? Leadership is doing the right thing. The leaders is the visionary, with ideas, energy and inspiration to make the organisation work.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Focus

Focus on your problem, the specific solution and get results

Focus! Have you ever told yourself to concentrate harder after making a mistake? I certainly have, specifically, when I play tennis, and lost a point and for years, I wondered why didn’t this work? And in business with a lost pitch, deal or argument. I hate losing. But I need to understand why. And never repeat mistakes. Live in the now, solve problems, now, that’s the thrill of sport, business and success. So, when a coach pulls you up, and says, “focus”, I’ve worked out this self-talk, can be an incomplete conversation. What am I supposed to “focus” upon? With more matches, meetings and years in business I found a practical, workable route to results. Focus on your problem, the specific solution and get results. Too often business people do not identify the right problem to be solved, as I wrote in this blog. Or when people search for good ideas, without really thinking about a purpose, (an old problem with many Suggestion Schemes and with brainstorming). Well described by Jeffrey Baumgartner, top international innovation and creative writer and speaker. In business and with your passions in life, focus on your problem and the specific solution on your particular journey. I’d like to share some processes to help you attack challenges, fast and effectively.

What is a problem?

Sticking with my tennis for a moment. The local county tennis coach told our West Hants coaches that two things really make the difference if you want to improve as a player: belief and match-play. On the latter, to succeed, I have to include Roger Federer in my thinking. He always goes into a match with a game-plan. But he’s admitted many times, how he enjoys being ready to change and adapt: it’s about problem-solving. The Oxford Dictionary defines a problem as “A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.”

Is a problem a mistake something bad and immoral to get angry about?

The better problem solvers, like Roger Federer, relish the challenge. He would accept that at times in the match he has created the problem. So, is he stupid? Is he bad, ignorant or to be admonished? Nope. He is put under pressure, short of time. In business, there are absolutely times, when problems are created due to unacceptable behaviour. However very often, market, competitiion or lack of experience by a company or person in a role, means they cause a problem. Or they come up against a problem, and it’s not a question of values, just a challenge to be dealt with.

Some of the current Global Problems in Business

  • Supply Chains
  • Information overload
  • Complexity
  • Diversity – cultural
  • Technology
  • Government and Bureaucracy
  • Globalisation
  • Innovation and Change
  • Uncertainty

More on the Top 10 problems faced by businesses. This is very much a macro/global view.

Local Problems for Business People

Any business needs to challenge itself by actually “looking for problems” before the problem, trips up the business. That is part of a good business and strategic planning process. Here’s a simple, typical strategic planning review template we use in a mind-map process. Nick Hixson from Hixsons Business Enablers carries out regular strategic health-check, with clients, he talks about in this podcast. There is a well-trodden pattern of challenges of any business setting up and then running a business. This infographic rather nicely pictures the early stages. So, it is a matter of life-stage, functions, different functions – such as finance, sales, services and so on that each experience problems and solutions to be attacked.

Be Prepared

Does this “problem”-centric approach, seem a pessimistic view of life and work? From a highly positive person, that may seem odd. No. What, I firmly advocate as an ex-cub scout is “be prepared”. And don’t be complacent about problems, or equally scared of them. It’s a challenge. The central message of this article is focus on your problem, the specific solution and get results. We use problem solving techniques and processes to help you attack challenges, fast and effectively.  Live in the now, name and solve problems. Your doctor does it: diagnosis, prognosis and then the doctor devises a successful outcome – hopefully. In business and with your passions in life, focus on your problem and the specific solution on the journey. Lastly, here is a terrific life-map to guide you through life, with an accompanying article from my colleague from Taking Control, Steve Barker. He always says, there is no such thing as bad weather, just weather. In other words, plan ahead and enjoy what life offers. We all check the weather forecast!

