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Chichester Chamber Blog

Business advice provider IMPROBIZ benefits from Navigator signposting

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, January 16, 2015

Business advice provider IMPROBIZ benefits from Navigator signposting

Pulborough-based IMPROBIZ offers organisations, their leaders and teams, advice, coaching, training and business development/project support.  IMPROBIZ recently received signposting to valuable support and guidance through the Business Support Navigator scheme.

Chichester Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with Worthing & Adur and Brighton & Hove Chambers to offer this free service, which signposts local businesses towards grants, funding and guidance available locally or nationally.   The project is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and managed by Coast to Capital and Brighton & Hove City Council.   Since the project launched in July 2014, Chichester area Business Support Navigator Kerry Kyriacou has been helping local businesses to find the right support for them.

IMPROBIZ director Alan Edmonds, who founded the company in 2008, had been aware of the Business Navigator Scheme since its inception, as he is heavily involved in the Chichester Chamber of Commerce.

One of IMPROBIZ’s services is to assist clients in accessing funding or grants that may be available to businesses.  Yet it can be difficult to navigate the 150+ different funding and advisory initiatives around, something Alan is keenly aware of, as he needs to keep up to date with the latest developments to give the best advice to clients.  He says, “The need is there.  It is difficult for businesses to keep up with all the avenues for funding and support.  Even I find it confusing and I am closer to the providers and sources of information than my clients.”

Alan’s experience of the scheme has been very positive.  He adds, “Having a single point of contact through the scheme is very advantageous, and Kerry has provided fantastic help and support.”

Kerry Kyriacou can be contacted at Kerry.kyriacou@c2cbusiness.org.uk or on 07823 411323

Business advice provider IMPROBIZ benefits from Navigator signposting

Friday, January 16, 2015
Business advice provider IMPROBIZ benefits from Navigator signposting Pulborough-based IMPROBIZ offers organisations, their leaders and teams, advice, coaching, training and business development/project support. IMPROBIZ recently received signposting to valuable support and guidance through ..

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From small acorns great oaks grow… A new era in commercial support

Office Chichester Chamber - Friday, October 31, 2014

Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry is regularly in touch with a host of businesses in our district and beyond. Members include internationally renowned Goodwood and Rolls Royce Motor Cars, local managers of national brands Waitrose and Cote Restaurants and regionally known Thomas Eggar and Spofforths plus smaller, micro businesses – that have not yet made their mark.

My point is this: From small acorns great oaks grow and we should nurture our smaller businesses to become the great oaks that we can all shelter under in an economic downpour (or downturn). 

Much was made of the statistics surrounding SMEs and the economic downturn, the general gist being that SMEs kept the country going. Of course, ‘SMEs’ include micro-businesses of one and organisations employing 249 people, so the pressure was well spread across companies and sectors.

BIS figures released last year state that at the start of 2013, SMEs accounted for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK, with 62.6% (3.7 million) being sole proprietorships.  Small businesses alone accounted for 47% of private sector employment and 33.1 per cent of turnover. These are exciting statistics and even with some businesses starting over the last few challenging years due to the force of redundancy, we clearly have some brilliant minds running some brilliant businesses, with a brilliant future ahead. So, how to support them in their growth? By asking what they need help with - not actually such an obvious question…

‘Business support’ (a public sector expression) historically has consisted of advice, consultancy and occasional funding. However, I put it to you that we have entered a new era for commerce requiring a new approach to support.

Business demands and operations have changed.  Our ethos has become more localised, yet commerce and communication has become more global.  Most companies know how to deliver what they trade in, so support needs are simplified, becoming abstract from previous understandings of ‘business support’. Companies just need to understand how they can grow in the environment in which they currently operate.

Generally, owners set up a business close to home because they like the area and so are keen to support the local region and the people in it.  So questions include: How to expand without moving too far from where they live? How to take on local employees? How to influence local skills and training? How to improve their supply chain?  Or develop products/ services with local raw materials or logistics?  Where commerce and communication has given us global markets, our perspective on our operations has become more local.

Ambitious business owners have growth in mind, leading to employment and expansion - great for our local economy, surely?  Not if you’re a Chichester District Councillor…

The district aim is to provide incubation or a ‘nursery’ for fledgling businesses,  encouraging them to grow to the point of employing people… but then it forces relocation out of district due to lack of available expansion land. Taking jobs with it, where is the benefit to our local economy? We need businesses to grow and expand within district; raising the bar for local skills; employing locally, bringing pride to the area – and encouraging local spend.

