London 2012: The medal table of commerce

From The Huffington Post: Were there a medal table for making money at London 2012, there’d be few surprises at its summit.

Just as China and the U.S. were a shoo-in for the top spots in the official standings, the International Olympic Committee’s ascendancy would be assured alongside McDonald’s and Coca-Cola in the commercial Games.

The British taxpayer, meanwhile, would be a dark horse. Spending £9.3bn to organise the Games, we’ve certainly mirrored Team GB in starting slowly. But, in a damascene conversion to Keynesian economics, David Cameron claims that UK Plc can replicate our athletes’ subsequent success and harvest £13bn worth of tourism income, trade deals and inward investment over four years.

Read full article on the Huffington Post

Glamping and the staycation: holiday parks in the austerity age

Listen to this podcast interview with Victoria Brannen, co-founder of Maya Asset Management, which specialises in the acquisition, turnaround and operational management of investment assets, in particular holiday parks.

Brannen, who specialises in strategic planning and marketing strategy integration, examines the implications for the holiday park sector of the rise of eco-holidays and short breaks and the squeeze on consumer incomes.

Asked to highlight the key trends in the camping and caravanning sector, she notes “an eco-trend, where you have the rise in tipis, yurts, pods… the whole ‘glamping’ experience. You have the mainstay holidaymakers who like to go to static caravan parks, and then your diehard campers who want to pitch up their tent.” [See rest of transcript via link above]

How I won the Apprentice

A podcast interview with Lee McQueen of Raw Talent Academy:

Lee on the importance of winning the Apprentice in getting a business off the ground…

It was an absolute necessity in my opinion. I cannot underline enough how important it was and how much I learnt working for Lord Sugar for the past two years.

I went in at a time when Lord Sugar and his son were setting up a business called Amscreen. All they had at the time was an idea; they had no markting, they had no engineers, no product no services, nothing.

Listen to the podcast and

Beware the dangers of (anti)social media

This was a guest post published on Quest PR’s blog, garnering seven tweets:

With 25 per cent of our time spent on social networks and blogs – a 9% increase since 2007 – it’s hard to envisage our appetite for virtual voyeurism and sharing the banal minutiae of our life abating any time soon.

Where people gather in large numbers, be it physically or digitally, businesses try to get their voice heard – and the big brands often succeed. For example, on Facebook Nike is ‘liked’ by 2,129,862 acolytes and Aston Martin by 330,579, while on Twitter Marvel Entertainment boasts 78,087 followers and Starbucks 80,943.

However, while social media can give you impressive reach for a negligible investment, for all but the coolest of brands it’s fiendishly difficult to build and sustain an audience through a medium where billions of other websites are a few mouse clicks and keystrokes away.

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Examining the hotels market

Listen to a podcast interview with Haydn Fentum, co-founder and CEO of Bespoke Hotels, a fast-growing boutique hotel chain.

Fentum, who founded the first hotel 11 years ago, says “the market is quite volatile at the moment, there’s quite a lot of activity. It’s only the last two or three years that have not been great for the hotel sector.”

He also suggests that cash-strapped consumers have very different expectations to the typical boom-time consumer: “There’s always a flight to value, so hotels that have been underinvested and undercapitalised suffer, and properties in good order and which provide good value for money prosper. The market has become more polarised that way; you’re less inclined to forgive a bad experience.”

The perfect time to buy a business – if you can find the funds

The businesses-for-sale marketplace is rich with promise for bargain hunters with enough capital to bypass the banks, according to leading professionals in business transfer.

Speaking to, agents also report that the dwindling number of businesses with healthy balance sheets are more in demand than ever as entrepreneurs seek reliable investments in a turbulent economic climate.

Providing they are patient – deals are increasingly tortuous, collapsing more frequently because of nervous buyers, sellers and banks – cash-rich buyers can capitalise on the desperation of some sellers to exit amid challenging trading conditions. Caution and the dearth of credit is inhibiting activity so buyers armed with ready cash have less competition for the best opportunities.

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Cloud computing: implications for the IT support sector

From BusinessWings: When Google unveiled the Chromebook in May, Sergey Brin, its co-founder, described it as “a new model of computing”.

And yet, the Chromebook is a mere laptop, a breed of computer which tablet PCs and smartphones are rendering, if not yet obsolete, then certainly ungainly and ill-suited to surfing the web.

But Brin wasn’t referring to the physical interface. Rather, Google’s new device, which is manufactured by Samsung and Acer, purports to be the first hardware purpose-built for using applications and storing data exclusively through the internet.

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