Archives Month: October 2015

As you know by now, Armada are lifetime supporters of new start businesses. However, at times, even a veteran like me can be daunted by the prospect of all the red tape and rigmarole that a new start entrepreneur has to go through.

Sajid Javid promised to cut all the red tape when he was made Minister for Small Businesses. So did Michael “Tarzan” Heseltine when he was President of the Board of Trade back in the 70s.

For all their promises, the amount of regulation and paperwork needed to start a business is sufficient to douse the enthusiasm of the most confident of entrepreneurs.

Should you be a sole trader, a partnership or a company and what forms need filling in? How are you going to produce a business plan and budgets that will be taken seriously? What bookkeeping system is relevant and how do you go about raising funds and then approach the right people?

The issues and queries are endless, but where do you find the solutions?

Stephen Docherty should know the answers to these conundrums; after all he had to deal with them himself when he set up his accountancy practice, SD Business Management, in 1996.

Now Stephen and his team specialise in new start handholding. With his grandfatherly good looks and his dedication to raising funds for charities it is understandable that folk trust him to deal with the miasma of regulations in order to keep their visions and goals focused.

Stephen and his team are to accountancy what Armada are to funding.

“Care for the other guy and help him – after all, he is why you get up in the morning.”

After many years of British housewives using their one-stop-shop supermarkets for convenience, we are seeing a resurgence of artisan food providers.

More UK towns are experiencing a revival of local craft bakers, shops dedicated to selling fruit and veg and butchers where they cut to requirements and not all the meat is covered in plastic. In Topsham we are fortunate to have 2 farm shops within a 5 mile radius.

Just north of Exeter, in the rolling East Devon countryside around Cullompton, Peter and Henri Greig and their family have been farming for over 25 years, slow-rearing their Devon ruby red cattle in small, stress-free groups to minimise the need for the vet and to maximise the flavour of the meat.

The Greigs are passionate about farming and quality to the point that their operation, Pipers Farm, now embraces 25 other family farms, coming together and retailing their produce in Pipers Farm Butchers Shop in Exeter.

When you see their pigs, contentedly browsing in the orchard you would expect your Sunday roast to have more flavour, the crackling to crackle more.

The Greigs have proved that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to prosper. Hard work, a passion and quality says it all.

In most people’s lives the greatest investment we incur is the cost and effort we put into our children.

The cost of nursery care, then schooling, followed by university expenses and accommodation is a commitment we make because we care about our children and want the best for them.

Those heart-rending moments when we leave our child at nursery for the first week! Will they look after him safely? Will they nurture him and meet his every need? Will he pine for me?

Ask any primary school teacher how important the nursery school is – teaching the basics of numeracy and literacy, creating confidence away from the parents, helping social interaction etc. The nursery experience has already put your child on the first rung of the educational ladder.

When Abeer and Mark opened their first Daisy Day Nursery in Cardiff, they understood that to be successful they needed to set their standards as high as possible.

Standards of care and love for the babies and toddlers, choosing the best staff and then maintaining their training and investing in the infrastructure of the property. In other words, Happy nursery + happy staff = happy children.

Now Mark and Abeer run a second nursery in Barry and a Coconuts Play Centre opposite.

As Maeve’s mum said “When my second daughter was born I didn’t visit anywhere else. Why would I? I knew she would get the best care possible in Daisy Day.”

What better way to bring success and expansion to your business? – Invest in your premises, your staff and your customers, even if they are tiny, cuddly and sometimes damp!

The prospect of taking a 3year old grandson to an adventure park and farm shop wasn’t anticipated with as much enthusiasm as watching England winning the ashes.

Fortunately the day in question started warm and sunny, so putting on a brave face, with his lordship tucked under one arm, we made our way to Puxton Park, near Weston-Super-Mare.

The car park was deserted and as the schools had returned for the autumn term, all was peace and quiet. So far so good.

First stop, the restaurant, coffee and breakfast needed to calm the nerves. “You order breakfast dear and I’ll take junior to the loo.” On our return I was informed that my eggs and bacon had morphed into “The Farmers Challenge.” It arrived on a dustbin lid. Four eggs, four sausages, four rashers of bacon etc. (see above).

An hour later, when the paramedics had checked my cholesterol and the insurers had got me to sign a waiver, we were ready to let junior loose.

Boat rides and train rides, farm trips and bouncy pillows – I was warming to this and thinking that it was too good for children. Then we found the new bumper boats. Granny and Sunny Jim were shoehorned into one boat and sylph like me and my breakfast in another boat.

These boats were fitted with water canon but being the first time I knew my aim would be rubbish – “Oops, sorry granny. Never mind, it’s sunny and you will soon dry out!”

The indoor and outdoor climbing frames were tremendous. Just one word of advice for those over 16 and more than 6ft tall, when you get to the outdoor mouse wheel, don’t!! Take it from me, travelling at 15mph and head butting the wooden wheel is not as much fun as having dinner with George & Amal.

All in all, what with the farm shop and butchery, the petting animals and the falconry displays, Puxton has something for everyone. A great place to go for putting memories in the bank.

Susan Boyle is not the only one to dream a dream. So many businesses have been created because of the dreams that their founders have had. So with Armada and so with Kally Ellis.

Kally wanted to leave her career with a French bank but had no vision for the future. At least not until she had a dream of making a beautiful bouquet. She awoke from her dream and knew with conviction what she needed to do with her destiny.

Taking her redundancy, she purchased a failing florist shop in Shoreditch in London’s East End. She then rebadged the shop and called it McQueens.

No Eliza Doolittle is our Miss Ellis. She set her sights on the high-end of the floristry trade, supplying Vanity Fair, Claridges, Harrods and a host of other prestige clients. McQueens has flourished over the years and now runs floristry courses from their Old Street premised. Head Office is now in very smart accommodation in Bethnal Green. Who knows how Kally’s dream will continue to bloom.

Sometimes we should all stop, take breath and see if our dreams are talking to us. Over 40 years ago I had my dream and I am still living it and loving it.