Monday, February 23rd, 2009

All business face competition, it’s inevitable, but here at Turbo Lemon media, we find ourselves faced with and having cups of tea with our competitors. Why? A few reasons; the first is that we’re based in a business incubation unit and we’re not the only bright sparks in the North West to enjoy doing what we do enough to make it an occupation. A few of those others have, like us, benefitted from the facilities offered here: mentoring, networking, boardrooms, workspace, donuts, posh buffet. The problem is that it’s easy to feel exposed, under scrutiny and in danger of revealing too much of the company to those others.

While pitching for an Enterprise Investment Award, I raised the issue while storming through my SWOT analysis. My deft observation of “and all the other web designers present a possible threat to us” was met with the most simple and most difficult question:

“Why?”

Which got me thinking. Why were they potential threats? Why shouldn’t we know what each others’ businesses were up to? The thought must have lingered when I was invited to a Business Networking International (BNI) breakfast with the offer of joining a BNI chapter. During the presentation the main speaker said the beauty of BNI was the ability to “lock your competition out.” At this point, my inner-hippie winced and I began to ask myself why (again).

Yes, we should be aware of what the others are up to and it’s important to be aware of what they offer and their brand and design values. But lock them out? I think I’d sooner talk to them, understand what they do, chat about how and where they market for more business, and recognize that their clientele might differ enormously from ours. And I’d chat to them about what we’re up to too.

The Media Factory - a Northern Lights event

So why would I want to go and do something as seemingly daft as that? Well, what if somebody approached the web design company just around the corner with a request for a site that they didn’t have the expertise for. What if the company around the corner knew that this request was right up our street. Hey presto, we have a referral, and not just any referral. We’d have bona fide, built on trust referral, because we all have our reputations to uphold.

In getting to know each other, we can get to know our strengths, our niches and how to (where possible) avoid direct competition in favour of niche service or product. We can share knowledge, solve problems more quickly and pick the brains of those guys who se experience is probably invaluable.

That’s why I’m getting more involved with the Preston ICT Cluster and am helping to initiate a new network within the Northern Lights Business Incubation Unit to encourage the transparency and support that will help us all get through this credit crunch/economic downturn/recession (pick your favourite sound bite).

It makes sense to look after your ideas but in our experience, it’s good to talk.  I tweeted on twitter and straight away, our (new) friends at Creative Mixed Media suggested a brew and a chat.

Now thats progress!

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes, so said Oscar Wilde.

Fame at last?  Excerpt from the magazine

Last month, I was featured in Lancashire Business View as one of the hottest young business talent in the North West. A few things about that: young. Thank you kindly, LBV scribes. I’m thirty and I always talk about how music from the nineties was the best, but if you want to call me young, I’m happy. Business talent, I’ll take that one and run with it.

But back to the point at hand: being included in the feature of this was a concerted PR exercise. I knew I’d been selected for inclusion when staff here at the Media Factory in Preston (where Turbo Lemon Media are based), congratulated me. Well done me. Take a close look.

I’m still trying to work out if not being a ‘man that doesn’t do things the easy way’ means I’m a slacker. I’m also wondering if being Turbon Lemon makes us sound more continental. I’m being picky, but old journalistic habits die hard (old for a young lad of course).

Still all press is good press I’m told.

I was invited to a round table discussion that would form the basis of a follow up article to the Young Uns feature. I accepted, happy to spread the good word of Turbo Lemon Media. At the crack of dawn, I went almost suited and not quite booted to give my tuppence on the issues at hand. Suitably underdressed, we discussed prime attributes required to succeed in business, support mechanisms for young entrepreneurs and I even surprised myself when I went into a well thought out monologue on the importance of intrepreneurship and its vital role in our economy. Here’s how I was transcribed:

Is youth a help or a hindrance in business?
(Tom Stables) Well, I’m 30, so I don’t know if I still qualify as youth but it’s a help because having just graduated in July I am able to use that in my business, my approach to clients and customers.
My already rubbish sense of humour failed to translate to the page. It would also seem I am a bit dim

What is the prime attribute that a young person has to have to succeed in business?
(Tom Stables) I think sometimes people expect the webbie or the geekie to be a bit more less formal, which probably explains why I have appeared a lot less formal today.

Somebody before me talked about the importance of a professional image. In my shirt (ironed I hasten to add), my loose jeans and Converse Chucks, I made light of my appearance. Which in turn, makes me look a bit dim. To be fair, I probably did say a bit more less formal. Oxymoronic! NB: My jeans and Cons didn’t make the cut for the group shot. Thanks Photoshop.


Young Uns. And a badly dressed un.

Do we need to engender, in the schools, a ‘can do’ spirit, so that anybody who has got that drive and inclination to be an entrepreneur and set up their own business has the ethos of ‘Yes, I can do it’?
Here, I delivered some impressive overview on the role of intrepreneurship, which never made it to print. Instead, I look a bit dim

Is Lancashire a good place to be a young person in business?
(Tom Stables) UCLan has built a media factory dedicated to business incubation and for me personally, that was the draw. It’s given me financial support, direction, mentoring and all the advice I could need or want. All that support has kept me in Lancashire. I’ve never thought beyond Preston or Lancashire. It just seemed silly to leave Preston because of that support.
I almost sound like I’m not altogether dim…

(Tom Stables) Well, we project growth but it’s not such a case of relocation as more a case of spreading out so we are in Preston and Manchester and beyond
Dim.

I’ll be more careful on the next PR push, which will be happening very soon as I’m about to go to air on Sri Lankan TV. Watch this space.

Copyright 2009 Turbo Lemon Media Ltd. 4th Floor, Media Factory, UCLan, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE. UK Company No: 6649279.

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