Cotton Court Business Centre

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Cotton Court Team Support Progression Day in Rochdale

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Last week a delegation from Cotton Court Business Centre attended Rochdale Sixth Form College to support a progression and employability day for Year 12 students.

Managing Director Robert Binns and Marketing Director Jack Barron travelled to the Rochdale town centre campus, to help deliver a series of events alongside employers from across the Northwest.

Jack conducted mock interviews with 20 students, grading them on criteria ranging from appearance & turnout, to confidence and preparation.

He said of his experience…

“It was a really enjoyable experience and I was happy to support it. The mock interviews were great and I got to meet a diverse group of young adults, each one of them impressing me in some way. I recall one particular student who I had an extremely lengthy conversation with and was amazed by the level of knowledge and maturity they showed. I would have hired them in an instant if in a real interview. All of them were credits to their college and I wish them luck on their path to employment”.

Meanwhile Managing Director Robert formed part of an expert panel, giving students the opportunity to hear his journey though the world of work and business, with the opportunity for a questions and answers session at the end.

Robert said of the day…

“We’re really passionate about supporting events such as this one, wherever they may be. The people that we’ve spoken to today are the future of business and enterprise, and I like to think that we’re helping them on their journey into the world of work by sharing our experiences and giving them the opportunity to ask any burning questions. It was an enjoyable experience for me and by all accounts for them also”.

The event was largely organised by employability and career placement coordinator for Rochdale Sixth Form College, Sarah Pollard. She comments:

“The students were  a real credit to the college and tackled the interviews fantastically well.  The two days are so beneficial for the students as for some it will have been the first interview they’ve ever had. The mock interview process helps the students have more confidence in themselves and their abilities. We can’t thank the businesses enough for their ongoing support, many of whom have been giving up their time on an annual basis to help make the day such a success”.

Cotton Court has a history of supporting young adults and those looking to progress their journey through the world of work and enterprise. In recent weeks we’ve supported several events such as the progression day at Rochdale Sixth Form, including a series of workshops for the National Careers Service and the creation of a new company, Cotton Court Futures. With more information being revealed on that project in the near future. If you have any questions or want to enquire how Cotton Court Business Centre could support you and young adults then please email info@cottoncourt.co.uk

Cotton Court Apprentice Turns Dragon

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Last week Cotton Court Business Centre apprentice Grace attended a Dragons’ Den style competition at Ashton Community Science College in Preston.

 

At the event, Year 7 & 8 pupils were set the task of designing their own healthy alternative to fizzy drinks, before then presenting their ideas back to the panel of dragons. The panel consisted of previous Ashton Community Science College students currently on apprenticeships in the local area.

 

Grace Bennett, Business Administration Apprentice at Cotton Court says:

 

“It was a pleasure to watch the students present back their ideas and see how confident they were. It was an enjoyable day and helped towards my own personal development. It was a good opportunity for me to showcase apprenticeships and talk about the positive experience I have had from learning whilst in the workplace”.

 

Jack Barron, Marketing Director at Cotton Court added:

 

“We’re really proud of what Grace has achieved in the time she has been with us and continue to support the apprenticeship scheme. She’s a credit to the company and we think it’s important for her to go out and fly the flag for those considering an apprenticeship in the future. By all accounts it was an excellent day and both her and the students took a lot from it”.

 

Cotton Court Business Centre has a solid history of supporting the apprenticeship programme, and in addition to providing apprentice placements within the centre, it proactively engages with providers, employers and students.

Think What You Want…But Think Different

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Last week our Managing Director Robert Binns flew out to Ibiza, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking.

Whilst still managing a little bit of downtime to enjoy the hedonistic delights the island has to offer, Robert was there to attend a lecture by the world renowned chef Ferran Adrià on creative thinking, run in conjunction with Estrella Damn.

Considered by many as the world’s best chef, Ferran is no stranger to thinking outside the box. Best known for his outlandish creations and deconstruction of dishes, he’s turned his attention to helping others understand his creative methodology.

Known as ‘Sapiens’, the methodology and accompanying lectures aim to give a more complete and comprehensive view of the creative processes he has applied to gastronomy. The aim is to understand that something might seem simple at first sight, but can be improved if we use our creative capacity to the maximum. Whilst food may be his example, the process can be applied to whatever your passion or profession may be.

The invite only event featured an international audience, all looking to expand their capacity for creative thinking. We’re all looking forward to hearing the key takeaways (pun intended) that Robert got from the lecture in our next team meeting.

