Tag Archives for Small Business

The new Count Palentine of golf

A golf ball directly before the holeImage via Wikipedia

In an article on Ross Marshall, 27, c0-founder and CEO of yourgolftravel.com, there is no mention of the holding company, Palatinate Leisure Group Limited formed in 2007.

Ross met Andrew Harding at Durham University and after trying other careers decided to follow their passion for golf and set up yourgolftravel.com in 2005.  Turnover reached £8m in 2008 and is expected to double this year – no recession in the golfing world!  They now have over 50 staff, nearly 90,000 clients and represent 1,200 golf courses in 26 countries.

In the article, Diary of a Golf Venture, mention is made of £250,000 loan taken in January 2006 for expansion.  Is the loan convertible and what kind of business plan resource have they used? Did they uses their background in banking and the profession to go for an Active Equity Company?

Buried in the website is a little bit of knowledge(!) about the origins of the word Palatinate.  I wonder if they make their customers members of the Order of Palatinates?

Another great case study

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The business school of Gloucester Road, Bristol

BristolImage via WikipediaThe daughter and I were walking along Gloucester Road in Bristol when we met Robert Uphill.  Robert is an engaging young man and has just joined the ranks of the self-employed.  He has got his first contract and is/was in the process of registering a company and website under the name Robert Uphill.  But he had met the right people!  We suggested he had a dream of building a bigger business and needed to have a name and website such as Uphill Associates.

Then we started to dream and suggested he explored the business schools at Bath and Bristol and the resources available to help him produce a business plan with a dream of building a technology company similar to the ones in the Cambridge Cluster.  I also pointed out how much he must earn to have parity with the total package offered to the public sector – around three times salary.  That gave him something to think about.

As we were dreaming a nice young man asked us to move away from his jewellry shop as he was about to close the shutters.  We got talking and all he said was that the taxes in the UK were too high.  He wanted to jump in a lorry to get out of this country!  He quite put our friend off starting a business!

And then the Daughter and I crossed the road and entered a Hi-Fi shop were a very pleasant young man with an easy going manner gave us a demonstration of Bose products.  Just got to hope that they will have a good sale in 2009 and I can blast my iPhone.

So a quick walk along the Gloucester Road, Bristol, is recommended to entrepreneurs.

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Selling at the top.

Business Plan in a Day bookImage by Raymond Yee via FlickrLawrence Bailey of Price Bailey in Cambridge has some good comments to make about selling companies.  There is a feature in a Cambridge Evening News supplement sponsored by his firm.  He talks about four different scenarios but the one I like talks about the sale of an Internet based insurance intermediary in January of this year, 2008.

At the time, the entrepreneur felt that the time was not right and the price was too low.  Nearly twelve months on, the same person reckons the company would be worth on third of the price.  Most companies plod along working away and not keeping any eye on the value of their business.  It is understandable as it is hard making a crust.  But every company should have a business plan resource which makes them track the valuation of their company and also makes sure that it is always optimised for sale.

Twenty years ago, one entrepreneur summed it up with the phrase “We could work for another ten years and not be as well off!”.  So keep one eye on the inside and the other on the outside.  But gosh, you have to be clever to close before a market stalls – and very brave! And to have Price Bailey holding your hand!

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7% spend misses 21% time

LC-A+ Is...Image by 摩根 via FlickrI should have posted about this earlier.  At the CUTEC conference a couple of months ago we were given these facts and told to build a business to address them.  Advertising spend in the USA is 7% on the Internet but people are spending 21% of their time on the web.  So the advertisers need a product to encourage them to move to the web.  But it does explain why so many people are now talking about buying on line – that is where they spend their time.  And when you have clicked, clicked and the product arrives virtually by return, you keep clicking.  Particularly with lower cost items as you save on time and save on fuel costs.  Groceries is my top example but I try to avoid the adverts to minimise the impulse buys!

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All your world’s an oyster or some of it

ftoysters106a.jpgThe Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at Cairndow in Scotland. This was the precursor of the chain of Loch Fyne restaurants that now exist throughout the UK. For more information see the Wikipedia article Loch Fyne Oysters and Restaurants.Image via WikipediaLoch Fyne Oysters is being lauded for helping the employees buy the company in a soft management buyout of £4million. Now this is a great story of a business built by two people, one an eccentric but poor landowner and the other a deep sea diver, Johnny Noble and Andrew Lane.

But what can we learn about business ownership for the Loch Fyne story? Interestingly there were two businesses, the producer and the the restaurants. The business subject to the MBO is the producer side. The restaurant business (36 chain) was spun off from the original and sold to brewer Greene King for £68million.

The lesson for angels and investors is to be careful because if you were not part of the spin-out, then you would not have shared in the big win. However, it is good that those who did have the big win are helping the employees buy their own company.

Being part of an angel group where a scheme is being suggested that the return to the angels be capped and our holdings placed in a separate company, I am glad to see that the Loch Fyne shareholders are being so generous. There may be hope for my little angel group.

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Even Babylicious needs an Equity Fingerprint!

Boots GroupImage via WikipediaBabylicious provides healthy food for babies and kids all in special size containers. It saves the parents all the cooking and preparation time which used to bring the family together – now just microwave!

Production is outsourced with the only problem being to make sure the recipes scale from the home to 200 kilo batch production. Routes to market are via Waitrose and Boots.
Sally Preston started the business with family funds of £75,000 and two years later she raised new money from private investor. She says that she took no pay for the first three years and says that she is comfortable with her shareholding.

It is similar to Innocent drinks but they started with a team of three Cambridge graduates and a £250k investment which left four equal shareholders. Innocent also sub-contracts all the manufacture and concentrates on the marketing and selling but the Innocent drinks appeal to a much larger market and not cash-strapped young families.

Babylicious seems to have the same problem as Cobra Beer – working on fine margins in competitive markets.

Equity Fingerprint, the business plan resource, shows that multiple founders with multiple rounds of resources (people and cash) is an easier way to start a business than the lone founder.

One intriguing part of the Babylicious story is that Preston had to spend £34,000 to enforce her trademark as someone tried the equivalent of cybersquatting. It is not only the cash but so much time from a lone founder. Is Babylicious such a good name?

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