community building

Audioblog on Entrepreneurship – Discussion between Gordon Chesterman, Director of Cambridge University Careers Service and Richard Lucas

(This interview was published on the Cambridge University Careers department web site in 2008  behind a password wall.. I’m re posting it here on Soundcloud

 Our Director, Gordon Chesterman met with Richard during a recent visit to Cambridge and asked him about entrepreneurship and starting your own business.

Part 1 covers introductions, why start you own business and any downsides. (8 minutes) Listen now 

Part 2 covers the skills and attributes needed to succeed, whether to seek other experience first, and the possibility of gaining experience in another SME. (12 minutes) Listen now 

Part 3 introduces speculative approaches to SMEs and advice before making the leap into your own business. (11 minutes) Listen now |

Richard Lucas read Economics at Cambridge, graduating from Pembroke in 1988. He worked for PA Cambridge Economic Consultants with Barry Moore 1989-91 before moving to Eastern Europe, where he has set up or invested in 10 start up businesses, 6 of which are active, currently employing about 400 people in Europe and the United States. Richard has been active in supporting enterprise education (particularly at school level) and gives talks at conferences from time to time about innovation, entrepreneurship and what it is like being in business.

Here is Richard’s Linkedin profile, with links to many of his business interests.

community building

Against corporate social responsibility – CSR

Several years ago I was surveyed by a Chamber of Commerce about the Corporate Social Responsibility policies at PMR, the company I then led. I found so annoying one of the questions “what steps do you take to ensure your staff take part in CSR activities?” that I wrote a CSR policy on the spot. I dislike the idea of compulsory CSR very much. Compulsory good behaviour is as idiotic as the compulsory happiness of Monty Python’s Happy Valley

Beyond this, there are more fundamental issues like the business being a “good” business. I had a few years earlier had a business fiasco where I was the major shareholder in a company that went bust, while supporting a development project in Indonesia. With advice from some staff members,

“PMR is supportive of individual and group efforts of staff to contribute more than their job and the law requires both to the societies in which we operate and the company as a whole. We believe that company resources can provide an effective channel with benefits to people and institutions outside the company and that through doing this both the company and the wider community can gain.

This CSR policy is not about looking good. We mean it. First and foremost.

PMR aims to be a profitable and successful company

In order to fund Corporate Social Responsibility, the company has to be successful, in terms of looking after our clients well, having attractive working conditions for staff, making profits and paying our taxes(1). To give money away we have to be making it and our primary responsibility is to be profitable. It would be irresponsible for management and staff to focus attention on the wider community if the fundamental raison d’etre of the business is not being successfully executed 2. If we don’t look after ourselves then we can’t look after other people, even if we want to.

CSR is not compulsory for our staff

We say “mozesz nie musisz” (Polish “you can but you don’t have to”) with respect to voluntary activities. We don’t want an atmosphere where people are involved in CSR because they feel they have to. Being a “good citizen” is an active choice that individuals can take according to their own consciences and the company will not require participation in CSR activities. PMR policy is to let staff choose whether to get involved. If a member of staff does an outstanding job, but keep his or her private time for their own activities, that is completely acceptable. If a member of staff wants to contribute their own time and resources to a CSR project, it is quite likely that the company will make a matching contribution, in cash or kind. People acting under their own initiative are far more likely to be committed to what they are doing, and the company does not waste time supporting things nobody cares about, just to “look good”.

PMR has four CSR pledges:

That we will act ethically in all areas of our business, aware of the effect we have on all our stakeholders in the work we undertake.
That, where appropriate, company resources will be made available to support programs initiated by members of staff aimed at benefiting the wider community and environment. This can take the form of corporate support for employee giving, corporate support for employee volunteering and corporate giving.
That we will work to ensure a safe, enjoyable and tolerant workplace with equal opportunities for all our employees.
We welcome any initiatives that reduce our energy consumption or cut waste.

To help deliver on these pledges, PMR runs a suggestions scheme on its intranet which is reviewed by the management through which suggestions (about CSR or anything else) can be made. Staff can initiate ideas on their own at any time they like.
In the past, PMR staff have been supportive of:

links between business and education, fostering entrepreneurship and business awareness in Schools and Universities
public speaking initiatives (helping found Toastmasters in Cracow)
sponsoring educational summer school events/parties
children’s and families’ charities.

Some things we support, like joining and supporting a local frisbee club are more a a fun community thing to do than a “worthy cause”. We are not bothered about definitions.

