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Chichester Chamber Blog

In my view: We can all be a great support to one another!

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, July 19, 2018

We at CCCI held a very interesting and interactive lunch earlier in the year with our MP Gillian Keegan.  One of the discussion points was over the lack of support for people in the first year of business or at the start-up stage of a business.  Although it was acknowledged that there is some support out there with the National Helpline and here in Chichester with our own Enterprise Centre, it was felt that more needed to be done to encourage and connect start-up businesses in their crucial first steps.  This is something that we at CCCI are taking on board and have subsequently started up a working group to help tackle the situation within our own organisation.

That same week I was asked to attend an event at one of our most valued and engaging members “Q Hair & Beauty”. Managing Director Dawn Lawrence has spotted a gap within another part of society, that of loneliness.  Dawn has set up a weekly “Coffee Club” at their hair salon in North Street Chichester, to bring people together who are lonely for whatever reason and would like to chat to likeminded people over a free cup of coffee and croissant.

Our own “Drop in for Drinks” is proving successful too.  We recognise that Chichester can be somewhat quiet on leaving work and we thought it would be good to get everyone together, members and non-members, to have an informal chat and get-together over an afterwork drink.

The message I am receiving is that people want to interact more face to face.  All too often we are stuck behind a computer or involved in social media updates.  We see people with eyes down, looking at their mobiles, not aware of others around them.  Let’s connect with all these groups and ideas and interact with people eye to eye.  In my view, we can all be a great support to one another with our experience, thoughts and often can provide solutions to problems.

Julie Harrison, CEO (Shared Role) of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry


In My View: GDPR panic over?

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, June 21, 2018

No doubt you breathed a sigh of relief when you got things done in time.  If you didn’t, don’t panic as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be pursued by the Information Commissioner if you can show that you’re actively engaging with the new regime.  Many businesses are taking the approach that GDPR is ‘work in progress’ which was always going to extend beyond the deadline.

The lead up to GDPR has been hectic and we all had to prioritise on what to tackle first.  Most of us tailored our GDPR planning to the key areas of risk we face, where enforcement action is more likely in the event of a data breach. 

As a result, HR and employee data has been low priority for many businesses but it’s important to recognise that as with customer data, the way we collect and process employee information will change.

We need to think about how we use personal and sensitive staff data and, probably, tighten up our data security procedures.

In recruitment, if we use automatic profiling to filter CVs, we need to notify candidates and, if they object, use an alternative method with some human intervention. 

Consent clauses in employment contracts will be invalid so we need to establish another legal basis for processing data which may vary for different categories and the reasons for processing it.

It’s essential that we know how to deal with requests for information from employees or ex-employees, how to identify a formal Subject Access Request, and what to do with it.  Timescales and information requirements have changed along with the abolition of SAR fees.  Coupled with the abolition of employment tribunal fees, we could see an increase in SARs as they’re often used by aggrieved individuals to gather information prior to litigation. 

There are still grey areas in the GDPR which will, over time, be interpreted by the Courts when legal challenges are made.  It’s likely that as our understanding of the legislation evolves, so too will our processes.

In my view, if we take a sensible, systematic approach to data protection across all parts of our business, involving our employees and ensure new systems become part of the way we do things, then we can’t go far wrong.

CCCI members’ meetings and events give businesses the chance to talk about issues that are important to them.  Meeting other business people and getting to know them in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere provides members with their own informal support network – as well as the opportunity to develop good business relationships.

Dianne Lambdin, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and The Sussex HR Hub

'In My View'... How to get the best from your digital agency

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, May 24, 2018

Having worked in digital now for nearly 20 years, here are some key lessons I’ve learned about getting the best from your digital agency.

Is it all about results?

At the end of the day, yes. An agency is commissioned to deliver a set of results that the business on its own cannot do.

Having a set of clearly defined results at the start can really help focus what the agency is doing. They may and should change as you both learn what is and isn’t working, but having some clear objectives defined should be your starting point.

Additionally though, maintaining a good relationship with your agency is very important to get the most from them. Any agency worth its salt will have people who are deeply invested in their clients’ brand and objectives. Rather than treating the agency as just another supplier, the best results go hand-in-hand with the agency-client relationship, and the agency team gaining a deep understanding about the business, its peculiarities and personalities.

Know your budgets

Knowing what the business has to spend early on really helps the agency focus on what will bring the most value to the business.

