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    Business advice Business advice Document Transcript

    • Autumn/Winter 2012here’s howwe can help your business…Give your business the edgeProtectHow to safeguard yourintellectual assetsSaveEasy ways to increaseenergy efficiencyProfitDigital marketing secretsto help increase sales 1
    • WelcomeAs the nights draw in and we prepare to celebrate the festiveseason and approaching new year, now’s a great time to giveyour business the edge. What’s inside Energy market view 3 npower news 4Protect Business movers: Support when relocating 5If your business produces anything unique,safeguarding your intellectual property is important. Hot topic:However, knowing how best to go about this can be Protect your intellectual property 6challenging, so read our guide on page 6. Energy efficiency: Cut costs this winter 8Save Green spotlight:As we enter the season of larger fuel bills, implementing The EV revolution 10some simple efficiency measures can help you reduce How to:your business energy costs. Find out where to start on Make the most of digital marketing 12page 8.ProfitInternet-based marketing can provide smallerbusinesses with low-cost opportunities to bettertarget customers. A digital marketing expert offerssome tips on page 12.Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about thelatest news from npower (page 4), find outwhy electric vehicles could become a morecommon feature on our roads (page 10).Wishing you the best of the season,Rachel BarrassCustomer Service ManagerEditorial content provided by Susannah Lawson & Associates (www.slcommunications.co.uk).npower is a registered trademark and a trading name of Npower Direct Limited (registered in England and Wales No.3782443) and associated companies.Registered Office: Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon SN5 6PB. 2
    • Energy Market View Energy market viewGetting the balance rightExpect a heated debate from politicians as the UK decides how best to meet our futureenergy needs, and watch out for incentives for businesses that can help to reduce fuelbills. Janet Wood reports.The prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle in Septemberbrought a new face in to the energy sector: Janet Wood is editorJohn Hayes, who took over as Energy Minister. of Utility Week.Hayes, and his boss Ed Davey, the Secretary ofState for Energy and Climate Change, have toshepherd a new Energy Bill through the legislativeprocess at top speed, if the government is tomeet its aim to have it in place by early 2013.Getting the mix rightIn terms of how best to meet future demand, The other side of the generation coin is consumptionthe broad consensus is that with fossil fuel costs – and already, consumers are being offered incentivesincreasing, we will be best – and most economically to reduce energy demand. The forthcoming Green– placed if we have a mix of sources. That will Deal will enable you to offset the cost of improvinginclude gas and nuclear, plus some renewables. energy efficiency against future savings, so negatingBut because so much investment in new the need for capital outlay. And investing ingenerating infrastructure is required, it’s crucial renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic panelsto get the market framework right. The tension is or a biomass boiler can also pay dividends via thearound the right mix – can we drive forward our Feed in Tariff and Renewables Heat Incentive.renewables investment faster, or should we investmore in gas? But in any version of the portfolio we Rewards for flexibilitywill have both. In future, further options to reduce bills are likelynpower, in fact, demonstrates the change. via payments for ‘demand-side response’. The ideaThe company announced in September that is to harness the flexibility that energy users have,it will shut down its old coal and gas plants in to help run the system better. For exampleOxfordshire (Didcot) and Southampton (Fawley), refrigeration units, which cycle on and off anyway,and it has started up a new gas-fired power station can be timed so they aren’t drawing power atat Pembroke. It has also brought on line wind farms peak times.and converted an old coal-fired station in Kent to It’s not clear yet exactly how this would workburn biomass instead. This all results in cleaner – but it’s certainly worth watching the Energypower generation, and the mix of sources allows Bill to see how those proposals develop.the most efficient use of each. 3
    • npower newsTaking a break to raise Your views make a difference A new customer survey is gathering input to help£90k for Macmillan npower identify areas for improvement. Businesses calling for help are being asked to participate in anpower employees across the country joined post-call automated survey.thousands of other businesses and groups takingpart in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning at “We are looking to gauge customerthe end of September. “Staff from nearly all oursites took a break to come together for coffee and satisfaction, find out how wellcake, raising £90,000 for our corporate charity queries are resolved and hear anyMacmillan,” explains Ruth Worton, Charity ideas for improving our service,”& Volunteering Delivery Manager at npower.“We also held a Great RWE npower Bake Off explains Chris Watson, Contact Centre Managerevent to uncover some hidden baking talent for SME Customer Service.– and get some great cakes to enjoy. This helpedto boost the money we raised and provide further “Each month we analyse the data and are delighted tofunds for such a worthwhile charity, which offers find that so far, 89% of callers rate the behaviour andsuch fantastic support to those living with cancer.” skills of the advisers they speak to highly.” Satisfaction in npower overall has been rated at 79%. “We areTo find our more about fundraising for Macmillan, particularly keen to learn how we can improve onvisit macmillan.org.uk this,” says Chris. 4