CSR at PMR is bound to evolve as the firm grows, particularly under the influence of the rapidly increasing number of staff from different parts of the world and the ideas that they bring. New ideas (from staff or anyone else reading this document) are always welcome.

community building

Questions to ask before, during and after you start your internship

Introduction This article should be useful to companies designing or running internship programs, who want make them successful, and to interns who want to make sure that they end up in the right sort of company where they are appreciated and valued. For interns, few things in life are as demoralizing as being ready to commit and help an organization and then to find that the company is not interested or aware of their commitment and potential contribution. Sadly some companies systematically inflict this on interns because interns are regarded cheap/free resource so it doesn’t seem to really matter if not much advantage is gained. For companies, this is a big mistake for four reasons. Internships are a highly visible and public way of spreading information about your corporate culture and company among active and ambitious students around the world. If you screw interns around you are destroying value and your reputation. Internships are a very cost effective way of conducting long term recruitment, because there is easily time during an internship to assess whether an individual has the potential to make a long term contribution to the company and is a real high flier. In a standard recruitment exercise such as an interview or logical reasoning testing, executives get an hour or two with the candidates before taking a decision that is expensive for the company and life changing for the candidate. Some organisations may even do thorough research into a candidate prior to this first meeting. This might include a background check to make sure a potential employee is a suitable fit for the role. In an internship, there are several months in which both intern and company can check each other out. Although, it is important to remember that as long as you are working for a company, you might still be subject to the same conditions of employment as everyone else, such as being subject to regular instant tests to ensure you are not using drugs or alcohol in excess. Interns tend to be young, full of energy, and are capable of making a valuable contribution to a company with a new perspective, and time to work on special projects that regular staff have little time for. Interns are people. It is obvious that interns are not as experienced as long standing key employees, but they are still human beings. Just as you can assess the character of successful person by the way they treat people in “low status” jobs, a good indicator of a company’s core values is how it treats “low status” positions. If no one cares about the interns, then there is something badly wrong with your company. For interns – finding and working in a good company can change their experience from being a way to get something useful looking on the CV/resume to a life changing experience. What can a prospective intern do to avoid being stuck in a Dilbert style company? Review your objectives Maybe it is some (or all) of the following objectives come to mind to assess and bridge the gap between perception/imagination and the reality in the targeted industry/company to experience the difference between working and student life getting ready to enter the job market Earn some money Improve your CV Have fun, make new friends/ get a new girl/boyfriend Learn something new Live in a different country Get away from my parents/home town/existing relationships Get a long term position in a target company Get experience of a business /sector Whatever it is, it’s obviously good to think it through, and know what you are looking for. You are far more likely to get what you want if you define it in your own mind first and act accordingly. Going through an organization like Aiesec to a thriving lively city (like Cracow in Poland where PMR is headquartered) see to get feel for it, means that you arrive to a city with an instant network of people to hang out with from different parts of the world. Even if the internship is really dull at least you have a bunch of people to hang out with and grumble with. Remember that recruitment is a two way process. It may seem like there are hundreds of candidates and a few good companies, but equally there are only a few good interns and hundreds of companies are interested in hiring them. A good company certainly has senior people actively looking for good people all the time. If there is a specialized human resource function, they should be able to tell you how it works in their company. If a company or organization does not have the time or culture of answering straight forward questions from you when you are considering who to work for, what is it going to be like when you get there? If you are going for an “A brand” employer like Goldman Sachs, The Economist, Deutsche Bank, Wahaha, Mitsubishi, or SAB Miller things are different in two ways. There can be a power imbalance meaning that the people dealing with interns in the well known company have the “you are so lucky to work here” mentality, and don’t appreciate being quizzed about what actually happens to interns. If this is the case, maybe you should steer clear and work somewhere where you will be appreciated. The other more obvious point is that you will have a lot of competition and need to be a bit smarter than the average to get in as an intern. For example: A Chinese speaking student might be more valuable to a consulting company not in China which needs the skills more badly than companies in China. Think about what you’ve got that the average person hasn’t and to whom that might be valuable Check if any of the senior executives of your target companies have publications, speeches, presentations, Linkedin type identities and approaching them first rather than going direct to the HR dept can differentiate you completely from the average candidate. If the intern program manager gets an e-mail from you saying “I am writing to you on the recommendation of the CEO /Director of international marketing /whatever” it obviously improves your chances. Do your homework/research Use company web pages, Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace, the Blogosphere, Google and personal and institutional networks to research the company, country, town, function and position. It is much easier than it ever has been to get information about companies and the culture of the internet makes it feasible to ask people questions. If you are a member of or another “internship” type organization, they for sure have alumni associations and through them it should be possible to make contact with interns from previous years. The questions become very obvious. “Which companies are good for an intern in town X for someone who wants to get experience in Y?” The more knowledge you display of your target company in your application the better (“I can help with your latest project launch as per your web site”) looks very powerful in an application. What does an internship look like? Does the company have a defined concept of what interns are for and what will happen to them. The “cheap labour so it doesn’t matter” attitude is the one to be most sensitive to. No one will tell you that openly so you have to read between the lines. If there is no policy and program for interns, it increases the chances that no one cares. An intern should know what sort of tasks can be expected and it is good to have a project or some tasks where if they make an effort it is clear that they have succeeded in something. Is internship a route to job offer? A good company will screen interns early on after they join to assess if they have the potential to be a long term employee. The definition of a high flier will mean different things in different companies. At PMR we are looking for people who are friendly, with high levels of energy and commitment, intelligence, a willingness to work hard and acquire new skills, who are ambitious but not arrogant. If an intern is doing well, does the company have a means of making sure they get to meet staff who can take a decision to hire them. Are interns treated as employees, invited to company social events, formally induced and introduced to the company. Not every smaller company will have as formal a policy as Microsoft, where there are special codes for interns . For a funny description of how Microsoft intern Jeff Maurone experienced being invited to dinner with Bill Gates click here . Anyone who has read about Bill Gates involvement and attitude to recruitment may reflect on the degree to which his active example of leadership in high flier recruitment may be part of the Microsoft’s success. The nightmare situation that interns can find themselves in is sitting at a desk in a large office, being referred to as “the intern” and not being introduced to anyone. Any company that treats a human being as a noun is to be avoided. Going to company parties and social events is a way of getting to know other staff and departments, and for the intern to decide if this is the sort of place they want to work. If they are doing well, the word should have spread around and it is a chance to build a network even before the job offer comes in. What happens at the end of an internship? A good company will review what went well and badly, and how the person feels about their experience. No company or organization is perfect and the first step to continuous improvement is assessment of what is going on and has happened. A good company will be open to constructive criticism and feedback. Is the company you are applying to doing well, thriving and prospering? Many people do not think about this issue when they are job hunting, for whom it is even more relevant than for an intern. Not all companies are doing well in the basic business sense of making healthy profits and having happy clients and staff. If there are problems with profitability, and falling sales, is likely to impact on the atmosphere and the difference that you can make. At the very simplest level, it may well be that your supervisors are firefighting or worrying about job cuts rather than paying you attention. Equally if you have a project to do there may be less money available to pay for research or travel connected to it. Can you have the e-mail and phone numbers of previous interns to talk to them If the company and intern program is good this will not be a problem at all, and indeed it is highly likely that some of the people whose contact details you are given will be full time employees who joined the company through the intern route. Any company that makes difficulties or cannot give you good reasons should be Googled for example with the company name and “boring internship” as key words. Have you got the right attitude? My first full time job was with Westland Helicopters in Yeovil, England in 1984, and I was very critical of the experience (it was one of the things that led me to consider setting up businesses of my own). I was very keen to work hard and had only a few challenging tasks while I was there. With hindsight in some ways I was too demanding of the company and had little concept of the pressures of being a European defence contractor at a time of recession with huge pressure on military budgets. I didn’t have experienced people giving me advice at the time. What I tell people now, is what I wish someone had told me then and in my view, give a view to the attitude that makes for a successful intern (or staff member of a good company). In my view, it is vital to have a “get your hands dirty” attitude. The “get your hands dirty” attitude means a willingness to take the rough with the smooth, doing dull stuff with a positive attitude without thinking “someone else ought to do this – I am too important/talented because I am a student at a top university.” Good senior managers usually got there because they were ready to do the tough stuff, and will notice if you get stuck in. A good attitude also means that you think and contribute your own ideas to the company, making suggestions and asking questions. Concluding remarks I don’t think I can do a better job than Steve Jobs – speaking to Stanford graduate as they started their time at university. I strongly encourage you to watch the whole 15 minute speech, which can influence the way you live. Many people who have seen this lecture talk about it, though some find it somewhat idealistic. Students who are considering an internship or employees of a company that has internships reading this article should aim high as possible. Steve Jobs argues that no one should settle for less than the best, which means to him doing things that that they love doing. If you work for a company, review your intern processes to make sure that they are as good as they possibly can be. The trigger for writing this article was meeting clearly intelligent and motivated interns in Aiesec Krakow complaining about the boring days they were having in their companies. This article is being reviewed by our interns at PMR and our recruiters for feedback. We don’t want to be criticizing others without having good practice in house. If you want to be an intern, take the effort to find a great company and fight like a tiger to get in. Good luck.

