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Start-up to Scale-up

Building Your Market

From the time of your initial idea, you will have been thinking of all the very many steps necessary of turning your vision into reality. One of the first steps when starting up...

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Start-up to Scale-up

Not Just a Number

This article could have been entitled ‘data and financials’ but so many of you would not have got even this far. But the truth is that data and your financials are not just...

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Start-up to Scale-up

Shaping Your Business

Having decided that the entrepreneurial life is for you, it is then necessary to think about how you will actually make that best happen. The specific legal structure that you...

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Start-up to Scale-up

Meeting the Challenges

For anyone starting a business there is that delicious and intoxicating mixture of excitement tinged with fear. Both these are driven by stepping into the unknown and doing...

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Start-up to Scale-up

The First Steps

Have you ever thought of setting up your own business? Have you already done so? What made you want to do this? In truth, the answers are very different for each of us but...

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Start-up to Scale-up

Start-up to Scale-up

Welcome to a new series of articles for Startups Magazine. Over the next few months I would like to invite you to accompany me on a journey; a journey that many readers will...

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The Next Steps

Do I Need an Advisory Board?

What exactly is an Advisory Board and why is it so important to growing your business? This is a question that I am often asked by founders of early stage businesses. Thankfully..

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The Next Steps

Little Steps Lead To Big Steps

The famous Chinese proverb stating that 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step' is often wrongly accredited to Confucius, but whether it was him, Lao Tzu, or...

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The Next Steps

Nature Vs Nurture

In anthropology, psychology, and psychiatry, one of the theories that is often discussed relates to whether certain actions and activities are the result of nature or nurture...

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The Next Steps

Seizing the Moment

Sometimes in life it can pay to watch, observe, and to take no immediate action. But there are also many times in life, and in business of course, where by far the best thing to...

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The Next Steps

Achieving Balance

Many things in businesses are reliant upon achieving the right balance. Sometimes this balance can be easy to achieve and other times it can be much more difficult to obtain...

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The Next Steps

Scaling Your Business

Almost every business owner wants to scale their business in one way or another, at one time or another. But that is when the questions start: How do I grow my business? How do...

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The Next Steps

Sunshine and Showers

Business, and the economy as a whole, can be very much like the English weather – sunshine and showers. We all know that long range forecasts are less accurate than short range...

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The Next Steps

Systems & Procedures

Systems and procedures are crucial to the running of every successful business. Some company structures are inevitably simpler than others, and the complexity of the business...

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The Next Steps

Timing Is Everything

Timing, it is often said, is everything. And this can certainly be true in the world of business, as almost everything that you or your business does can be affected in one way...

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The Next Steps

Grabbing the Future

A week after the next steps out of lockdown were taken the differences are palpable. A very large percentage of the population have been shopping in ‘non-essential’ shops, sat...

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The Next Steps

Next Steps After Lockdown

How will people and businesses act now that we are finally coming out of what is generally expected to be the last lockdown? Not only is that the question that every business...

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The Next Steps

Recovery Loan Scheme

On April 6th 2021 a new Government loan scheme has come into force to help those businesses with the next steps after they have been affected by the economic difficulties and...

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The Next Steps

Business Vs Sport

Entrepreneurs and business founders typically work long, hard hours, where the norm is much more likely to be a 70 plus hour working week rather than a more traditional 35 hour...

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The Next Steps

It's Who You Know

It’s not what you know but who you know. Or so the old saying goes. Whenever that is said though it always seems to be said in a disparaging way, as in the ‘old school tie’ is ...

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The Next Steps

Moving Forward

Some very interesting statistics were released this week relating to trade over the past twelve months. What was so interesting about these two particular sets of statistics is...

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The Next Steps

Mixing the New with the Old

Adapting and pivoting. For businesses, these two words sum up 2020 and the COVID pandemic perhaps more than any other words. Each and every business has had to reinvent itself...

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The Next Steps

The Next Steps

Welcome to my new series ‘The Next Steps’. Every business owner and director, at every stage of a business’s life, should always be considering the next steps. If it is not...

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Periodical

Different Ways to Fund Your Startup - Crowdfunding

The founders of almost every early stage business will ask themselves on at least one occasion, “Do I need to raise finance in order to grow my business?” For many, the answer...

