The 5 most useful things I learnt during my time at university, that I use running my own business.

That beautiful lady you see in the picture there is me. I like to toot my own horn, because if I don’t know how to show myself love, no one will know to follow suite haha.. I digress..

My name is Tanaka Adeyemo and I am the founder of Rudorwaishe Ltd which is named after my beautiful little girl (also in the picture). We provide tools to help families of the African diaspora teach the languages of their heritage to the younger generation. We currently have flashcards available in six African languages which you can check out on our site here, and I am working on adding more languages this year.

The business has a charitable side to it and donates 10% to a charity I will be involved in. My hope is that this will increase to 50% over time as we grow. The Charity I am currently working on building with two other women will focus on supporting orphaned and/or abandoned children in Zimbabwe particularly because of the AIDS pandemic. We have acquired 20 acres of land and we are gearing up to launch a massive fundraising campaign to build a large-scale orphanage on that land. It’s massive, it’s scary as anything but it’s all very important work.

My time at university seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. There are a few seeds that were planted while I was there that I now spend a lot of time nurturing and building into the work I do, and I wanted to share those with you all. There are 5 super useful things I learnt in university that I now make use in my day to day when it comes to my business and life in general. Of course, this is not everything I learnt but it’s what sticks out for me and I’m just going to run through them in no particular order…

1.Planning

As you can imagine this one is pretty important. I am a mother now so planning is something I do in my sleep but when it comes to business there needs to be a deeper level of planning that happens even prior to initiation. A business plan (although not always necessary) is something that I found can be useful in planning your business. I’m going to keep it real with you, I didn’t put a business plan together when it came to my business (and I still haven’t) but I planned ahead as much as I possibly could. I completed the research I needed in order to know whether or not my business was even viable. I then went ahead and looked at all aspects of my business in as much detail as I could at the time and put pen to paper, wrote down as much as I could about the marketing strategy, pricing model, start-up costs, design work etc – you get the drift. There will always be a lot you learn from just doing but planning is key to having a successful start to any business. You cannot jump in blind and expect to make a million pounds in your first year. Similarly, with the charity a lot of planning has been going on even prior to us setting up officially and has been so key in understanding exactly what we are about to dive into. It’s the reason I can say it’s a massive and also extremely scary project we are taking on!

2. Networking

Ever heard that saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” or even “your network is your net worth”? Yeah! That all starts in university (or way before for some people). There are so many people that I met in my time at university that I now work with, am close friends with and one that is Godfather to my daughter. Learning to network is so key and using university as your learning ground is something I would highly recommend. Build that networking muscle from early and regularly work on it because that will serve you so well when you leave university. I always saw myself as someone who was shy when I was at university. Talking to people wasn’t always something I found easy (still don’t), but I did and do push myself. Honestly speaking, if I were to redo my time in university this is definitely something I would do more of, so I 1000% encourage you to get out there (virtually for most at the moment of course) and get to ‘met’ a whole lot of different people however that may be.

3. Authenticity

There is no one that will ever be better at being you than you are! It is so important to remember to be yourself and do what feels right to you even in business. I have really learnt the importance of this during the time I have been running Rudorwaishe. People will do things differently and may seem to be more successful than you, but you have to ‘stay in your lane’ and remember what makes you, you. That will shine through in your business and in life. You will thrive a lot more because things will come naturally. Of course you can gain inspiration from a variety of sources but that does not mean you should copy and paste.

I always describe myself as someone who is HOT… Honest, Open, Transparent… and I constantly try to remind myself of this in all that I do. University can be very confusing and can be a place where you are still trying to find your feet and so it’s difficult to always be open and transparent (or at least I found it was). All I would say is, as long as you are being honest with yourself and those around you then that’s a good start. My advice? Learn about yourself and all the amazing (and not so amazing) things that make up who you are. This will serve you well in life after university, whether you decide to start your own business or not.

4. A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, simply put, is the belief that you can develop and improve your basic abilities through hard work, discipline, and dedication. Without it you do not put in the work you need to in order to progress and you remain stuck. Having a growth mindset means you are more likely to take risks and you welcome challenges as they are an opportunity to learn and develop. As a result, you are always trying new things, building new skills and experiencing a lot more due to not having that ‘fear of making mistakes’ that occurs when you have a fixed mindset.

