Posted by Mark Booth

Director in KPMG’s Liverpool Deal Advisory Team

Thu 17th, Jan

Now, perhaps more than ever, planning and preparation is crucial when it comes to selling a business.

Nobody expects a first-time vendor to know exactly how the deals process will play out. This is why it’s critical to choose the right advisor to run the process, ensure that the business has identified all the data that a purchaser will expect to see, answered the questions they will expect to be answered  and to help ensure that data is of sufficient quality to go through a due diligence process.

Make no mistake, the due diligence process is tough. There will be financial, taxation and legal due diligence as standard, but dependent upon the nature of the business a purchaser may wish to carry out commercial, environment, operational, IT or HR due diligence, to name but a few. Without support, this places an enormous burden on a business’ management team who of course also have ‘business as usual’ to occupy their day.

With Brexit looming, there is a greater focus than ever on contingency planning. Buyers want to understand whether their target business has a contingency plan in place to deal with any fall-out from the UK’s exit from the EU particularly in respect of potential disruption to the supply chain. This is something that has been occupying our more operationally-focused colleagues on recent transactions.

That's not to say that vendors aren't getting a good deal - quite the opposite; there is a huge level of demand for high quality assets from various different sources:

  • UK corporates in certain sectors are finding organic growth more challenging than in the past and have access to cheap debt;
  • Overseas corporates still view the UK market as an attractive long term proposition and see the opportunity to benefit from the current weakness in Sterling; and
  • With interest rates having remained at record low levels, investors are looking to private equity (PE) funds. As such, PE has more capital to deploy than ever before and is under pressure from investors to get that capital invested.

Where we are seeing processes fail is where assets are rushed to market with a low level of preparation. If a buyer is not afforded enough time to clearly articulate the strategic rationale and get sponsorship within their own organisation, or if they cannot get the data they need to get comfortable with the risks in a business, then they will naturally need to discount the amount they are prepared to pay for that business. And that is often not acceptable to a vendor who has a differing view on prevalent risks.

Planning for a purchase: After the deal

Many corporates are not experienced in conducting M&A activity, and why should they be? It isn’t what they do day-to-day and it isn’t a core competency in delivering the great results they have been delivering and which have put them in a position to consider making an acquisition in the first place.

Whilst an M&A process is hard work on both sides, the hard work for a purchaser does not stop at the point the transaction is signed, there is then the whole process of integrating the new business and workforce into the parent organisation.

It is a surprising fact that two in three corporate acquisitions are value dilutive, with a lack of planning for post-transaction integration as a key factor in the failure to realise expected synergy benefits.

Purchasers should thoroughly consider and challenge themselves in respect of the synergy benefits they expect to achieve - are they realistic or aspirational? How are they going to be realised and what are the key dependencies? Is a plan in place to ensure that the culture of the target and parent businesses will be aligned and that everyone will be pulling in the same direction?

As ever, planning is key and this planning would ideally be done before a transaction to ensure that a purchaser is ready to kick on from day one.

Planning for success

Businesses today are under more pressure than ever to deliver better results for stakeholders. Whether you’re buying, selling, funding, fixing or integrating a company, the process can be complex and risky, and without the right strategy, support and insight, the deal can collapse. So that both sides get the maximum value out of the transaction, buyers should think like sellers, and sellers like buyers. As corporate finance and transaction services experts, we'll be here the entire time to take you every step of the way to reach a successful outcome.

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This is the second of a series of articles from the Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, focussing on contemporary issues for local businesses.

Posted by Liverpool John Moores University

Mon 14th, Jan

The fears and concerns of Brexit have extended well beyond the United Kingdom’s borders, ringing alarm bells across governments and industry representatives. Europe’s wine industry, particularly French, Italian and Spanish wineries, have traditionally looked to the United Kingdom (UK) as an avid consumer. As the uncertainty continues however, they expect a significant impact on sales, raising the question as to where our wine come from post Brexit.

Three separate research studies conducted in 2017 among Italian and Spanish wineries provide preliminary clues around ways in which the industry perceives the impact of Brexit. The studies used data collected from over 450 different stakeholders in the wine industry drawn from Spain and Italy, identifying some interesting patterns.

Between 50% to 65% of participants expressed concerns relating to legal, economic and political issues and their future ability to trade with the UK, with 10% of participants already experiencing changing behaviours among importers, including discontinuing or significantly reducing imports. 15% had noted a drop in purchases due to currency fluctuations which had had a significant impact on prices.   

In response, winery operators are starting to look elsewhere and more specifically into the global marketplace. Despite the ever-crowded and competitive global wine market, there was a clear shift towards committing time and resources to either enter or increase activity in other growth markets. Interestingly this was also driving up quality as producers make investments in areas including vineyard management and equipment, grape selection and their promotion and marketing. In addition, there was also an increasing focus on small, high-end consumer markets. Amidst the uncertainty therefore, the focus seems to be on improving their products and investing in both tangible and intangible assets.

For around 20% of winery operators, the potential of one door closing creates opportunities that demand flexibility, creativity, resilience, and innovation. The importance of diversification, broadening operations and addressing logistical considerations emerged as the most sensible business philosophy to adopt in order to address the challenges of Brexit as well as other market trends. This includes more investment in foreign language skills and updating their marketing techniques to include online communications, to enable them to raise their profile to a wider group of potential consumers.

Interestingly 35% of the participants felt relatively secure either because they already had an established reputation, an agile distribution and supply chain network, or had concentrated on niche markets that were prepared to pay for high-end, high-quality products which appear to be least vulnerable to Brexit.

Uncertainties around Brexit rumble on but it is clear in this sector that one way to address this is through investing and diversifying operations to become more flexible and adaptable to change as well as focusing on quality. What does this mean for wine drinkers? Hopefully, more choices of top quality wine to pick from!

 

This is the second of a series of articles from the Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, focussing on contemporary issues for local businesses. This comparative study provided practical insights to winery owners and managers, informing them of impacts to be expected from Brexit, as well as ways in which adaptiveness and resilience could be built to address this phenomenon.

The research team, Dr Abel D. Alonso, Dr Seng Kok, and Dr Seamus O’Brien, have completed a range of projects nationally and internationally (Western Europe, Oceania, Latin America) since 2006. Their research predominantly focuses on family, micro and small businesses in the areas of international business, innovation, socioeconomic development, and sustainability. For more information contact: a.alonso@ljmu.ac.uk

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Corporate solicitor James Pressley from Kirwans law firm looks at the key points to consider when thinking about selling your business.

Posted by James Pressley

Associate Solicitor, Kirwans

Mon 14th, Jan

You’ve shed blood, sweat and tears building up your business from scratch. But now, after what may well have been a long and painful decision-making process, you’ve decided to sell.

 So far so good – now the hard part really begins. Because long before you try and generate interest in the business, there are a number of important steps you might want to take . . .

1. Think about the best time to sell

Whether your reasons for selling are personal or business-related, choosing the right time to sell is crucial. Sellers can plan their exit strategy for up to several years before they actually put their business on the market, giving them time to make it as attractive as possible. If time is on your side, then you might want to avoid selling at a time of economic uncertainty. If you need a quick sale, however, make having a clear set of accurate and easy-to-understand financials your priority.

2. Structure for tax efficiency

If you have grown the value of your business, it is likely you will have to pay tax when you sell it. Your accountant or tax adviser can help you structure your business to minimise the amount of tax you will have to pay on a sale, but you need to do this before you start the sale process. There are also different ways to sell your business depending on the legal method used.  Most people selling a business will want to sell shares in their company, which is usually more tax efficient

3. Prepare sale documents early on

As far as buyers are concerned, clear financial documentation is key, so take as much time as is necessary to collate all the information you need. In particular, you’ll need to have the following documents to hand:

  •       Company reports;
  •       Last annual return;
  •       Profit forecasts;
  •       Key customer and supplier agreements;
  •       Details of business rates;
  •       Asset valuations;
  •       Property lease agreements;
  •       Insurance property;
  •       Employee contracts;
  •       Details of creditors and debtors.

Above all, ensure you have at least three years of trading accounts for any potential buyer to review. Having a detailed set of accounts demonstrates to the buyer that you’re organised and professional, and will also reduce due diligence time.

