Cotton Court Business Centre

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UCLan Launchpad Celebration Ball!

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The Cotton Court team enjoyed a night at the UCLan LaunchPad ball at The Samlesbury Hotel. We also invited some of our clients including Tienda Digital, Ambledeen, Together We Balance, Bird, Lancashare and Invoke Media!

 

The LaunchPad ball is a celebration of all of the groups of students that have been through their programme.

The LaunchPad leadership development programme is unique to the School of Business and the School of Management at UCLan and provides students with opportunities to enhance their professional skills allowing them to become the global leaders of the future.

LaunchPad students learn about the challenges of the current job market from employer and graduate perspectives and the leadership approaches needed to address them, in both theory and practice.

We are also welcoming back the LaunchPad team and their new selection of students into Cotton Court for a weekend of challenges!

Thanks again to Fran and the LaunchPad team for inviting us! We had a great time!

Clients HM Network presents “GDPR Express” Session

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HM Network Ltd have taken the initiative following interest from a number of councils, chambers of commerce and ERDF supported growth programmes, to set up a number of awareness events with a simple aim – to help share knowledge on how the current Data Protection Act will be replaced with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as of 25th May 2018. That’s just over a year away. They recently held an event at Cotton Court highlighing what business need to do in order to keep up with the new regulations! Below is just a sample of what was covered! To find out more visit their website here!

Too small?

This will affect all businesses that hold any type of personal customer/staff data that can be traced back to an individual whether B2B or B2C. Whether you market to customers or simply hold staff records this will affect you in some way. No market sector is outside the scope – some sectors are even classed as ‘sensitive’. So where do you sit?

Consequences?

Financial consequences are potentially huge. Data Breaches could result in fines of €10M / 2% of Global turnover or, for serious breaches, €20M / 4% of Global turnover whichever is higher. Whether you run a marketing company, store customer data on a loyalty card, have XLS spreadsheets of names and addresses it WILL affect you. Regardless of Brexit these fines the UK ICO will enforce this as GDPR standards will become part of UK Law.

Reputation?

Some of your B2B or B2C partners may not be able to do business with you if you are non-compliant and lastly the reputational effect to customers of not treating the protection of data privacy seriously means steps must be taken.

So, your questions to ask are:

● What to prepare and understand your current situation?

● Do I need a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

● How to ensure your business becomes and stays compliant?

● Could a malicious competitor of ours use GDPR against us?

● Do we have the knowledge and resources internally? If not

● Who can help providing advice throughout the process?

Please find below a very useful link for reference. It is a list of recent actions from the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) for fines / prosecutions issued to individuals / companies / charities and governmental departments, who have been found in breach of the existing regulations such as the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and also the Privacy and electronic communication (EC) directive 2003 (PECR). Please note that these are fines under the current regulations, even ahead of the more stringent GDPR coming into effect.

Expertise coming to You!

HM Network have made more plans to arrange some awareness sessions, with help and advice from specialists in a number of fields including:

  • Data Connectivity and digital marketing
  • The legal implications of data privacy and GDPR (solicitor)
  • Cyber security advice (serious crime squad / cyber security specialist)
  • Data Protection Audit Services, GDPR processes and advice
  • Data Disposal / Hardware recycling advice

Get a head start by downloading this free 12 steps guide provided by the ICO

https://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf

 

From Preston to India

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Our client, Andy Neale, who founded Podio PR1 Magazine under his umbrella Social Enterprise, Global Amigos, is volunteering in India this summer with a grassroots UK-based charity which he aspires to replicate through Global Amigos. “Ultimately,” he tells us, “I believe in using business as a tool for good. We have no desire to apply for funding but, instead, use commercial activities and products to help us achieve our objectives

The ultimate aim of his volunteer-led organisation is to encourage & enable local people to see the world; to break beyond the Lancashire border and open their eyes. Andy’s personal experiences abroad include Armenia with the Red Cross, South Africa with Voluntary Services Abroad and, more recently, Latin America with International Citizen Service. “I’ve always gone to support reputable charities – there’s nothing worse than companies who charge rich kids to volunteer, without actually caring about the wellbeing of those involved

He tells us that due to the infancy of Global Amigos (www.globalamigos.org.uk) there’s nothing set in stone with respect to the longer term ambitions but that, on a worse-case scenario, he’ll use the enterprise to act as a signposting platform to ensure would-be volunteers don’t get conned or ripped off by commercial operators. “My placement in India, the fact that people will (hopefully) read this, shows that we’re already part way there. There are loads of incredible opportunities out there, where the impact is measured and worthwhile and, if next year, only one local person embarks on a similar opportunity then that’d be worthwhile in my eyes… Although, naturally I’d want this figure to grow

“What I love about Chennai Challenge, the small charity I’m going out to the South of India with, is that they formed on the back of similar placements to what I’ve had. Rob, the Project Leader, is a Chemistry teacher in term time who took a Gap Year some years ago. Since then, he’s wanted to maintain the relationship with the orphanage and school and so, returns each year with a team of British volunteers, of mixed ages, with donated items & funds to conduct work; maintenance work for the buildings and engaging the slum kids in educational activities.