    • npower news Support when moving premises Relocating your business can be a big job. But when it comes to sorting out your business gas and electricity – finalising bills and ensuring supply in your new premises. “To save time, it’s a good idea to assemble all the information you need in advance of calling our team,” suggests Diane Buttle of the Business Movers Team. “That way, it only takes one call and then we can handle the rest.” As a guide, Diane recommends gathering together the following information before your moving day: • ustomer account number (this will be on any C npower bill) • orwarding address for your final bill – or refund F if you are in credit • ontact details for your landlord or letting agent, C if applicable • New occupier’s details, if knownNew blog to benefit your business Then on the day you move, call the Business MoversA new online service has launched to provide team on 0845 166 3360 with this information,business customers with access to helpful plus a final meter(s) reading. Taking a closing meterinformation and advice that could save you reading is easy, but if you’d like to arrange for anmoney. “The new npower blog will cover all things npower representative to do this, then you’ll need toenergy-related – from how you can benefit from call a week ahead to arrange.Green Deal funding to accessing tax breaks forenergy-efficient business equipment,” explains “It’s useful to remember that if you don’t let us knowEmily Stagg, a member of npower’s online team. you’re moving out, you’ll continue to be liable for all charges.” advises Diane. “When you close your“We’ll also be featuring customer case studies, account, you can also arrange to set up a new onesharing information on how businesses can cut and ensure supply at your new premises – just havetheir energy bills, and exploring new technologies the details ready when you call.”such as cloud computing.” In addition, customerscan propose topics they’d like to see. “Our aim is To contact the Business Movers Team, callto create an interactive service that providesbusinesses with valuable information they want 0845 166 3360to read about,” says Emily. Or visitVisit npower.com/blog to find out more. npower.com/businessmovers 5
    • Hot topicHow safe is your intellectual property?The recent high-profile court case between Apple and Samsung, which saw theformer awarded some $1bn in damages, reminded businesses great and small ofthe importance of intellectual property. But what is it and how do you protect it? Patents and copyright As the IPO website explains, patents protect new inventions and cover “how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made”. It gives the owner the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission. Patents must be registered and protection can last for up to 20 years. You can only patent an invention that hasn’t already been patented. Patents must be registered on a country-by-country basis and UK Rosa Wilkinson, patents are granted by the IPO, or by the European IPO Director of Innovation Patent Office when patent applications are filed under the European Patent Convention.According to a survey by the Intellectual Property Copyright protects written, theatrical, musicalOffice (IPO), the government body responsible for and artistic works as well as film, photographs,intellectual property rights in the UK, a staggering book layouts, sound recordings and broadcasts.96% of SMEs don’t know the value of their Copyright is an automatic right, which meansintellectual property (IP). you don’t have to apply for it, but you must prove creation date in cases of infringement.“Every business should have an IP strategy,which identifies what they own and whetherthey wish to protect it,” advises Rosa Wilkinson, Trade marks and design rightsIPO Director of Innovation. “A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your“All successful businesses are underpinned by competitors,” Wilkinson explains. “It can be wordsa portfolio of IP rights – trade marks, designs, – brand names, usually – logos or a combination ofpatents and copyright. With the right strategy – the two. You register your trade mark by applyingand the right protections in place – an IP-aware to the IPO. Trade marks must be registered in eachbusiness can exploit these rights to generate the country, although you can obtain a Communityincome needed for growth.” Trade Mark to cover Europe.” 6
