Giving Your Business Foresight


Record attendance and exhibitors at Lincolnshire Business Expo 2018

Over 1,500 people attended the Lincolnshire Business Expo 2018. Photo: Steve Smailes for Lincolnshire Business

More than 1,500 people attended the third annual Lincolnshire Business Expo at the Lincolnshire Showground on January 17, the largest B2B event in the county.

Organised by Stonebow Media, the event included 27 different seminars, workshops and networking sessions throughout the day along with 100 exhibitors from across the county.

Highlights included two panels:

  • State of Lincolnshire in 2018 and beyond, which looked at what is in store for businesses in Lincolnshire in the near future.
  • What makes a great business leader, which brought some of Lincolnshire’s most successful industry leaders together to discuss the traits and qualities of what it takes to make it in business.

Within the State of Lincolnshire in 2018 and beyond panel, chaired by James Pinchbeck, Marketing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, business leaders and experts discussed the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead, with giving young talent opportunities being a key element within discussion.

Gary Headland, CEO at Lincoln College said:

“I see great opportunities in the county. I’m optimistic, we have a strong group of colleges and universities and we have a good education system to meet the needs of businesses.”

Paul Banton, Managing Director at Ruddocks added:

“2018 is about proving the economists wrong. As businesses, we need to introduce new talent and do more with education establishments. We have fantastic world class businesses in Lincolnshire.”

Many events were completely sold out with business representatives on the hunt for the most up to date information on topics such as marketing on social media and how to fund business growth.

Daniel Ionescu, Managing Director at Stonebow Media and organiser of the event said:

“The third annual Lincolnshire Business Expo has been a huge event this year. We have had the highest attendance ever with over 1,500 people including exhibitors and attendees today, and there’s been a real buzz around the building in terms of discovering new businesses, reconnecting with older contacts and making new leads. A very successful event and we look forward to coming back again next year.”

The Lincolnshire Business Expo 2019 will take place at the Lincolnshire Showground on Wednesday, January 16.

SoundChip launches new technology centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury

World-leading provider of system-level audio solutions,SoundChip, has officially opened its new office space at Sci-Tech Daresbury as it continues to see strong appetite for its innovative wearable sound technology. 

SoundChip is a Swiss-headquartered company that develops revolutionary wearable sound solutions which are used by global audio brands such as Panasonic, Philips, Harman, Audio Technica and RHA.

The company launched its new Technology Centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury’s Vanguard House on Tuesday 12thDecember, where it will focus on the research and development of new noise cancelling products and technologies.

The company has been based at Sci-Tech Daresbury since 2011, having recently expanded its office and laboratory space threefold to more than 2,400 sq ft.

Vanguard House is a 36,000 sq ft facility providing office, laboratory and workshop space. The building was the first development of the new Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture and follows on from the success of The Innovation Centre.

Mark Donaldson, CEO of SoundChip, said: “We’re so pleased to be launching our base at Vanguard House as we continue to realise our potential in the UK market. We chose Sci-Tech Daresbury over alternative locations because of its strong focus on supporting high-technology, the knowledge and experience of its staff and the quality facilities.

“Basing our operations here supports the high-speed growth that we are currently experiencing for our technologies and solutions. Traditionally, active noise-cancelling features have been locked into those flagship products on the high street. However, this technology is now permeating into more mainstream value models, which means that there are a greater number of products available on the market.

“This is a wave that we’ve been preparing for and in order to deliver this, we need to have a strong team of electro-acoustic engineers that are kitted out with the most sophisticated equipment and have the capacity and facilities to do that work to scale. We recognise that our customers value that offering and this capability is what sets SoundChip apart from its competitors.”

Sci-Tech Daresbury is a private-public joint-venture partnership between developer Langtree, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Halton Borough Council.

Jayne Furnival, group property director of Langtree, said: “We are delighted that SoundChip has expanded its operations at Vanguard House, a facility designed specifically for companies that are looking to grow and develop their business offering. They are part of a growing group of around 20 international companies that have established a strategic base at Sci-Tech Daresbury to take advantage of business and technology collaborations in the UK and Europe.

“SoundChip is a very forward thinking and innovative company that offers its customers unique expertise and a hands-on approach and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship and supporting the company as it grows and continues to lead the way in this sector.”