The charity is 100% volunteer-led and relies on donations. Andy is consequently fundraising through various means, he’s ‘pimping out his services’ for anyone who requires them (so far, he’s done cleaning, gardening, flyering and is soon to offer a 1-1 LinkedIn session for a small start-up business owner) He’s also planning an Indian inspired event, a Preston-wide raffle and has registered a text donation service (…text ‘LYFE89 £5’ to 70070) If you want to donate cash, you can head down to Cotton Court and leave some change in his Golden Spaceship in reception. Otherwise, head to justgiving.com/andy-neale-india

Best of luck Andy, from all of us at Cotton Court.

 

SEO Workshop Seminars from Mark Preston SEO

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Client of Cotton Court Mark Preston is running an SEO Workshop at Cotton Court next month! If you’re bamboozled by SEO then this is the course for you! Have a look below for details about what’s covered and how to sign up!

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Entering the world of search engine optimisation as a small business owner can be totally daunting and a scary place to be. After all, one wrong move could send your online visibility plummeting but on the other hand – implementing the right SEO strategy has the potential to drive a constant flow of leads for you to convert into new customers.

Learn SEO from a true marketing pro

I am the person who goes into digital marketing agencies to train marketing professionals on SEO techniques, so when you attend one of my SEO workshop seminars, you are getting the real deal and total value for money. I’ll even allow you to pick my brains as I provide an ask me anything (AMA) slot in every SEO seminar I host. No pre-scripted questions. Just take full advantage of my decade and half of digital marketing industry knowledge.

SEO Training

Are my SEO seminars for you?

My seminars are tailored towards start-ups and small business owners who can’t afford to invest in an agency to help them with their online marketing presence but needs some solid advice and action points that they can use to help their business grow.

Introducing my one day SEO workshop seminar

Yes, this is a full workshop where you will need to bring your laptop along as I have found that the best way of learning is to do it yourself instead of me just waffling through a slide and having to wake you up because I might as well be speaking a foreign language.

My job on the day is to simply educate you on SEO techniques and make sure you have understood how SEO can help your business to grow.

Refreshments and buffet lunch included

As my SEO workshop seminars start at around 9:30 am and usually finish at about 4:00 pm, I don’t expect you to starve so you will be supplied with a constant flow of refreshments and a buffet style lunch.

Buy SEO Training Ticket
What you will learn

I do tend to go off track a little during the day and don’t totally stick to the planned schedule as I want to make sure that each person in the room goes away at the end of the day with the knowledge they wanted to learn that will help their business. With this in mind – I do tend to tailor the day a little if that is what my trainees require.

The planned seminar schedule will cover:

>>> 9:00 am to 9:30 am – Welcome drink and networking

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

  • Who are you and what do you do?
  • What do you need to learn from today’s SEO workshop?

INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINES

  • What exactly are search engines and how do they help us?
  • The top three search engine players – Google, Bing & Yahoo
  • Search engine’s journey of crawling and indexing

PAID SEARCH TRAFFIC vs ORGANIC SEARCH TRAFFIC

  • The difference between paid and organic search
  • Pros and cons of paid search
  • Pros and cons of organic search
  • Which is better – paid or organic search?

>>> 11:00 am to 11:15 am – Refreshment time

SEARCH ENGINE GUIDELINES

  • What are search engine guidelines?
  • The several types of guidelines you need to consider
  • What happens if I don’t conform to the guidelines?

UNDERSTANDING KEYWORD RESEARCH

  • What is keyword research?
  • Why is keyword research important?
  • How keyword research fits into a content plan
  • The diverse ways of conducting keyword research
  • Creating a keyword mapping plan

>>> 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm – Buffet lunch provided

ON-PAGE CONTENT

  • I hear ‘content is king’ – why?
  • What do I need to know when writing content for my site
  • When should you use a redirect?
  • What you need to consider before you delete a page
  • Understanding duplicate content issues

ON-PAGE OPTIMISATION

  • What is on-page optimisation and why it is important
  • Understanding search engine ranking factors
  • What should you consider when optimising a page?
  • How to optimise a page for a selected keyword

>>> 2:30 pm to 2:45 pm – Refreshment time

OFF-PAGE SEO

  • What is off-page SEO?
  • What are links and why they are important
  • The basic science behind link building
  • A discussion on some off-page SEO techniques

ASK ME ANY SEO RELATED QUESTION

>>> 4:00 pm – Finish

Between 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, I’m always available for a chat if required.

