Agreeing funding

5 Tips for Grant Fund Applications

I am a Trustee Board member for Dorset Community Foundation (DCF), we fund community groups and charities. DCF support Dorset based charities and individuals through grants and bursaries. The funding we distribute is on the behalf of individuals, companies, funding partners, trusts or from our own Dorset Fund. I see many people pitching for funds at Dorset Business Angels, which is different from Dorset Community Foundation. But there are some similar demands on the applicant, I will cover later. First, let me give 5 tips for grant fund applications based on talking to our Grants Manager at DCF. Here are useful web links, one to the DCF website on  Apply for a Grant  and another from Dorset Community Action (DCA), a Dorset voluntary organisation that gives funding advice here.

1. Impact and Outcomes

As part of our grant making strategy, we not only support smaller organisations that carry out vital work, but we also ensure funded projects are:

  • Sustainable – grant manager recognise the challenge in the current economic climate of achieving genuine longer term sustainability. However, they will be looking for a project to show genuine viability, not over-reliance on a grant.
  • Good value for money
  • Support the maximum number of beneficiaries possible
  • Monitored and audited to deliver as per project proposal

Dorset Community Foundation are currently in the process of reviewing our impact and outcomes assessment in order to ensure that we provide compelling evidence of the impact of donor/fund holder investment in local community development. Read more on DCF website here.

2. Evidencing the need

  1. What statistical information do you have showing proof?
  2. What has happened, examples, situation and numbers relevant to your submission and the criteria.

In the case of our Neighbourhood Fund you can see some of the needs and challenges clearly listed on this page.

3. Give detailed Costing

DCF has various funds and grants. Our website summarises the Grants we offer here. Specific grants have criteria which will ask you to list costs associated with the application. Historic accuracy, proof, and the ability to audit in future are important. Our audit function is one of the reasons we are given funds by organisations and partners such as Comic Relief, The Dorset Authorities and commercial organisations, as well as from high net worth friends. They trust and rely on us to check on applications and then audit in future that money has been well invested.

4. Do you fit the Funding Criteria?

If you fit the funding criteria that’s good. If not, don’t waste your time. If you think you fit the criteria, there is a skill to writing a good application. Help the funder, by answering the questions. Most funders get a lot of pages to read. Be clear and specific. Like any test or exam (not trying to scare you here!) the trick is to “read” the form or guidance notes carefully. Here for example are the Bursary Scheme Guidance notes view here (this round closed September 2016).

5. Send in all the Documents

This may seem obvious, but make sure you have sent in all the document and forms that need to be filled in. You will probably have heard of tenders where they are very strict and non-compliance in any shape or form, means you are not considered. DCF always tries to be helpful, but do check.

Conclusion

I mentioned to start this article on 5 tips for grant fund applications, that there are similarities with Dragons Den style fund raising at Dorset Business Angels. I would point to a couple. One is research the funding organisation thoroughly. If you understand DCF, how it works, funds, who it funds and the specific fund, and grant involved, this can only help you. Why you? This is important. In business and in all walks of life, there is ever increasing competition. A panel will probably end up reviewing your application alongside others. If you were pitching on Dragon’s Den, what would be your Elevator Pitch? Your one paragraph story? And your 3 or 4 USPs – your Unique Selling Propositions?

However, a word of warning. Do not, start inserting unnecessary information that the Grants Manager will find annoying! It is likely any funding organisation will have to say “no” to some applications. You will be competing for funding. How will the funding make a difference, the impact in measurable terms? If you are applying for the right grant, you should be able to prove your story.

Apply for a Grant at Dorset Community Foundation here

Peter

Business angel investing by two successful angel entrepreneurs Peter Cowley and Don McQueen

Peter Cowley Don Conference
Peter Cowley Don McQueen

The angel network chairmen and successful angel investors shared tips on what to do for successful angel investing at our investing conference. You can see videos of their presentations below. Peter Cowley, ‘Best Angel Investor in the World 2017’ is also chair of the board of the Cambridge Business Angels and the Investment Director of the Marshall of Cambridge, Martlet Corporate Angel division. More on Peter here. Don McQueen, hosting the event, is Chair of Dorset Business Angels, Corporate leader and chairman. He has a track record leading and building profitable technology companies. Expertise in corporate strategy, M&A, acquisition integration and turnarounds. More on Don here.

Peter Cowley, ‘Best Angel Investor in the World 2017’

Peter Cowley, grabbed the attention of the audience with his talk entitled, ‘What I wished I’d known a decade ago!’