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Hill

GDPR locate and understand personal data in your business

The solution to dealing with your GDPR challenge is about context. A bit like when you climb a hill. The view you get varies every time you stop and look. Simply, locate and understand personal data in your business. I was talking to Mark Gracey, from Flavourfy, our GDPR guru and partner for explaining all things GDPR. I set him this challenge, “Mark, for busy business people, they do not want another GDPR webinar, seminar or paid for download. They just want to know, what to do. What website page to put up. Forms to write. How to stay legal. Let’s give them a list…”. The good news is, Mark said, “yes, a Privacy Page on your website is one place where you can put your policy and the ICO gives some good examples of this…” We have a link below. The bad news is, the information we store on people can be in a variety of places, environments and situations. Hence the need to communicate a specific privacy policy in those specific situations. It’s about context.

Communicating privacy information

I can do no better than quote directly from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the ICO, website page on this topic which is very helpful and clear,

“You should not necessarily restrict your privacy notice to a single document or page on your website. The term ‘privacy notice’ is often used as a shorthand term, but rather than seeing the task as delivering a single notice it is better to think of it as providing privacy information in a range of ways. All of the information you are giving people about how you are processing their data, taken together, constitutes the privacy information. More here

You can communicate:

  • Orally
  • In writing
  • through signage
  • Electronically

As Mark Gracey says, “If you are at a trade show, for example, and you collect personal information, be clear what you will do with it.”

Some Useful Tools and Templates

Here is the ICO’s Privacy Policy from their website – here.
These Steps to Compliance, on this sheet specifically page 6 are concise and useful – here
Key actions we recommend for small businesses looking to address their GDPR are:

  • Awareness & Training –  review ICO Preparing for GDPR 12 steps to take now here
  • Audit – The key point is where is data stored, where did it come from (data flow). Remove redundant data.
  • Privacy notices in practice – ICO guidance.
  • A lawful basis to process personal information e.g. consent or for contracts – see here
  • Procedures – record your processes similar to ISO or other procedures. If you area Microsoft user they have a portal for this:  aka.ms/compliancemanager
  • Appoint a person responsible for data protection – Data Protection Officer – DPO.

Make GDPR an Opportunity

I think it is an opportunity to get more business. You may groan…The point is that old data should be destroyed, so what is the problem? That will save you time and cost avoiding looking at redundant information. The data you have left in the form of contract information and marketing information should be used to get sales, so put it to use:

  • Contact people with offers, don’t just ask for consent
  • Find out if you have worthwhile data, if not you need more and better
  • Or improve the relationship with a marketing:
    • Blogs
    • Newsletters
    • Events
    • New services
    • New products

These are just ideas…

If GPDR makes us all do more to improve our data, replace it or work better with it, that is good. The solution to dealing with your GDPR challenge is about context. A bit like when you climb a hill. The view you get varies every time you stop and look. Simply, locate and understand personal data in your business.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Invention

The UK is an Innovation Leader and Dorset Plays an active Role

The UK is an innovation leader and has been historically, because of the new products, solutions and inspiring work created by our world class inventors and entrepreneurs. The UK does not have a monopoly on creative thinkers. For example Walt Disney, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs are listed here alongside other Brits on 7 Great Creative Thinkers in History. And this list of THE 12 GREATEST INNOVATORS OF ALL TIME adds Bill Gates and The Wright Bros. It’s notable in these lists how US and Euro-centric the lists are. Some claim, we undervalue the rest of the world, for example, the great Chinese inventors, listed here,  such as Sun Song should feature far more prominently. I would add Sun Tzu who whilst a military strategist is the father of all writing on strategy. Even so….with 0.9% of the world’s population the UK enjoys 3.2% of the world’s R&D expenditure in universities and businesses according to Innovate UK and our research base is responsible for:

  • 140, 000 papers a year
  • 16% of the world’s most influential academic papers
  • 10.9% of citations in patents worldwide

Second only to the USA for Nobel Prizes globally. Plus the UK has four universities in the global top ten.