    • Hot topicIf you are responsible for the way an objectlooks, you will automatically have design right Protective measuresprotection, but if the design is infringed and SnoozeShade® is a handy sleep and sun shade foryou want to take legal action, you must prove prams and pushchairs designed to help babies sleepyour design was copied. “That’s why it can be during the day and its inventor is Surrey-based Carawise to register your design, which will protect Sayer. “I was out walking my baby daughter in herit for 25 years and enable you to sue in cases of pram when her naptime came,” she remembers,infringement,” Wilkinson says. “but the sunlight kept her awake. I couldn’t find a solution in the shops or online, so I invented mySources of further information own and started my business in 2010.”Obviously, you also must make sure you don’t Sayer says you must make it difficult forinfringe other people’s IP – even unintentionally. others to exploit your hard work and creativity,“Many businesses lack basic knowledge about IP but doesn’t necessarily see patents as the answer.and it’s not until something goes wrong that they “They’re expensive and take a long time, whilefeel the need to find out more,” Wilkinson says. competitors can launch products that serve the“Businesses can find a wide range of free same demand, but are different enough to notinformation on our website ipo.gov.uk, infringe on your patent.”which is a great place to start. However, Having a patent pending is cheaper, she says,nothing is better than tailored advice from an while providing some protection and time to testexpert, and many patent lawyers, trade mark your invention’s commercial potential withoutlawyers and IP specialists will offer initial advice having to pay for the complete patent process.for free, then you can decide what to do next,”she concludes. Sayer says money can also be better spent establishing and trade-marking your brand. “I’ve trade-marked the word SnoozeShade®, so no one can use it in relation to similar products in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and Europe. I’d also recommend registering your designs, because it safeguards your product’s appearance.” If you lack knowledge, Sayer recommends contacting the IPO or seeking advice from a “commercially aware legal adviser” with experience of businesses like yours. “Becoming the leading brand certainly helps, while trade-marking and design registration might be a much better, cheaper and quicker way to protect your products Cara Sayer, than patenting,” she concludes. Inventor of SnoozeShade® 7
    • Energy efficiencyHelp to reduce your heating costs this winterHeating your workplace is essential during the colder months, but you couldsave on the cost by taking some simple steps to increase efficiency and eliminateunnecessary waste, and with some investment, you can save even more.Five steps to a warmer 1. If you have a centrally-controlled heating system, check that it’s set to come on and goworkplace for less off at appropriate times for the working day,A few no-cost and low-cost measures can and that these are amended once the clocksmake a big difference to both comfort and go forward or back. Also check that you are notenergy consumption: heating your premises on days it’s unoccupied – for example at weekends. 2. Check temperature settings. The optimum setting for most workplaces is 19˚C. For labour- intensive activities this can be reduced to 16˚C, and for sedentary work (ie office work), you may need to increase it to about 20˚C. Every 1˚C above the ideal temperature could mean you are using up to 8% more energy than necessary, so simply adjusting your thermostat could save you money. 3. Only heat occupied areas. A walk around your premises to switch off radiators or turn down room thermostats in areas that aren’t in common use – for example in storage areas or empty offices – can help to ensure you’re not wasting money on heating unnecessarily. 4. Fitting insulation or reflective strips behind radiators also saves on energy wastage, especially if they are fitted on external walls or next to unheated areas. This can save up to 90% of the energy that would otherwise be wasted through the wall. 5. Aim to ensure doors and windows are kept shut when space heating is in use, particularly between heated and unheated areas. 8
    • Energy efficiency Insulate to save up to 75% Running at the right temperature When you consider that up to 25% of heat However you heat water for your business, lost from a building is through the roof, overheating or storing it in poorly-insulated with a further 35% leaking out via walls cylinders can mean it costs more and wastes and 15% escaping through gaps in draughty energy. Check the temperature and adjust doors and windows, you can begin to see your water thermostat where possible – for the business case for investing in insulation. every 1˚C reduction, your energy costs could Roof insulation, cavity walls or dry-lining drop by up to 15%. 