Video of Peter’s presentation here.

Summary of Peter’s presentation here:

THE TEAM

  • Peter believes who you invest in is more important than the anything.
  • The team need, “High growth ambitions”.
  • An outstanding founding team, at least two people (3 also works, but not 4).
  • Peter requires a team with a UK legal structure.
  • They need to be local for ease of travelling.
  • There must be a board representative – Peter needs to trust the Investor Non Exec Director.
  • The company need to understand, and can justify the ratio: “Customer Lifetime Value” over “Cost of Customer Acquisition”.

THE PRODUCT

  • Evidence of a large market. Globally at least $/£100m, although not all businesses need to have global ambitions. Note that Peter doesn’t need to see a billion+ market – angels can get an excellent return, even if the investee’s revenues are less than £5M on exit.
  • A level of defensibility, whether it is speed to market, know-how or a patent application.
  • Invest in markets you understand, Peter Cowley for example invests in software, electronics, RF comms; and sectors: B2B and B2B2C, never B2C.

THE FINANCES

  • Early stage income, probably pre-revenue and pre-grant income, although evidence of valid (even if a one off trial) customer sales traction will help.
  • Valuation – Pre-money valuation, mostly under £1m and with an upper limit of £2m (unless exceptional).
  • Valuations have being upwards, due to the over-supply of early stage money (particularly in London) and NOT because exits are at a larger multiple nor more frequent.
  • A minimum 10X valuation increase within 5 to 10 years, so if you are asking for, say, a £1m post-investment valuation, what does your company look like? And who will buy it for £10+m in a few years’ time?
  • Syndicated. Peter never invests alone. Although he can connect and/or build a syndicate, if he likes your proposition. Angels (although very rarely those who invest through online platforms) want and expect to add value with connections, advice, governance and future funding.
  • Peter does not invest in deals that either have been, or are, on any equity crowd-funding sites except Syndicate Room, where he is involved.

Don McQueen Chairman Dorset Business Angels
on Angel Investing

Video of Don’s presentation here.

Summary of Don’s presentation here:

Selecting Presentation Pitches – what appeals to investors?

  • Valuation and amount needed.
  • Stage of business – pre or post revenues
  • Market they are addressing
  • What’s the problem the business is solving?
  • Is there any IP?
  • Is the team able to implement the plan?
  • Do I know this industry / market?
  • Can angels add value post deal?

Follow-Up after the Event & Due Diligence

  • Meeting with the team on their site
  • NDA and detailed business plans
  • Negotiating valuation
  • Agreeing investment team and amount to invest
  • Due diligence
  • Investment legal documents
  • Completion.

Investment and Beyond

  • Investor meetings, if not legal directors.
  • Mentoring of management team
  • EIS and SEIS certificates, getting your cash back
  • Reviewing reports
  • Help with raising further funding / exit
  • Give as much or as little of you time.
  • Build a private investment portfolio
  • Have fun and hopefully make money.

Key Lessons Learnt

  • Start small, learn before first investment
  • Focus on the markets and technologies you understand
  • Ask as many questions as you can
  • If you are unsure, don’t
  • Negotiate hard on valuation, if you can
  • If things go wrong – cut your losses
  • Only help the business as much as you feel comfortable with.

More Videos from Conference Speakers

I hope you enjoyed business angel investing by two successful angel entrepreneurs Peter Cowley and Don McQueen. The angel network chairmen and successful angel investors shared tips on what to do for successful angel investing. These videos of their presentations were just some of the videos recorded on the day. You can see all the presentations on the Dorset Business Angels Conference website page. And if you would like to attend a pitch event find out more here. 

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

Planning

Planning catch-22

“It’s chaotic, we’re rushed off our feet.” That’s a typical response from many business leaders if you enquire how things are. Try to speak to them or get a slot in their diary and it’s impossible. Busy people? I wonder if a call came in from Buckingham Palace asking them to meet the queen tomorrow, would they find time? Of course they would. Similarly if you ask, do you have a business plan or personal plan, or at least strategies for key challenges and opportunities, they probably would not have them. Why? Too busy. It’s planning catch-22, which is the dilemma of not being able to do one thing – your plan – till you have time, but your never have time. To create time you need to plan. To avoid planning catch-22 you control the sail, don’t complain about the wind. It’s about taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Resources

In fact, the complaint often extends to being starved of time, resources, skills, people, opportunities and even luck. Before you think I am just describing a complete loser (!), let me pause and say I am recollecting a plethora of senior corporate leaders and also entrepreneurs. The feeling they engender in others is not confidence and calm, so how do they feel personally? Certainly not in control or happy. It’s always about taking control, whether personal or of their business.