A History of Innovation – The Industrial Revolution

From 1760 for around 80 years Great Britain led the world in terms of innovation and industrial growth. This is very well covered by IN OUR TIME from BBC Radio 4.  And also The Consequences of The Industrial Revolution from the same programme. What I found most fascinating, listening to the programme, was the fierce debate and disagreement between the expert professors as to whether the UK was first and best to experience the Industrial Revolution, at the time, due to circumstances or to innovators. One of the radio programme’s contributors would not have it that personality and brilliance played much part! She said it was down to environmental factor including:

  • Coal
  • Reliance on economic debt
  • Our geographic position

Whilst Melvyn (Lord) Bragg, tried to persuade her that whilst this played a part, surely the great engineers and inventors played a pivotal role, people such as:

There tends to be a view favoured by conservative, free marketers recognising the entrepreneur as a hero figure. And I would favour this view. But recognising the vital need for supporting infrastructure. Britain, perhaps has in its character an eccentric, creative, rebellious streak which encourages innovation! But as part of the current wider business innovation support team in Dorset, I recognise the need to encourage talent.

Innovative Environment

There are key organisations who encourage and foster ideas. As one of the founder directors of Dorset Business Angels we recognise the crucial role played nationwide and globally by UK Business Angels Association UKBAA. The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the national trade association for angel and early-stage investment, representing over 160 member organisations and around 18,000 investors. Business angels in the UK collectively invest an estimated £1.5 billion per annum and are therefore the UK’s largest source of investment for startups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow.

Dorset – One of the UK’s fastest digital growth areas

A couple of year’s ago, Bournemouth, coming from a very low base, became the UK’s fastest-growing city in the digital economy, with digital start-up incorporations rising 212pc between 2010 and 2013 as was widely reported at the time. Innovation is supported in the area by a number of agencies and organisations including:

  • Dorset Business Angels – “Where talent and Investors meet” – here
  • Silicon South – Dorset’s not for profit accelerator for startups and growth companies
  • Dorset Growth Hub – Financing your Business. Financing your Business · Raising Finance · Invest in Dorset · Support Schemes · Local Banks & Accountants · Managing & Operating Finances see here
  • Dormen – Dorset Business Mentoring Programme – here
  • Wessex Entrepreneurs – presents regular opportunities to meet on a business and social level with like-minded entrepreneurs – here

The UK is an Innovation Leader and Dorset Plays an active Role

The UK is an innovation leader, and has been historically, because of the new products, solutions and inspiring work created by our world class inventors and entrepreneurs. Dorset plays an active role in this exciting future.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Lewis Manning Hospice Poole

Let’s talk about life, death and success but be honest

I visited Lewis-Manning hospice (pictured above), where they talk about death in a very positive way not using words to mask facts.  It was a moving experience and I was impressed by the whole experience. I am a supporter, but that is not my point in writing. My point is, admiration for professionals who are effective by being honest. Simple as that. Professionals in care situations, when they get it right, say it how it is. Death cannot be avoided, so it is patronising, and in fact upsetting to speak of “passing away” to people you are helping. The choice of words in situations and context is important. I am a trustee director of a major charity and have worked with charities. I also help relatives in care. Honesty matters, in fact it works in challenging situations. I would draw attention to several examples of how straight talking works. I’d say let’s talk about life, death and success but be honest. Any deviation is a failed conversation – and here I am quoting Susan Scott, a great author, of “Fierce Conversations”. More of her in this article below. I will cover a variety of challenging but equally rewarding difficult work and home one-to-one conversations. The essence of all this is good listening, empathy, honesty, even if the method seems “fierce”.

Sharing Bad News

The best guide to speaking honestly and frankly in our view is Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations CEO of Fierce. Susan Scott asserts the need to speak frankly in order to be effective when having difficult conversations in business particularly, but it relates to any area of human relations. I would suggest being honest about any challenging situation is essential, with colleagues, suppliers, relatives, friends and loved ones. It is simple, focused, kind but tough. Scott writes, “A careful conversation is a failed conversation.” The conversation, is the relationship. One conversation at a time. Be here, and nowhere else. Take responsibility for your emotional wake. Let silence do the heavy lifting. A couple of key bullet point lists from her book are…

Common Mistakes in One-To-One Conversations:

  1. Doing most of the talking
  2. Taking the problem away from someone
  3. Not inquiring about feelings
  4. Delivering unclear messages, coaching, instructions
  5. Cancelling the meeting
  6. Allowing interruptions
  7. Running out of time
  8. Assuming your meetings are effective

Scott says,”Fierce conversations cannot be dependent on how others respond.”  “If you know something must change, then know that it is you who must change it.  Your job is to extend the invitation.”

