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.

Read full article

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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Microsoft’s huge gamble

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spied an opportunity to strengthen Windows

This piece about Microsoft’s $8.5bn acquisition of Skype showcases my ability to write stock-market news and about mid-market sales.

Although most of my writing for has covered small businesses – the newsagent, the pub buyer or the subpostmaster – we do cover million-pound plus revenue enterprises too.

The secret millionaire and starting a marketing agency

I spoke to Liz Jackson MBE for this podcast interview about her experience on Channel Four show The Secret Millionaire and setting up Great Guns Marketing.

On Great Guns Marketing…

“We’re an outbound, business-to-business lead generation company, which means we makes sales appointments, book delegates into seminars, build databases, client engagement… that kind of activity.”

On the secret of her success…

“Predominantly I would say the talent within the business. The team of people we have here, both the leadership team and the telemarketers, who deliver projects for our clients, which makes a massive difference.

“For all entrepreneurs, we really covet a good team, and understanding who in our team has potential to go from good to great, and working out how you take that person from where they are to realising their full potential. So we work hard at that kind of stuff and it really does pay off.”

Listen to the podcast interview

Queen of Shops Mary Portas turfed out by stubborn baker

Read full article on Last night’s episode of Mary Queen of Shops culminated in the star, retail expert Mary Portas, being kicked out of the business she was tasked to turn around.

Despite having applied for her help, the subject of Portas’ business rescue operation was resistant to pretty much all her prescriptions to help reverse her tumbling profits.

The premise, in case you didn’t know, is that retail doyenne Mary Portas descends on struggling shops and restores them to rude health a la Gordon Ramsay with restaurants, minus the swearing, shouting and hectoring.

Read full article on