Winning against the odds

If you read about the great generals in history, for example Napoleon or Julius Caesar. They didn’t always win battles based upon greater numbers and resources. They were brilliant strategists. Britain did the same in the Second World War, using innovative brilliance. It requires leadership and vision. The Battle of Agincourt saw 9,000 English beat 30,000 French using archery – superior tools.

Pragmatic Strategy

Fast forward to 2017 and what I do see working these days in many different business and also personal situations is agile strategy. I hesitate to use the term, but it serves a purpose. I don’t mean all the many detailed techniques, I mean simply, design, test, amend try again. It’s the instinctive way entrepreneurs work. And as Johan S Roos said recently at the Global Drucker Forum, just do a one page strategy document, keep it simple. Strategy, personal or business is about getting from where you are to where you want to be. It’s always about taking control, whether personal of business. To avoid planning catch-22 you control the sail, don’t complain about the wind. It’s about taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

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

Checking data for GDPR

GDPR updates news and thoughts

General Links

Information Commissioner’s Office – you can subscribe to their newsletter site

ICO tweets https://twitter.com/ICOnews

BBC Technology News “UK data protection laws to be overhauled” – here

EU Privacy Directive – here

GDPR – Wikipedia as ever is useful on this here

Mark Gracey GDPR expert local to Bournemouth and Dorset from FLAVOURFY DIGITAL

The GDPR regulation in full, read here

GDPR and ePrivacy Directive Essentials – article from o i solutions with templates and what to do – here

CIM Data Right pledge – here

DMA (Direct Marketing Assocation) – here

IDM (Institute of direct and digital marketing) – here

Events and Training

Essential Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for Marketers – here

GDPR Summit Series London – here

Helpful Sites on FAQs

GDPR – What does Design by Data mean? – blog by i3digital here

GDPR LEGAL GROUNDS FOR PROCESSING – CONSENT? LEGITIMATE INTERESTS? – here

Consent and Legitimate Interest – Slaughter and May lawyers here

Balancing in the GDPR: legitimate interests vs. right to object, KU Leven (IT, IP law centre) here

Guidance on GDPR legitimate interests – identify, carry out & balance (from DPN network) here

Bristows Legally Speaking! Webinar here

What is personal data? An ICO quick reference guide 1998 DPA Act – here

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

happiness

Do what you want to do and you will be happier

“It’s about the people, not the plan” said Peter Cowley, Business angel investor of the world 2017 at our recent conference. And Kurt Lyall, from RocketRoute, who has raised millions, said, you should work with people you like. Sounds fun, so why do we need money? Why are people so stressed? Another colleague at the same conference agreed with me, that in reality many top business people are pretty tough and some are pretty, well…nasty. So, on the specific issue of happiness, should you pursue it? One reason people leave employed work is to regain control of what they do. The idea being that if you do what you want to do you will be happier.  A piece of research on the BBC, on Trust Me I’m a Doctor, recently conclusively, proved this. So, if you do what you want to do you will be happier. Across all aspects of our lives, happiness means taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Types and Causes of Happiness

Two happiness experts, Richard Layard of the London School of Economics and John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia produced the first World Happiness Report. The report found that the world’s happiest countries were in northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands) and the most miserable are in Africa (Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone). They say happiness can be measured. That happiness has causes such as wealth, income distribution, health and political institutions. This is well worth a read and echoes what Maslow wrote in his Hierarchy of Needs. People need to deal with basic and psychological needs before considering self-fulfilment needs, or indeed their “happiness”.

This said, and despite recent austerity challenges, living standards have raised, to a level in the West where many (not all), would expect from work and lifestyles much more than previous generations. Hence happiness has appeared more readily on the agenda. As has stress. The question for home life and work is what type of happiness is there? Here are three suggestions.

  1. “Feeling good” hedonistic happiness. It’s pretty obvious this is the fun we all indulge in but not part of a life-plan, or something you’d base your business on.
  2. Eudaimonic Happiness meaning “flourishing” dating back to Socrates and the Stoics. A virtuous life gave you this. Virtues enjoyed in this state include justice, self-control and wisdom.
  3. Evaluative Happiness, psychologists ask you to rate happiness 1-10 tied to “life satisfaction” and goal fulfilment. It’s simple, easily measured and therefore popular.