 

Preston wins back talent from Manchester to support growth 

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Preston based group of companies hires new Interim Marketing Director to support local growth  

 

The Preston based group that operates Cotton Court Business Centre and operates a number of leisure, tech and property businesses, has appointed an Interim Marketing Director on a 6-month agreement to support a period of growth & development.  

Jack Barron, who is originally from Preston, joins the group after a number of years living and working in Manchester. The 30-year-old initially moved to Manchester to pursue a career within a city centre media agency, working his way to becoming a director in the company, and achieving his Masters from Manchester Metropolitan University.  He broke away last year to set up his own consultancy business, specialising in helping small to medium sized businesses, a business he still operates across Lancashire & Greater Manchester. 

“I couldn’t be happier taking on this role with the Cotton Court Group. There are a wide variety of businesses within the portfolio for me to get stuck into and do good work for, but I’m especially looking forward to working on the Cotton Court Business Centre side of things. My passion is helping SME’s, which aligns perfectly with what Cotton Court have been doing for many years.” The former UCLan student said. 

 

“There’s loads going on at Cotton Court in the very near future with the pods being built, expansion of our service offering, the free events and resources we’re running for small businesses and a number of things that haven’t been announced yet. It’s not just a period of growth for Cotton Court, it’s a period of growth for Preston. You only have to look at the recent investment in the City Centre and Queens retail park. I’m glad to be back and to be a part of it.” He continued. 

 

 

The Cotton Pods are a new development at the Church Street site, announced in September of this year. Utilising specially adapted shipping containers to increase the overall capacity of the site, they’re expected to be in operation early in the new year.  

Managing Director Robert Binns comments “Since the conversion of Cotton Court into a business centre, we’ve been the catalyst for a significant number of start-up businesses. We don’t intend to stop doing that any time soon, but in order for us to help more businesses we need more capacity. That’s what these pods will offer. As well as being responsible for helping us with our growth, one of Jack’s responsibilities will be to help steer the growth of our customers and other local businesses. Having worked with him before over the years, I’m confident we’ve got the right man for that job.” 

 

Big Plans: How the Cotton Pods will look at the Church Street site

Cotton Pods: Another angle

Big media hubs such as Manchester and London have historically been responsible for taking much of the young talent out of the smaller towns and cities such as Preston. The recent development and investment into Preston could prove to be a turning point for retaining & attracting that talent. The Cotton Court Group aims to build on that more by funneling new Manchester based talent through its new Media City office on Salford Quays, and back towards its other businesses in Preston. 

“It’s very positive news to learn about Cotton Court’s expansion plans.  As a city we’ve already seen the business centre grow and develop to support many fledgling businesses and the wider city community.  The organisation has actively embraced city life and are exemplary in their corporate social responsibility strategy.  2018 will be an exciting year for the city and it’s great that businesses like Cotton Court are pushing from the front to add value to Preston’s city centre” said Mark Whittle, Manager at Preston Business Improvement District. 

Already in post, Jack has started work on a number of important projects. “I’ve really hit the ground running thanks to the support of Robert and the team. I think it’s especially nice and certainly reflective of the group ethos, that my first project was working on the Barnardo’s Christmas Toy Appeal and the next one was involvement in a free event for local entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m looking forward to working across the group portfolio but especially working with local small businesses to help them develop & grow alongside the rest of the City”. 

 

 

19th Century Mill: Still home to hard working Lancastrian’s

 

Cotton Court is an old 19th Century Mill, providing incubation for start-ups and services for small to medium sized businesses. It provides physical office space, hot desks and conference space, as well as virtual & administrative services. It acts as the flagship business and headquarters for the Cotton Court Services group, which boasts a portfolio of leisure, property, tech and social enterprise operations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cotton Court Welcomes Grace to the Team!

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My name is Grace and I have been working at cotton court for a few days now. I have come straight from high school doing an apprenticeship in Business admin. I also have a part time job which is based in a restaurant.

 

I decided I wanted to do an apprenticeship at Cotton Court as I wanted to learn and earn at the same time. Also with not knowing a direct route after college saw it an ideal path-way to something that interests me.

 

Since I have been here Amy, Ella and Rochelle have been helping me do things like arranging calendar events, cleaning and preparing rooms and emailing clients.

 

I have enjoyed working with an array of clients in a different environment then I am used to.

 

I am not sure where this apprenticeship will lead, but hopefully I will gain useful knowledge and skills which can then help me in later life.

Cotton Court Supports UCLan’s LaunchPad Programme

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We’ve been delighted to be involved with the Launchpad project over the past couple of years by attending events, hosting their business simulation weekend and our director, Robert Binns making up part of the expert panel.

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.

On Friday 12th May 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, Ambledene, 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, it was great to find out more about the programme from current & former students and staff.