Growth Workshops – New Dates for 2018

“Growing a Business” presentation at Selby District Council’s “Nice to Meet You” event – 29 November 2017


In order to be eligible for support, your business must be a small or medium sized enterprise (SME), defined as:

  • having fewer than 250 employees
  • a turnover of under £45m OR a balance sheet of under £40m
  • not being part of a larger group of companies that takes it over this threshold

And also the business needs to:

  • Be based in the Leeds City Region excluding Barnsley, i.e. a trading address in the Leeds City Region.
  • Be in an eligible sector – this generally excludes primary agriculture, banking and financial services, education and social care and those trading directly with consumers- e.g. retail and hospitality
  • Have been trading for at least three years


Workshop #3 Ramping up… scaling processes so they run profitably! 

Date: Wednesday 24th January 2018

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Location: Building 5, Carrwood Park, Leeds , LS15 4LG


Single Page “Whats & Hows” Plan… how to convert high level goals into do-able actions.

Don’t blame the person, blame the process!… how to turn your frustrations into bottom-line improvements

Creating “Turn Key Processes” so that the business runs on rails and does not rely on you being there all the time.

Getting things done even though everyone’s already busy… how to establish Emotional Contracts and deliver those all important 1-2-1 conversations.


Workshop #4 Making yourself irresistible to customers… develop a compelling Value Proposition that shows how you are different and better

Date: Thursday 1st February 2018

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Location: 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, Firth Street, Huddersfield, HD1 3BD

How can you expect to grow rapidly if you can’t clearly demonstrate to customers why you are better and different to everyone else? Having a potent Value Proposition may well be the greatest weapon for growth.  Not only is it critical to winning new customers, but it also helps you to protect margins because you can justify your fair price and not feel compelled to constantly give discounts. Learn how to apply the latest technique from Silicon Valley – the Value Proposition Canvas.

If you want to get inside the head of your customer, you must achieve new levels of understanding… we’ll show you how the Customer Archetype technique will help. What the Value Proposition Canvas is and how it helps you demonstrate how your business is different and better.

How to carry out a Value Proposition Canvas session with your potential customer in such a way that they also get something from the session.

Using the Value Proposition Canvas to drive fresh and focussed innovations that your customers will find totally irresistible.


Workshop #2 People… Attracting and keeping the right staff that care as much about the business as you do!

Date: Tuesday 6th February 2018

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Location: Building 5, Carrwood Park, Leeds , LS15 4LG

Culture eats strategy for breakfast… Company values to help and retain a winning high performance culture. You can’t lead people without a vision… how to leverage the 3-year visioning orbit technique to take people on the journey.

Your new role – Player Coach… the 5 key steps to delivering a world class Coaching session that unlocks the true potential of your people.

Are you a 1-club golfer when it comes to leadership? Learn the essential skill of tailoring your leadership style such that it matches the individual and their situation.

The PRICE of empowerment… everyone knows they must Empower their staff more, but few of us really do it effectively – we’ll show you how the most successful people deliver.


Workshop #5 Finance… Ensuring you have sufficient cash & funding to fuel the growth

Date: Wednesday 14th February 2018

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Location: York Science Park, York, YO10 5DG

Premature scaling… the 3 warning signs that you are about to “grow broke” and the actions you must take to avoid it.

Sources of funding… a walk through of the key funds, schemes and grants available to you in this region.

Funding Roadmap… how to match the right type of investment to meet your individual needs.

Pitch Perfect… the golden rules of pitching for investment and real life examples of what “good” looks like.


Workshop #1 Execution… the 4 leadership disciplines to ensure your team implements on their actions

Date: Wednesday 28th February 2018

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Location: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakfield, WF4 4JX

High growth goals mostly fail to materialise not because of a lack of SMART Objectives, but because things just didn’t get done! This isn’t because the people in the team are lazy or stupid… they are just really really busy doing “real work”. So what do the most successful high growth leaders do to overcome this and convert the strategic growth intent into an operational reality?

Discipline #1 Narrow your focus to the goals that are not just important, but “wildly important”

Discipline #2 Create a plan that coverts your high level goals into specific do-able tasks

Discipline #3 Construct a compelling dashboard featuring both leading and lagging measures

Discipline #4 Create a culture of accountability – we do what we say and we say what we do



To find out more about the programme and the wide range of support available for your business please contact the Business Growth team on 0113 3481818 or email either or

Strategic Business Growth Programme Workshops

The West Yorkshire Strategic Business Growth Programme targets businesses over three years old with high growth potential. As part of the programme participating businesses can attend any or all of a series of workshops specifically tailored to meet their needs.

Execution looks at the 4 leadership disciplines to ensure your team implements their actions.

People explores how to attract and keep the right staff that care as much about the business as you do!

Ramping Up considers how to scale up processes so they run profitably.

