Archive for category business networking

UK manufacturers urged to come along to our round table meetings

We are delighted to see that there is good news for UK manufacturers, as according to recent figures from the Markit PMI (Purchasing Managers Index), the sector is beginning to stabilise after it had declined in recent months.

But if you run a traditional manufacturing business, where do you go to get advice or bounce ideas off other business owners?

Philip Drazen, heads up the Business Exposure Group and thinks that his round table events could be just what manufacturing business owners need. “Business owners who attend our meetings are always glad they have attended.  They gain an insight from someone, who perhaps isn’t in the same industry, which can give them guidance and support.

“The meetings also offer an opportunity for business owners to swap success stories and ask about challenges they may be facing within their business.”

As it stands, these discussion groups are constantly expanding, assisting and creating a positive outlook for all businesses involved in the Business Exposure Group.

If you run a manufacturing business and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions in either Manchester, Leeds. Wetherby or Sheffield, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Business Discussion Group gives business owners “A Board of Non-Executive Directors”

A business discussion group in the North is racking up praise from directors and business owners across the region for its highly concentrated business advice, and has been compared to “like having a board of non-executive directors on your side.”

The Business Exposure Group (BXG), run by entrepreneur Philip Drazen, operates meetings across the North ten times every month, and is exclusive to business owners and directors of all ages from all sectors. Philip chairs the meetings, ensuring every forum thoroughly covers a range of topics that are important to the business owners around the table.

Recent topics of discussion include “Recruitment – Tips and Best Practice,” “Funding an acquisition,” and “Cloud Computers – The risks of not owning your data.”

Some of the discussions are truncated and posted onto this blog, which provides everyone with the chance to see what sort of advice is being generated from the events.

Speaking about the benefits of the group, Philip stated: “Business owners operate today in a varied and complex world. As an owner you are expected to have all the answers, but it’s impossible. What makes the Business Exposure Group different is that it is purely and simply a straight talking, no nonsense, English concept, which provides a safe, secure and trusted environment for business owners.”

One member was particularly eager to share her thoughts on the group, commenting: “[Philip ensures] everything gets done, we cover everything on the agenda and he keeps control of the group with a smile so that it goes like clockwork. Joining the group has been a good move, I have done business through the group, made great contacts and it gives the opportunity once every 5 weeks to take a birds eye view of your business. Very useful.”

Another member simply stated: “[The Business Exposure Group] is a valuable resource providing an excellent sounding board for business issues. Philip runs these well and has interesting and useful insights into the problems raised.”

If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Cash Flow Management – How do you manage yours?

Getting customers to pay their bills on time is one of the biggest challenges a business owner faces. According to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, last year 4,000 businesses failed because of late payments and cash flow issues.  Analysis of invoices highlights that many are submitted late or are deficient due to having the wrong details on them, leading to the incorrect processing of the invoices.

If a customer’s payments slow down, it’s advised that you should check them out as it may be a sign that they are in trouble, therefore it would be better to stop supplying than to suffer a bad debt. On average, small  businesses  in 2012 wait two months on top of their payment terms to get paid.

However there are a few tips for trying to ensure the invoice is paid correctly and on time:

  • Send invoices ASAP – and make sure they are sent to the right person. If they need to be passed from person to person, department to department, this will slow the process immensely.
  • Explain every single charge clearly and concisely.
  • Make deadlines clear from the very beginning – especially from when they sign the original contract.
  • More invoices to clients for smaller amounts.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note to the credit controller on a regular basis – get to know them, so that you are pushed to the top of the pile.
  • Find the best date to get the invoice to the customer so it doesn’t go past their cut-off date and another month is wasted.
  • Learn about customers’ internal accounts processes and work with them. Get your best customer to pay quickly.
  • Be tough and don’t accept excuses
  • Threaten to use winding up orders to excerpt more pressure on debtors as a last resort.

Aside from these tips, there are other methods that could potentially be utilised to secure payment on-time.

  • Take upfront deposits before you even start working. Since the start of the recession this is more acceptable.
  • Utilise discounts or loyalty rates to get paid quicker.
  • Only pay on set days in the month to hold onto your cash longer.
  • Use suppliers as a line of credit, instead of banks.
  • Swap excess funds in your operating account into an interest bearing account. Ask your bank to automatically sweep excess funds.

Invoice Finance– Is it only for struggling businesses?

That used to be the case, but now it is a good  form of finance. Invoice Finance bridges the gap between the point at which you make a sale, and the time payment is received. An  arranged percentage is released to you, which is good if the customer has long payment terms .

Choose either Factoring or Invoice Discounting- Either the finance company chase your customer or you chase your customer.

Don’t forget, under the law you can claim interest at 8% over the Bank of England base rate, and compensation of between £40 to £100 on each overdue invoice under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. This does not have to be referred to in your Terms and Conditions, and can be applied to goods exported to the EU.

To summarise, getting paid on-time to keep cash flow projections on track is hard. Use your educated guesses to project cashflow which is based on a balance between understanding your customers payment habits and your realistic management of expenditure.

All points in the article above were taken from conversations at The Business Exposure Group where business owners and Directors are invited to take part in round-table discussions at venues across the North of England.

If you are a business owner or Director and would like to be considered for an invitation, please contact Philip Drazen directly at philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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Business discussion group attracts high praise and inspires new ventures

The Business Exposure Group (BXG) has recently been garnering praise for their invitation-only round-table business discussion meetings. One guest recently claimed, “It was the best three hours [that I have] spent in the last five years.”