I have not always had a growth mindset although it always ‘called out to me’ so to speak. Getting to where I am today in relation to my mindset has required (and still does require) me putting in a lot of work to change my thinking and be more ‘can do’ rather than ‘it’s not possible’. I used to be the one who would find every excuse not to do something all because of fear and it stopped me from going for the things I wanted. I decided to spend time developing myself because I wanted more. This all started for me in university when I met some amazing people who really showed me what a growth mindset was – without knowing they were doing so may I add – and how it can be a great benefit.

Your mindset is the difference between success and failure in anything. If you want to do better, then you must be better, and it all starts with your mind. Be Positive.


5. Mental Health Awareness

This is something that not a lot of people know about, but when I was in university I really struggled with my mental health. A lot of past trauma came back up while I was in university and I went through some really difficult moments for one reason or another. I went through so many emotions and drank a little bit too much (here’s me being honest, maybe a little too much) and so I turned to the services that Uni offered and saw a counsellor. I will tell you now, that was the most painful and annoying first experience of therapy but, it was there that I realised I suffered from depression and anxiety and there was a lot of mental health work I needed to do to get myself better.

Now being of African heritage, talking about mental health is not something that is common and used to be something of a taboo subject (still is in some communities), so there was a lot of learning I had to do around mental health.

I started my business during a pandemic, my husband was shot four months after I officially launched in a freak incident (he’s doing okay now thankfully), I had a mental breakdown, got myself back together and somehow still managed to keep the business going. Those seeds that were planted during my time at university with that counsellor, the relationships I cultivated through networking, the planning ahead that I did for my business which I learnt about in university, the mindset I have been working on since university, all of it served me so well in one of my most challenging moments in life and in business to date.

There is a lot that goes into starting up and running your own business. There is the theory that you get taught in your course which is what helps you get started and there is also the lived experience you get from your time at university that helps strengthen who you are as a person. All of it is part of your success story. So I guess what I am trying to say in a long winded way is, make the absolute most of your university experience however it may look at this moment and take every opportunity given to you! Utilise the university resources (heck, max them out if you have to) and get to know the people that can help you be great.

Putting that work in while you are at university will only serve you well in the future and it may not even be in the ways that you think.

One last thing from me.. I know the business name can be a bit of a tongue twister but it’s important to me that people learn it, it is my daughter’s Zimbabwean name after all. So check out the image and let that R in the middle just rrrroll off your tongue 😊!

Want to connect with me? Click any of the links below and say hey!

Instagram, Website, LinkedIn

Staffordshire Business School students making a positive impact with peer mentoring

Professor Vish Maheshwari, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School


Having a helping hand available as a friend, a peer or a fellow student who could provide guidance and advice or even act as a sounding board is critically important part of a student journey. This peer member may be a fellow student from within one’s own course or an interdisciplinary programme but perhaps studying at different level, mostly a year or two above. Although, operating within a formal mentoring scheme, such peers act in a very informal and casual manner and could be the first point of contact for students, outside of formal classroom and academic support, as they are able to share their own lived experiences. They are able to guide fellow peers on ‘what had worked and not for them’ in a practical manner that can be very helpful. It is credibly established logic where lived experiences are found to be most effective positive guide than some of the conceptual or prescribed advice.

Peer mentoring is not new but is still a novel approach in an education setting and has become an increasingly used practice amongst university students across many higher education institutions. The practice has led to some very positive impact on student experience generally, and more specifically in providing ‘scaffolding’ approach for many students in building their confidence, communication skills and becoming resilient. Peer mentoring also helps with students gaining self-belief and motivation to continue with studies and thrive as one progresses successfully through different stages of a university course.

Staffordshire Business School students are currently involved in a peer mentoring scheme, with student mentors trained and supported by academics, university’s guidance and careers teams. The peer mentoring is aimed at engaging students at all levels, helping with building self-confidence, communication and social skills, networks and more importantly meeting new people by making most of their university time. There is also an added benefit of exploring potential academic and career development opportunities a result. Positive impact of peers is noticeable, especially given the unprecedented circumstances and challenges, within higher education, due to the pandemic. The student engagement with host of activities, in addition to the academic sessions, has been remarkable.

