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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

In My View… Uncommon Courtesy

Office Chichester Chamber - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The discord arising from events in politics made me reflect on how we treat each other in business.  Take good manners for example.  One could easily believe they are outdated – something from a bygone era.  However, whether we’re talking about good manners or business etiquette, there are qualities we aspire to as individuals, for example, honesty and reliability, that should reflect on how we treat our colleagues and customers.

Despite the trend in business towards informality (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), ‘tardiness’ and ‘not saying thank you’ rank as most annoying among people I know. So, it would seem, manners are important, especially in business.

Generally, we want the people we do business with to be polite, courteous people who do those things because we appreciate those things ourselves.  We like it when someone thanks us for our advice, or when a colleague takes our calls so we can focus on other things.  A ‘thank you’ from a stranger has even greater impact because it’s unexpected, but these generous acts are increasingly rare.

However, when ‘thanks’ are impersonal or become common practice, we don’t tend to appreciate them.  Most drivers are courteous, for instance, acknowledging when another driver has given way, but we hardly notice this because it happens all the time.  Try giving a ‘thumbs up’ – this will take some drivers by surprise but I can assure you it will put a smile on their face!

As business leaders, it’s important to think about how we communicate with our customers … and how we thank them.  Is it meaningful or has it become part of an impersonal process? Just like the politician’s sound-bite.

When was the last time someone said thank you … and I mean really thanked ‘you’?

We learn as children to display common courtesy, but we get busy with life and tend to forget the rules. Then we hear ourselves saying “whatever happened to good manners?

If courtesy and good manners are essential tools in business and so very important, shouldn’t we put as much effort into being decent as we do into being noticed?

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

In My View… Changes at Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, July 20, 2017

It is with great pleasure that I can now share with you the news that Julie Harrison and I have been appointed in a shared role as CEOs of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  We started officially on 3rd July, and Julie came along to our Members’ meeting on 12th June at Chichester Golf Club to re-introduce herself to everyone.

A lot of you will remember Julie, having worked with her in the past when she spent 11 years as a highly effective Business Development Manager of our Chamber, and will appreciate the wealth of experience she is bringing back with her. 

I have been acting as the part-time interim Business Development Director since December 2016, with a background in education and working closely with businesses to create ‘Business Needs Analyses and Solutions’ and I am thrilled that we are now back up to capacity as a team to take our Chamber forward, with the continued support of Gayle Dixon, our Administrator. 

Julie and I have worked together on projects in the past and we are both delighted to be working together again.

Our vision for the future is to grow and retain our membership by ensuring that we remain ‘The Voice’ of Chichester and the surrounding district’s businesses.

We will continue to run quality events alongside our members’ meetings, such as further ‘Behind the Scenes’ offers, and also plan to extend the opportunity for networking with other Chamber members, together with Hampshire, Bognor Regis, Worthing and Adur and Sussex Chambers. 

We continue to work with Coast to Capital’s Business Navigator Hub to refer you to a quality business support service for growing businesses; we know how invaluable this has been to those of you who have taken advantage of their expertise.

Don’t forget, our Chamber has a lot to offer you!  You can host or sponsor events, promote your business, offer up a ‘Business Gem’ or ‘Minute to Win It’, speak at one of our events and of course advertise in our bi-annual magazine and on our website. 

We would love to hear from you, and your views on how we can best support you!

Sue Garman, CEO (shared role) of Chichester Chamber of Commerce 

In My View… You do not need a business plan

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, June 15, 2017

In my view you do not need a business plan when you start a business, but you do need to understand your business model.  To teach this, at the University of Chichester we use the Business Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas was developed by Alex Osterwalder and over 400 collaborative partners.  It is designed to help you understand the 9 key building blocks of business.

  1. Customers Segments
  2. Value Proposition
  3. Customer Relationships
  4. Channels
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Activities
  7. Key Resources
  8. Key Partners
  9. Cost Structure

These 9 building blocks can really help you to understand your business model and create a hypothesis that you can then test in the market place.

They will help you understand who you are selling to and why. How you will sell to them, who you need to help you to sell to your potential customers, how they will pay you and roughly what costs you are likely to incur.

The Business Model Canvas is a visual document. The developers recommend printing it as large as you can, then filling each of the building blocks with colourful sticky notes, answering the questions posed by that building block.

If you do this as a team you care creating a powerful, collaborative view of the business you are creating. Assumptions can be challenged and models can be changed, quickly and easily. We all know that a start-up needs to be flexible and needs to adapt to the market place when things change.  As Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’.

They key thing to take away with the Business Model Canvas is that you are creating a hypothetical model, that you need to go out and test as soon as possible and act on anything that will need changing, quickly and effectively. Business plans can make start-ups too rigid and unresponsive to the need for change.    

If you want to know more about the Business Model Canvas, there is a lot of information on line. Alternatively, have a chat with me at a Chichester Chamber of Commerce open networking event, every second Monday of the month.

What do you think? Business Plans for Start Ups, or not?