60˚C is usually optimum solid walls and sealing up gaps where heat unless you need hotter water for catering or can escape can produce significant savings on specific commercial purposes. energy costs, as well as making your working environment warmer. As with your space heating controls, ensure your water heating timer is set to meet your Zero-interest loans are available through requirements and not for times or days when the Carbon Trust, while the government’s hot water isn’t required. new Green Deal initiative finances the cost of energy efficiency improvements, with the Finally, if hot water is stored in a cylinder, money recouped via the savings then made. lagging this can reduce heat loss. And aim to get your boiler regularly serviced as this will You can find out more at carbontrust.com help to increase efficiency. If it’s very old, or calling 0800 085 2005, and visiting it may be worth considering an upgrade as decc.gov.uk and searching for the latest on this is likely to dramatically cut running costs. the Green Deal. Your local Business Link will also have details of loans and grants available For more money-saving tips visit – visit businesslink.gov.uk to find out more. npower.com/SmartStartSource for energy-saving figures: The Carbon Trust, September 2012 9
    • Green spotlightThe EV revolutionAdvances in technology now mean electricity-powered vehicles offer manyadvantages – from being much cheaper to run and easier to charge, to providingimpressive environmental benefits.Electric vehicles hit the news in late September npower – and its parent company RWE – haswhen Nemesis, a modified Lotus sportscar, broke already installed more than 1900 charging pointsthe EV land-speed record, reaching 151mph. It across Europe. “The vast majority of charging willhelped to dispel the often-held belief that electric- be at home or in the office, but if you urgently needpowered cars are slow, Noddy-style vehicles that to recharge on a longer journey, there will also beare impractical for most drivers. places on the street,” says Jonathan. “The cost is also significantly less than filling up with petrolIn fact, a report by Deloitte^ predicts that electric – for example, if you do 12,000 miles a year, a petrolcars will make up one in every ten car sales by the engine might cost around £1500 whereas an electricend of the decade, with 30 models from the likes of car would cost about £150 to charge.”BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, Renault and otherleading manufacturers expected to come to marketin the UK within the next two years.“Range is the first concern most people raise aboutelectric vehicles (EVs) – but the average distancetravelled in the UK by car and van drivers is just8.4 miles per trip – and some 98% of all journeysare less than 50 miles,” explains JonathanWoodthorpe, Head of e-mobility at npower.“Most EV models today also offer a typicalrange of around 90 miles between charges.” Testing out the latest modelsThe other frequently asked question is how – and In a recent test drive, npower employees triedwhere – can you charge an EV. “At npower, we’ve out the electric Mercedes Vito E-Cell van,been developing charge points for EVs and are the which was driven 352 carbon neutral milesfirst energy supplier to offer an EV tariff – Juice-e – from Swindon to Sunderland, powered bywhich offers off-peak rates that can charge a vehicle npower’s dedicated electric vehicle chargersfor around £1.20 from home,” explains Jonathan. en-route. Using the Juice-e tariff, the journey cost just £7.54 compared to £57.55 in an equivalent diesel-powered van, with zero tailpipe emissions compared to 310g CO2 per mile for a diesel equivalent vehicle.^Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL)’s Global Manufacturing Industry group, Unplugged: Electric vehicle realities versus consumer expectations 2011. 10
    • Green spotlight EVs: the benefits for business Electric vehicles can offer significant environmental and cost benefits to you or your business: • No road tax • ignificantly reduced running costs, S costing around 1p per mile to run compared to approximately 14p per mile for an average standard fuel car* • usinesses also benefit from no company B car tax and showroom tax • No congestion charging costs • he government currently offers up to T £5,000 as a grant towards the purchase of your EV To find out whether an electric vehicle could reduce your fuel costs, why not visit npower.com/ev and use the fuel calculator.*Costs range and usage will vary and depend on factors such as model, number of passengers, driving style, battery age and road, battery, vehicle and weatherconditions. (Source: npower.com/EV) 11
    • How to… Make the most of digital marketing Using the internet and online devices to promote your business provide a low-cost way to better engage with your audience and help increase sales, as digital marketing expert Peter Fealey explains. “Digital marketing is the use of internet-enabled digital marketing is less intrusive and holds consumers’ devices to engage with customers and promote attention for longer.” your products and services,” explains Peter Fealey, founder of north Somerset-based digital marketing Crucially, Fealey says, the success of digital agency Feel Digital. “Your message can be delivered marketing is usually built on a sound offline foundation. via the web, social media, email, mobile devices, “Your brand must be solid and you must know what ‘apps’ and even games consoles.” messages you need to communicate – and to whom, of course,” he stresses. Digital media may still be a relatively new concept to many businesses, but more and more Net returns small