By Lyndsey Hall
If you attended our second annual conference at the Hilton Sheffield on Thursday 27th March then you’ll know what a fantastic day it was, filled with insightful and inspiring presentations from some of the biggest entrepreneurs around. And if you couldn’t make it, well then read on and find out what you missed!
Steve Knowles started us off by greeting the attendees and thanking everyone for coming, before quickly handing the mike over to our Keynote speaker, the inimitable Paul Dunn. Paul’s presentation definitely got the crowd going, and woke everyone up first thing in the morning! The underlying message to Paul’s talk was ‘The Power of Small’, which tied in well with the overall theme of the day, which was ‘Differentiation’. Paul had hints and tips for making the small, inexpensive (if not free!) changes that really make a small business stand out from the crowd, such as arranging appointments at odd times rather than on the hour, or half hour, as most businesses do. Book your appointments at 15:50 or 10:20 and arrive promptly, and you’ll be remembered. The other key thing to take away from Paul’s talk was his business card. We all use business cards every day, we give them out and take them from others without so much as a second thought, and they are put away in a draw or a rolodex and only looked at again when we need a phone number. Paul’s advice is to make yours stand out from the sea of business cards that your contacts have in their possession: for example, his is small and square with a QR code instead of a phone number or email address– not exactly standard issue!
Next up was Michelle Clarke, co-founder of Talent Dynamics, a personality profiling system that takes its basis from Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics. Michelle explained how answering a few short questions can help you find out where your true talents lie, or where you are “most trusted” and “least trusted” by your peers. Michelle had kindly given us free tokens so that every attendee could take the test and discover their profile before the conference, aiding their understanding of her presentation, and many took her up on the offer to find out whether they are a “Star”, a “Supporter” or a “Mechanic”, to name but a few of the possible profiles. As you can imagine, Stars are only concerned with big ideas and being the face of the company, they are less interested in the actual practicalities of business and often struggle with facts and figures; whereas Mechanics are great with details and problem solving – they can usually take a look at your product or business plan and immediately tell you where the problems lie, as well as how to fix them.
Steve then stepped up to the mike to give us a short and snappy summary of how to Survive the Upturn financially, suggesting methods of improving Cash Flow and securing your business against the economic peaks and troughs. Steve’s sound business advice is always a popular point at any Knowles Warwick conference, and this year was no different, if the feedback is to be believed. His acronym CASH IS KING really resonated with many of the attendees, who rely on Steve for straight-forward business and accounting advice. The main point to take away from Steve’s presentation was, when faced with a financial crisis in your business, always take an objective viewpoint: use your suppliers as creditors; hive off your assets; increase sales; reduce stock levels, and if worst comes to worst, always look at your business as a commodity rather than an extension of yourself, and consider selling.
Over lunch, attendees continued to network and checkout the exhibits, while Twinfield ran a short demonstration of their online accounting software in the main function hall. After lunch, Jennifer Holloway had the none-too-easy job of re-energising the crowd with a bit of humour and a lot of good business sense. Jennifer is all about Personal Branding – using your uniqueness to stand out from the masses and be memorable, whilst also being authentic and true to yourself. As Jennifer will admit herself, her brand is strong like coffee; this is a woman who knows herself and uses it to her advantage. Her advice is to be clear and honest about who you are as a person, and what you and your business stand for, so that customers who are looking for that double shot of espresso can get it quick-sharp, and anyone looking for a soothing cup of camomile tea instantly knows that you aren’t what they are looking for and can move on. Don’t we, as businesses, want more of the right kind of clients? And don’t we, as customers ourselves, want to know as quickly as possible whether a business or service is going to be the right fit for us? We can save a lot of time by being up front and honest about what is important to us; whether that may be brutal honesty or a sympathetic ear, so help the right clients find your business by being authentically you.
Last but not least, Geoff Searle brought the event to a close by presenting a series of case studies that demonstrated the implementation of many of the excellent business hints and tips offered throughout the day. He summarised the key points of the previous four presentations and explained how success can be achieved in an economic upturn by differentiating your business and investing in innovation and technology to stand out from your competitors.
All in all, the event was a resounding success with 95% of attendees saying they would definitely attend a future Knowles Warwick event, and many exhibitors expressing an interest in returning in 2015 – we even sold ten tickets on the day for next year’s conference, which hasn’t even been announced yet!
Finally, we would like to thank everyone who came to the Hilton on the day, the conference wouldn’t have been so successful without every single person who came to support Knowles Warwick, including our sponsors: Twinfield, Caunce O’Hara, Learning Light, The Sheffield College, HSBC, Tax Champion, KWFS, Talent Dynamics and WPA Health Insurance. And a huge thanks goes to our absolutely fabulous speakers who made the day the giant success that it was.
We can’t wait to repeat it next year!
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