Finance explains the high growth perspective on ensuring you have sufficient cash and funding to fuel the growth

Making yourself irresistible to customers helps develop a compelling Value Proposition that shows how you are different and better.

For more details of the programme visit the Enterprise Partnership website. If you’re a small to medium sized business based in Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield or York, find out how the programme can help you.

Planning For Growth In Turbulent Times

Our next event is being planned for May when John Barnett and Richard Lukey will examine the turbulent times in which we live and lead a discussion around the potential impact on plans to grow the business. It will be a breakfast meeting in rural North Yorkshire with more details to follow shortly.

After light refreshments, over ninety minutes we will look at the characteristics of businesses that seem resilient to all the turbulence around them and give you the opportunity to assess your business in the context of its ability to withstand the buffeting of today’s business environment. We’ll share a few ideas around innovation and look at the importance of taking the team with you in times of change. You’ll leave with a self assessment of your own business’s growth potential and thought provoking ideas to help develop new and existing revenue streams.

….and it won’t cost you a penny!


BHP merges with Sheffield practice GVT

John Warner – BHP Managing Partner

Accountancy firm Barber Harrison & Platt (BHP) has merged with Sheffield-based gvt Chartered Accountants.

This comes after the passing of Melanie Viner, gvt’s key relationship partner, following a battle with cancer. Viner joined gvt in 1991 and agreed to the completion of the merger shortly before she died in November. Her business partner Mark Goodband has retired from the partnership and after a short handover period will pursue other opportunities.

Gvt’s team will relocate from its Nether Edge office to BHP’s Rutland Park headquarters over the coming weeks.

John Warner, managing partner at BHP says: “It was hugely important to Melanie that both gvt’s team and the firm’s client base would continue to thrive after her death.gvt has always had a strong, well-established team and a reputation for offering a high standard of service to its clients, which fits with BHP’s culture and customer centric approach.

“As a result, we were delighted to agree to this merger proposal.”

He added: “We’re now looking forward to welcoming our new colleagues into our business and continuing to provide gvt’s clients with the level of service and expertise that they have come to expect, which will form an important part of Melanie’s legacy. We would also like to wish Mark all the very best for the future.”

Established in 1970, BHP now has more than 300 employees across five offices in Sheffield, Leeds, Cleckheaton, Chesterfield and York.

Karishma Patel

Insider Media – Yorkshire

3rd January 2017

How Brexit turned the UK German – NESTA 2017 Predictions

When Britain voted to leave the European Union, few people expected it would result in the UK becoming more like Germany, the country that runs the European show. But that’s what ended up happening, and it was in 2017 that the process really began.

Industrial strategy was the first step. Theresa May’s government decided that Britain’s ever-increasing trade deficit was a luxury that the UK, as an independent nation, could no longer afford. Already in 2016 Philip Hammond had begun to deviate from decades of Treasury orthodoxy by announcing £23 billion of investments into infrastructure, skills and research.

Over the course of 2017, the UK proved the Treasury view wrong by investing effectively in downstream R&D, identifying its real industrial strengths, focusing big government budgets like health and energy on innovation, and sowing the seeds for a revival of productive business growth. It had always been thought that these kind of policies wouldn’t work in Britain, but the bracing exigencies of Brexit inspired the government to have a go, and perhaps we should not have been surprised that they worked just as they had done in the past in places like America, Israel, Finland and, of course, Germany.

Westminster takes a back seat

The Teutonic shift was not just about economics. From a constitutional point of view, Britain also took a leaf out of Germany’s book. Scotland, unhappy at being ejected from the EU against its people’s will but still wary of the economic consequences of independence, leveraged its legal power over the Article 50 process to demand total devolution. Westminster’s power over English cities also receded: the gradual move to city-level government that began with the Northern Powerhouse gained momentum.

It quickly became clear that the patchwork of urban devolution created its own headaches: some cities had a devolved NHS, some had a city deal, some had a metro mayor. This was settled with a constitutional convention that established formal powers for city regions, codified Scotland’s devolution deal and did the same for Wales. The new deal was still a messy British compromise, but when one pundit heralded it as the Bundesrepublik of Great Britain, the name stuck.

For many of these cities, assertiveness paid off. Public investment was increasingly spread across the country, and places outside the South East saw the benefit. It turned out that a fair chunk of the North-South divide was not an inescapable fact of British economics, but the consequence of government after government favouring London.

Rebalancing worked, when we gave it a chance. London continued to be a global metropolis, but touch terms of trade with Europe and stricter migration rules dampened its swagger. But Britain’s other cities, buoyed up by transport investment and a greater focus on R&D outside the Golden Triangle, thrived. Rather than being a country where ambitious people went Dick Whittington-like to the capital, Britain began to feel a little more like a country with several buzzing cities – much as Germany itself has been.