Until now…

A ground breaking piece of research you may have seen on the BBC into mental health and stress was conducted as part of the TV series Trust Me I’m a Doctor. It concluded, if you carry out activity you enjoy, you will be happy. Obvious? Well, let me give you more detail. The team gathered a group of people. They measured the changes in critical body chemistry elements associated with stress and happiness. They divided them into sub-groups and over a number of weeks each sub-group did yoga, gardening, wellbeing and various other activities associated with relieving stress. There was also a control group i.e. one with no change in lifestyle. People participating in activities showed improvement. Those doing what they enjoyed improved better i.e. were happier still.

Conversely Avoid Unhappiness

It is incredible how many people appear to hate their jobs. Or it is claimed they hate their jobs… The headline in a recent survey, reported in this smallbusiness.co.uk-article , screamed out, “16:22 pm Sunday is officially the “end” of the weekend”. With five sectors topping the list as dreading Mondays most, being:

  • Accountancy and banking (83 per cent)
  • Recruitment/HR (78 per cent)
  • Law (78 per cent)
  • Healthcare (76 per cent)
  • Property and construction (75 per cent)

For Leaders Happiness is through Achievement

Taking control of your personal and business situation is the challenge for leaders. How to do this? Most leaders, MDs, business owners and directors take it for granted that work and leisure mix these days. In fact, for some the two are the same. I mentioned the recent Dorset Business Angels Conference earlier; all the speakers stressed the need to adapt with change. They relish challenge, they deal with failure, they smile and laugh despite pretty awful problems at times. They have fun, personally and with their companies. They prove you can have private and company wellbeing. Happiness means take control of your personal and business wellbeing. It’s both about empathy and being hard-nosed as appropriate and requires leadership.

Personal and Organisational Effectiveness

Truly effective leaders know from experience (and failure) that the business cannot be fully effective unless they are also fully effective. A business can’t fire on all four cylinders if the person in charge is misfiring. I’ve done some work with Steve Barker on this where we show the synergy between personal and business life. You might find the ideas useful, take a look when you have a moment here. The point remains that aiming for happiness for the sake of itself is a tad shallow and illusory. Most people who have achieved anything however modest usually get enjoyment from a challenge! As the BBC research showed and experience shows if you do what you want to do you will be happier. Across all aspects of our lives, happiness means taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

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

opportunity

GDPR is a business and marketing opportunity

Some good friends are lawyers. But I don’t ask them to run my business, why would they want to? As a business angel, and company director, I believe in getting appropriate legal help, but I don’t abdicate my role. With GDPR becoming law in 2018 we need legal and expert help. But this is not a an exclusive legal project. GDPR is a big commercial opportunity. And sure, as with and business situation there is a risk. But why the obsession with fines to the complete exclusion of the pportunity? GDPR is a business and marketing opportunity. 


GDPR The Commercial Opportunity

You may have to contact businesses, prospects, customers, competitors to renew your database. Use this to make offers. It will cost money if your data is not GDPR compliant, but you have no choice anyway. Invest to grow. Work out a series of campaigns. Work out who should receive what message. Clearly not all people are targets for the same message, but it can be an opportunity to spread an integrated, shared story across clients and companies. Let me be clear. In some instances it will not be appropriate to do this. But in others it will.  


The Marketing Opportunity

 

The commercial opportunity is part of the marketing opportunity. However more broadly, I’d say, stop and think for a moment. What we are talking about here is personal data, people. When any of us started a business we had people in mind as those we were trying to excite with our services and products. Surely that should be the starting point now. Engaging people, in a conversation. So here are my thoughts for a marketing approach to GDPR: 

·        Segmentation is always the starting point for me: divide the database into groups.

·        Is there old data, people who we do not want to engage with any longer? If so, then delete

·        Work out your key ideal customer personas i.e. profile targets.

·        What do we have online for example on the company website, if people visit during our contact process, to check out our credentials, does it match what we are saying? We need to be authentic.

·        Decide the contact process – see consent section below.

·        I believe it’s great news for marketing:

o   A chance to clear out old “rubbish” data.

o   An excuse (frankly) to clearly ask prospects and customers “do you want to stay connected?”. How often do we strain our minds for excuses to contact people!!

o   Marketing complain about not having budgets. Companies MUST resource this or face the consequences.

Mark Gracey our expert on GDPR delivers a CIM Dorset Practical Guidance presentation event on 8th November.