Roles

Projects and relationships can hit the rocks because people don’t understand their role, or over-reach on what they’re meant to be doing and step on someone else’s toes. It is important that people on both the agency- and client-side know what their role is.

Let the agency do their job

Once the deliverables are agreed with your agency, let them do what they’re good at, whilst the business focusses on what it’s good at.  Don’t over-direct them: it can be frustrating for the agency and can often result in a poor outcome. 

Expect a project plan

A project plan will simply lay out who is doing what, by whom and by when. They can be very simple or more complex depending on what’s being delivered. A project plan can also show the impact of making a change part-way through and how that affects the delivery dates.

If your agency has not produced a project plan for a deliverable, you should insist on one: it will lead to a better outcome.

Expect regular catch ups

Weekly status calls keep things moving at pace during a delivery, so expect one: covering what’s been achieved, what needs to be done in the week to come, and any changes in scope or issues with the project.  Expect at least monthly catch ups for ongoing campaign work.

Be cautious of agencies who don’t offer regular catch ups by phone or in-person.  It might mean they have too much on or are not giving your business the attention it deserves.

Jason Miller, Director Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and SteadyGo Digital

'In My View'... Spring Clean your Business

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, April 26, 2018

There’s been some sad news over the last few months with the demise of a few larger businesses nationally, such as Carillion and Toys R Us, due to changing market conditions and buying habits.  Of course, it’s not just the main businesses themselves that go under, it’s also thousands of businesses within their supply chain.  So, what went wrong?  Sometimes businesses can’t keep up with constantly adapting to suit their customers.  That is why it is critical to reflect on how your business operates to ensure it is fresh, current and healthy and that all your eggs aren’t in one basket!

We’re well into Spring now, so perhaps it’s time to Spring Clean your business.    There are a lot of areas to consider revisiting to prepare for the financial year ahead.  It might be worth taking a long look at your existing policies and procedures to ensure that you are ready to be compliant with the new GDPR legislation that comes into force in May, which is just around the corner.  This affects every business, whether you are a sole Trader or a large corporation.  Our training to inform members about this important subject was extremely well attended and the feedback was excellent.

Another hot topic right now is Cyber Security, again applicable to all businesses and we were fortunate to have one of our valued members give an insightful talk on this subject at a recent Big Breakfast a monthly event that is held in partnership between Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chichester College Group.  If you’re looking to network and enjoy a full English Breakfast, this might be the event for you.

On the development side of things, have you considered whether your staff hold the right skills to drive your business forward?  There’s plenty of training, support and business advice available locally and right now it’s free, so why not take advantage of the opportunities on offer?

What about marketing and brand, does this need an overhaul, are you getting your presence known and ‘out there’?

Do you make the time to go and meet new businesses and network, or attend Business Expos?  There are 2 of these coming up, in May and July, so go along and make new contacts!  Personally, I’ve always felt that it is important to make time for these, to forge bonds and relationships with your local business community as ‘People buy People’ – it’s not always about price, it’s about trust and reputation.  Why not make a Spring Resolution to find out more?

As your local thriving and vibrant Chamber, we can help you with all these points, we have a fantastic and diverse membership base who are always willing to help and point you in the right direction. 

If you’d like to meet informally, we hold regular ‘Drop in for Drinks’ evenings – come and join us and say hello!

All the information is on our website.

Sue Garman, CEO (Shared role), Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry

'In My View'... Are small businesses putting themselves at risk?

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 29, 2018

I recently read an article reporting that in 2016 there were 5.5 million small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK, employing 15.7 million people and generating an annual turnover of more than £1.8 trillion.

This is a huge sector and you would think it would keep business advisors fully employed to the point of demand exceeding supply.  But this isn’t the case.  When I talk to business owners, many say they do most things themselves even when they know someone else far more qualified and experienced who could do it better.  So, it appears there are a lot of businesses running their own books, doing their own accounts, dealing with staff contracts and employment issues while, at the same time, ensuring they meet their legal obligations and hoping they don’t fall foul of the law.

While some people do this very well, others say they just don’t get around to it, some even say they don’t know what they should be doing.

Some of this is down to cost, especially with start-ups, and I accept that businesses won’t want to spend on advice they feel they don’t need.  However, when it comes to some activities (or inactivity) the cost of getting it wrong can be far greater (just look at the current last-minute scramble to get compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations due to be in force in May).

As an HR specialist, I’m increasingly surprised at how many businesses don’t have any real HR provision in place – even if just to help with the basics.  I’m also surprised by how many employees appear to accept what really comes down to unacceptable behaviour, often amounting to inadvertent law-breaking, from their employers.

