THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

14 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Strategy 1:1 Part 2

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial management 1:1, product innovation 1:1intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his final diary entry, Haroun has his second session on strategy...

Japanese train in station
Photo courtesy of JRPass

Well, here we are at the end of three months, 15 sessions and countless follow-ups. It’s come and gone ever so quickly, so this final strategy one-to-one session gives us a good time to take stock. We went through the findings from the branding, marketing, finance and innovation sessions. The main takeaways were that we have so much scope for growth that I need support, so I will be hiring to capitalise on those opportunities, especially in the areas of marketing and business development. Our expansion plans are pretty clear and we must make sure that we execute properly and as rapidly as is possible. We also need to invest time into research and skills acquisition for our new growth areas.

I have found the scale-up course very useful, especially as a way of giving me the head-space to concentrate on issues that I knew needed to be tackled, but have been too busy for day-to-day. Here are my personal take-aways for anyone considering the course:

  • We are all very busy in the day-to-day running of our businesses but to take full benefit you do need to make time for both the sessions and any follow up tasks to take full benefit. This maybe a truism, but you will only get out as much as you put in.
  • The advisers are exactly that, people to advise you on your current status and next steps. They aren’t there to provide a detailed step-by-step plan. They will vary in how much they know about your industry. You, yourself, ultimately should be the arbiter of what is best for yourself. You’ve done well getting this far in your business, so trust your instincts and use the advisers as neutral external interrogators of your business. This will be where the best value lays.
  • The pace of sessions can be overwhelming at times especially with the day job, so pace yourself, prioritise and plan effectively.
  • Before attending, have a deep think about what you want to get out of the sessions. There will be nagging concerns that you may have about your business and this would be a good opportunity to have those addressed.
  • Enjoy meeting new people, there are lots of fascinating people that attend!

Well, that’s it for me, it’s been fun sharing my experiences. Also, I hope that if you consider a trip to Japan that you’ll consider us! I’ll leave you with our ten top tips for first time travellers.

Thanks, Haroun

 

Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.

09 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Financial management 1:1 Part 2

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about product innovation 1:1, intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun has his second session on financial management...

Japan Rail Pass Guide
Photo courtesy of JRPass

If you have been following the blog you will know that at JRPass we are in the midst of planning another website offering new services. Over the past few months we have used the sessions on branding, marketing and product innovation to develop this further. This time, the second of the finance sessions, was really helpful as we dived in-depth into modelling with the adviser from Metavalue.

We have a couple of options on new partnerships for the website, so the main focus of the discussion was which of these would be the most viable option. The conversation involved our margin, potential site visitors, conversion rate, payment costs, staffing costs, average basket size and advertising/marketing budget. After we got grip of all these numbers and worked out a financial template, we agreed that the following assumptions and points would have to be further investigated:

  • Before any additional mark-up the initial business could be low-margin so it will be important to control costs.
  • We made assumptions on support costs and UK vs Japan-based staff. These would have to be validated.
  • It is important to test all the inputted data and update them as we start trading, for example average order sizes and conversion rates. Pirate analytics (yes, I said ‘Pirate’) will help as these allow you to track data on visitors, post per acquisition etc. A useful guide on start-up metrics can be found here.
  • Briefly, we also touched on a previous conversation about potential exit routes. Pitchbook news and Crunchbase were mentioned as good sources of news and information.

There's only one more session left and on in my final blog, for the benefit of prospective applicants, I will talk about how I feel you can get the best out of the scale-up course. Also, whilst we are talking about budgeting, inspired by all these spreadsheets and finance chat, we wrote a blog on budgeting for a trip to Japan.


Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.

04 October 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on at the British Library

Start-up Day promo banner

With Start-up Day 2019 drawing closer, we take a look at what’s going on in London and introduce you to some of our speakers…

Whether you’re looking for motivation, practical advice or some tailored advice, Start-up Day is for you. Our full day of free talks in the Knowledge Centre cover a range of business topics, from UK trends, advertising, mental health and more, you’ll be able to apply what you learn directly to you and your business practices.

If you want to know more about the UK market trends, Mintel’s Jack Duckett will be looking at the ‘experience economy’ and how businesses can stay relevant in today’s competitive market.

Jack Duckett
Jack specialises in reports exploring, the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

How do you combine profit with purpose? 24% of last year’s Start-up Day attendees said their motivation to start a business was the opportunity to make a difference. With our partners at Expert Impact, we’ve brought today a panel of case studies to discuss how they built a thriving business that helps makes the world a better place and how you might be able to maximise the positive difference you make as you turn your business idea into a reality. Moderated by Lee Mannion, Head of Communications and Community at Expert Impact

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion is the communications manager for Expert Impact. He previously worked as a journalist for four years, writing stories about social enterprises for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Pioneers Post.

If advertising is causing you confusion, Arjun from the Facebook Family of Apps will be talking you through how to define your advertising goals, reaching your target audience and how to measure a successful advertising campaign and more. This talk will not be webcast.

Arjun Paliwal Facebook
Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook Family of Apps.

Mental health impacts both business and personal lives and at last year’s Start-up Day, 16% of people said they wanted to start a business to improve their work/life balance. At our talk on how to build a business without burning out, Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign, presented by Dane Krambergar, and Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company will arm you with strategies to keep on-track when it all gets a bit too much.

Dane Krambergar - Mind
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services.

Whether the idea of networking can fill you with dread or confidence, to build a sustainable business, networking is key. Our panel will talk you through how they mastered the art of building their networks to allow their businesses to grow.

Ken Davey
Ken is an experienced business to business corporate sales specialist and SME business owner, mentor, author and international business advisor, with a strong business development, marketing, commercial and financial management background.

20% of 2018’s Start-up Day attendees said that lack of finance held them back from starting a business, but can you start-up on a shoestring? Our panel, founders of We Built This City, BathrommsByDesign and Pip & Nut, share their hints and tips for keeping costs low as you scale your business.

Sam Colwil
Sam, founder of BathroomsByDesign, a multi-channel retailer who invest heavily in proprietary technology to help service customers more effectively with our 3D design software, customer VR app, online shop, customer portal and ERP system.

Holding the day together will be Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor, best known for her radio show Self-Central on Colourful Radio and host for the Precious Lifestyle Awards and Precious Nights.

Lisa Bent
Lisa Bent

Our keynote speaker will be Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.

Steph has progressed from Black & Decker engineer to BBC Breakfast business reporter and co-presenter as well as fronting Watchdog, Pocket Money Pitch, Made in Great Britain, and Shop Well For Less. In the process, she’s been trained in lean production, explained monetary and economic policy, danced an impromptu Irish jig live on-air – and been subject of an awkward mistaken identity in Grimsby Fish Market.

Steph McGovern
Steph McGovern

It isn’t just our free talks taking place on the day, we have a workshop on how to use the Business & IP Centre, plus a tour; free headshots and advice on how business photography and speed mentoring.

Experts will be on hand throughout the day to give advice on a range of topics including:

  • Protecting your business idea
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • What you need to know about standards and regulations
  • Managing cash-flow
  • Getting your business online
  • Funding your start-up
  • Building your business brand

To book your place or to find the closest Start-up Day to you, visit our event page.