The Confrontation Model:

  1. Opening Statement
  2. Name the issue
  3. Select a specific example that illustrates the behaviour or situation you want to change
  4. Describe your emotions about this issue
  5. Clarify what is at stake
  6. Identify your contribution to this problem
  7. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue
  8. Invite the other person you are talking to, to respond
  9. Ask about their view
  10. Where are we now, what needs to be said and resolved
  11. Make a new agreement – agree how you will hold each other responsible

From From: From: Scott, S. (2003) Fierce Conversations. Little, Brown Book Group.  And here is a useful template for you.

More Case Studies of Fierce Conversations in Practice

Dorset Business Angels – the Results after Pitches

We have successful pitches when investors want to invest. But some pitches fail to attract the interest that the presenters hope for. Presenters, get 10 minutes to present. 5 minutes for Q&A’s then, they leave the room, and investors discuss the viability and appeal of the investment. Is anyone wanting to invest? Of course there may be investors after the meeting but the initial response is critical. At our last event, as I write, we had investor interest in all four presentations, which is great! But the reality is that from the hundreds of pitches, despite careful selection, inevitably some don’t excite investor interest. As General Manager, a founder director and the main organiser of our events at Dorset Business Angels, it’s my job to leave the room and tell the expectant presenters the situation. Tell them feedback after they have presented. They are always excited, filled  with adrenalin. It’s pretty heart breaking to say there is zero interest. But it is only right to be honest. What the entrepreneurs want and need to hear is helpful feedback which may include:

  • Is the business proposition viable?
  • Is the team seen as viable / capable? Particularly the CEO
  • Is the business plan – ROI, financials and so on viable?
  • Was the presentation good? Did the investors understand the ideas?

What you may see from the above is helpful feedback which if honestly and constructively relayed, this usually receives a positive response. Entrepreneurs realise they need to present to a range of investors, so need feedback. Substantive, meaningful, detailed, directed, informative, evidenced feedback supported by ideas and names and referrals, as relevant, works well for entrepreneurs. DBA has its good name to think of, plus we want to see deals done. It might well be the presenters could return or tell others about us. So we need to do a good and fair job.

Supplier Deals and Termination

It’s important as a supplier, to get clear feedback for presentations, bids and quotes when unsuccessful. In the long run it can be more helpful than actually winning the contract. When we are working with suppliers, it’s too easy to forget about giving feedback and move on to just working with the chosen supplier. This is bad practice. Reasons to share feedback with suppliers include:

  • The need to maintain good relations for future supply
  • Word gets round, suppliers belong to trade associations and networks
  • Today’s supplier can be tomorrow’s buyer
  • A supplier can easily be a social contact – embarrassing and unpleasant if you or one of your team are disrepectful

Redundancy – Friendships – Family Communications

You can see a picture is emerging. The way you or I behave when sharing bad, challenging or frank news with people has a number of effects:

  • It helps them improve
  • It builds trust with you
  • It’s a demonstration of a serious initial engagement, with potential future opportunities
  • Despite what might seem as a “failure”, the relationship paradoxically is building, to use a hackneyed phrase: this is a journey

Being Honest with Oneself

When I thought about the various, specific situations, delivering bad news – delivering frank news to people – I came up with a perhaps surprising audience: oneself. How many of us really have a fierce personal conversation with that really critical audience: oneself? Perhaps it’s time to be fair to ourselves. And just as others give credit to you for that honesty, so we can all feel better for that honesty. Here are some ideas:

  • Am I happy with my job?
  • Happy with my family, home and social life?
  • Have I achieved what I want to?
  • Do I have a plans for different aspects of my life?
  • Would I like me if I met me?