The argument, I suppose, is that external support is a costly luxury to small businesses – but this isn’t always the case.  There are many ways to engage in affordable expertise and advice before you face the financial consequences of leaving it too late.

CCCI members’ meetings and events give businesses the chance to talk about issues that are important to them.  Meeting other business people and getting to know them in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere provides members with their own informal support network – as well as the opportunity to develop good business relationships and learn about various funding initiatives.

Dianne Lambdin, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and The Sussex HR Hub

'In My View'... Connectivity is the key to successful businesses

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 01, 2018

As the country delves more deeply into the messy business of divorce from the European Union, the importance of building our economy through organic growth is even more vital.  Those of us living in more rural areas appreciate the significance of the small business.  In Chichester, of the 7,300 businesses, 85.7% employ less than 10 people according to West Sussex Life 2017-19.

Good knowledgeable people are essential to successful businesses, as is their ability to build relationships and network effectively.  The Chichester Chamber of Commerce exists to support businesses to prosper and it does this through some really beneficial networking events

Once a month, on the second Monday, the Chamber runs a business meeting.  It moves round to different business and charity venues each time and this gives the host the opportunity to say something about what they do.  It also includes a chance to hear a short talk on a business pertinent subject.  Recently it was the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and was delivered by a lawyer and a practitioner owner of an IT support company.  Together with Chichester College, the Chamber also runs a business breakfast once a month which includes time to network and then a delicious breakfast cooked by College students.  A keynote speech is incorporated and recent speakers have included the Bank of England Agent and the Chief Executive of Fishbourne Roman Palace.

Of course network events are only an effective tool if those attending plan what they want to achieve.  In her excellent short article on six keys to effective networking, Susan Rittscher describes using the ‘hostess principle’, imagining yourself as the hostess, greeting all the guests and ensuring they are comfortable.  This allows you to feel more relaxed and able to deal with the inevitable nervousness in a room of strangers

Chichester Chamber also provides a range of business support activities and training and some fun events too.  If you are not geographically close to Chichester, find your nearest Chamber.  If we are to build a successful local economy, the connectivity of businesses is one of the vital ingredients.  We are more effective as a group than we are as individual companies and together we can work to remove some of the barriers to business growth.

Shelagh Legrave, Vice-Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Chief Executive,  Chichester College Group

In My View… Fit For Business

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, January 26, 2018

I have been in the fitness industry for quite some time now and love racing and competing in long distance events. But I also have a passion for business and how fitness relates to business performance.  One thing I have learnt from studying for my business degree and other fitness related courses is that to be mentally fit you also have to be physically fit.  I have always lived my life living and breathing health and fitness and since running my own Personal Training business I ensure that my clients are conveyed this message.  

My client Peter Wild, a Wealth Manager, has had an ‘increase in new business of 25% year on year’ as well as increase in fitness and a positive mental approach to business and training.  So much so that he travelled to Nepal to build a school!  He has managed to achieve his business goals with the time out for his training sessions, his family commitments as well as his own goals.

Physical activity helps protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress.  It is very easy to be ‘busy’ all the time when it comes to business, achieving goals and family but it is important to take care of your health and well-being too as after all, you are your business. Your business does not succeed unless you are at the top of your game both physically and mentally. 

Being an Ironman athlete it is very easy for me to preach about how much exercise everyone should be doing but it should suit your personality and personal schedule.

Putting time into improving yourself physically is vital because the bottom line is, that all you have is your health.  All other positive energy will flow over into all other aspects of your life as well as your business.  It takes determination, perseverance, motivation and the desire to succeed and this is what physical training and business is all about.  Above all find something that is fun!

Leanne Levitt, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Owner LLPT 

In My View… Reflecting on Changes

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, December 15, 2017

Having returned to CCCI in July 2017, where I originally worked from 2004 to 2015, I have found myself reflecting on the many changes during that time.

When changes occur, it is very easy to talk down a city like Chichester and this is something we mustn’t do; otherwise those negative sentences can be self-fulfilling.  Of course, I understand that it’s easy to get into that negative way of thinking when we have the ongoing A27 issue, which is a divisive subject and continues to be discussed at length and will no doubt come to a conclusion in due course (we keep our members as up to date as possible by listing information on our website).