For example, during Staffordshire Business School’s recently organised Creativity and Innovation week, involvement and participation from our students across all courses was remarkable. Alongside academics, peer mentors and student representatives played an important role in encouraging students across the school to participate with various activities planned during this week. As a result, throughout the week, students engaged actively with variety of skills development workshops, Microsoft, Google and LinkedIn learning led digital insights seminars and business engagement sessions. It was a pleasure to note that the lead taken by peers has rubbed off on positively amongst diverse fellow student groups. Additionally, a group of our final year students recently organised and successfully hosted a mid-year virtual ‘Celebrating Success Awards’ ceremony, in order to celebrate success where it has been most deserved amongst students. The awards were voted for and by students, with nominations put forward by fellow students and judged by Department/School student representatives, it was a very successful event that had excellent student body participation throughout.

Overall, peer mentors and mentees have demonstrated a real desire to step up and build a thriving community of students that is confident, resilient with a strong determination to become successful graduates.

Which to use: Quick Ratio or Current Ratio for Liquidity Measurement in business

Status

Mayowa AKINBOTE

Just as businesses are adapting to the shock of Brexit, the global pandemic presents another disruption to businesses. These two events have created huge uncertainty for most small businesses while some have benefited . The striving small businesses are revaluating their strengths with financial metrics to enhance their sustainability as the new markets are emerging. Financial metrics present small businesses with the opportunities to increase efficiency in their operations, liquidity, profitability and stability during uncertainty period. Some commentators argue that inadequate liquidity is the major reason small businesses collapse during the uncertainty period.

The quick ratio helps the business managers to evaluate their businesses financial liquidity. This informs the business managers of how current assets excluding inventories can be quickly converted to cash to meet their current liabilities. This ignores inventory because it is not easily converted to cash. Unlike the current ratio which considers inventory value, the quick ratio is generally viewed as the conservative evaluation of business liquidity as it’s based on the business most liquid assets. For instance, a business has current assets worth £40,000 of which inventory is £10,000, and £15,000 worth of current liabilities thus the business has a 2:1 quick ratio. This indicates that the business can afford to meet the short-term liabilities twice with the short-term assets.

Money

Businesses with a 1:1 or lower quick ratio could be at risk of becoming a going concern. Thus, small businesses with limited access to funds might fire sale their non-current assets to meet the current liabilities.

Many businesses have already closed due to Brexit and the global pandemic and it has been estimated that a further approximately, 98,000 small businesses might not survive the current pandemic. Thus, small business managers that are currently struggling to survive should pay attention to their financial metrics especially the quick ratio.

Unlike the quick ratio, many commentators argue that the current ratio cannot accurately evaluate some businesses short-term liquidity power. For instance, a retail business that targets seasonal customers will stock up inventory for the season. Thus, toward this period the current ratio rises and fall after the seasonal sales. Hence, the quick ratio would be best to evaluation the liquidity ability of such businesses as it ignores the inventory value.

However, other commentators argue that excluding the inventory value from the current assets could be an inefficient way of evaluating liquidity ability for some businesses. For instance, small business such as corner shops that a large percentage of their current assets are fast-moving inventory. Thus, excluding the inventory from the current asset would relatively inflate the current liability. Hence, the quick ratio will present an inaccurate picture of the business to cover their current liability with their most liquid assets.

In conclusion, business managers need to consider both the quick ratio and current ratio, especially during the uncertainty period. This would provide a more accurate measurement of their business ability to pay their short-term liabilities without being forced to fire sale their non-current asset.

Business managers need to ensure that the quick ratio and current ratio is not too excessive compared to other competitors in their sector as this could indicate poor control of working capital. This might suggest that the business is not turning over its inventory quickly enough or is carrying slow-moving or obsolete inventory and has poor credit control practices resulting in their customers delaying payments beyond the agreed terms.

STOP PRESS: We are now recruiting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March).

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Awareness and Corporate Social Responsibility

Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School


Almost never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National, International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade fortnight to National Bed month.

All of these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?

Firstly, all businesses have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company loyalty.

It is considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.

Image Source: www.growthbusiness.co.uk

For any business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees, customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive. However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR initiatives of which they are a part.

Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Improving labour policies
  • Participating in Fairtrade
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments

The growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping a company both internally and externally.


One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.

Another perspective is using “Awareness Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.

By adding context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst promoting their own healthy eating programme.

It’s not just about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.