 

Consent

I am involved in a charity, commercial businesses and not-for-profit organisations. The requirements may vary. But in essence, marketers are more concerned than other people with getting consent from individuals. What strikes me in all the mass of online advice, is that it depends who is giving it. This alters the emphasis the expert gives to certain aspects of GDPR. For example whether it be a digital agency, cyber security company, a charity sector specialist and so on. I am not going into detail here, there’s more on our GDPR article. But the companies we work with adopt simple processes including the following steps: 

·        Who to contact

·        How to contact them: written, email, face to face or phone

·        What to get authorised, i.e. scope for example an email update and separately a newsletter

·        Ensuring they get consent for specific items

·        How to record it / the items

·        How long it will last before it needs to be renewed

 

Contracts

Ongoing customer relationships and contracts together with consent form part of data processing.

 

Suppliers and Processors

You need to take responsibility for someone or organisations processing data.

 

Automation

This intrigues me. There is quite a lot in GDPR on automation. The danger for example that financial credit may be refused because of an automated procedure. This could cause a financial provider problems under GDPR. Equally marketing automation annoying customers. Anything which is thoughtless use of data. Again, I’d make the point: it takes someone with marketing experience to understand this; to know how clumsy marketing automation can be. Any tool is as good or bad as the user. Marketing automation is huge. So we need to be careful.
 

Summary
 

These are just some ideas, not exhaustive. Why do so many directors abdicate their responsibilities and not understand the “stuff” they need to?  I am all for working with experts. We work with the excellent Mark Gracey from Flavoury Digital GDPR expert. You can see Mark at the CIM Dorset Practical Guidance presentation event on 8th November. We also work with Leon Thompson, of Jigsaw Compliance Services Ltd an expert in the financial services compliance world – an old colleague from Abbey Life plc days when I was a director there. BUT…I make it my business to understand what to do for our business, so we have our own Data Protection Officer, Action Plans, and processes. Use experts and lawyers, but take control. And enjoy the commercial and marketing opportunity that is GDPR.

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

woman-texting-on-smartphone

Does Social Media make you Illiterate?

Social media is not bad for you, embrace technology, and equally keep enjoying literature and offline communications. I write this in response to various articles pointing out the problems with social media. Let’s take a while in this article to look at what social media is, what’s good and bad about it, and separately but related: literacy in the digital age. Wikipedia defines Social media ascomputer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.” What strikes me with this definition is the absence of any reference to “literature”. So, does social media make you illiterate? I’d suggest not. But let me point out some challenges and opportunities with media, literature and changing reading habits.

Social Media is Bad for Literacy Articles

A survey of 214 secondary school heads found that 70 per cent believe Facebook and Twitter are “bad for literacy”. Daily Mail 15th November 2013. A recent excellent and wide-ranging article by Mike Wide journalist for The Times, on social media and literature referred to the fact that Howard Jacobson “Booker prize-winning novelist has warned that children will be illiterate within a generation because of social media such as Twitter.” And he himself “craved interruption” due to a combination of smartphones and social media. In Scotland, a survey in May revealed a steep fall in writing standards among 13-year-olds over the past five years, with less than half performing well or very well at writing. Wade also points out the percentage of American adults who read literature — any novels, short stories, poetry or plays — fell to at least a three-decade low last year, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

How Social Media Can Benefit Your Business

I’d suggest benefits of social media for business include:

  • Increase Brand Recognition
  • Showcase Your Customer Service Efforts
  • Increase Traffic to Your Website
  • Build a Community of Dedicated Followers
  • Decrease Your Marketing Costs
  • Give You Valuable Information About Your Audience
  • Increase Loyalty to Your Brand
  • Establish Your Authority.

I could go on…and our o i solutions Digital page gives myriad sites and examples of fantastic, innovative tools and sites in the social media and tech world that can benefit your business.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media for People More Widely

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media for Society are listed by techmaish here. The advantages for children are confidently listed by Digital Review including helping to make children confident, friendly, connected, smart, informed, helpful, relaxed and feeling welcome. But risks are well documented by many. And very notably in this Clinical Report−The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson and COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA which says, “Using social media becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most adults realise. Most risks fall into the following categories: peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups” and lists concerns including cyberbullying, online harassment, Facebook depression and sexting. The USA responded with The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), it is a United States federal law. The act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction about children under 13 years of age. It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing of those under. When asking does social media make you illiterate? Or is it damaging, the USA is surely the place to look at as leader, first mover and producer of most things in the social media space.

Fake News Another Problem Linked to Social Media

There’s a useful article in The Daily Telegraph tracing the history of fake news, emphasising that it was the introduction of social media which really started it from circa 2007. Although one might point to Second World War propaganda as early precursors.