I hear mutterings about how we are losing so many of our independent shops and although there is obviously some truth in this, our modern way of living means that most city high streets have moved in the same direction as ours.  Although we sometimes see empty shopfronts in our streets, these are overall filled quickly or empty whilst negotiations take place for new tenants to appear.

We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we have a vibrant and stunning city with so many wonderful attractions, which many other towns and cities look on with envy

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful team at the Chichester Business Improvement District (BID), with whom we share an office.   We see how hard they work and constantly look for new and inspiring ways to support our beautiful city.  They have a fabulous events programme lined up for Christmas 2017 and I urge you to look at this and support as many events in the city as you can this Christmas - www.chichesterbid.co.uk

We are also lucky enough to have a new and enthusiastic MP, Gillian Keegan, representing Chichester.  We have managed to secure Gillian to talk at our MP’s lunch on Friday 13th April, where she will update us on her thoughts and vision for Chichester over a delicious two course lunch.

For information on this and all our events, please visit our website

So, let’s all start talking Chichester up!!  It doesn’t take much to look at the positive side of our lovely city

Julie Harrison, CEO (Shared Role) of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry 

In My View…‘Forging New Partnerships and Connections’

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, October 26, 2017

As a Chamber, one of our key priorities is helping businesses form new connections and partnerships. Our regular networking meetings focus on bringing together businesses to share key information, challenges and opportunities. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to put two businesses in touch, whether just to share information and expertise or to provide a tangible solution to a business need.

I also love the fact that many of our Chamber meetings are hosted by our members. It is a great opportunity to visit new places and learn about the great variety of businesses in our local area. Earlier this year, our members were lucky enough to be invited for a ‘behind the scenes’ tour at Tangmere Airfield Nurseries. It was amazing to discover that the UK’s largest pepper farm is located in Chichester – growing a staggering 65 million peppers each year. Alongside this, the farm generates electricity for over 10,000 local homes. I now pay more attention when choosing peppers at the supermarket – and make sure I’m buying local!

In September, we hosted a successful business breakfast and workshop with the Department for International Trade (DIT). This focused on encouraging members to consider the benefits to their business of exporting and highlighted the range of support services available.

In my day job, we have just embarked on the ultimate new partnership – a merger. On 1st August 2017, Chichester College merged with Central Sussex College (now renamed Crawley College) to create the largest College Group in Sussex – supporting over 25,000 students and learners. Reaching the final goal of merging relied on strong communications, stakeholder engagement and having a clear and shared vision and goal.

The new College Group will also offer increased opportunities to students – as well as employers and communities in Sussex, giving them a greater access to a wide range of courses at many different levels. We are committed to working with businesses to understand their skills gaps and to provide a talent pool of local learners to support growth in the economy. For me, this is the ultimate partnership – how we ensure that our schools, college and universities are working with businesses to meet and anticipate their needs.

Julie Kapsalis, Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Managing Director (Commercial) at Chichester College Group

In My View… Are You Ready For GDPR?

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, September 21, 2017

On 25 May 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will establish laws across the EU that protect the data privacy rights of EU citizens.  As the lead-up to implementation gathers pace, businesses will be bombarded with advice on what they need to do to avoid potential fines for non-compliance. 

However, I don’t believe panicking people with threats of huge fines is helpful - my advice would be to focus on what's important - your GDPR planning should be specifically tailored to the key areas of risk you face. 

An advantage of GDPR is to reduce complexity by ensuring that a single set of rules will apply across the EU.  But where do you begin when GDPR impacts on all parts of your business and all types of data?  Start by looking at what you already have in place as not everything in GDPR is new - you could find that much of your knowledge and processes from the existing data protection laws could be utilised for GDPR.  See where the gaps are, assess your risk and focus on what’s important.

You’ll need to consider GDPR from several perspectives including legal, technical, security and employment.

From an HR perspective (which is what floats my boat), the way you collect and process data about employees and job candidates will be changing BIG TIME!

The rules on Subject Access Requests (SARs) will change too, reducing the time you have to respond and cutting out fees.  I also believe that a consequence of the abolition of employment tribunal fees could result in an increase in SARs as they are often used to gather information prior to litigation.  It’s a simple process but one people aren’t always aware of and that’s when things can go badly wrong!

My advice is to take a sensible, systematic approach to GDPR across all parts of your business, involve your employees and ensure the new systems become part of the way you do things.

CCCI will be holding events in early 2018 to help businesses plan for GDPR.

Dianne Lambdin, Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry and The Sussex HR Hub


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