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London - Fintech Capital of Europe

It’s official – London is Europe’s global tech city, with London based technology firms having raised more than $10.5bn in new investment from venture capital firms in 2020...

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2021 - A New Dawn

“What will the new year bring us?” “365 opportunities!” This was the question and answer in a cartoon that was sent to me a few days ago, showing two people sitting on a hill...

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Lessons Learned

Final Lessons from 2020

Looking back on 2020 and learning as many lessons as possible is a very worthwhile exercise for all of us. At the beginning of this series, nearly three months ago, I paraphrased..

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Lessons Learned

Covid-19 AND Brexit

Businesses, and indeed stock markets, hate uncertainty. Sadly, there is no doubt that 2020 has been full of uncertainty at every stage. And whilst the main focus...

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Lessons Learned

Kickstart Scheme

How much do you know about the Kickstart Scheme that was introduced by the Government in September 2020? If you are a startup or early stage business, my guess would probably be...

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Lessons Learned

Working from Home?

Are you working from home? Do you enjoy it? Given a totally free choice how would you like to split your time between working from home and working in the office? These are...

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Lessons Learned

Virtual vs Reality

For everyone around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. But what lessons have we learned about virtual verses reality? In many ways...

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Lessons Learned

Surprise but no Shock

As we enter Lockdown 2.0 we are at least all much better prepared than we were in March when we entered Lockdown 1.0 and went into the total unknown. We are better prepared than...

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Lessons Learned

Optimism and Realism

Everything in life and business is a learning opportunity. The fact that all of us learn more, and more quickly, from our mistakes and when times are difficult, rather than when...

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Lessons Learned

Speed is of the Essence

In business, it is always important to react to changing circumstances and this has never been more true than in 2020. Regular readers will know that I have written a lot...

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Lessons Learned

Communications - The New Normal

Communication has always been key in running a business, and indeed in most other aspects of our lives. In 2020 many lessons have been learned or reinforced and it has reminded...

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Lessons Learned

The Best Laid Plans

The first lesson to be drawn from 2020, and undoubtedly the biggest lesson, is that the future is unpredictable. All of us in our personal and business lives try to predict the...

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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned from 2020

As we enter the last quarter of 2020 I thought that it would be useful to take a look back at this extraordinary year and see what lessons can be learned from this remarkable...bl

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Entrepreneurship

What qualities make an entrepreneur? What character traits are typically seen in entrepreneurs? Are these qualities and character traits something that they are born with or...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Adapting & Pivoting

Every business needs to constantly assess what it sells, to whom, and how it sells it. It also needs to constantly assess the market and its competitors, as well as attempting...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Pitching

One thing that every early stage business should produce is a pitch deck, whether they are looking to raise external funding or not. A pith deck is typically a 15 to 20 page...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Valuing your Business

Founders typically establish a business with one of two game plans in mind. They either want a lifestyle business and one that fits their work life balance, or they want to build..

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Managing Cash Flow

It is often said that turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. But, even more importantly, do not forget that cash is king. Put simply, businesses fail because they do not have...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Adapting and Pivoting

Before any business is established the founder will of course have spotted a gap in the market, thought of the original idea, conducted research, and come up with the MVP...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Scaling

As with everything about starting a business, different people do it for different reasons, and they have different levels of ambition. Some people want it to remain a side hustle.

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Surviving in Business

According to the Office for National Statistics 213,285 businesses failed in the UK in the first half of 2020, a 14% increase on the same period in the previous year. Without...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Communication

We all communicate every day in both our social and our business lives but, let’s be honest, some do it so much better and more effectively than others. The very word...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Getting the Right Partners

Some founders come up with their business ideas alone, whilst others do so with friends or associates. Some founders wish to stay as sole founders, whilst others prefer to work...

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Top Tips

Top Tips to Developing a Website

Having set up a business there are some very logical next steps that have common features irrespective of what your business will do. Any business needs to sell its product or...

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Top Tips

Top Tips for Starting a Business

Welcome to a new series of articles where I will provide practical top tips on a wide range of decisions and challenges that early stage businesses have to make every day. Here...

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Periodical

Taking a Deeper Look Into AI and Blockchain

Technology, especially new technology, has always had something of a divisive effect; that is it can be seen as black or white, working in good ways or bad. If we look back...