community building

Why Trade Fairs are not a waste of time – an interview with the editor of Speciality Chemicals Magazine

Richard Lucas interviewed Dr. Andrew Warmington, the Editor of Speciality Chemicals Magazine.

Andrew Warmington

Exhibitors have complained since the beginning of time that fairs have ‘too many’ visitors who are not buyers but competitors, students and people who are trying to sell to those who are paying for stands. Are these complaints getting stronger over time, or is this just inevitable human nature?

A.W.: My opinion is that it is basically human nature. Everyone would rather see people they want to sell to more than people they want to buy from and I would guess that most of those who complain about this as exhibitors, do much the same thing as visitors in different contexts – or even in the same context. As in every industry, there are a few people who, if the head buyer from the largest customer was wafted down from paradise on a white cloud with a £20 million contract to sign, would complain about the lingering smell of his aftershave.In addition, there have always been a few companies who build stands that are three quarters shut-off, use untrained temporary staff to bat casual enquiries away and are then genuinely surprised that the event has not worked for them! Fortunately, most realise that the days of ‘set up the stand and they will come’ are gone and that an exhibition presence is only part of a non-stop dialogue with the market.I would also suggest that talking to your competitors at a trade show is generally a good thing. Genuine contenders do not have anything very much to hide from competitors at a trade show and, in the information age, there is no mileage in shying away from them. There are people who are interested in promoting their brand and can do that through promoting through giveaways and freebie items (for an example of this Click here) it is a good way of getting there names out there. There were issues with IP being stolen in the past because it was copied from information on a trade show stand, but these days very few people cover their stand with commercially sensitive information.