Industrial revival

The timing turned out to be fortuitous. The freewheeling global capital markets that played such a big role in London’s growth in the 1990s and 2000s had already begun to silt up after the 2009 crisis, lowering productivity in the UK as a whole. The shifts in the international order that began in Donald Trump’s first presidential term made life as an international finance hub less commercially attractive.

But Britain’s increasingly impressive industrial revival, to many people’s surprise, filled this gap and then some, and in particular reversed Britain’s ever-worsening balance of trade. Export-led growth became one of the government’s proudest economic accomplishments. (It was considered tactless to point out that in the decades before Brexit, it too was traditionally more associated with Germany than with the UK.)

All this was, of course, helped by the international situation. The surprising – though in retrospect, grimly inevitable – election of Marine Le Pen as President of France threw the EU into confusion, and made it easier to conclude a long-lasting transitional trade agreement with what remained of the EU. Industry breathed a sigh of relief that the complex European supply chains they relied on could go on indefinitely, and the date that the transition would end was elegantly fudged by all concerned.

The British government embraced its liberal tradition as a way of attracting highly skilled migrants to keep the economy ticking, both from the increasingly illiberal United States and from France. Britain and Germany, having seemed on a collision course at the end of 2016, found increasing common ground, striking accords on joint defence, trade and diplomacy.

For many of the politicians who supported Brexit, it was never meant to be this way. Leaving the EU was going to unleash English laissez-faire, turning us into a sort of North Atlantic Hong Kong. (Some of the opponents of Brexit thought the same, and didn’t like the idea.) For some Brexiteers, Germany exemplified everything they loathed about the EU. But in the end, Brexit brought Britain closer to Germany, economically, politically and constitutionally, and Britain ended up the better for it. Who’d have guessed it?

Click here to see all NESTA’s predictions for 2017

A politically “incorrect”, scientifically “correct” perspective on why EU is struggling

The 28 governments of member states all have different opinions, interests and starting points. Not to forget a different culture and economic performance. Being from Europe does not really unite, as Europe is the world’s most complex region and “European citizenship” is yet to evolve. There are 300 million people on this continent therefore the ”united in diversity” is a very appropriate motto if it can be done.

And even as the news organisations agonise over the terminology – migrant or refugee – the distinctions on the ground are becoming pointless. Let me explain my perspective using the example of international mergers.

When you merge cultures well, value is created. When you don’t, value is destroyed.

When a merger or acquisition unexpectedly heads south (83% of them) the costs are painfully clear. Morale drops. Synergies fail to materialise. A likely cause of the trouble is culture clash. In a Bain survey of executives who have managed through mergers, that was the No. 1 reason for a deal’s failure to achieve the promised value. In a culture clash, the companies’ fundamental ways of working are so different and so easily misinterpreted that people feel frustrated and anxious, leading to demoralisation and defections. Productivity flags, and no one seems to know how to fix it.

Acquirers have well-developed tool-kits for managing the financial and operational aspects of a deal; they track results closely and they hold executives accountable for hitting their targets on schedule. Integrating two disparate cultures, by contrast, typically seems “soft”— both difficult to measure and almost impossible to manage directly. As a result, few organisations apply the same rigor to managing and steering cultural integration that they apply to a conventional, hard-dollar synergy. No one is on point; no one is accountable. Senior leaders can find themselves in the uncomfortable position of watching the problem unfold without knowing what to do about it.

Setting the cultural agenda necessarily involves hard choices. What is the culture you want to see emerge from the combination of the two organisations? An acquirer can assimilate the acquired company, or it can create a blend of cultures. Setting the agenda and diagnosing the gaps create the context for action.

The senior team then has two jobs:

  • One is to determine the critical gaps to close.
  • The second is to create a detailed picture of the future culture—a picture that moves beyond vision and values statements, and that is concrete enough to be executed by managers.

The key to a successful merger is determining which culture to merge into which. Co-creating a brand new culture from scratch is a lot of hard work with a relatively low probability of success.

Let’s get back to the original topic of the EU and refugees where the cultural gaps are extremely wide. When companies decide to merge, they have a clear vision, they prepare for the event, they both want it to happen as they know they could create more value. Yet, 83% of them fail.

What happened in the EU in the last 2 years is a bit different. There was no vision, no careful planning, no preparation and by now, there is less and less intention to make it happen due to some horrific events.