Can News Literacy Be Taught?

The article  by Niemen Reports, discusses the importance of news literacy courses in the U.S. universities and colleges. According to a Stanford University study, most middle school, high school and college students were functional news illiterates. Sam Wineburg, lead author of the study, stated that most students are completely unprepared to be responsible news consumers in the Internet age. In response to this problem, some universities and colleges included news literacy course elements in their curriculum.

A Possible Solution, Embrace Information, e-literacy and Media Literacy

Witek Donna writes that perhaps the biggest recent shift in how information is produced, accessed, and used is the multiplication of information formats that now exist as a result of advances in computing technology.   Ralph Raab writes: “A 2007 study showed that frequent television viewing during adolescence caused attention deficiencies…You must be functionally literate in order to use the internet. This has led to a phenomenon called e-literacy. When parents and teachers criticize the amount of time kids spend online, they’re forgetting that you have to be literate to use the internet effectively. ” American Libraries. Aug2010, Vol. 41 Issue 8, p34-37. 4p.

Filtering Out Fake News: It All Starts With Media Literacy

This issue is at the heart of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE; namle .net). NAMLE’s executive director, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, recently said “every step of the [Media] chain from content creator to social media platform to user must be held more accountable.” She supports a rating system of news outlets based on a number of factors (source material, credentials, bias, factchecking, etc.) to make the lines of fact versus fiction less blurred. Another point she stresses is the need for people to understand the difference between researched journalism and opinion and commentary. Media outlets, she says, must be clear about these differences. Lipkin feels that Facebook has always been a media company. Lipkin is emphatic that media literacy must be taught from the earliest grades. As Lipkin so aptly puts it, “We need to embrace technology and media literacy and empower students to use it. We need to stop trying to protect kids and start preparing them.”

Summary

I think the final sentence of the preceding paragraph says it all; in particular “embrace technology”. Social media is just a tool, it’s pervasive and at its worst distracting and petty. But why not enjoy it alongside longer form literature, and enrich the media and communications landscape? I love it.

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

charter

How do Chartered Institutes and Trade Associations cope with Disruptive Innovation?

Chartered Institutes and Trade Associations cover thousands of sectors and trades. Here is an online directory of Professional Bodies and Trade Associations. The former serves people, primarily, the latter organisations, primarily; in both cases not exclusively. I put them together as “our representatives” for the purpose of my question. Can chartered institutes and trade associations cope with disruptive innovation? I say they can, and flourish, but like any market, there is good and bad. And it’s a gale blowing. CIM (marketing) is my professional body. UKBAA is our Trade Association, and both experience challenges and opportunities from disruptive sources such as artificial intelligence AI, internet competitors and DIY marketers. Innovation moves at breakneck speed these days, as I see first-hand at Dorset Business Angels, from the entrepreneurs and ideas we fund and review. Entrepreneurs and innovators question whether traditional organisations are fit for purpose. Can big companies survive? That’s for another discussion. My thoughts turn here to whether professional and trade bodies can cope. Issues such as GPDR – General Data Protection Regulations – are a real worry for business, and Institutes should be a place to turn to rather than just Google your problem. With innovation, moving at breakneck speed, have chartered bodies and trade associations had their day? I don’t think so, because disruptive innovation does not mean chaos, it means better problem-solving. How do our representative organisations work with disruption? What do the robots and AI have to say? Are we doomed? I’ve been a regional CIM Chair and a Trade Body Chair, plus an active, demanding customer of both. Here’re some ideas….

How we got here – charters

Charters were originally a record of land in Anglo-Saxon times. First drawn up in 670 AD granting land to the Church, subsequently to lay people. There were Congressional charters in the USA, municipal corporation charters and royal charters in Europe. The latter being the only way a company could be formed at one point. Nowadays trade bodies recognise the value of chartered status. They come under the authority of the Privy Council, who reserve charters for bodies it describes as: “eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement and are financially sound.” There are 900 Chartered bodies. They are the premier trade and professional organisations in the UK. Business people, Government, the public trust them to act as regulators and accreditors for their sectors. Professional people join them to stay up-to-date with the latest technical information for their industry. Members join and stay accredited by virtue of qualification and experience, and continuing professional development, CPD.