The internet is making it possible to make contacts without fairs, and some web sites offer ‘virtual fairs’ messaging between those who list and those who are visiting. Could fairs die away? Could the failure of Informex be a sign that the market is shrinking?

A.W. No way, never. It will never happen in this industry and I doubt that it will happen in many others either. The failed launch of Informex Europe is a specific instance of a company trying to extend a tried and trusted brand from the
US into a European market that did not specifically need it there and was wary of creating a monopoly situation. It has nothing to do with the supposed rise of ‘virtual fairs’.Informex Europe could only have succeeded in practice by killing off Chemspec Europe. The major global show in this space, CPhI Worldwide, which is much bigger than either Informex in the

US or Chemspec Europe, is already owned by the company that bought Informex from a trade association in 2005. The industry clearly took the view that this outcome was not desirable.The fine chemicals industry operates on the basis of trust (billions of pounds of IP are involved), non-stop communication and personal knowledge of the people involved. Track record is the key to everything. There are plenty of ways other than trade fairs for people to contact each other and these are evolving over time and impacting on how business is done at events of all kinds, but you cannot simply take the face-to-face element out and I cannot foresee this changing any time soon. Moreover, the competencies that fine chemicals firms are marketing at events are not strikingly different to each other. Very few of them have USPs to market or new products to launch at events. They go to these events first and last to cement customer and supplier relationships and source speculative enquiries which may generate more business in the long term – though any passing trade that does come by is treated as a bonus.You might even think it surprising that companies in an industry that goes on track record – something that you simply cannot buy – pay out to have exhibition space at all. Why not simply cultivate existing customers direct and use the money saved more productively? Nonetheless, they do go to events, because this offers them a way of interacting with customers and the wider industry that cannot be done any other way.For customers, it is essentially the same. They could not get a satisfactory result in terms of sourcing suppliers from a virtual fair in an industry like this. They too come to events to meet existing suppliers, negotiate contracts and maybe chance upon someone who can offer them something a bit out of the ordinary. Whilst all of this can be done outside fairs, fairs are by far the most efficient and cost-effective way of doing it.

Some well managed fairs – PLMA’s ‘World of Private Label’ for example, deliberately and carefully target buyers and give them free tickets, while charging much higher prices than normal (€170 for ticket plus catalogue) to those who want to see the show – a classic ‘pay more get more’ tactic. They do not make the catalogue available on line or by post, meaning that you have to go to the show to get the information. Is this a good model for other industries? A.W.:I think that this idea has some mileage in certain sectors – although those who charge more to give more had better be sure that they can deliver! What the buyers need to know is not so much that they are getting a VIP lounge and a smiley hostess but that their coming to the show is worth their while. Most big-budget buyers are probably already pretty blasé about being entertained; they take it for granted.In addition, there are many industries where ethical considerations mean that buyers are unable to accept free tickets. The pharmaceuticals industry is one such. At the last Chemspec Europe, some big pharmaceuticals buyers opted to come under their own steam rather than take part in a programme of structured meetings with pre-qualified suppliers with their expenses paid, purely for this reason.Charging for entry is a side-issue – if you are coming at all, you have already paid far more in travel and hotel costs than the ticket will cost. It is only significant if you shell out to attend an event that does not work for you – then you will start to resent the charge. And firms who think they can be a serious player in any industry by getting a list of contacts out of a catalogue need to have a serious rethink.

Many companies exhibit at fairs both to meet their end customers and deal with sales channels distributors/agents. Distributors and agents like going to fairs because they can find new opportunities there. Is it a smart thing for a manufacturer to invite their existing customers and agents to a show where they can meet your competitors?

A.W.:It depends on the industry and the show. In a mega-event like K in plastics or Drupa in the printing industry, that would be a moot point because your presence at the event is a necessity just to be taken seriously as a continuing presence in the industry and the vast majority of customers, agents and competitors will be there anyway.In some totally commoditised sectors where it is all a zero sum game, I can imagine that a few firms have invited customers and agents to a show and lived to regret it, but that would only reflect that someone else had a better offer. In this day and age, you cannot rely on your customer’s ignorance and inertia to shield you indefinitely; you have to win their business by having something to offer them that is at the very least good enough to make switching pointless – and preferably a lot better than that.Moreover, in the fine and speciality chemicals industry and, I would guess, many others, the distinction between competitors and customers is by no means hard and fast. When Mike Tarrant interviewed me for the editorship of Speciality Chemicals Magazine, he said something about Chemspec that stuck in my mind as odd – but he should know, he co-founded the event in 1986: “It’s the sort of event where you could shut the door on visitors and there would still be a lot of business going on”. Companies in this industry conduct a lot of business to each other, outsourcing surges in work to each other or going to each other for particular reactions they lack the ability or capacity to do. For example, I once visited two Swiss fine chemicals firms close to each other. They are competitors for work from the large pharmaceutical and agrochemical companies. One can carry out phosgenation, a dirty reaction that needs careful handling, the other cannot – so whenever the latter gets a project requiring phosgenation, it automatically outsources it to the former.