This is a case where best intention can backfire without understanding the situation. Trying to help people is great, I fully support it. Trying to accommodate them by denying basic security and cultural measures is one step too far and it will cause more problems.

Gradual intake combined with cultural awareness training, accountability, human rights with the same responsibility on both sides can work, but not the uncontrolled influx of people.

Money is not the main issue, that is like drinking water when you eat something hot and spicy. You think it helps, but it doesn’t. On the other hand, drinking milk will sort out the conflict.

The challenges of reaching full potential as a person, organisation or nation are very similar. They depend on the ability to recognise and understand that the way we think, feel and behave are shaped by our experiences and cultural background. 

Human societies today run on the accumulated beliefs of our forefathers. They were created long ago by people in very different settings than what we live in today. When we meet people from another cultural group, they act in accordance with their own models of reality. And that is the key…they are all models…they can be questioned, measured and improved once you know what to look for.

“With the best of intentions you toss me a lifeline. Failing to see how a piece of rope will do me any good, I ignore it and drown.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich

Life after annual appraisals

Performance Management is meant to improve your organisation’s output, but, more often than not, an ill-conceived and ill-suited process is put in place that does little more than waste time and demotivate staff.

For years, managers across the globe have sat down with their staff once a year to review their performance and give them a rating based on a set of arbitrary measures.

Jules Goddard, a London Business School lecturer who’s spent the past 30 years studying performance management systems, calls for a fundamental shift in thinking about the annual appraisal. Such conversations, he says, must take place with staff on the frontline, and become part of everyday life for employees.

“It is the measure of a high-performance team that individuals within it know that the quality of the output comes from the individual,” he says. “We need to be open about where we feel we did well, and not so well, otherwise we won’t learn. Feedback should be part of open, natural conversation as humans; unless appraisal is received when the relevant action is fresh in one’s mind, it is often not regarded as just or interesting.”

But even if the appraisal takes place at the right time with the right people, the wrong type of rating and assessment process will still hinder, rather than promote, better performance.

One of the big problems with appraisals is that they incentivise the safe approach to tackling a problem or project – nobody wants to take a risk (even if it’s calculated), and then be punished in their appraisal when it goes wrong.

Goddard argues that such systems “encourage people to play safe and be very careful with their reputation”. They also limit the creativity and innovation flowing through an organisation.

“The vast majority of performance appraisal systems encourage people to only talk when very sure of the answer, and stay overly in control,” Goddard adds. “And nothing useful happens in business when people are in control; all the exciting things in business are happening at the edge.”

Extract from “Performance management after the annual appraisal” by Matt Scott

Professional Manager Summer 2016

“Always on” culture key cause of poor UK productivity

Germany is one of the top in the world for productivity per capita -and its average hours are among the lowest

The Spring 2016 edition of Professional Manager (the journal of the Chartered Management Institute – CMI) looks at three potential remedies for low UK productivity. Of particular interest is the result of a survey they commissioned this year which indicates an “always on” culture equates to poor productivity.

Research from CMI has found that an “always on” work culture of ever-increasing hours and rocketing stress levels is one of the driving forces behind the UK’s poor productivity.

Of the 1,574 managers surveyed in the 2016 Quality of Working Life report, that vast majority (77%) work at least one additional hour each day, adding up to an extra 29 days over the course of a year, cancelling out managers’ annual leave entitlement (28 days on average).

And 10% of those surveyed said they work an extra three hours every day – the equivalent of working a 15-month year. In total, 92% of respondents said they work more than their contracted hour. Those working long hours are more than three times as likely to feel stressed than those working no additional hours.

CMI Companion Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a lead author of the CMI report, said the finding lead him to fear for the UK economy: “The long-hours culture is very worrying. We are seventh in the G7 and 17th in the G20 on productivity per capita. Germany is one of the top in the world for productivity per capita – and its average hours of work are 35, among the world’s lowest.”

CMI Chief Executive Ann Francke said that a lack of professional management is to blame for excess working, with “accidental managers” unequipped to balance the needs of their team with the needs of the organization.

“There’s nothing wrong with hard graft, but only if you’re well supported,” she said. “Accidental managers who lack the professional skills to deal with the causes of burnout are a threat to their health and others at work. Productivity will continue to suffer unless employers train managers to prevent overwork and strike a work-life balance.”

The Quality of Working Life survey also found that more open, empowering management styles are connected to lower levels of stress, higher job satisfaction and greater personal productivity. The worst management styles generate up to four times more stress than the best: as many as 28% of those whose line managers are secretive or suspicious report that they often feel stressed – compared with just 7% of those whose managers are empowering.

Leadership in Troubled Times

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