My fear is that Chichester District Council has a dated perspective on business and what it provides to our local economy. Growth-focused companies need support in identifying how to expand within the area in which they already operate and employ people – not to be pushed out of District or area.  Planning issues come up in discussion again and again (not just among small businesses). We need cohesion between District and County economic and planning departments, to ensure we’re not limiting our own future. Our brilliant businesses are providing a future for our region. They should be celebrated and encouraged to stay and expand – so we all benefit.

Louise Hopkins, Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Director of Recenseo Ltd

From small acorns great oaks grow… A new era in commercial support

Friday, October 31, 2014
Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry is regularly in touch with a host of businesses in our district and beyond. Members include internationally renowned Goodwood and Rolls Royce Motor Cars, local managers of national brands Waitrose and Cote Restaurants and regionally known Thomas Egga ..

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In My View - Rebalancing the UK economy

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, September 18, 2014

There has been considerable discussion in political and business circles about rebalancing the UK economy. But, what does this mean? Why is it important and what do we do about it?

Rebalancing the economy is about moving the economy away from being too reliant upon financial services and consumer spending-driven growth. This in turn means encouraging growth lead by business investment, manufacturing and exports.

The UK’s 2013 deficit in trade goods with the rest of the world was £109bn and a surplus in exported services of around £84bn. We are the world’s second largest exporter of services. However this still means we buy £25bn worth of goods and services more than we sell every year

The UK plc needs to pay its way in the world, just like households. If we spend more than we earn, we either have to borrow more money or go bust! UK plc borrowed just over £100bn in 2013/14.

We not only need to export more but produce more of our own goods to reduce imports…

We do have successful export businesses in manufacturing and business and professional services, but we need more of them. There are support schemes and funding to help businesses improve their products, performance and develop markets in the UK and abroad.

But another issue is that the education systems appears to not to encourage as many young people into technically-based degrees as we require; women in particular being under-represented. The average age of an engineer in Britain is 54 and only 6% of students are studying engineering and technology subjects. China produces 20 times that number.

Apprenticeships are also still undervalued and appear not to make up part of the schools league table results, whilst degrees do.

If the country is not creating the right skills then it will have to import these - and that raises other issues!

Alan Edmonds Deputy Chairman, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Director, IMPROBIZ

In My View - Rebalancing the UK economy

Thursday, September 18, 2014
There has been considerable discussion in political and business circles about rebalancing the UK economy. But, what does this mean? Why is it important and what do we do about it? Rebalancing the economy is about moving the economy away from being too reliant upon financial services and con ..

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In my View: Networking's not just ‘a jolly’, you know!

Office Chichester Chamber - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Chamber of Commerce offers members a great deal more than just networking, yet it seems that it's the networking opportunities that the majority of our members relate to as having a direct impact on their business. In a recent survey of our members, 74% rated networking as the main reason why they belong to the Chamber.

But networking can be an amorphous and intangible technique for business development, especially when you look at the host of different options we offer! Last week saw around 85 people join us for our annual speed networking event, which fills some with joy and others with dread! In just one minute, you need to introduce you and your business and make useful connections - not easy for everyone!

To the other extreme, 45 people enjoyed a relaxed, City centre treasure hunt which finished in Priory Park with a picnic - and we have an invitation to join Hendy Ford for drinks on 17th September; another casual event for members and non-members to catch up with each other.

Our monthly meetings provide members with a casual networking opportunity before and after an update on local business issues, news and business support and we have evenings and events sponsored by our members, where the focus is on networking and encouraging referrals.

Some events also offer a 'deeper' networking opportunity where business people can get to know each other better over a longer period of time, such as our October breakfast at Goodwood with an optional round of golf or tuition in conjunction with Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, which should be good fun!

So with such a host of options, how do you know what works for you? The main tips are to always have an idea of who else is going; know what you want to get out of your session - leads, suppliers, advice - join in and speak to as many people as you can and most importantly: follow up with people afterwards!

So many opportunities are lost because people don't follow up whilst the contact is warm... If you've not tried it before, we're quite a friendly bunch here at Chichester Chamber, so take a look at our website to see when you'd like to join us! Happy networking!

Louise Hopkins, Chair, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry & Director, Recenseo

In my View: Networking's not just ‘a jolly’, you know!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Chamber of Commerce offers members a great deal more than just networking, yet it seems that it's the networking opportunities that the majority of our members relate to as having a direct impact on their business. In a recent survey of our members, 74% rated networking as the main reason wh ..

Read More

In My View… After a dearth of accessible funding, it’s time to grow your business… the shop is now open!

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, July 17, 2014

After a dearth of accessible funding, it’s time to grow your business… the shop is now open!