Some exhibitors decide not to exhibit at industry events but to go where the customers go. So for example a translation company may exhibit at CeBIT to sell software localization and document translation rather than going to Should fair organisers do more to promote themselves at such events? For example, should Chemspec not be promoting itself more for example with a stand at the events where buyers of Speciality Chemicals go – maybe pharma fairs or others?

A.W.: Other events, including CPhI and BCPC, the main pharmaceutical and agrochemicals event are places where we go to promote the magazine and, where we are allowed to, the Chemspec shows. This is not new.The difficulty for us specifically would be knowing where to stop, since the products covered in the fine and speciality chemicals space go into so many different end-use industries it is mind-boggling. We also market the show by targeted ads in industry-specific publications, as well as working with others to deliver key customers and buyers to our exhibitors.More generally, I would take issue with the implication that industry events and “where the customers go” are totally different. If none of the customers go to an industry event, it is already living on borrowed time. And, as above, the distinction between customers and competitors is often fluid.

In a globalised world people are making more and more contacts with people on the other side of the world, and in the end they want to meet people face to face. It is logical to meet at a fair because you can do so many other things at the same time? Is there a better alternative to a fair, where it is recognised that it is a meeting point, and everyone just checks in to the same hotels and does meetings around the hotel complex without the cost of stands etc.?

A.W.: Possibly, because the key point is that people are in the same place at the same time rather than at an exhibition centre as such. It is not uncommon for companies to take advantage of a trade show’s presence and do it on the cheap by taking a hotel suite nearby and inviting their customers. This is pure parasitism, but you cannot legislate against it.I can name one exhibition in our field where the vast majority of the action takes place at hotel suites around the city, while none of the big players exhibit; the show floor is mostly Chinese and Indian suppliers and small service providers, and there is an allied conference. The whole event was moved a few years ago, precisely so that the organiser could book up all the hotel suites in town and at least make a cut from those riding on its back. Needless to add, the event is dying slowly.All that said, could the free riders do what they do without the event actually being there? It would still need someone to organise it, book the suites and manage the logistics and so on. Often companies grumble about the cost of fairs and talk of doing something else ‘by the industry, for the industry’. Usually, though, they do not and with good reason: organising any event is a complicated undertaking and the upfront saving in cost might not be so impressive once you factor in the time needed. It is better to work with the organisers to deliver the kind of show you want to the best of their ability.Of course, there are plenty of events, often organised by associations, that take place in hotels and do not involve company stands. They are called networking events rather than trade shows and if that is what you want, fine. I would wager that there are many more trade shows than networking events in the world, which suggests that the show floor element is still vital to the vast majority of attendees. If, however, you are eager to get involved in a networking event, you may want to consider these networking events for CEOs.

We do a lot of training for staff going to events to make sure we get good value in companies I control. Recently we were across the aisle from one of the world’s leading companies – a competitor. Based on our observations, we estimated we got at least ten times as many sales leads due to good technology and training. Why is it the case that so many companies spend a lot of money going to the fair and then do not invest the final few Euros/Pounds/Dollars to get their money’s worth?

A.W.: Good question! I never had any training in how to work a show floor, I just had to get out there and do it – though admittedly I don’t work in sales and, as an editor, exhibitors are generally more receptive to talking to me than they are to my sales colleagues. This is definitely one of the perks of being an editor, and something that attracted me to the role. Editing had always been an ambition of mine, and quite a few of my friends work as Freelance editors so we often talk about our experiences regarding the benefits of trade fairs. Plenty of people could probably benefit from better training, specific to selling at trade events (technology does not really come into it in my field) and in general. Although things are changing, there is still a mind-set in some quarters that believes that you should set up the stand and wait for the leads to come in. Considering the huge expense of this, then flying in and buying hotel rooms and meals for stand staff, it always amazes me how little thought some companies put in to their presence at shows. Did you really get ten times the sales leads though? I’d like to know how you measured that!

Which was the best organised fair (other than DMG ones) you’ve been to and why?

A.W.:. I went to K’98 and K’2001 with my old job at European Plastics News. For a massive show, covering all 17 halls at Messe Düsseldorf and involving the erection of huge pieces of kit, it was astonishingly well organised and the only real problems were those generated by the sheer scale of it.

Which are the most fun?

