Personal and undiluted views

2499 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast 14 July - seething with white rage, extreme bad language warning

So Paul "Trotsky" Scott, "Red" Darren Atwater, George "the twat" Osborne and your out of touch cabinet pals who have never risked their capital to run an SME, PR supremo Reg "crony capitalist" Hoare et al you want me to pay my staff £9 an hour. Let me tell you about Christina and why I am in such a foul mood today. Warning this podcast contains a stream of bad langauge.  I also cover Greece, Blur, Johnston Press, Mosman Oil & Gas (0p here we come) and Armadale Capital.


3032 days ago

A Small Businessman writes to David Cameron (Con) and Chuka Umunna (Lab) – you do not get it!

Sirs. Yesterday the two main political parties were at a conference organised by the Federation of Small Businesses and pitched their plans to rejuvenate the SME sector. Given that the House of Commons contains almost no entrepreneurs but is stacked with career politicians it is no surprise that both of you, David Cameron and Labour business spokesman Chuka Umunna, spouted total bollocks. I write as someone who runs an SME.


3047 days ago

My fave Tory Blogger writes: The Living Wage...the SME Job Destroyer- do the tax maths

I am always happy to give a platform to my fave Tory blogger Charlotte Argyle as her views are - as far as I know - 100% bang on the money. And so over to Charlotte.

As of December 2012, the average London worker can expect to enjoy a wage of £33,816 compared to that of their Northern neighbour, where in Manchester for example the average is £26,242.

If you go on to look at the median hourly rate for London, it is £10.13 and further investigation shows that if you take the median hourly rate by years experience, you would need 5-9 more years within that sector to reach anywhere close to the proposed £8.55 ‘living wage’ figure.

At a time of reported low growth, the living wage can be described as nothing more than another bureaucratic bid to stifle SMEs and start-up growth.


3319 days ago

5 Point Checklist for launching a new product

Aha, I am less in trouble I am now only one article in arrears at, the small business website that I write for. And I have three ideas of what to write. Hip Hip hooray! This is the latest offering in my weekly series on tips for small businesses ( SMEs).

It is 13 years and 17 days since I started my first company and prepared to launch my first product – a website with the (then) revolutionary concept of charging for access. Older and (I hope) wiser, last week I launched a major new product yet again. Once again it is a financial website. This time it is free to access. Naturally it is brilliant and I urge you to trot along to and register at once.  Thirteen years ago I had five months to prepare for product launch – this time it was one month. But the five point checklist is the same.


3327 days ago

Planning for your death as a small businessman

Bugger. I wrote a cracking piece on the train but Microsoft 8 saved another file on top of it and it is lost. Anyhow, I am now six down in five days with one piece in my head to rewrite and then I shall be zero columns in arrears with the online magazine for SMEs - my series on small business tips. Catch up continues...what the hell did I write on the train that was so good?

Of course you are immortal. Er… no you are not. One day you will die and the stresses and strains of running your own business might just make that rather sooner than you think. And so what happens when that sad day happens? Have you planned for it? As someone who owns and runs an SME your death planning is a touch more difficult than that of mere wage slaves.

No doubt you already have a will. You have left everything to your nearest and dearest. Or alternatively to the ex-wife. Good. That is the easy part. But what is your business worth without you and how is that going to benefit your heirs?


3327 days ago

Management change - the check list

I am still in trouble. This is five down in 5 days but I am still two columns in arrears with the online magazine for SMEs - my series on small business tips. Catch up continues...

And so you opt to change a manager. The existing incumbent or structure is not delivering – you have no choice. The process will be painful both financially and emotionally. I rather feel that at the moment having done just that on Friday. It is a financial hit and it was emotionally draining. I hit the red wine afterwards – it was the only mature, adult way to deal with it.

And so what now? The new incumbent starts today. What is my six point check list?


3332 days ago

To fire or make redundant?

I am still in trouble. This is three down in 24 hours but I am still four columns in arrears with the online magazine for SMEs. And so for the next 24 hours I shall be writing little else than articles with tips for small businesses. Enough is enough, it is SME time and so here is my third offering.

And so you have identified a member of staff who is somewhere between not very good at their job, downright bad at their job or criminally delinquent – what do you do? In an ideal world we would simply be allowed to fire them but we do not live in an ideal world. One of the main reasons NOT to take on full time staff is that it is so bloody hard to get rid of them if they are not up to the task assigned them. The net effect is that Britain’s incredibly “useless worker friendly” employment laws create unemployment.

But we are where we are. There is no real sign that the laws are going to change to create even a level playing field between those that risk their own capital (employers) to create jobs and those who simply earn a wage.

There is a lot of talk from HR professionals about “managing out” underperforming staff. That is to say warning them when they fail to meet the set objectives in their job description and going down a pre agreed process of three warnings and then termination. In theory you end up paying just the statutory notice period at the end and so it is a “cheap” option. In theory…


3333 days ago

Three ways to use your number one advertising resource

I am in trouble. I am now six columns in arrears with the online magazine for SMEs. And so for the next 24 hours I shall be writing little else than articles with tips for small businesses. Enough is enough, it is SME time and so here is my second offering.