Trade Associations

There is no legislation governing trade associations and no requirement on them to be registered. Anyone can set one up. The result is a proliferation of bodies of variable quality. The Trade Association Forum estimates that there are currently as many as 3,500 trade associations in the UK. Extract from the Heseltine Report 31st October 2012, here is an extract: “The Trade Association Forum …(says) There have been various attempts to address the problems of business representation dating back to the Devlin Commission in 1972, but the issues of fragmentation and proliferation are still very much alive today. There has been little effective action to address these issues since that report.” My own experience in the equipment industry and now in the funding, finance and angel investment sectors is that you get out of trade associations, what you put in. There is a treasure trove of services to dip into, but you need to go shopping, and engage with your colleagues in the partner association. As ever, it’s all about people.

Modern Professional and Trade Associations

Effective organisations today, are lean, innovative and of limited size, or divided into smaller working units. Professional bodies and trade associations are not big organisations so can achieve the latter. In a fast changing world, they provide a vital service. At Dorset Business Angels we very much a rely upon UKBAA, UK Business Angels Association, for example to perform these key functions typical of a central trade association:

  • Speaking to Government on industry issues
  • Sharing industry best practice
  • Representing members
  • Providing networking, contact, lead and business development opportunities
  • Carrying our surveys and research
  • Acting as a catalyst and first point of contact for contact from the public and industry
  • Dealing with enquiries, complaints and ideas
  • Speaking and dealing with media
  • Running Conferences, Education and Informative events
  • Education and Training – online, classroom, centrally and regionally
  • Technical support
  • Agreeing and maintaining codes of conduct

Innovation – is renewal not destruction

Innovation, is a better solution to meet a new requirement. By definition it will shake things up, so I am never quite sure why we preface it with “disruptive”. A better engine, app, service, or product will mean another provider will suffer, go out of business, lose sales or be forced to get better. That’s what an effective market does. There was a great podcast interview recently with Marc Andreessen entrepreneur, investor, and co-founder of Netscape. His view is that the internet is only in its infancy, and we should embrace ai, robots and innovation; there are far more opportunities than problems with tech and innovation. I share this view.

Conclusion – the bad and the good are the innovative

The worst organisations demonstrate these attributes to a customer amongst others:

  • Poor service
  • Costly
  • Too many staff
  • Slow and unresponsive
  • Bureaucratic and rule bound
  • Inward focused
  • Old fashioned
  • No perceived value added
  • Backward looking

So, can chartered institutes and trade associations cope with disruptive innovation? The best chartered institutes and trade associations cope with disruptive innovation by embracing it as an opportunity and offering great, modern service to customers.  Disruptive innovation does not mean chaos, it means an opportunity for better problem solving.

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

Google

Google Forms it’s a simple survey tool to use.

Have you tried Google Forms? It’s a simple survey tool to use, here’s a step by step guide. How to create questions, the templates available. How to send and see survey results. I’ve used a number of online survey tools but not Google Forms, so took a look at it and found it easy to use. I thought it might be helpful to share my notes on how to use it. This is not a comparison or recommendation to use ahead of other survey tools, merely notes on what to do. You make your own mind up.

Starting and step by step guide

Search for https://docs.google.com

Sign in with your google email.

You can choose business, personal, education, event or whatever suits you.

Event is useful for most businesses and consultants.

Starting with a Blank Form

Name form

Describe form

Click on Untitled Question, fill in a title

e.g. Question 1

You can choose various types for example:

  • Short answer
  • Paragraph
  • Multiple choice
  • Checkboxes
  • Dropdown
  • Linear scale
  • Multiple choice grid

Google Form Multiple Choice

To the right of the form you have the control panel to design the form.

You click the “+” button to add another question for example.

The six dots in the middle of the screen enable you to move that question anywhere on the form.

The trash can enables you to delete a question.

You can use the button next to the trash can to duplicate a question, which is useful, as it can then be amended or reformatted into your final designed new question.

Options have dots next to them so you can move these too.

If you move the purple “Required” button to the right on a question, a person cannot move on until they finish the question.

Improving Form Design

To further improve design you can add titles using the TT symbol.

Images and Videos

You can add images and videos, using upload image, url or however you wish to upload the image.

Sections

You can divide the form into sections or add a section using the bottom symbol, on the right hand panel (like a big “equals”).

Colour Palette

colour palette

Click the colour palette and change the colour of your form. You can select your theme background or upload one.

Preview Function

This button is top right, next to Palette by settings. It shows what the form looks like when someone opens up the form.

Responses

When someone has completed the form they press submit. On your form under “Responses” it shows the number of responses. Each response can be seen individually. You can also see a summary.  There is also a breakdown by section.