A.W.: I personally don’t enjoy trade fairs very much but what differentiates the best from the worst include an attractive city as a location, having a relevant, free-to-attend conference that I can dip into or out of at will, a large press contingent to interact with and some elements on the show floor that make it a bit different to the usual, because one can look awfully like another after a few years in the job.Again, leaving DMG fairs aside, Reed’s In-Cosmetics is always a good one. It is manageable in size, well-organised and, once you get past the marketing guff that surrounds the cosmetics industry, there is a lot of interesting technology to report on, much of which is geared to launching there. Plus the attendee base is, ahem, more varied than the usual collection of middle-aged white men in suits….Informex in the US is always enjoyable, especially when it takes place in
New Orleans just before Mardi Gras as it will next year. This was my first exhibition experience in my current job and, although it was a steep learning curve, attending the exhibitor showcases and then working the show floor for 2.5 days was vital in developing my skills. It has been diminishing returns ever since but it is still a good show.

With my freelance hat on, I have covered antiques fairs. Antiques for Everyone, which takes place at the NEC three times per year is always good – plenty to see and interesting people to talk to.

What fairs are you going to this year?

A.W.: My yearly circuit generally involves Informex USA in February, In-Cosmetics and/or Chemspec India in April, Chemspec Europe in June and CPhI Worldwide in October. I have also been to CPhI Japan and Chemspec
China at times, plus others ad hoc. Attending something from a different end-use field, like ITMA in textiles, is always a useful experience.

Some/many fairs are connected to a trade organisation, a training company, a magazine or web site. Others focus exclusively on the fair. What model is best? If a fair does a magazine, how can it get coverage in its competitors’ magazines?

A.W.: I’m obviously biased, as the only editor of a magazine in the chemicals industry which also has a major exhibition presence, but I have first-hand evidence of the value of organising an exhibition and publishing a magazine (and having a web presence, of course) in the same market.Obviously you can use each to promote the other but it goes far beyond that. As sister publication to the Chemspec shows, Speciality Chemicals Magazine gets the inside track on technology developments and market trends at the shows, while its role in publicising the events beforehand brings me into contact with ever more people. That’s not to say that trade bodies or training companies cannot run good events, but the synergy here is unbeatable IMHO.Like most exhibition organisers, we also do contra deals with magazines which are, to some extent, competitors, giving them a stand or distribution at the event in return for pre-show advertising. It is similar to the symbiotic relationship between the show and its own magazine. Editorial coverage we have to earn, the same as everyone else, by generating something worth covering. This year, for example, we ran a press conference about the shows and their alliance with a key industry association that boosted coverage. As in every industry, I know the journalists on other magazines well and trust them to make a judgement on this.

community building

PMR speaks to Consulting Company Kline’s CEO – Joe Tarantola

Richard Lucas was speaking to Joe Tarantola CEO of Kline: PMR has been a close partner of Kline for many years, with strong cultural and personal affinities. Joe Tarantola is CEO of Kline, a highly successful worldwide consulting and research firm which has been in business for nearly 50 years. Following a brainstorming session in our HQ in Cracow – in Central Europe – I proposed an interview for the blog. I didn’t know what Joe was going to say, but I knew the results would be interesting. My questions and Joe’s answers are presented below:

1 Building a happy thriving global company is not an easy occupation – What motivates you and are there any downsides?

JT: Historically, Kline was basically a U.S.-centric company with 95% of our staff located in our headquarters. Our friendly and collegiate environment fostered strong and lasting ties among the staff and I believe these relationships in large part helped us to successfully transform into a truly global organization with several formerly U.S. based employees relocating to our worldwide locations. We had some brilliantly effective employee engagement strategies that meant that we were able to keep our best talent and even persuade them to move abroad to work for us. The benefits we give them are second to none. I committed myself to doing whatever I could to maintain the camaraderie and mutual respect we had always enjoyed here and to extend that corporate culture throughout all our geographies. And that means frequent international travel to meet with staff. Our ability to meld people of different cultures and backgrounds into the firm, and accept what they have to offer to improve what we do and who we are, has been particularly gratifying to me. The only downside is the time spent away from my family while travelling.

2 People often say that competition has never been fiercer. Do you agree, and if yes, how do you account for Kline’s success in this context?

JT: I would certainly have to agree that, on the surface, competition for strategic consulting engagements and market research clients is tougher than we have faced in the past. However, I believe that Kline has positioned itself uniquely within these market spaces so that we can continue to compete with and prevail against much larger organizations based on some powerful points of leverage we possess.

3. Kline’s clients traditionally are large successful companies from North America. Do American companies have different challenges from their European and Asian competitors?

JT: Actually, although the majority of our business does presently come from North American — and European –based companies and our largest client is headquartered in Europe, we have invested heavily to increase our business development capabilities in Asia and the Middle East. We tend to serve the largest competitors in the markets we target, so almost all of them have become truly global entities to meet the realities of their businesses. You could argue that American companies face the additional challenge of having to manage their long-term plans and initiatives versus the short-term expectations of the investment community. These pressures have clearly had a negative impact on such things as research and development and innovation.

4 Big companies from developing countries feature among Kline clients. Do companies in advanced economies have much to fear from new competitors or will the reasons that rich countries stay rich remain intact for another generation or two?

JT: Businesses change and evolve much more rapidly these days, so I think that a generation or two is a virtual eternity for our clients. There is certainly a large amount of fear of what the impact of these new competitors will be. But I think that this fear will naturally turn into an interest for collaboration in many instances, and the global markets will benefit from this.