From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.


Become a responsible leader of global business.

Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.

Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.

Major new development – The Goods Yard, Stoke on Trent

By Jon Fairburn

It’s really great to see a developer with a good reputation working for the first time in the city. Let’s hope this also encourages more developers to look at other sites in the city.

The plans will see the redevelopment of the Swift House site, which is owned by the council, transformed into The Goods Yard, with

  • 180 new homes,
  • a 150 bed hotel,
  • 25,000 sq ft of workspaces
  • 10,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space

Personally, I’m very happy that we will have have quality accommodation right next to the University for all the visitors, students and guests that work with us. People will be able to walk straight out of the train station drop their bags at the hotel and then join us on campus. This ties in well with a new project by Paul Barratt and Prof Ruth Swetnam on the 15 minute campus to encourage less carbon intensive travel.

The addition of new workspaces hopefully targeting start-ups, creatives and digital businesses may also be one way to help keep graduates in the area and ties in well with the development of the Enterprise Zone on College Road.

Capital & Centric, who featured heavily in the BBC Two series Manctopia, are one of the UK’s most creative and active developers. They have worked on several award-winning projects in the North West, particularly Manchester and Liverpool, but this is the first time they have come down as far ‘south’ as Stoke-on-Trent, so it’s a real coup for the city.

The plan will see the present building demolished but its secret vaulted basement, which historically served as a goods yard and interchange between the railway and the canal, will be reimagined and opened up to the public as a workspace and leisure venue – possibly a waterside restaurant/bar.

I remember visiting this a few years ago when the GIS team used to work in the building. Good example of a hidden gem of Stoke on Trent.
I remember visiting this a few years ago when the GIS team used to work in the building. Good example of a hidden gem of Stoke on Trent.

There will be a new outdoor public space that links The Goods Yard to the train station, canal and wider area, and there’s even an ambition to create a water-taxi to Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium just one mile away. Located next to Stoke-on-Trent train station, and on the doorstep of Staffordshire University, the Trent and Mersey Canal and the A500, the site is in an ideal location for commuters, students, visitors and businesses.

Waiting to be transformed
Waiting to be transformed

The current ugly exterior will not be missed

Digital impression of what the cite could look like when finished
Digital impression of what the site could look like when finished

So a promising start to 2021 and I can’t wait to see the project develop.

Jon Fairburn, Professor of Sustainable Development

You can follow me here on twitter @ProfJonFairburn

Innovation to survive and thrive Part 2

By Tanya Hemphill

Part 1 of Tanya’s article can be found here

STAGE TWO

Once you have used these initial basic filters to find the strongest ideas, the next stage is to use a more in-depth filter to make decisions on the remaining ideas. Day (2007) recommends using a risk matrix. The R-W-W matrix is based to three key questions:

  • Is it Real?
  • Can we Win?
  • Is it Worth doing?

This is expanded into the following set of questions:


Is it
real?

Is the market real?
Is there a need or desire
for the product?
Can the customer buy it?
Is the size of the
potential market
adequate?
Will the customer buy the
product?

Is the product real?
Is there a clear concept?
Can the product be made?
Will the final product satisfy
the market?

Can we
win?

Can the product be
competitive?

Does it have a competitive
advantage?
Can the advantage be
sustainable?
How will competitors
respond?

Can our company be
competitive?

Do we have superior
resources?
Do we have appropriate
management?
Can we understand and
respond to the market?

Is it worth doing?

Will the product be
profitable at an
acceptable risk?

Are forecasted returns
greater than costs?
Are the risks acceptable?

Does launching the product
make strategic sense?

Does the product fit our
overall growth strategy?
Will top management
support it?

STAGE THREE

Once a few viable marketing innovation ideas remain, the next stage is to consider the risks even further. This is where conducting a pre-mortem is a useful tool. This helps organisations identify the possible failures of a project before they happen and mitigate risk by pre-planning so that those failures don’t occur.

The following pre-mortem exercise has been adapted from Gray et al. (2010).

Activity
Step 1Imagine we are two years in the future.
Things have gone completely wrong.
What could have caused this? Generate a list of all the reassons failure occurred.

Step 2List all concerns and rank them to
deterimine priority
Step 3Address the 2 or 3 items of greatest
concern and list what actions you would
need to take to stop the issues
happening.