So this is how straight talking works. Whether looking in the mirror or dealing with difficult situations. Let’s talk about life, death and success but be honest. Difficult work and home one-to-one conversations. The essence of all this is good listening, empathy, honesty, even if it seems “fierce”.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Number 1

You are number 1 not number 6

Do you remember the Prisoner? The imaginative 1960s television series set in a nightmare village (in fact it was Portmeirion in Wales), where Patrick McGoohan could not escape. Here’s a brief clip from the series where he famously exclaims “I am not a number I am a free man!” McGoohan’s character was number 1, he kept, and we kept asking “who was number 1?” In a later interview, he said here in this clip, that he as a Producer, and creator of the series, suggested we are all number 1. I like this. Not just because I was a fan of the series and it’s fun. But because it’s a good philosophy for life. Does that sound a recipe for selfishness? It could be. And could be thought counter to a recent blog I wrote on Understanding people better (to focus on “you”) where I stressed the benefit of finding out about people through engagement. The point is, you are number 1, with your own stories, views, ideas and rights which you need self-confidence and skills to share. Do you? Do people misunderstand you? Do they understand your ideas, your business proposals, pitches and suggestions? People can misunderstand you, your ideas, business proposals, pitches or half listen and twist your ideas to suit themselves.  Put themselves as number 1 and you as number 6! Tell a good story, you can then better stand up for yourself.

Bad Listeners

Do you ever start to share an idea with someone and find some of these issues?

  • They listen to the topic or words you have said, interrupt, or even if they allow you to finish did not understand. Proven by how they might agree but steer the conversation in a completely different direction.
  • They give you few seconds before losing eye contact – perhaps looking at their phone.
  • Their glazed look shows complete disinterest!

Try, asking them,

  • Did you understand what I just said?
  • Ask another follow-up question if they did not understand you.
  • Perhaps suggest, “let me just clarify what I meant”, (explain), then check for understanding

Selfish Listeners – it’s about them

Hands-up, this was me. Steve Barker, my long-time HR guru and leadership coaching colleague pulled me up on this a few years ago. “Peter, this is about me not you….now listen…” It was a fierce conversation but a great one. He knew I had a habit at the time, driven by enthusiasm to share my mirrored experiences. But that got in the way of listening. I did not mean to be selfish. I thought I was empathising. I needed to shut-up and listen. How often do you overhear a conversation which is just an information dump between two or more people? Surely it’s better to recognise the speaker is “number 1”, better to be a noisy listener, ask questions to clarify our understanding. Can we help that person?

Your Pitch or Presentation is not Understood

For whatever reason, your fantastic idea, service, perhaps a fantastic new invention or product, when presented to the customer or investor, falls on deaf ears. As an ex-salesman, pitcher, product manager and now someone who sees many pitches, I have some very clear thoughts on this. Let me suggest some key problems:

  • Simply the presenter is unclear what on earth it is they are selling. Be very clear, in words and pictures, explaining what it is you have, what it does and for whom.
  • What are your Unique Selling Points your USPs
  • Is it better, cheaper or different – or a mix of these?

At Dorset Business Angels we have a page which gives help on this, see here. Be clear about your story, you can then better stand up for yourself.

You feel excluded in a group or meeting

It can also happens in meetings. There was a good article by Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist, in the Sunday Times, making the point that the noisiest people in a pitch presentation meeting are not necessarily the most important. I think the trick here (he was talking about pitching for funding), where I have specific experience, is to do research before meetings and ask questions, as far as you can, at meetings. In a Board of Business Meeting similarly, doing your homework beforehand helps enormously. A good chairman should allow everybody to speak, and you will be there for a good reason, you have skills and knowledge other people want to benefit from. This leads onto a point I raise in my next section.

Networking Events

At networking events again its worth doing research beforehand, using questions and listening during the event and have confidence in your own capability supported by a few support tools:

  • Know your elevator pitch – how to do your elevator pitch i.e. in few words what your business is about, your USPs and why you?
  • Business cards
  • Ideally information on a website or online site e.g. Facebook site

Summary

People can misunderstand you, your ideas, business proposals, pitches or half listen and twist your ideas to suit themselves.  Put themselves as number 1 and you as number 6! Tell a good story, you can then better stand up for yourself.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited