101 Days: new apprentice campaign launched for North Devon

The North Devon Employment and Skills Board has launched 101 Days, its 2012 campaign to boost apprenticeships. Last year it created 126 apprenticeship positions and it aims to repeat this over the next 101 Days.

Read details of the campaign at northdevonplus.com/101 or follow it week by week in the North Devon Journal.

There will also be an employer event and a young people’s event and COMBEbusiness will be focusing on apprentices and youth employment at our 1 February event, focusing on Combe Marin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.


Kickstart: What is your focus?

The period after Christmas can be a difficult time in business. Depending on your sector, business could be slack or perhaps the state of the economy is resulting in lower spending by customers. And then the dull weather and short days don’t help motivation.

If you have spare time, it’s the ideal opportunity to focus on some of those things you’ve planned for your business but never got round to doing. But do you find it difficult to get started?

If you need some motivation . . . and who doesn’t occasionally . . . it can be good to talk about what you want to do with colleagues, associates or anyone else you trust. Often, other people are experiencing the same difficulty and it is surprising how sharing this can actually kickstart us into doing something.

That’s why networking, getting out and about, and talking with other people can be a useful catalyst.

And if you are motivated? How about helping those who could do with a nudge? It often only takes a few words.

Time is valuable so it’s a shame to waste it when we aren’t very busy.

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Kickstart: Are you making a profit?

Do you know how much profit you are making? Do you know how many sales you need to make a profit?

Sometimes people are so busy keeping businesses going that they can’t calculate whether they are making a profit. Generating enough cash flow to pay bills is not the same as profit.

If you know what your costs are and what you charge for you products or services, you can start to figure out how profitable your business is. You can also set targets and see whether you are meeting them.

Monitoring your costs and revenue lets you know exactly how your business is performing at any time. It will tell you whether you are meeting your sales targets or whether you need to sell more. It will give you far more control of your business.

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Last call for exhibition best practice programme

North Devon+ is offering a three-workshop programme to help businesses get the best out of exhibiting at exhibitions.

  • 1. Preparing for an exhibition Wednesday 18 January 2012 – Caddsdown, Bideford, 10am – 4pm
  • 2. Field Trip – Birmingham NEC Spring Fair – Tuesday 7 February 2012 by coach
  • 3. Exhibition best practice – next steps – Tuesday 14 February 2012 Caddsdown 10am – 4pm

Cost: £50 per person for the three workshops. Refundable for Business Buddies clients.

Places must be booked by 20 January – see northdevonplus.com for details and to book.

Kickstart: Improve your cash flow by getting paid

Do customers owe you money? Do you chase late payers up?

Often people don’t like asking for money and leave it a long time before asking for overdue payments. Sometimes this can be too late and the customer cannot pay. What do you do if you have completed work for them or supplied them with goods? How will you recover your losses if you are out of pocket?

Could revising your payment terms improve your cash flow? If your payment terms are 30 days, you could shorten these 14 or 7. Perhaps you could ask for payment up front. After all, we pay for goods in a shop before taking them home with us.

What if a customer cannot pay you? Offering them payment by instalment is one option. They could be really embarrassed and sorry about their situation. This could offer them a lifeline and at the same time get you the money you are owed. If their situation improves, your help could turn them into the most loyal and profitable customer you ever have.

Whatever you do, do keep customers advised of their accounts. Send statements regularly: if someone is in difficulty, they are less likely to pay unless you ask them.

Communication is vital and could make the difference between getting paid and making a loss.

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Could Somerset County coastal bus withdrawal damage South West tourism?

Somerset County Council is currently consulting on proposals to withdraw funding for certain bus services. Included is the proposal to withdraw all funding for the daily 300 service between Minehead and Lynton.

Apart from the implications on communities, what impact will this have on business? Will this disrupt the plans of visitors looking to travel along the coastal route from Cornwall across North Devon into Somerset and vice versa? Will this impact on visitor numbers to specific coastal towns?

You can comment on the proposals on the Somerset County Council web site.

You can find the full list of proposed withdrawals of funding to bus services here.

This has been drawn to COMBEbusiness’ attention by a business in Lynton.

Stalls and hair salon available in Ilfracombe Indoor Market

COMBEbusiness member Ilfracombe Indoor Market welcomes more stallholders to help establish this new addition to the town.

Stalls are available from Monday to Saturday on a daily or weekly basis in the market located in the High Street, Ilfracombe, North Devon.

The market has its own hair salon, also now available to rent. The salon is equipped and ready for a business-minded manager who could perhaps rent a chair to another hair stylist and there is an opportunity to bring in a nail technician.

Manager Kate Helyer is developing cross-promotional ideas for whoever takes on the salon to help build up clientele and there are no business overheads to worry about.

For more details contact Kate on 07843 295803.

Kickstart: What are your scared of?

Is there anything that you are scared of doing in your business that is holding you back?

Lots of people are scared of lots of things in business. Some don’t like picking up the phone and making cold calls, some put off doing the accounts, some don’t like changing things even when they know they’re not working.

But often these fears stop us developing and from being more successful, more profitable, more prosperous.

If you have a fear and could get over it, would you be more successful? Can you address it yourself or can you find someone to help you overcome it?

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

£420 million fund available to kickstart stalled construction sites

Bids for the government’s £420 million Get Britain Building fund need to be submitted by midday on January 30.

The Homes and Communities Agency scheme can provide funds to unlock stalled sites with planning permission to support construction activity and provide new homes. It works by improving access to development finance faced by some housebuilders and enabling marginal sites to be developed by sharing risk.

The Get Britain Building fund is open to all private sector organisations which control land and can develop at least 25 homes on a stalled site by December 2014. It is not limited to smaller companies, although the HCA has tried to streamline the first stage of the application process to make it easier for all developers to access funding.

Find out how to bid for funds at homesandcommunities.co.uk/get-britain-building.