4. Don’t overvalue your business

Most sectors are familiar with the Earnings Multiples formula of valuation, multiplying the business’s annual earnings to value its worth, so the first step would be to find out what the multiple is for your sector in order to understand the sorts of figures you could be looking at. Comparing the prices of similar businesses listed on sites such as BusinessesForSale.com could also prove helpful. For a true picture of your business’s real value however, you’ll probably need to call in the professionals, such as an accountant. Ultimately, your business is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

5. Ensure you’re not breaching your employees’ legal rights

Once you decide to sell your business, you’ll need to make sure you comply with employment law. If you are selling shares in your company, the position is a lot more simple, and your main concern will be the most sympathetic way to break the news to your employees. If you are selling your business (i.e. not selling shares in your company) then a law known as TUPE applies. TUPE means that all your employees will transfer to the buyer with your business.  There are complicated rules about when to tell your employees, needing to consult with your employees and what employee information you need to give your purchaser. Checking early with your legal adviser is essential to avoid unrest and the risk of legal action from your staff.

6. Check for loose ends that need tying up

If your business has grown quickly, the legal ownership of many of your assets may not be in the right place. A classic example is a company whose domain name is still listed as being in the personal name of its owner.  Another frequent problem is assets which tend to be on hire purchase or leasing schemes, such as vehicles or photocopiers. Check they are listed in the legally correct name and also check that you have not personally guaranteed payments on them without realising.

7. Consider the methods of marketing the business

Decide how you want to go about finding a buyer for your business, and whether you’re more comfortable using a broker or an online marketplace such as BusinessesForSale.com. If you’re listing it online, you’ll need to think about the sort of wording you’ll use to describe your business in order to make it attractive to the kinds of buyers you want to reach. If you are using a broker, there may be a broker who specialises in your area of business or, if not, you need to choose the broker most likely to reach your ideal buyer. You should also be aware that once you have signed up with a broker they will normally expect to take a percentage even if you found the buyer yourself, so check their terms and conditions.

8. Review your contracts

Whether it’s employee contracts that include restrictive covenants, supplier terms and conditions, or client contracts regarding the sale of goods or services, all contracts need to be watertight to reassure any interested parties that staff and clients aren’t going to just walk away once the business is sold. Appoint a legal expert to look over your current contracts and ensure there are no potential issues that could cause problems further down the line.

9. Consider your intellectual property

Many business owners don’t realise how much intellectual property they have or who owns it. For example, the copyright in your website might be legally owned by the person who built it. The same applies if you have a logo. If you own a trademark, you need to make sure it is properly registered and up to date. Perhaps most important since the GDPR came into force is your data; this is likely to be very important to your buyer and you may need your customers’ consent to transfer their data to your buyer. Check with your legal adviser to be sure.

10. Appoint a solicitor to draw up a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

The very nature of going through the sale process means that potential buyers will insist on being given access to commercially sensitive information. Therefore, anyone viewing company data should sign an NDA to protect that information from being disclosed or exploited by the buyer.

11. Flag up potential issues

While there is a natural tendency to try and hide any negative elements relating to the business, it is vital to disclose anything that could pose a legal risk to the buyer if they complete the sale. As part of the sale process, it is very likely you will be asked to sign warranties (legal promises) that everything you have told the buyer about the business is true, accurate and not misleading, which could lead to legal liabilities. Employment disputes or any ongoing legal issues should be flagged up and explained as early as possible so the buyer understands exactly what they are taking on. 

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Wayne Blair – Senior Project Manager at Kier Construction North West

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 11th, Jan

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Wayne Blair – Senior Project Manager – Kier Construction North West

I was born and raised in Liverpool and have spent most of my adult life in this wonderful city. I began my career in construction as a shipwright and over a 22-year time-span have worked my way from joiner to senior project manager at Kier Construction North West. I have had the privilege of managing multiple construction sites in the North West area. One of the most recent and extremely successful projects I have managed involved the construction of £19.4m ParkLife football pitches in four separate locations across Liverpool. Kier Construction North West delivers construction projects in the range of £500K to £50m. The organisation has a strong construction presence in the North West region of England with key construction sites in Liverpool, North Wales and Manchester. Kier specialise and deliver projects in the health, education, residential, leisure, commercial, defence and retail sectors.

What Developments and Changes have you seen in the Construction Industry?

I have seen incredible improvements in the construction industry not only in build methods but also the usage of computers and communication.

Construction is all about team work and I work with some very intelligent professionals with excellent skills not just at the construction phase but with the planning, processing and sequencing the project so that we can deliver award winning schemes such as Chester Storyhouse Theatre and Merseygateway. The conditions and salary have improved and is now comparable with many other professional careers.

 What does a typical working day look like?