I can tell you that my restaurant in Clerkenwell is brilliant until I am blue in the face. As it happens the Real Man Pizza Company is brilliant but to quote Christine Keeler (or was it Mandy Rice-Davies) “he would say that wouldn’t he?” Yes of course I would. But if my customers start to say how much they like dining with us, which of course they do, then maybe you might just perk up and pay attention.  Your existing customers should be your number one advertising resource. If they do keep coming back that is proof that they like you.


3333 days ago

Reporting back on New Media marketing - Facebook and twitter

I am in trouble. I am seven columns in arrears with the online magazine for SMEs. And so for the next 24 hours I shall be writing little else than articles with tips for small businesses. Enough is enough, it is SME time and so here is my first offering.

At the start of the year I outlined plans to market my excellent quirky Italian restaurant via old and new media and promised a report back after three months: it was a new foray for and I was uncertain of the outcome. Has it been worth it? On balance yes but to say that it has been a company transformer would be over-egging the pudding.

The amount invested in cash terms has been trivial. We have an in-house web design capacity and so that took up some time. The hard cash outlay was about £50 for targeted Facebook adverts kitting one strictly defined market segment: students in central/East London.

New media gurus will measure tangible new media metrics.


3375 days ago

6 Point checklist as the New Website goes live – what next?

This article is from where I write occassional pieces on small business (SME) tips. Out today…

It was promised long ago but like all IT projects there were delays but finally at my small business our new website is live. Check it out HERE – heck I have done one of the “to dos” already. More on that later. So have we achieved our goals?

Well I think so. There is some debate still about our introductory image – the Celtic Sea God Manannan Mac Lir. I think it arouses interest and will draw more folks in to discover more about our Celtic Italian restaurant in Clerkenwell. My business partner Nigel reckons that it will scare the kids away. We shall see. But my 6 point check list of primary objectives have all been achieved. Look at your website and ask:


3410 days ago

A good use of time leading by example?

My weekly (SME) small business tips column from focusses on a matter close to my heart… As you may know I am primarily a writer but my real love is my restaurant, the excellent Real Man Pizza Company in London’s Clerkenwell. And so while some of my colleagues are writers others are cooks and waiters. I have always taken the view that one can only lead in one way, by example. This if a writer is rather slow in his or her output you show how much can be produced and whether by inspiring or by shaming you write away and hope that your lead is followed. Since I have been writing for 25 years that is not hard for me to do. But a waiter or a cook?


3425 days ago

2013 Business New Year Resolutions

How many of my 2012 Resolutions did I keep? Not as many as I would have wished. Naturally I shall try to resolve to quit smoking, shed the Christmas pounds, be a better father & son, etc. All the sort of stuff that a Miss World contestant would understand. That is the personal stuff. The business stuff? Well naturally I shall try to ensure that invoices are issued on time and chased correctly, that we look at getting our suppliers to requote, etc,etc. All the sort of things any SME should be doing anyway but which we sort of never quite keep up on top of.

There are a few specific business plans I have: At Real Man Pizza there is a children’s menu to introduce, an expanded special student scheme, the website revamp etc. I am hopeful all will be in place by January 8th. But these are not really resolutions. And so I offer up three:


3437 days ago

5 Pointers to Planning to grow your business in 2013 - No Innovation wanted

Like all businessmen I am sitting down reviewing the year just ended and working out how 2013 will be different. Under my direct control my restaurant (the excellent Real Man Pizza Company in Clerkenwell) has moved from loss into profit. It has missed its budget but still that is a starter. Not quite as good as our Manx kipper pate starter but still good enough. But next year will have to be better. And so I will work with my colleagues to ensure that it is. We plan. We think of changes. But if I am reading the thousands of business articles that are published every week, we are missing something in not looking to engage in dramatic innovation. This is deliberate.

Yes there will be some innovation. We introduced a couple of new soups onto the menu just before Christmas and also a new egg vegetarian pizza – the Woodlarks pizza. I will be introducing two new pizza dishes with the next menu in the summer and a new pudding dish as well. And as of Januaary we move to stocking just one range of beers, the award winning Curious Range made on a vineyard in Kent. But this is evolution not innovation. A company always needs to refresh and broaden its product offering – that should be a constant process. Innovation is taken to mean wholesale changes to the way one operates.

Innovation is by its nature disruptive and you need to ask yourself can your business cope with wholesale disruption in what will be a tough year for us all. In most cases I suspect that the answer is no.


3444 days ago

6 t1ps for Dealing with SME Christmas cashflow issues – Part 2

We all know that a this time of year Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can face cashflow problems. Your costs are pretty much unchanged but for most places not only do you enjoy one week’s less trade but it just seems as if others are reluctant to pay. Cheques just get delayed in the post seemingly forever. What to do?