From 19th – 21st May, we hosted the Business Simulation weekend. Former Launchpad Student, Will Taylor, was in attendance and has provided us with a guest blog.

“So this weekend I was lucky enough to spend my time helping current launchpad students during a business simulation (of which I took part in the previous year) that would test not only their current understanding of a business startup, but would also test them with regards to executing and applying core ideas within a pressurised setting.

I can honestly say this weekend has enabled me to witness amazing talent shine beyond all belief, especially watching a student’s confidence soar past anything they could have ever expected! It really has been an honour watching and helping the future of the business world flourish and utilise all potential avenues provided.

 

Since I took part in the business simulation last year, Cotton Court has always held a close place for me as it has provided me not only with a plethora of tools to help further my future, but the experience, knowledge and mentoring of the Amazing Rob Binns and the Cotton Court team.

– Will Taylor

Since completing the Launchpad programme Will Taylor and Dan Collins both part of the programme last year have used their experience to develop and set up their own business – Impulse North

The website Impulse North allows Prestonians to check what local bars and clubs have on offer each evening in one place.

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

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

The next generation of business leaders honoured at Young ’Uns Awards 2016

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The Cotton Court team enjoyed a night at the Lancashire Business Views Young ‘Uns Awards in Blackpool.  100’s of business celebrated at the sell-out event, with 24 businesses collecting specially crafted trophies to mark their exceptional business performance.

Lancashire’s young business people celebrated at the Young ‘Uns Awards 2016 as the next generation of movers, shakers and decision makers were crowned at the ceremony at Winter Gardens Blackpool.

From legal eagles to digital dynamos and red-hot retailers those making waves in business throughout the county were recognised across 11 categories including Young ‘Un Entrepreneur of the Year and Young ‘Un Employee of the Year.

Rob was asked to be a sector specific independent judge in the awards and got to consult

A special congratulations goes to Brandon Seddon who was presented with the Tourism and Hospitality award by our very own Rob Binns.

The awards, now in their second year, are organised by Lancashire Business View – the magazine for commerce, industry and regeneration. The event, which was themed around prohibition-era America, took place in the Spanish Ballroom at Winter Garden.

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Winners 2016

Young ‘Un Apprentice of the Year

  • Connor Smyth, BAE Systems – WINNER
  • Emily Read, NatWest
  • Junaid Mahetar, Northern Industrial
  • Jonathon Hart, Utiligroup

Young ‘Un in Creative and Digital

  • James Brockbank, Digitaloft – WINNER
  • Tom Grattan, Factored
  • John French, Fat Media
  • Tom Wells, Nublue

Young ‘Un in Construction and Property

  • Tom Wickstead, Andrew Porter
  • Sonia Duffin, Duffin’s Estate Agents
  • Andrew Livesey, Lantei Compliance Services – WINNER
  • Alex Fowler, Lea Hough Chartered Surveyors

Young ‘Un Employee of the Year

  • Andrew Livesey, Lantei Compliance Service – WINNER
  • Jennifer Woolley (nee Whittaker), The Write Angle
  • Amanda Lilley, Thomas Consulting
  • Zain Javed, Xyone Cyber Security

Young ‘Un Entrepreneur

  • James Brockbank, Digitaloft
  • Tom Grattan, Factored
  • Brandon Seddon, MyBarstaff
  • Sophie Craig, Ruby Cosmetics – WINNER

Young ‘Un in Finance

  • Emily Read, NatWest
  • Gary Clifton, NFU Mutual Preston
  • Chloe Greenbank, Rotherham Taylor  – WINNER
  • Ian Taylor, RSM

Young ‘Un in Law

  • Rachel Harrison, Farleys Solicitors
  • Jonathan Holden, Forbes Solicitors
  • Andrew Holden, Napthens Solicitors  – WINNER
  • Matthew Catterall, Taylors Solicitors

Young ‘Un in Manufacturing and Engineering

  • Connor Smyth, BAE Systems – WINNER
  • Kieron Riding, Northern Industrial
  • Amanda Lilley, Thomas Consulting
  • Victoria Oracz, Vision Support Services

Young ‘Un in Retail

  • Kimberley Lord, Always and Forever
  • Natalie Seward, Debenhams
  • Kendal Christensen, Marsden Building Society
  • Victoria Mawdsley, The Mall – WINNER

Young ‘Un in Tourism and Hospitality

  • Martin Wilson, Bartle Hall Hotel
  • Ellie Yates, Canal Boat Cruises
  • Oliver Brown, Crow Wood Leisure
  • Brandon Seddon, MyBarStaff  – WINNER

A huge congratulations to all the winners!