Gareth Sear, Business Start Up Manager, University of Chichester Business School and Director of Chichester Chamber of Commerce

In My View… Skills are the key to implementing a modern Industrial Strategy

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, May 18, 2017

While UK politics have been firmly focused on Brexit recently, there have been a number of other government policy statements and Green Papers unveiled.  One of these is the Industrial Strategy which was published in January 2017. 

All companies know that if they can recruit staff with the right technical and soft skills, their businesses are likely to flourish and yet finding suitable employees is sometimes a challenge.  The government is trying to address this issue is a number of different ways.

Firstly, following on from reforms proposed in the last government, there is a target to increase the number of apprentices to 3m by 2020.  To achieve this, Parliament has made some significant changes.  For companies with a payroll of above £3m, the apprentice levy has been introduced from 1st April.  These larger companies will pay 0.5% of their payroll and will be able to offset this cost through spending on apprentice training.  For the most part, these companies will need to work with a training provider to deliver the apprenticeship.  For small and medium size enterprises with less than a £3m payroll cost, there will be incentives to take on apprentices, particularly in the 16-18 age group.  The funding system will change in 2018 when SMEs will be given their own digital training account.

Secondly, the government is going to introduce ‘T levels’, technical qualifications which are viable alternatives to A-levels and more general academic courses.  Included in a two year course will be a substantial amount of work experience, likely to be around six weeks a year.  These qualifications will be introduced in 2019 and partnership with local business will be vital to their success.

Thirdly, an even greater emphasis will be placed on careers advice and guidance in schools and colleges, while businesses will be asked to play their part in inspiring young people to consider a wide range of opportunities for future careers.

The success of the government’s industrial strategy depends on the partnership between education institutions and businesses.  The impact will be increased productivity and a stronger local economy

Shelagh Legrave, Principal & Chief Executive Chichester College and Vice Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce

In My View... The future is flexible working

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Commuters continue to have a raw deal with rail strikes causing delays and, for some, problems getting to work at all.  The decision to drop the Chichester A27 road improvement scheme has also dashed hopes of a solution in the near future and the impact on businesses is immeasurable.

However, the response to these problems by employers and employees is remarkable.  Flexible working and working from home are not new ideas but, borne of necessity, people have been trying out new ways of working and, now they’ve seen the benefits, they’ll most likely continue.

Businesses are re-thinking the way they do things.  With customers and sales a priority, re-organising when, where and how work is done can sometimes be painful, but even simple solutions can contribute to a highly-engaged workforce and improvements in performance and customer service.

Eligible employees have a legal right to request flexible working and savvy employers are taking a positive approach by balancing the needs of the business with those of their staff.  When employees feel they have the trust, freedom and flexibility to work how and where they want, they are likely to be more productive.

Working from home has some obvious benefits.  The first is that you can actually work rather than wasting time travelling (or not travelling if you’re a Southern Rail passenger). People say they are more productive at home, have less distractions and that it’s a less stressful environment.   But even just easing back on the times people need to be in the office can help them plan their work more efficiently.

Flexible working is more than just working at home, it’s about working wherever you need to be.  Technology and social media are clearly important in enabling people to keep in touch and businesses can widen their hiring pool with little or no geographic limits, it’s a great way to find and retain talent.

In conclusion, flexible working makes good business sense and can be a win-win for employers and employees.  It has many benefits, ultimately giving businesses a significant competitive advantage, in a tough economic climate.

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

In My View... The A27

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 30, 2017

On 22 March, I attended a community stakeholder workshop about the A27 improvements in Chichester as a representative of the Chamber, and a local resident.  It was locally organised by West Sussex County Council, hosted at Chichester College in response to the news that the proposed £28m scheme has been scrapped by transport secretary Chris Grayling because of a lack of local consensus.  The workshop’s purpose was to locally start afresh with the A27 plans.

I’m not surprised the previous scheme was scrapped. The options handed down to Chichester and district by Highways England were all flawed because of the way they were conceived.  Highways England ran the consultation through an appointed non-local agent and effectively drew up the options with them, with minimal local consultation. This meant they were always going to be what Highways England preferred as part of a national infrastructure strategy, rather than a locally conceived and popularly supported plan.  Plus, the options were always going to be about just changing the A27: the clue is in the name.

Whether a future improvement scheme is ever going to be funded remains unclear. What we do know is something needs to be done about improving the infrastructure in and around Chichester, of which the bypass is a major factor

We have a fantastic opportunity to produce a compelling locally-driven and visionary plan that considers all forms of transport. One that works for both locals and through-traffic, now and into the future. It needs to go beyond just the bypass by also considering how to reduce the need for local journeys by car in and around Chichester

At the workshop, there was a remarkable sense of unified local purpose. We will never achieve 100% consensus about any plan.  But instead of going down the same old route of allowing those with the loudest voices who are able to attend forums and workshops to influence direction, to me it has to be a much broader local consensus that should be sought

Life is distracting. Getting a lot of people engaged in local issues is a massive challenge, but by achieving broader local engagement from both businesses and residents, I believe we will produce a more visionary and substantiated plan. One that is based on public representation will more likely inspire decision makers and attract the funding.

This is a call to action. Local businesses and residents alike should get involved.

Email: buildabettera27@westsussex.gov.uk to find out more.

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

Chichester Business Magazine