The last few years have been a desert for funding and access to business support and for us at the Chamber of Commerce, it has been frustrating as we’ve seen some of our members miss out on funding; or simply not meet the criteria. We’re pleased to see that those times are now changing and Chichester Chamber of Commerce is part of a south coast team to deliver a new and well-needed business support signposting service, that’s free and impartial.

The Business Navigator Growth Hub, is a new service which is delivered locally as part of Government’s growth plans to help start-ups and growing businesses access the multitude of support services and funding that is now emerging.

Although cynical at first… we do know that both of these are critical to the successful growth of all businesses. The aim of this support and funding is to enable companies to overcome limitations and barriers by providing access to a specialist person, service and/ or specific funding that leads to an increase in performance and profitability for the business.

In the past, these sorts of services just haven’t quite hit the sensitive spot that businesses have needed them to; either through lack of direct access or because selection criteria haven’t been realistic enough for businesses that have needed the support.  So we genuinely believe that with the Chamber of Commerce being part of the delivery vehicle, with the direct contact we have with businesses, we can ensure the support and funding gets where it’s needed and the right people get the benefit of it.

The Business Navigator Growth Hub is open to all local companies – Chamber members and non-members – and this time, we believe it’s being provided in the right way…! It starts with a free consultation to help identify what’s available and what would be most appropriate for your business, so contact Kerry Kyriacou, your Local Business Navigator and we’ll get this business support out there!

If you’d like to join us as a visitor at one of our monthly member meetings, you are more than welcome to book a place via our website, where you can find a full list of our events and training, which start again in September.

Julie Harrison, Business Development, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Business Navigator: Kerry Kyriacou 01243 531 765/ 07772 913 250

www.chichesterccci.org.uk  / www.c2cbusiness.org.uk

In My View… After a dearth of accessible funding, it’s time to grow your business… the shop is now open!

Thursday, July 17, 2014
After a dearth of accessible funding, it’s time to grow your business… the shop is now open! The last few years have been a desert for funding and access to business support and for us at the Chamber of Commerce, it has been frustrating as we’ve seen some of our members mi ..

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We should shop locally, but we also need to think nationally …

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, May 08, 2014

From the very basic commercial principle of supply and demand, if the demand isn’t there, the supply dries up and businesses close down – whether retail, food outlets, print companies, producers or manufacturers.

The reality is that Chichester is made up of some fabulous shops.  I’m proud that we have a House of Fraser; an H&M, a relatively large Next, a Côte and a Wagamama! We are a decent city that attracts big names.  But I’m also proud of our good mix of independent stores - which actually reflect the boutique and small business offering in the District as a whole.

Looking away from the High Street, Chichester has some excellent small and medium-sized businesses that work hard to attract not only local custom, but have the common sense to work and operate on a national, or even international level. There are so many opportunities out there and the irony of all of this is that even though we look locally for our suppliers and customers, time and time again, the internet provides a broader perspective on where our custom comes from.

Online presence is fundamental in this day and age and there is no excuse not to be online – and trading online. You need to be where people are looking and they are – we are – looking online.  So, the point is: don’t fight it, embrace it. We all love having access to good businesses and customers locally, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on wider opportunities that may come from further afield. It’s about thinking commercially…

Louise Hopkins, Chairman, Chichester Chamber of Commerce & Director, Recenseo

We should shop locally, but we also need to think nationally …

Thursday, May 08, 2014
From the very basic commercial principle of supply and demand, if the demand isn’t there, the supply dries up and businesses close down – whether retail, food outlets, print companies, producers or manufacturers. The reality is that Chichester is made up of some fabulous shops.  ..

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A27? It’s about time

Office Chichester Chamber - Thursday, March 06, 2014

It’s good to see a commitment stated in the media for a feasibility study on A27 improvements.  It’s about time – but it’s not new and it’s not the first. We all know another feasibility study will show that improvements are needed. The impact of this road extends further than just Chichester or even West Sussex.

Organisations across the south and south east of England use this road; for haulage, agriculture, horticulture, manufacturing, tourism and commuting. As an arterial route, its impact is huge. Users of the road know better than out-of-area consultants where the key pinch points are, so as a Chamber representing business views, we sincerely hope the consultation is carried out among the right stakeholders and the use of theory can be complimented by empirical research. This is an opportunity for West Sussex County Council to liaise and consult with organisations in Hampshire as well as cross-county and not just with the usual suspects…

Looking at the bigger picture, we also need to consider how attractive our enclave of West Sussex is for inward investment – now and in the future. We can’t keep building homes without considering the impact on the economy. Chichester will only be a desirable place for people to live, if it offers the right elements and residents of these new homes need employment – we don’t want to risk Chichester becoming a dormitory town. We need areas earmarked for employment and enterprise development – for local companies to be able to expand and stay in our area, employing more local people - but also to encourage organisations to move into this area. Infrastructure is one thing that will improve our inward investment appeal, but we can’t stop there. We also need employment and enterprise zones – then we need to house the people.