All attendees will be provided with:

  • A copy of all slides
  • My local SEO guide (never been published)
  • On-page optimisation checklist
  • Website SEO audit checklist
Ticket price

To ensure I have the flexibility to tailor the day if required, I always limit every SEO workshop seminar to a maximum of 10 people.

As a small business owner, I understand that budgets are tight so I want to make my SEO seminars excellent value for money. The ticket price is only £149 per person, including refreshments and buffet lunch. If you have any dietary requirements, please inform me in advance.

Available dates and locations

I plan to travel around the UK, hosting my SEO workshop seminar to small business owners so if the location(s) below is too far for you to travel, just let me know as I’m always planning new locations.

My next confirmed seminar is on the 16th May 2017
Location: Cotton Court, Church Street, Preston PR1 3BY.
Free parking available on-site but limited. Alternatively, nearby multi-storey parking at PR1 1YT.

More dates and location to follow very soon.

Don’t miss out – Book your ticket now!

Original source: https://markprestonseo.com/seo-workshop-seminars/

Clients UK Media & Events Organise CBeebies Performance!

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An Easter Holiday treat greeted dozens of children as a TV favourite came to entertain them.

CBeebies duo Rebecca Keatley and Sid Sloane performed in the St George’s Shopping Centre.

Hits from their Let’s Play show were performed as families lined an Easter garden.

The audience were invited to sing and dance along during the energetic show from Rebecca and Sid.

A meet and greet allowed children to have their chance to meet the stars of kids TV.

 

 

General manager of the shopping centre Andrew Stringer said: “During the Easter holidays we wanted to bring a host of quality events to Preston families, making sure they had some free fun on us.

“Sid and Rebecca proved to be a huge hit with families from across Preston and beyond. The showcase was great for the whole family, with a fun atmosphere to match and it kept the children entertained and parents happy.”

Crowds watch on during the CBeebies show

Original post and photos via Blog Preston

Together We Balance is expanding!

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Cotton Court Clients Together We Balance are expanding and have recently welcomed a new employee into their office! Here’s what Managing Director Alys Stewart has to say!:

 

I would like to introduce you to Tracy Villa AATQB, a new member of staff with Together We Balance. Tracy is on the last level of her AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification and is an AAT Qualified Bookkeeper. She will be working part time, with a few hours a week worked from our office in Preston and the remainder from her home on the Fylde Coast.

Clients EJM Investigations Expands!

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Client EJM Investigations, deals with a variety of clients including the public, local government and local solicitors firms.

Owner Edmund Magdziarek started the Preston-based firm in 2003, and it continues to grow from strength to strength, with a new successful branch which opened in Manchester last year.

The firm is now celebrating after recently launching its brand new office in Liverpool a few weeks ago.

The Private Investigators has also just gained the first membership of a Lancashire Agency into the World Association of Private Investigations.

Related: BAE Systems opens huge new training academy for engineers of tomorrow

The Agency has dealt with interesting stories, including tracing a driver of a Preston delivery company who claimed to be on long-term sick, despite always being stuck for money.

Suddenly the driver had new-found wealth, and it was believed that the employee was working elsewhere whilst collecting his sick pay.

A short period of surveillance by EJMInvestigations confirmed this, and enough evidence was obtained, leading the agent to approach the driver in the office car park.

Using a cover story, the agency was able to get the employee to admit were he had been working and for how long.

The report was then passed to the delivery firm who checked their records and discovered the supplies firm was a client of theirs and they had numerous delivery notes that had been signed by the “sick” employee.

Edmund Magdziarek, who is the sole employee of the business, said: “Every day is different. Whether we’re dealing with a cheating partner or a witness in a court case.

“Regardless of the good or bad news we work with, we are helping people and ultimately give them hope when they come to us with a problem.”

Edmund feels the launch of the website has massively helped the growth of the Agency, as they build pages relevant to the towns they work in and so it makes sense to direct the business there, with future hopes of locating a branch in Leeds.

To find out more visit their website: www.ejminvestigations.co.uk

ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY IN SUPPORT OF BARNARDOS

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Last Friday saw the fourth instalment of the annual Cotton Court Christmas Party at Glovers bar. There was a great party atmosphere, with around 150 people in attendance, and it was great to see so many familiar faces.

The team at Cotton Court would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that attended and made the night so enjoyable, and an even bigger thank you to everyone for the amount of gifts that were brought for the children of Barnardos, our chosen charity.

Guests enjoyed the finest Indian cuisine courtesy East Z East, live entertainment and a complimentary bar at Glovers.

Barnardo’s works to transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people, and aims to enable them to fulfil their potential. The charity provides a comprehensive range of local support, counselling, fostering, adoption, education, residential and training services for more than 100,000 children, young people and their families.