Founder of the BXG, lawyer and businessman Philip Drazen, set up the company so business owners from various  sectors could troubleshoot, discuss, and create a mastermind “think tank” that could be trusted, by engaging with other forward-thinking business owners.

Amid these vibrant discussion forums, the BXG meetings also offer the potential for making top-quality connections.

It has already inspired  a couple of successful business ventures and could alternatively offer  you, perhaps, the opportunity to find a part-time non-executive director to help your own businesses grow under guidance from a seasoned businessman.

As it stands, these discussion groups are constantly expanding, assisting and creating a positive outlook for all businesses in the region involved in the Business Exposure Group.

For more information on how to attend a Business Exposure Group meeting in either Manchester or Leeds, Wetherby or Sheffield please e-mail:  philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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How do you value corporate entertaining in 2012?

Most companies are still motivated to entertain their existing and new customers as a way of nurturing relationships and ultimately boosting profit but many find themselves restricted by budget, time and resources, especially during times of recession. The dilemma facing any business owner wishing to improve their connections in today’s economy is to work out which events or functions are going to bring financial returns to the business and which will be fruitless.

So how do you make corporate entertainment worth the time and expenditure and how do you measure the value it has created?

Entrepreneurs should not automatically dismiss all corporate entertainment experiences as worth it just because they are ‘building’ relationships with either their customers or their employees. A return on investment is essential. For every £1k spent on corporate entertainment, the business should be looking for a return of at least £5k over and above what is already coming in.

Organising corporate functions or events is a good way of cementing relationships, enticing new ones and raising brand awareness but don’t do it on the cheap – it needs to be memorable.

It’s important to set a budget for entertaining and stick to it. Look at individual customers and assess the net profit they contribute to the business and how this can be increased. When it comes to the invitations, get the right balance of new and current customers.
Existing, happy customers can boost the confidence of prospective clients and are likely to say the right things at the event to improve your profile but pick your guests carefully. It’s also important to fill empty spaces with the right people not friends to ensure you maximise your investment so it’s always worth sending out the invites well in advance of an event.

When it comes to holding or attending corporate events don’t just send the sales team – the owner should be present to promote strong, genuine relationships.

Spectator sports are among the most popular corporate events as well as golf days, races, concerts and awards dinners. As with all entertaining, it’s essential to be clear about the objectives which should be strongly linked to long-term corporate goals as this will have an impact on the outcome.  But clearly a memorable event will increase your access to a customer over the following months, and then it is up to you to make the most of it.

This article was taken from a discussion at a Business Exposure Group event.

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Networking – It’s about being selective with your time

Networking has become a vital way of building business relationships and thanks to advances in communication technology, it has never been easier. Face-to-face networking is still the best means of developing genuine and lucrative business contacts, however social networking sites such as LinkedIn ensures that we’re now able to forge instant links with our newly-acquired contacts and do our research as well as secure exposure to an even wider business network.

Networking is not only moving on technologically, it’s also becoming more sophisticated. It’s about being selective with your time and engaging with similar people who can add value to your business.

Both the Entrepreneurs Club and The Business Exposure Group have positioned themselves by putting on events and meetings for people wanting to engage with others in trusted business communities. It goes back to having a few close contacts of quality standing, instead of spreading yourself too thinly and achieving zero relationships.

No matter how experienced you are and however long you’ve been in business, you can always develop and hone your business skills. Discussing strategies and talking through current pressures can save you time and money and give you greater confidence in the way you tackle issues.

We all need to differentiate ourselves – otherwise we just become one of the crowd. That will be the difference between making money and making peanuts.

If we try to follow what was practised 20 or 30 years ago, we will not only lose but will be considered idiots.  Who would have thought that business owners would welcome the opportunity to discuss ideas and techniques with each other, to assist in how they run their businesses?

In our parent’s generation it would never have happened. Everyone kept their ideas close to their chests.  But today everything is so fast. It’s impossible to be an expert in all areas of business, but with a group of complimentary business owners that risk of isolation is taken away.

The Business Exposure Group has over 120 business owners in this region, collaborating with each other on business strategies and opportunities. It’s not about the features and benefits, it’s about the problems we solve.

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Business Exposure Group events are providing valuable business advice

Last month’s Business Exposure Group meetings around the region were excellent and again generated some quality suggestions.

With 9 groups now operating across Manchester and Yorkshire, the main issues across several discussion groups included: –

–          Is there a need for a business plan, particularly during a recession?

–          Is social media a scary problem or a great business opportunity

–          Whether to rely on freelancers or employ full time staff

–          Techniques to control sales staff and make them accountable

–          Methods used to get your business message out to a new market

–          The value of purchasing a competitor in distress, purely to use it’s strong  brand

–         How to let go and have the confidence to allow your business to flourish

The high value of the group advice was commented on by the majority of the members.

Are you a Business owner or Director around Manchester?

Please let us know by return if you would like us to reserve a place for you around the table at our next meeting in Manchester city centre on the afternoon of Monday 4th July 2011.

The numbers are limited to 15 and this groups is getting full.

Outside the Manchester area, there are groups in Leeds, Bradford, Wetherby and Sheffield. Please let us know if you would like to attend any of these events during July.

Please email philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk for more information.

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