firms are embracing it to help boost sales. Fealey says your website should be one of the most “The rise of sites such as eBay means even the valuable tools in your arsenal. “Make it search engine smallest enterprise can sell online at little or no friendly by keeping your content fresh and relevant, cost,” says Peter. “Those who don’t have a solid and ensure it looks good and is easy to navigate. web presence will lose out. For example, most Add a blog, because it can help you engage customers consumers now turn to Google when they need more personally, while encouraging their participation. something, so if you’re not ranking, you won’t And make the most of Google Analytics. The more get the business,” he warns. you understand about your website visitors, the better placed you’ll be to meet their needs. Your website also Key benefits needs to be optimised for search engines. Quite simply, “Word of mouth has long been the friend of small the more frequently your site appears in search results, businesses, but these days conversations are the more visitors you’ll get.” increasingly happening online,” Fealey continues. “One of our clients – a café owner – increased her What about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising? footfall by 25% in one month by running a simple “It’s the most targeted form of search marketing,” competition, spreading word through Twitter and Fealey replies. “Research suggests that 95% of blog posts. It cost her nothing, except some time.” Google users view paid search results at the top of the search results page, while 31% view the ads on As Fealey points out, digital marketing can not only the right-hand side. Because you only pay for the be much cheaper than offline options, your success ad if it’s clicked, PPC can provide excellent reach.” can be measured and analysed more quickly, conveniently and accurately. “Tracking response Other key digital marketing options include email enables you to learn and get better. You can also marketing, which Fealey describes as a low-cost, target people most likely to buy from you, while effective way to reach a large audience. “I swear by 12
    • How to…email services provider mailchimp.com. “Social media provides an opportunity to constantlyCreating your own professional-looking email interact with your followers, so when you do let themor email newsletter is simple; the interface is very know about an offer, they’re more likely to look at it.intuitive and the software can hold your hand as Make sure you have a LinkedIn and Twitter account.much as you like.” Add a company Facebook page if you’re selling B2C more than B2B. They are all free to setup and you canSocial media spend an hour a day on them.”Fealey views social media (including such sites as Does Fealey have any final words of advice aboutFacebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) as an inexpensive digital marketing for SMEs? “Keep it simple andway to interact and build relationships with potential user-friendly. Digital marketing enables you to reachand current customers. out to your customers on a one-to-one basis – locally,“Keep things friendly and relaxed, don’t just post nationally and internationally, 24/7. Make the most ofpromotions and products all the time,” he advises. it – the world really is at your fingertips,” he concludes. “Social media provides an opportunity to constantly interact with your followers, so when you do let them know about an offer, they’re more likely to look at it.” Peter Fealey, founder of digital marketing agency Feel Digital feeldigital.co.uk 13
    • How to… Rupert Youngman, MD of online women’s wear retailer Hush, explains how his business uses digital marketing “We’ve always marketed ourselves digitally, but it’s something we’ve given greater focus more recently because more customers are spending more time online. Our catalogue still drives most of our sales, but as our offline marketing principally drives people online, it’s important to have a strong digital presence. Probably up to 40% of our sales result from digital marketing. “We started our email newsletter in 2005, but because we don’t tend to offer discounts nor promote new products every week, we needed something else to talk about to our customers. That’s why our newsletter focuses on things we like and things we think our customers would be interested in, rather than Hush. Not only is our newsletter well received, but it also drives a lot of website traffic and sales. “Our website also features a blog, which is almost exclusively about things to do in your downtime – book and film recommendations, music, recipes etc. I’m not sure whether it has any direct impact on sales, but it’s more about building a brand and enhancing customer loyalty. We’ve also done pay-per-click marketing since 2006. We have a social media presence and we’ll do more going forward, but we remain sceptical. We don’t want to do it for the sake of doing it. “What final words of advice do I offer about digital marketing? Don’t expect miracles. Be realistic about what you hope to achieve; measure results against projections; and don’t be afraid to innovate. Marketing is essentially some basic psychology combined with common sense.” www.hush-uk.comnpm10410//RF12218/10 12 14