5 Some people say that national stereotypes sometimes contain a grain of truth. Do you agree? Are companies losing their national identity as staff becomes more multi ethnic and mobile. Do you think Kline will cease to be an American company – or has that already happened?

JT: I do believe that there is a thread of reality in some of the stereotypes you hear. In fact, we often enjoy a fair bit of laughter at Kline from these typecasts as we joke amongst ourselves in a firm that contains most nationalities one can think of and teams them together on a regular basis. I think that it is those differences that make the world interesting and the commonalities that hold it all together. We are rapidly approaching the point where over 50% of our staff will be located outside the United States and more that half of our senior leadership are from Europe and Asia, so I no longer think of Kline as an American company.

6 Costs. Keeping costs under control by off shoring and the use of new technology is nothing new. Kline is a heavy user of Skype and Webex. What would you say to companies that prefer face-to-face meetings? Will they be forced to change, and what will happen to the old fashioned ways of doing things?

JT: Nothing is more effective in business than a face-to-face meeting. Body language, facial expressions and eye contact are all important measures for any human being. However, the reality is to successfully grow and compete globally companies must embrace the technologies that provide alternative ways to communicate and collaborate. Otherwise they will need to expend a huge amount of resources just to maintain and operate local offices in proximity of their customers and suppliers. At Kline we use both Webex and Skype services heavily for internal communication as well as for frequent and efficient interaction with our clients and partners. Our clients are embracing this necessity at a rapid pace and our staff use these tools effectively to build relationships and share knowledge. Are there are times when nothing can substitute for face-to-face? Certainly, but perhaps a lot less than you would think.

7 Competition. The CEO of a major and successful French industrial concern said to me recently, “we all have access to the same people, capital, technology and tools, so the dynamics in which we can compete are strategy and execution. History verifies the strategy, but how can we guarantee outstanding execution. That is the challenge” Do you agree? And how can large companies become great executors of their strategies?

JT: I do agree that, for the most part, success lies in execution. The most brilliant strategy can easily become eroded without the diligent and committed execution of the plan. On my desk right now is the book Execution by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burc and I keep it close to me for that very reason. I also strongly believe that successful companies operate in an environment of trust amongst the team members. You have to know that everyone will do what they say they are going to do, and almost as importantly, will not end up doing what they promise they won’t do. Unfortunately, we do see our clients sometimes struggle with the execution phase of strategic change. Their staffs are smaller than they were in the past and everyone seems to be working harder than ever. As such, implementation and execution of new initiatives can often suffer. Certainly, the alignment of goals, objectives and roles is critical as is the organization of the team implementing the strategy or change. Individual performance objectives must also be in line with the goals of the greater organization in order to increase the likelihood of true success. All these types of initiatives involve change at the organizational and individual level and some people are more well-suited than others in embracing and dealing with change. Getting assistance from outside consultants who are expert in these issues can yield true benefits over the long term.

8 What is the biggest change in the last 25 years of your business experience, and what would you like to see happen in the next 25?

JT: I feel as if 80% of the change that has occurred in my 25 years at Kline has been in the last three years. We have taken a well-known, 50-year-old market research firm, chosen a path to a market space that is full of challenges and pitfalls, and embraced a process of change and improvement that will carry us forward for many years. Twenty-five more years? I don’t know about that, but what is most important for me in the future is to see Kline realize its goal of becoming a truly excellent firm, recognized for making our clients successful while enjoying and respecting both what we do and the people we work with within the firm. Our people all deserve that kind of success in their futures.

9 If there was one piece of advice you would give to executives planning their long term careers what would it be.

JT: On my wall hangs the I CHING image for Chaos. I keep it there to remind me that change and improvement is needed and necessary, and that we all must continually push ourselves beyond what is comfortable and known to us. I would say to chose a path and career that will allow you to constantly test your own limits and abilities, so that when your career is over you can look back and be confident that you have hopefully exceeded your own expectations.

community building

William A. Cohen, PhD, Major General, USAFR, Ret. on success and leadership


William A Cohen is a recognised expert on leadership The Institute of Leader Arts He runs a leadership training institute and you can see him here

I was very interested to see that a retired soldier was advising about leadership, and looked at the web site which was full of common sense, and challenges the idea that the military is a place of centralised top down decision making. I talked to about this video here being available to Global Entrepreneurship Week which we are supporting: hopefully they’ll agree. Many thanks to Bill for his time.

1 If you could define the level of duty and commitment that a business person should have, what is it ?

If you want to be successful, you must be fully committed to your success. No one will be more committed to your project than you are yourself, regardless of pay or other incentives and this includes employees, joint venture partners, suppliers, and subcontractors. If you aren’t fully committed as an entrepreneur, save your money and do something else.

2. Is it reasonable to expect people to make sacrifices for a business in the same way that soldiers do/should. Is there a difference between the vision that should be presented to inspire soldiers to make sacrifice and business people ?