From Hampshire to Brighton and beyond, business organisations have been lobbying for A27 improvements for decades, so the fact that there is movement of sorts is good news. What we hope is new about this announcement is that this feasibility study won’t just be filed away on a dusty shelf. We hope the momentum is picked up and maintained and we actually see money being spent on the roads, rather than on paperwork. But we want the bigger picture in mind.

A27? It’s about time

Thursday, March 06, 2014
It’s good to see a commitment stated in the media for a feasibility study on A27 improvements. It’s about time – but it’s not new and it’s not the first. We all know another feasibility study will show that improvements are needed. The impact of this road extends f ..

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In My View....

Office Chichester Chamber - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

People often ask: “Do you get much business from your Chamber of Commerce membership?”  The answer to which is generally along the lines of “because of my type of business, no, not a lot.”  They continue, “so why are you a member?” Then my response gets longer and more involved…

My work is mostly as a consultant in the metals industry which is specialised and very international.  Chichester can by no means be considered as the heart of the world’s metals industry, but I live here because I find Chichester a delightful place to live.  With modern technology and good transport links, I can do most of my work on a laptop anywhere with good broadband.

So why am I a member of the Chamber?  I want to retain the character of Chichester and continue to enhance the prosperity and quality of life in this area and I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to achieve this is through the Chamber of Commerce.  As we all know, there are many people out there with the power and authority to make naïve and utterly senseless, albeit sometimes well-intentioned, decisions that affect how we live, how we work and what becomes of our way of life.  Rather than being a lone, solitary voice of discontent, it is far more effective for me to engage with key stakeholders and influencers through Chichester Chamber, as it is recognised and respected as the business organisation which promotes what is best through sensible, reasoned discussion as the representative of local commerce.

For this reason, the Chamber is granted representation on key bodies which directly influence our everyday lives and environs (including Local Strategic Partnership, Chichester Business Improvement District, Coastal West Sussex Partnership, Visit Chichester, Chichester Parking Forum among others).  This wouldn’t happen if the Chamber wasn’t recognised as a valued partner contributing positively to the city and its wellbeing.

So, you could say that my reasons for belonging to the Chamber are entirely selfish.  Whatever – let’s just work together to keep Chichester a great place to live and work.

Farid Ahmed, CCCI Ltd Board & Wolf Unique

In My View....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
People often ask: “Do you get much business from your Chamber of Commerce membership?” The answer to which is generally along the lines of “because of my type of business, no, not a lot.” They continue, “so why are you a member?” Then my response gets longer ..

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The Importance of Tourism

Office Chichester Chamber - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

At one time or another we’re all tourists! Whether an annual holiday, a weekend away, a day out or a business trip, when you or I take a break, we’re contributing to the ‘visitor economy’.

The tourism industry is the country’s third largest employer, employing in excess of two million people, generating £97billion each year, and supporting thousands of businesses. In Chichester District, tourism is big business. There are over 9,100 jobs directly involved in tourism and leisure, plus numerous ‘support’ jobs.

But tourism also adds much more to all our lives. It has a strong interdependent relationship with transport, retailing, heritage assets, farming and the countryside, coastal activities, sport, the arts and much more. In simple terms there is much that our community benefits from in terms of infrastructure, amenities, cultural assets and the environment that the local population are able to enjoy, that simply wouldn’t exist without ‘Tourism’.

Chichester District is fortunate in attracting a wide variety of visitors – from families enjoying a seaside holiday to couples taking short breaks. There are also visitors to events such as the Goodwood Revival, the Petworth Festival or Blues on the Farm, plus those visiting the theatre, or here for sailing, windsurfing, walking and sightseeing, and the thousands of business visitors, who support, stimulate and enhance other economic sectors.

There’s a role for all us in supporting tourism. Many of our local businesses - and not just those directly involved in tourism - can help ensure our patch fully exploits every opportunity to grow the visitor economy. The ‘tourist pound’ is vital to our economy, to employment, and to the quality of all our lives so, for each of us as individuals, it makes sense to be as welcoming as possible to our visitors. At the end of the day we’re all tourists!

Stephen Oates, Non-exec Director, CCCI, Economic Development Manager, CDC

The Importance of Tourism

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
At one time or another we’re all tourists! Whether an annual holiday, a weekend away, a day out or a business trip, when you or I take a break, we’re contributing to the ‘visitor economy’. The tourism industry is the country’s third largest employer, employing i ..

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