Form Saved

Google saves the form you have made, much like most online platforms will save your last campaign template.

Send Survey

Click on the Form. Press “Send” in the top right hand corner. It can be sent to multiple emails, a link can be created for social media or there is and HTML embed code. You can limit the number of responses per person.

Video Guide – this YouTube guide is a useful help.

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

Problem Solving

Problem solving in business for leaders: solve the right problem

The term problem-solving is used in many disciplines. I’m concerned and work with problem-solving in business. Specifically how to identify the root problem for a challenge in business, and then effectively go and solve it. A business leader solves problems typically by analysing , making decisions and facilitating problem-solving with a team of colleagues. Don’t solve problems yourself if someone else or others are better at doing it, as it is results that matter not recognition. Looking at tools and ideas to help with problem-solving is problematic! If you google “problem-solving” or search articles on online, there is a mass of stuff, on psychology, tech, and most areas of life, arts and science. So, my problem with how many people go about problem- solving?! Focus, lack of it. You need to solve the right problem. And let the right person solve it. Help them of course, that’s leadership. Here are ideas on problem-solving in business.

What’s the Problem?

Entrepreneurs and inventors come up with ideas and ask for support or funding. Or employees and managers ask their bosses about a problem, or to support a solution they highlight a problem. Investor colleagues and Boards I sit on will first ask the person, are you sure this is the real problem, the real issue and your solution therefore the right route to take? Too often work starts or is commissioned based upon a poor diagnosis. Peter Bregman in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article says, “Are You Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem?” Specifically, he suggests that tough, or seemingly insoluble problems may be solved by trying to reframe the problem. Asa Raskin in a blog says, understand the problem. And says, “When you are solving a difficult problem re-ask the problem so that your solution helps you learn faster. Find a faster way to fail, recover, and try again.” Idea Management Software is an excellent tool to identify, collate and choose solutions. I have spent years in this market and recommend it. A very simple Marketing Brief template here can be used to clarify exactly what work is needed for a campaign. For a Project Plan I use the BOSCAM acronymn recommended by John Cornish expert Project Planner, identifying Project, Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions and Methods.

Stop Problem Solving Start Leading

In business, the objective is to solve problems. It is not to win prizes for solving problems. Entrepreneurs start off solving a problem, and need to grow a business by allowing others to solve the problems. Equally, for all but sole traders, the leadership task is to step back and facilitate problem-solving. There is a lot of problem solving literature written on the topic. For example, Michaelson, Spiegel and Markus “Stop solving your business problems” 2010, on how many leaders are proud of their problem-solving skills, but this can get in the way of allowing more widescale effective, company-wide such activity.

A Team Approach

Harness the energy of your employees. One recent large company survey cited “Workplace Collaboration Survey Finds 89% of Employees Want a More Interactive Approach to Solving Business Problems.” This was in Los Angeles this year, a company called Oblong Industries. Enthusiasm is one thing, perhaps the first step, but your staff may ask you, how do you solve problems? I was partly amused, and shocked at an article I read, entitled, “teaching business problem-solving skills.” by Keith Denton in Supervision Magazine – more here on Creating a Problem Solving Culture. He finds many people need to be taught problem-solving skills, more so than in the past, due to the over reliance on “googling problem solving”.

Some Tools to Use with Your Team

CPS – Creative Problem Solving

There is no better man than the Jeffrey Baumgartner to explain this. He is very clear. It’s not just brainstorming but a well-defined  7 step process – see here.

Problem Analysis Tree

The problem, objective and strategy tree analysis is one participatory tool of mapping out main problems, along with their causes and effects – see here

5 Whys

There are various templates for this, I like the simplest one – see here Where you keep working backwards to find the root cause. Or across a whole project you can use this.

A-Z

A sequential approach, identify, gather data through to implementation but even so here are some nice templates:

Finally and Critically

There are of course problems for the leader. These don’t go away. And leadership is a lonely place. But owners, CEOs and directors, need to leave space to think and make decisions. Solve the sort of problems appropriate for the boss. Nick Hixson has an excellent video on decisions here. I will be writing more on taking control: the issue that unless you are in control of your personal life in fact all aspects of what you want to achieve, you cannot manage the business. Steve Barker’s Five Maps of adult Territory nicely describe different aspects of our life and work – here. A balanced outlook enables a considered view. Easy to say, not easy to do. As I noted earlier, the problem with problem-solving is focus. You need to solve the right problem. And let the right person solve it. Help them of course, that is leadership.

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