It’s still not too late to donate! We are collecting presents at Cotton Court until Wednesday 7th December, so feel free to drop in some gifts to our reception.  Presents for teenagers are particularly valuable as is young carers and homeless units that are most in need of presents. Barnardo’s have also advised that the gifts are best not wrapped.

You can find out more about the work of Barnardos on their website www.barnardos.org.uk or by following them on Twitter @barnardos

We’re already looking forward to next year and we hope to see you all there again!

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150 Years and 150 Businesses!

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For 150 years Barnardo’s have helped venerable children get the help they deserve.

As the UK’s leading children’s charity, Barnardo’s worked with 240,000 children, young people and families last year.

With support from people like you, Barnardo’s run over 960 vital services across the UK, including counselling for children who have been abused, fostering and adoption services, and disability support.

During this special 150 years anniversary branding consultancy Bird, and Cotton Court in Preston have pledged their support to children’s charity, Barnardo’s. We set ourselves a challenge – to find 150 businesses from around Lancashire to in turn pledge their support!

After months of searching and gathering support from local business we have finally done it! We have officially found 150 businesses!

Everyone at Cotton Court would like to thank everyone that has pledged their support and below are just some of the amazing pledges we’ve had!

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Luke Massie – You and your dream are nothing without your team!

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Over the last couple of weeks we have been making some vital addtions to Vibe’s marketing and technical teams. During this period I took a few mornings out of the office to make sure that I had some dedicated time to reflect on where Vibe Tickets has come from, and more importantly where we are going.

I asked myself a few key questions: What’s worked well for Vibe so far? What are the main mistakes we have made along the way? How should I do things differently? How do I avoid the pitfalls as we scale this company?

Although not a direct answer to any of these questions, I know for certain that all of our solutions have come from, and all of the problems have been mitigated by great teamwork and contributions from individual team members during moments of brilliance. This has ingrained within me the strongest belief that it is incredibly important that you get the right people involved in your businesses as early as possible, no matter what obstacles may be in the way.

Passion is everything and if there is one key lesson I’ve learnt in my entrepreneurial journey so far its that talent and money can only get you so far, dedication and trust are worth far more than anything else.

“You can’t do it alone”

I have known for some time that I would never be able to execute my business proposition alone, but I did initially feel that I would be able to outsource the majority of work and simply manage a small number of key partners rather than having to build a proper team.

My biggest mistakes have always come when my team have not been involved in the decision making process and the execution. Outsourcing is always risky. After some of my early experiences with Vibe Tickets, I would strongly recommend that anyone who is considering using an external agency for your core offering whether that be product or marketing is very careful and considers all the alternatives before committing – otherwise this could come back to bite you!

When ever I am doing talks or sat on panels one of the first questions I’m asked is: How do you go about building your team?

Through personal experience there are Three Things I suggest you consider:

1) Find yourself a cofounder: Find someone with desirable skills that complement yours. Someone you trust, someone who shares the same vision as you and someone you can always rely on. A number of years ago I was lucky enough to be introduced to Jon Hill, a software engineer with over 15 years experience scaling development teams with a real commercial eye. He is someone I can talk to, express my thoughts about opportunities and someone who could see my vision and turn it into a product. Jon become my partner, an early shareholder in Vibe and is now Technical Director of Vibe Tickets. With Jon at my side in the early days I was able to focus on building a product which we could test in the market, well before we started looking for investment.

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2) Identify the skills you need and ONLY the skills you need: In a start up there is no room for waste. You need to stay lean and mean. A common mistake a lot of start up founders make is; they don’t identify what skills they actually need, therefore never have the correct tools/ resources needed to execute their concept. Founders in many instances are focusing on things that don’t really matter. Creating roles for the sake of creating roles is NOT cool. Investors are much more happy when a small focused team does what is required. Take Whatsapp for example, when they sold out to Facebook for $1billion they only had 6 staff… yes thats 6!

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3) Hire smarter people than you – This is so cliché but it is the single best thing you could ever do. Many Founders do not hire people smarter than themselves and my theory on this is; people fear being exposed for their knowledge gaps. Or they feel their authority as leaders will be questioned. I think its a common misconception that Founders feel like they have to know everything, when the reality is, we all have our own skills, strengths and weakness. The best founders in the world, find the best talent and surround themselves with better people than themselves at particular things. I’m so lucky to have found: Jon Hill, Jim Mann, Rosa Martinez, Hannes Pretorius, Helen Clemson, Jonathan Smillie, Nadia Rumyantseva to name a few. Every member of the Vibe team have there own area of expertise and are much smarter than me in those disciplines. That is what makes us unique.

I hope this helps, feel free to reach out to me

Keep spreading the #GoodVibes

Luke Massie