The list of risks and actions that need to be taken to mitigate the risk can be used as Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for an innovation or project launch.

Hopefully, this article has helped you think about the different types of innovation you can potentially pursue and how to evaluate the best route forward, using a systematic filtering process.

STOP PRESS -We are now recruting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March)

References

Day, G. (2007) Is it real? Can we win? Is it worth doing? Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio. [Online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2007/12/is-it-real-can-we-win-is-it-worth-doing-managing-risk-and-reward-in-an-innovation-portfolio (Accessed 11 February 2021).

Fisk, P. (2017). Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the World? Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Gower, L. (2015) The Innovation Workout. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Gray, D., Brown, S. & Macanufo, J. (2010) Game Storming: A Playbook for Inovators, Rulebreakers, an Changemakers. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Keeley, L., Pikkel, R., Quinn, B. and Walters, H. (2013). Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Free Small Business Leadership Programme – starts end of March

Supporting SME leaders to create resilience and manage uncertainty in 2021 and beyond

Access free ideas, guidance, peer & 121 support to help your business to manage the uncertainty of steering through the pandemic and impacts of Brexit for up to TWO leaders in your business.

Staffordshire Business School is supporting regional business by delivering free training in leadership and management to provide exactly what business needs most to build a resilient future.

This is cohort 5 of the SBLP and the positive impacts of previous cohorts are being felt across the region. Here is what Rhys from XP VR thought of the course

Why choose to be part of the Small Business Leadership Programme?
▪ Make your business more resilient
▪ Boost business performance and growth
▪ Create an innovative and agile organisation
▪ Recover from the impact of COVID-19
▪ Find solutions to the impact of Brexit
▪ Build leadership skills, confidence and effectiveness
▪ Plan for a solid future for your business
▪ Build lasting relationships with small business leaders
▪ Improve risk management and efficiency

When does the course start?
Tuesday the 30th March 2021 (1st webinar at 3pm)

If you would like to have a chat about the course then please email one of our experienced Entrepreneurs in Residence with your phone number and they will call you back,

Jane Pallister – Jane.Pallister@staffs.ac.uk
Emily Whitehead – emily@staffs.ac.uk
Jonathan Westlake – j.c.westlake@staffs.ac.uk

Here’s what another business thought of the course: Geoff Barton, General Manager of Canalside Farm in Great Haywood near Stafford said: “It’s allowed me to connect with other businesses, and I’ve learned much and managed to strengthen a few knowledge gaps and boost my handling of the business during these unique times.”

What’s involved?
Eligibility requirements
▪ Your business must be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England.
▪ Your business needs to employ between 5 and 249 people and have been operational for at least one year
▪ The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business with at least one person reporting directly to them.
▪ The participant must be able to commit to attending the full programme


Time commitment
The programme is designed to be manageable alongside full-time work and furloughed staff can join the programme.

Participants will attend 8×90- minute webinars across ten weeks, and complete up to 2 hours of independent development and peer-supported engagement per week.

Places are fully funded by the Government to support the resilience,
recovery and growth of SMEs during and after COVID-19. The programme
is completely free to attend but places are strictly limited.

Register Now
There are two ways to register.

  1. Email one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence as listed above and they
    will talk you through the process.
  2. Follow the simple instructions below (this takes 3 minutes) and we will
    be in touch:
    • Go to https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration/
    • Choose ‘West Midlands’ from the pink vertical menu on the left
    • Scroll through the list of centres until you find Staffordshire University
    (start date 30th march) & click register

PLEASE NOTE: Your business can send up to two eligible delegates to this programme and delegates can be furloughed. Please do one registration for each person.

Behind the Curtain – Organising The Staffordshire Business School Celebrating Success Awards 2021

On 28th January, myself (Ben Cooke), Lia Bover Armstrong and Cerys Chilton hosted the Celebrating Student Success awards for the Staffordshire University Business School. The event was a fun-packed, exciting evening which praised students for their outstanding efforts over the last year. The three of us thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to host the event and have decided to compile a short Q&A in order to offer “a glimpse behind the curtain”.

How did you work together as a team?