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Where Do I Go From Here?

We live in changing times. Rapidly changing times. Times always change and move forward but what has been remarkable recently has been the fact that the speed of change...

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How Do I Promote My Business?

It goes without saying that for any business, in any sector, in order for it to survive, grow and prosper, sales are imperative, because sales generate profit and cash flow and...

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How Do I Scale My Business?

According to UK Government statistics some 660,000 new companies are established each year and many of these will have plans to scale rather than to remain a micro business...

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Should I be a Sole Founder or a Co-Founder?

For those founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, whether for the first time or as a serial founder, there is a question that I overhear time and time again...

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Choose Your Investors Wisely

Taking the plunge and deciding to start your own business can be one of the biggest and most important decisions that many of us will make. Having set out on that course...

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What Do We Do and How Do We Go About It?

As spring turns into summer and the fears of lockdown turn into the uncertainties of release, many early stage companies are effectively having to start all over again...

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How Do I Make My Business Post Lockdown Ready?

After nine long weeks of lockdown, businesses are starting to re-open or, at least, planning to reopen in the near future. For some of the luckier ones this might be possible...

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Should My Business Pivot?

Many businesses ask me many questions but one of the questions that has become more common over the last few months is whether their business should pivot. Regular readers will...

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Why Many Founders are Fantasists

Founders and entrepreneurs need to be many things. They need to be enthusiastic and energetic, intelligent and inventive, resourceful and resilient, tenacious and talented. But...

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Overheard in a Startup...

Is My Business Eligible for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme?

As we are all starting to hope that the end, or at least a temporary reprieve, is in sight, thoughts are starting to turn to how we and our businesses can bounce back. In fact...

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How Will We Adapt to the 'New Normal'?

As we emerge blinking into the light post lockdown, what will the ‘new normal’ look like? The questions that I am overhearing have changed very recently, from those covering how...

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Why Is Understanding Customer Needs Important?

When your business was founded you would have done a lot of market research into all the areas necessary in order to validate your idea and to write a full and comprehensive...

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NatWest - Esme Loans

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Can I Raise Finance During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Money most certainly does not buy happiness, but it does make the world go round. And the lack of money can lead to hardship in many ways. A question that I keep overhearing...

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Why Adopt a Siege Mentality

The longer the coronavirus lockdown goes on, the more my conversations with startups have varied from the norm. Just another example of ‘the new normal’ maybe, but recently...

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How Will My Business Trade Six Months from Now?

Any business at any time has to constantly be considering how best to trade in the present, and how best to trade in the future. This is equally true in the good times as it is...

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Can My Business Survive Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is on everyone’s lips, not literally but figuratively. And for very good reason. It seems so long ago already that the only thing in the news was all things Brexit...

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How Do I Best Preserve Cashflow?

In any business, at any time, cash is king and cashflow is much more important than turnover, and in the short term it can often even be more important than profit. If turnover...

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Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme

The government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been rolled out at unprecedented speed, and the size of the financial packages being made...

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Does Remote Working Have to Mean Working Remotely?

These are strange times, unsettling times, and if I am honest this is not a normal question that I overhear much in more normal times, but recently THE question that I keep...

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How Quickly Should My Business Adapt?

Any business at any stage of its life must be able to adapt and change to changing circumstances. One of the very real benefits that early stage businesses have is that they are...

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Launching: Kevin R Smith

My ‘day job’ is as a business and finance consultant working with early stage businesses from start up to mid-sized corporates, and I am also a Mentor at Cass Business School...

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Do I Really Need To Network?

Some people are afraid of networking and others love it! It is true. We have all come across people that love nothing more than going to networking events and chatting to...

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Tell Me More About Funding Options?

Whatever any of us care to call it - funding, finance, getting investors, or any other variation on the theme – obtaining finance remains one of the biggest areas of both concern..

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What Exactly is SEIS and EIS Tax Relief?

Some questions in life are more fundamental than others and some are more specific or technical, and so it is in the world of early stage businesses. But for the person asking...

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Why Do Most Businesses Fail?

For anyone starting a business there is that delicious and intoxicating mixture of excitement tinged with fear. That is partly the fear of the unknown but it is also very much...

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How Big Should I Aim To Grow My Business?