I don’t think I have a typical day which is why I enjoy construction so much. It is varied from practical actions such as hanging radiators to problem solving on site. I am constantly looking to improve the way myself and the team work, I like to identify opportunities of how Kier can support the community and how my skills set and knowledge can help. This is why I enjoy working with the client and my colleagues to deliver schemes which make such a positive impact in the region.

I enjoy supporting and developing people coming into construction new to the industry and I am thrilled to see that many of these students are now running their own sites and projects.

Where would we find you on your day off?

I don’t really stop, I am currently renovating my own “Blair Manor” so my joinery skills are always being used and I am also helping to build a timber framed extension to a listed building. I would love to do some more travelling and planning to visit the children in Chernobyl who we had the pleasure of supporting their visit to the UK with a fun football day at Jericho Lane Football Ground and maybe even speak in their language through some e learning.

I enjoy spending time with the family and walking in the countryside with my dog.  

Why construction?

I am a scouse man from the south end Liverpool. I attended Shorefield School and had a fantastic time growing up in the city so never had an urge to leave. I used to play football at Jericho and it’s great to be involved with is redevelopment and to see a large increase in positive projects and jobs around the city. I was involved with some very interesting refurbishment projects in Liverpool in my early years inkling one of my first jobs on a TYS scheme. When working as a shipwright I had the privilege of making a timber mast (using the traditional method), which is still flying the flag in the Albert Dock and is a replica of the one already installed facing the Liver Building from the early 80’s.

For me, construction has offered a varied career with many challenges and pressures that have made me a stronger person and manager. There is nothing more powerful that seeing a “finished product” that you have played a key part in developing. This might vary from constructing a large multi-storey building, to building a playground for the local children to play. Construction is also a very rewarding job that enables me to partake in charitable community work and have an extremely positive impact on the local people in the region.

Wayne was shortlisted for our Local hero award at our Annual Dinner and Awards 2018.

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Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 11th, Jan

I often feel that January is a contradictory month. As the strains of Auld Lang Syne fade away for another year, the nostalgia for the year gone by is replaced by a collective urge to improve our waistlines and make and break our annual resolutions.

Many will be glad to see the back of 2018, particularly the Prime Minister I suspect, but 2019 certainly hasn’t offered much comfort so far and we are no closer to knowing what the business environment will look like post 29 March.

The uncertainties created by Brexit aside however, 2018 was a year for transformation and growth for both the Chamber as well as many of our members and we are looking forward to building on that progress and reflecting that optimism in 2019.

For the Chamber that includes the expansion of the local Hubs which now include South Liverpool and the Baltic Triangle with new Hubs planned for North Liverpool and Sefton in 2019. They will host activities throughout 2019 incorporating events, seminars, workshops and networking opportunities for local businesses.

Working with members will continue to be key to delivering the Hubs as well as other initiatives like the International Trade Club, quarterly Economic Breakfast Briefings and round table events with public and private partners, focussing on national and local issues which impact on our business community.

Expanding our engagement with local education providers at all levels will also be core to Chamber activities in 2019, particularly to identify how employers and providers can collaborate more effectively to make a real impact on the skills agenda which continues to be a major concern for employers of all sizes and across a range of sectors.

Central to all the Chamber’s objectives however is having a real understanding of what is important to members and I am delighted that the Business Policy Committee, chaired by Alison Lobb, Managing Partner at Morecrofts, will meet for the first time on 16 January. The Committee will provide a forum through which members can communicate with the Board and the Executive, to enable the Chamber to provide a truly representative voice of business to inform and influence both local and national policy makers.

If you would like more information on how Liverpool & Sefton Chamber can support your business priorities for 2019 or you would like to be more actively engaged in Chamber activities please contact membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Posted by The PC Support Group

Thu 10th, Jan

How many bosses get told “sorry, you are still in contract” when querying their telecoms supplier. But are you really and do you have any options to get out of it?

If you are not sure whether you are in contract or not with your telecoms supplier, or you’d like some tips to help protect yourself before signing any new deals – this article will help.

There is an onus on the telecoms supplier to prove the contract end dates. Just because the system says so does not mean it is correct. There could be data entry errors, or it could be deliberately misleading you. Reasonable proof would be a call recording or a copy of the original signed document or e-contract.

If your telecoms supplier refuses to provide that then it probably has something to hide.