CC: This was our first time working together as a team and I felt we worked well. It was an amazing opportunity to develop skills and knowledge, by working with people I don’t normally work with. It also benefitted me learning where I fit in with different types of people’s work styles. In the beginning we managed to delegate roles amongst ourselves to help plan the event. Considering the short period of time to conduct the event, we successfully used each other’s previous experiences in the event industry to decide roles in planning the event. Working with people you don’t necessarily know is going to be a part of any industry, in particular events, being thrown into a challenging task has built my confidence in communication. Throughout the planning of the event, the role of Team Leader transferred to different individuals throughout the stages of the event, depending on factors that we had to consider and manage. For example, Ben managed a lot of the technological side of the event and Lia managed the communications via email. This opportunity gave us a real-life experience of the industry we all hope to go into, and I feel our joint appreciation for this motivated us all to succeed in the project.

What challenges did you face during the planning process?

LBA: Thankfully, there weren’t many challenges we had to face, but I think Ben and Cerys can agree with me that having to meet virtually and having a short amount of time to plan everything was a bit stressful, as getting information across is slower that if you were meeting face to face. However, it was a good way to learn how to work in a team with people you don’t usually work with; to see what it would be like to work in the events industry during these current times where you must work from home even if you are part of a team; and that there is always a solution for everything, even if that means getting out of your comfort zone.

What challenges did you face throughout the event and how did you deal with them?

BC: Being on the technical role, using a new software was challenging. It took a bit of playing around to get used to it, but with a bit of practice it became easy. I would say the challenge using StreamYard throughout the event would be changing from screen to screen to share content for the viewers. This task takes a lot of patience as the software might play up at certain times due to the pace you are trying to change the visuals at. In order for the viewer not to realise the delay, we used the private chat not visible to the attendees in order to inform Lia and Cerys that there was a technical issue and to keep the content rolling in order to fill any gaps. This was a useful tool as it appeared to the viewer as a seamless transition.

What went well?

CC: As previously mentioned, we worked well as team and we delegated roles efficiently according to our skills. On the night we worked well as a team, as well through the private chat box to ensure that everyone was okay. Where needed gaps were filled and any crisis were quickly solved, for example if there was a delay, me and Lia as hosts would continue to chat and talk to prevent awkward silences. The creative ideas we came up with for the awards ceremony such as the use of Mentimeter and a short acoustic performance from Mick Williams were a success, engaging with the audience. The use of StreamYard was also successful as we could see the engagement of the stream as we were hosting and could refer to the comments throughout the live stream.

How would you improve and what have you learnt from this?  

BC: If we were to host a similar event again, I would use a computer with two screens to change visuals over at a quicker pace. Due to being under lockdown restrictions, I only had the one screen available which caused a slight delay in proceedings to get the content on the stream. Despite this point I would possibly look down other routes of streaming software. StreamYard can be slightly limited in the content you can share on the screen, so further research into similar software would be a great idea.

What advice would you give to people hosting an online event?

LBA: Make the most of it and make sure you give yourselves enough time to plan it all. Enjoy every second of the whole process and just be positive and optimistic about it all. Get yourself out of your comfort zone, even if it feels scary at first, and don’t let it get to you if something doesn’t work straight away because it’s normal and even the biggest events out there have technical issues and learn from those experiences.

Innovation to Survive & Thrive: Part 1

By Tanya Hemphill, Senior Lecturer

Over the last few months we have been running a module on ‘Innovation, Value and Markets’ to over 70 Staffordshire business people, as part of our Small Business Leadership Programme.

During the workshops it was very clear that most small businesses have had to rethink their business model to adapt to massive shifts in consumer behaviour (and supply chains) because of Covid. The UK Government defines innovation as: The successful exploitation of new ideas. Innovation may involve an organisation’s:

  • Products and services
  • Processes (e.g. exploiting new technologies)
  • Business model (e.g. new income sources/ improved supply chain)

 Business Model Innovation

According to Fisk (2021) although there are an infinite number of potential business models some of the most common formats (applicable to nearly every type of business) are:

  • Advertising-based models. Services are free to users, whilst advertisers pay to engage with the audience attracted, e.g. Google, Facebook.
  • Razor-and-blades models. The facilitating item, like a razor, is sold cheaply, then accessories, like blades, at a premium, e.g. HP, Nespresso.
  • Added-value models. The facilitating item, like an iPad, is sold at a premium, then accessories, like apps, sold cheaply, e.g. Apple.
  • One-of-one models. The company donates a product to a charity, or person in need, for every product sold, e.g. Toms, Warby Parker.
  • Cashflow models. High volumes are generated at low margins, payments received quickly from customers, paid slowly to suppliers, e.g. Amazon, Dell.
  • Platform-based models. These bring buyers and suppliers together, typically charging both of them to connect and transact, e.g. Airbnb, Uber.
  • Subscription-based models. These charge a regular, e.g. monthly, fee for unlimited use of a product or service, e.g. Netflix, Zipcar.
  • Freemium models. These encourage trial or a basic level of usage for free, but charge for additional or premium options, e.g. Spotify, Fornite.
  • Direct to consumer models. Products which in the past would have been sold through intermediaries are sold direct, e.g. Allbirds, Casper.

 

10 Types of Innovation

If we want to expand the UK Government’s three categories of innovation, recent research has identified ten main types of innovation (Keeley et al., 2013):

  1. Profit Model: The way you make money (e.g. Netflix changed the video rental industry by implementing a subscription model)
  2. Network: Connections with others to create value (e.g. Target works with renowned designers to differentiate itself)
  3. Structure: Alignment of your talent assets (e.g. Whole Foods has built a robust feedback system for internal teams)
  4. Process: Signature of superior methods for doing your work (e.g. Zara’s ‘fast fashion’ strategy moves its clothing from sketch to shelf in record time)
  5. Product Performance: Distinguishing features and functionality (e.g. OXO Good Grips costs a premium but its ‘universal design’ has a loyal following)
  6. Product System: Complementary products and services (e.g. Nike+ partnered shoes, sensors, apps and devices into a sport lifestyle suite)
  7. Service: Support and enhancements that surround your offerings (e.g. Zappos “deliver WOW through service” is their #1 internal core value)
  8. Channel: How your offerings are delivered to customers and users (e.g. Nespresso locks in customers with its useful members only club)
  9. Brand: Representation of your offerings and business (e.g. Virgin extends its brand into sectors ranging from soft drinks to space travel)
  10. Customer Engagement: Distinctive interactions you foster (e.g. Wii’s experience draws more from the interactions in the room than from on-screen)

This framework is expanded further by list of possible tactics, which can be found here: https://doblin.com/dist/images/uploads/TenTypesInnovation.pdf

The ‘Business Model Canvas’ is one of the most used templates in business to map a business model (Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2010). This is a useful tool for rethinking the whole business, seeing connections and then innovating the business.

You can download a copy of the Business Model Canvas and view an overview video of the tool at https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas

Sign up to the next cohort of the Small Business Leadership Programme here – starts 30th March

References

Fisk, P. (2017). Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the World? Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Keeley, L., Pikkel, R., Quinn, B. and Walters, H. (2013). Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Author

Tanya Hemphill can be found on twitter @DigitalTanya she has recently joined Staffordshire Business School. She teaches on the MSc in Digital Marketing Management which includes a credited workplacement.

Tanya Hemphill
Tanya Hemphill

Part 2 of this article will shortly be available

Papi’s Pizzas

A quick and easy guide to making Nutella ® pizzas and chatting about setting up a Pizzeria

Friday 5th February is #WorldNutellaDay

Papi Paul (Paul Dobson) has had extensive experience in supporting the hospitality trade, including the successful start-up and running of pizza restaurant and takeaways, both here in the UK and France.

On Friday 5th February, 1pm-2pm, Paul will be delivering a pizza making demo and chat which will cover a quick and easy way to make Nutella® pizzas and discuss the start-up and running of a pizzeria.

Share your passion for Nutella ® with a tweet by adding the tag @nutelladay and the hashtag #worldnutelladay. Become a follower of @nutelladay on Twitter, connect at nutelladay.com and share your World Nutella ® Day images on Instagram and Pinterest and tag your photos or stories using the hashtag #WorldNutellaDay.

Paul’s session will be delivered on Microsoft Teams. To join the session, click the following link at 1pm on Friday 5th February:

JOIN PAPI PAUL’S NUTELLA PIZZA MAKING SESSION

To take part in making your very own Nutella Pizza, you will need the following:

Ingredients :-
500g OO flour, plus extra to dust
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 tbsp semolina, to press out

Equipment:
mixing bowl
wooden spoon
baking tray/pizza stone 
Oven at 220 degrees.