When anyone is considering doing anything important and potentially life changing in their lives it always pays to think hard, do as much research and gather as much information...

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Finance

Money Matters! #4 Lower Risk but Better Returns

In my previous article in this series I set out why I thought that having cash in an instant bank or building society savings account, and especially in a cash ISA, was not good..

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How Long Will It Take?

Of all the questions that I overhear or am asked, the one with the most variants is without doubt ‘how long will it take? The simple reason that it has the most variants is...

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Who Should I Ask to Help Me?

As a Mentor, one of the things that I am often asked about is how to find reliable partners, and indeed who those partners should be. I recently overheard that very point...

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How Much Should I Research the Market?

One of the very common themes that I come across with entrepreneurs and founders is that they are generally over confident. About everything! That goes from the valuation...

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But Isn't Setting Up A Company Difficult?

There are many reasons why living in the UK makes life much easier than living in most other countries. This is in our personal lives and wellbeing but also in our working lives...

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Where Do I Start?

Over the years that I have been working with startups and early-stage businesses I have overheard many different things. The majority of these follow the normal concerns...

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Finance

Money Matters! #3 Deposit Accounts

Having started to understand that we owe it to ourselves that we really do need to know a little more about our personal finances it is easy to go one of two ways...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 17 - Et Deinceps Sursum

Last week was of course the last real working week of the year, but whilst many will have found opportunities to celebrate most will still have been working hard...

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Crowdfunding or Angel Network - How to find your way in the world of financing options

At some stage in the development of a business that wishes to really grow and prosper, the founders or senior management will decide that they need to raise funding...

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London Business Magazine

Mentor's Journal

Week 16 – Planning for the Year Ahead

The middle of December is a strange time of year for all. Some are already starting to slow down and getting into the full swing of the season’s festivities, whilst others...

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Finance

Money Matters! #2

In my opening article in this ‘Money Matters!’ series I asked a number of basic questions about personal finance that everyone should be able to answer at least in general terms...

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Taking the First Steps in Business

So…you’ve decided you’re going to set up your own business and this time you are really going to do it...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 15 – Entrepreneurial Inspiration

Different things drive different people in different ways. That is because each of us wants something different from our lives and we are prepared to make different levels of ...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 14 – Help Required!

I am sure that each and every one of us would accept that we cannot be good at everything that we do, or that we do not have time to do everything ourselves.

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Finance

Money Matters!

I have been in and around the financial service sector the whole of my working life and indeed studied Commerce and Economics at school, so I guess that that shapes my view on...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 13 – Hurdles & Blinkers

In each of our lives, some weeks are more predictable than others. Some people are a little afraid of change and facing new, unexpected challenges, whilst others face the world...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 12 – The Connection Hierarchy

Over the last two weeks I have written special articles on ‘Business Plans and Pitch Decks’ and on ‘The Art of Fundraising’ but this week I return to writing 'The Mentor’s Journal'

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The Art Of Fundraising

As a mentor I get involved in a huge cross section of businesses in different sectors and at different stages of their development. As a result I have been involved in many...

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Business Plans Vs. Pitch Decks

As readers of either my Mentor’s Perspective or Mentor’s Journal series will know, one of the most common themes that I come across is that of fundraising in all its guises.

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Mentor's Journal

Week 11 – Is Your Business Fit For Purpose

Most of us would associate the phrase ‘fit for purpose’ with a product or service that we have seen or used, but that we do not think actually does what it is meant to do.

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Mentor's Journal

Week 10 – Taking Centre Stage

This was one of those weeks that saw me meeting with business from every possible stage of growth from ‘enter stage left’ to being a massive player that is looking for...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 9 – From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow

The old saying that ‘from little acorns mighty oaks grow’ came about to show that sometimes something very large can grow from something very small.

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Mentor's Journal

Week 8 – Why Businesses Are Reinventing Themselves

When I think about all of my conversations and meetings last week there was a very common thread tying them all together, and that was of people or businesses reinventing...

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Mentor's Journal

Week 7 – The Next Steps

Just as last week’s Mentor’s Journal led me neatly into my article, 'The Power of Networking', so this week started off very much in the same vein with all my early meetings...

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boom

in British English

VERB

to prosper or cause to prosper vigorously and rapidly