There are a number of rules laid down by Ofcom to protect consumers and businesses with less than ten employees. The protection bans automatic rollover of contracts and provides the customer the ability to cancel contracts because of price rises and/or failures to offer promised broadband speeds.

But some suppliers will try to find ways round these rules. On automatic rollovers some contracts say “tick this box to keep tariffs after contract end date”. There is no mention that by ticking this box you are agreeing to an automatic renewal. But that’s exactly what you are doing – you are renewing for that same term again. Effectively the telecoms supplier is getting you to waive your rights by ticking the box.

Others obscure price rises by only publishing it on the website or hiding it in the small print on invoices. Ofcom has ruled that you can opt out of a contract if the price rises – as long as you give notice within 30 days of being told. Therefore, if you miss the notification you miss the chance to cancel.

There are other some other tricks to watch out for including:

– Automatically restarting your contract if you change or add something;

– Adding new services that have their own contract so end dates never align, meaning cancellation is almost impossible as you’ll never be out of contract on all your services at the same time;

– Having different terms for each element of the contract. For example, having calls for two years and in small print the lines are for five years;

– Changing the Terms and Conditions – but only stating this on the website;

– False inducements to purchase – for example ‘we promise to save you money’ but when you get your invoices there is no saving.

Also, check your notice period. There can be great variations from 30 days to six months. Although rare, it has been known that some companies have required up to 3 years. And look at the penalties you may have to pay if you cancel early. If the company has given you a free installation in return for a three-year contract and you cancel after one year, then it is perfectly reasonable to ask you pay for the installation. Again, small businesses are protected by Ofcom rules on the calculation of penalties but often telecoms suppliers rely on customers’ ignorance and ignore this rule. So how can you protect yourself and reduce the risks?

1) Check if the supplier is signed up to the telecoms ombudsman as that offers free binding arbitration to consumers and small businesses if there is a dispute.

2) Send an email listing your understanding of contracts and ask them to confirm that in a conflict between their T&Cs and the email – the email takes precedence and only on that basis are you accepting contract. Within the email you could include:

– Contract duration and notice period;

– That prices are fixed for duration – any changes give you freedom to cancel without penalty whenever it is spotted;

– Only the charges specified in the contract may be levied – this stop hidden costs such as call set up fees and likewise any changes in T&Cs;

– Repeat any claims made (e.g. you will save money) and state that they are a condition of the contract and if they fail to meet these then the contract is null and void;

– The contract will not rollover at the end of the term without your explicit prior consent.

How many people have ever compared their bill to the prices in the contract? The longer you are asked to commit for the contract the more closely you should read the small print. Some suppliers promise to pay any penalties you may incur by switching but then fail to follow through. If you are offered this incentive, do make sure you get it in writing. State clearly that any failure to do so will make your contract with them null and void.

In conclusion, it is fair to say many of these points could apply to a range of services, not just telecoms, but a telecoms supplier is guilty of often seeking to bamboozle customers with jargon. It relies on people not spotting things, and then being unwilling to challenge. And for those who do challenge – then the supplier will draw out the process for as long as possible. So, be aware of what you are signing up to, what your rights are, keep an eye on your bills and be ready to challenge your supplier if you spot any changes, inconsistencies, or failures.

If you would like some more information about telecoms or IT managed services, please contact The PC Support Group on 03300 886 116, leave us a message here and we’ll get back in touch with you or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

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Posted by The PC Support Group

Fri 04th, Jan

Don’t you think it’s amazing that today’s copper telephone lines in premises are the same as 150 years ago?

But all good things come to an end sometime, I guess. And that sometime is now! Big changes are gathering pace as the telecoms industry ditches its expensive and unwieldy legacy infrastructure to take full advantage of the tremendous benefits of cloud-based telephony or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Have you heard that in 2020 BT will begin phasing out its old-style landlines and will then switch them off altogether in 2025? I was explaining this to one of our clients the other day and the reaction was “that’s OK, we’ve got plenty of time then”. Wrong.

The thing is, in business planning terms, 2020 is just around the corner. So, if you’re one of the millions of UK organisations still using ISDN, for example, believe me, now’s the time to make the move to the cloud.

Because even without the news from BT, the advantages of VoIP telephony are so game-changing for SMEs that it’s a no-brainer! VoIP allows you to make voice and video calls anywhere in the world, from any device – all you need is an internet connection.

Cloud-based telephony will transform your business communications. With VoIP you’ll get:

  • significant reductions in business phone line and contract bills
  • next generation technology that’s simple to transition to and easy to use and maintain
  • flexibility to use your own devices, keep the same number across all devices, add and remove users at speed and work from any location
  • access to the latest versions, updates and mobile working features
  • integration with your other business systems
  • a great phone system to boost productivity and agility, without ANY capital investment

Here at The PC Support Group, we’re often struck by how many people are nervous about making the move – and we’re always pleased to be able to put their minds at rest. There’s really nothing to lose and everything to gain.  The only things you need to do is check your current contract (don’t accidentally fall into renewal) and then find a qualified supplier with VoIP experience.  We would strongly recommend one that doesn’t tie you in for any length of time so you can easily change if your provider doesn’t deliver the service you need.

We deal with many of our clients’ combined IT and telephony needs so if you’d like to discuss your options, the benefits you can expect, and how we can help you to make it happen, call us on 03300 886116, leave us a message here or email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com for an informal and confidential chat.

The PC Support Group

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Jake Mills, Founder and CEO of Chasing the Stigma

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 14th, Dec

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

There needs to be a drastic change in the way mental health services work to make it as easy as possible to find and access mental health support. There are thousands of amazing services across the country offering life saving support, yet almost three quarters of people who died by suicide in the last year were not known to mental health services or had not been seen in more than a year. That's simply not good enough. If the threshold of NHS services are so high that people have to sit on a waiting list for up to 18 months, then we need to do something about it. We want people to stop working in silos. We want new ways of working and new methods of support with a focus on early intervention. That's what we are trying to address at Chasing the Stigma with the Hub of Hope, which recently won the Chamber’s Technology and Digital Award along with our technical advisors, Mashbo. We want to remove barriers and make help as easy as possible to find.

What does a typical working day look like?

The best thing about my job is that there isn't a typical working day. Most days are filled with meetings with people either offering mental health services, or people who want to do more to offer mental health support, whether in the workplace or in the community. I love being able to listen and learn from people and I’m always filled with confidence that there are so many good people around.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Given that I attempted to take my own life five years ago, you would expect the only answer to be ‘speak to someone, seek help, be honest, stop hiding, stop pretending, you are not alone’. Of course there is that, but as bad as my experience might have been and as close as it came to all being over, it has lead me to where I am today. I am stronger now and I am able to help prevent others feeling the same. I'd probably advise myself against some of the haircuts though. And the white shoes.

Where would we find you on your day off?

On a what? In all honesty, if I was a wanted man, the hunt wouldn't last long as they'd only have to go to One Fine Day on Old Hall Street to find me.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

As a comedian it was that you can't please everyone. That sometimes you just won't be somebody’s cup of tea. That’s not your fault and it's not theirs either. I think that can apply to quite a few  other parts of life. Sometimes you just don't click and that's ok.

How do you make time for self care?

I've learnt recently just how important self care is and just how little people running businesses actual put it into practice. You have to have a cut off. Not only for your own wellbeing but for the sake of your work too. I'm an Everton season ticket holder so the match has always been part of that self care - happy and celebrating or being angry and shouting, it can work both ways!

Who or what inspires you?

Without making people cringe, it’s my wife and son. They drive me on. They're the reason I am here and the reason I work so hard, because I want to be a success for them. It can be hard being away from them, leaving early for meetings or finishing late, but that's why I take self care and time off so seriously now.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

When people around the country ask how and why we have been able to achieve what we have at Chasing the Stigma in such a short time, despite relying so heavily on public donations, I tell them that we are from Liverpool and people from Liverpool are doers. We’re not talkers, we just get on with it. LCR is a region of doers. We get things done.

If you or a friend, loved one or colleague needs help, visit www.hubofhope.co.uk

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Posted by Helen Roughley

Marketing Manager at The PC Support Group, a multi-award-winning IT support and telephony provider.

Fri 14th, Dec

It is no secret that the tech industry is very much a man’s world.

In 2017, only 17% of employees in the UK tech sector were female which proves there is still lots to do to encourage women into the sector.  Even the best tech organisations are struggling to close the gender gap when it comes to finding appropriately skilled candidates which include Millennials (young person reaching adulthood around the year 2000) and Generation Z (the next generation after Millennials) females, who are our first generation of digital natives.  The truth is, while retention is an issue, there are simply fewer women opting for a career in tech.

In particular, one of the biggest headaches for tech leaders today is finding app developers as organisations everywhere are developing their own apps to meet the needs and demands of their audiences as well as to keep ahead of their competition.

According to Elizabeth Gooch, founder and CEO of eg solutions, who pioneered the back-office workforce optimisation market, there are three barriers for girls and women entering the technology sector:

  • Gender stereotyping – there is still a perception in schools that boys are better at science and maths and consequently, young girls are put off STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects
  • Lack of awareness of careers and role models within the IT sector
  • It’s geeky image

Encouraging a passion for STEM subjects in women, and an interest in technology, will have a positive impact on the continued growth and prosperity of the tech sector.  Not to mention, the benefit of having a more inclusive working environment.  Every piece of research done on diversity in teams demonstrates they outperform and out innovate homogenous teams hands down.  The benefits will be an increased female talent pool in the tech sector which will be more representable of the female population.

Research conducted by Debut, a student and graduate careers app, reveals that the UK education system needs to educate females on the positives of entering the STEM industry; and the variety of roles there are out there – whether its video games, programme or app developers, digital marketing or coding as well as many more.  By targeting the younger generation, educators and tech companies are creating a new workforce of successful tech executives that will change the perception of the industry.  Perhaps a reminder of the inspirational women in tech throughout history would also not go a miss.

Capability is not the issue, rather, it seems that external factors play a bigger role in dissuading women from opting for science-related careers.

The media certainly hasn’t helped encourage females to pursue careers in STEM-related fields with popular sitcoms such as Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd – which has gone on to have 4 series and became a cult television series; where geeky techies are pre-dominantly IT coders.

On a positive note, there are a great number of organisations that aim to get young girls into computer science and engineering and interestingly, the NHS is Britain’s biggest STEM recruiter, according to Indeed.

Careers in the technology industry represent some of the fastest-paced, most interesting, and best-paying careers available. Further – these roles know no boundaries and can be done in any country.

There truly is something for everyone in tech.

Article by Helen Roughley, marketing manager at The PC Support Group, a multi-award-winning IT support and telephony provider.  To find out more visit www.pcsupportgroup.com, call them 03300 886 116 or leave a message here and someone will call you back.

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Robbie Spear, Specialist Insurance Manager at Novo Incident Management

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Mon 10th, Dec

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Robbie Spear, I’m part of the Management team at Novo. We specialise in incident management and insurance broking for electric and prestige/performance vehicles, as well as personal insurances for High Net Worth individuals. We offer a unique and exclusive insurance policy for Teslas and we currently insure more of these vehicles than any other insurance broker in the UK. We’ve been trading now for a little over 12 months and recognition of our services and subsequent growth has been rapid – our workforce has grown from four to eleven in the same period and in the summer, we signed a five year lease on new premises at Princes Dock.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

Wider and swifter adoption of technology, such as apps, ‘click & buy’ and internet hosted pricing (this allows insurers to change their pricing almost immediately based on changes in certain risk factors)

What does a typical working day look like?

There’s no such thing!

What advice would you give your teenage self?

You can never please everyone, so stop trying to. Oh, and buy property!

Where would we find you on your day off?

Ideally, on the golf course

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

Always follow up on your promises – if you say you’re going to do something, do it.

Who is your role model in business?

Ricardo Semler – a Brazilian businessman & entrepreneur. His story is too long to tell here; Google him!

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

We’re from the region, we’re proud of that fact and we’re passionate about it. You can feel that the City region is buzzing and business is getting done here. The world is a much smaller place than it was even 15 years ago, we can conduct business with the world from our home city, what could be better?!?

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Will we still be saying “Cheers” after Brexit?

Mon 14th, Jan

This is the second of a series of articles from the Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, focussing on contemporary issues for local businesses.

How to prepare your business for sale

Mon 14th, Jan

Corporate solicitor James Pressley from Kirwans law firm looks at the key points to consider when thinking about selling your business.

5 minutes with...

Fri 11th, Jan

Wayne Blair – Senior Project Manager at Kier Construction North West

5 minutes with...

Fri 14th, Dec

Jake Mills, Founder and CEO of Chasing the Stigma

WoMEN in Tech

Fri 14th, Dec

5 minutes with...

Mon 10th, Dec

Robbie Spear, Specialist Insurance Manager at Novo Incident Management