The level of sacrifice demanded in military operations is of course much higher because of the risk of loss of life. However, the concept is the same. Look at any successful business, whether a local restaurant or what has become Microsoft or an individual such as Donald Trump and you will find both a vision and sacrifices made to achieve that success. There is no “free lunch.”

3. Business could be defined as doing a great job for stakeholders (customers, shareholders (staff, suppliers), society.. Do you agree, is

making a profit a goal capable of inspiring staff.

I was Peter Drucker’s first PhD graduate. Peter believed that profit only provided the resources for the cost of capital and innovation in the business – otherwise profit is a “rip-off” of society. I would add further that while success may include monetary rewards and this can be personally motivating or motivating to others such as investors, you better have more than that or there is not much rationale for the existence of your endeavor.

4. Modern business books often emphasize pragmatism more than principle. Is that a mistake

Some books have always preached success over principle. Does this work? Over the short term, maybe. Over the long term — well, you look in the mirror every morning. You decide what you want to see. Again quoting Drucker: providing prostitutes for visiting business associates doesn’t make you unethical. It merely make you a pimp.

5. It is often said that the younger generation is more introverted, selfish, and consumerist “me now” thinking. Do you agree, if you do is it a problem, if not, why do poeple observe it.

Maybe, but younger people are also more innovative, idealistic, and willing to risk. This isn’t an age thing, it’s a personal thing. General characteristics develop in response to the way a society itself has developed. As a marketer, you can adjust your approach based on what exists and the wants, needs, and demands of your prospects. As a leader, you set the example as you direct and guides others. This is like parenting. It is not what you say, it is what you do that is important.

6. Some countries and cultures are said to be more corrupt than others, yet some supposedly corrupt cultures are quite successful in business terms (Japan, China, Korea, even Italy). Do your theories of leadership have international applicability ? or would you change them for other cultures?

There are no new leadership theories despite what you may hear. There is nothing new in leadership which wasn’t already known by the ancients, and documented in books such as those written by Xenophon. The difference – ancient and modern – and in different cultures, are in application and how these concepts are expressed to an audience that wants to master this topic.

7. the Global Entrepreneurship Week, and other enterprise promotion activities often refer to or appeal in more or less subtle terms to greed and becoming wealthy. Do you think this is a mistake ? should the world change its view of wealth creation or should the promoters of enterprise look for more universal goals than simply “get rich quick”

The motivations designed to appeal to “greed” or to “get rich quick” are designed to sell a course, product, a book, or even an idea. Take a look at the promises and the wording made by politicians running for office and you’ll usually see the same thing. Winston Churchill, one of the most successful politicians of the last century exhorted: “I have nothing to offer you but “blood, sweat, and tears.” – but he said that AFTER he got elected. As I said earlier, personal success may include a monetary component. There’s nothing wrong with that. Most people would rather be wealthy than not and this is logical and reasonable.

8. If a young adult or child is thinking about careers and skills that they will need, what would you advise them to do in order to learn about management and leadership. Rather few jobs will give that type of skill and experience, yet these are vital life skills.

You don’t need to be a manager or a supervisor to be a leader. In fact, people have this backwards. You don’t get to be a manager or a supervisor until you become a leader first. But to be a leader, all you need to do is to raise your hand. In and out of work organizations there are more leadership jobs than can be filled from savings bond salesman, to putting together a meeting. Most don’t want to do these. They are unpaid and there may be little glory in them. But that’s the only way one learns leadership. You can’t learn it from academic courses or books, although both can help to inspire you and give you leadership hints – you have to learn leadership by doing and by yourself.

9. If there were just one or two things that you would like to see changed in the way leadership is taught in both the military and in business, what would it be.

Most people have never been in leadership positions. Where the military differs from most businesses is the assumption that all members must learn leadership. Therefore from day one individuals are taught, first by example and then continually through courses and training. There is an old saying that every private has a marshal’s baton in his knapsack. We don’t have marshal’s in our military, but the concept is the same. Businesses, even large corporations make the opposite assumption – that most employees will not become leaders and therefore don’t need to learn anything about leadership. This is a mistake, even for a small organization. Leadership is so pervasive that even junior employees in small organizations need to be able to practice it and develop along these lines.

10. Apart from Drucker, what business writers and teachers do you admire, and what books should I read/listen to (apart from yours)

There are too many for me to list. As much depends on the reader’s ability to relate to the author and what he is saying as to the material because some worthwhile books and authors are difficult to understand. For example, one of the best leadership books written in modern times is Leadership by James MacGregor Burns. But Burns is a political scientist, not a businessman and his book is more than 500 pages long and difficult to master. If you are looking for a good motivational book, read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, a classic, easy to read with eternal truths presented in a very motivating way. If you want a great book on how one man did it, read How I Made One Million Dollars in Mail Order by E. Joseph Cossman. Drucker wrote 40 books and all of them are worthwhile. Before getting into Drucker however, I would recommend my own book A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher.

community building

Using multi lingual Google Adwords for international export sales and market research

January 8th, 2009 · No Comments

Cheaper, better and faster ways to have new customers come to you.


Successful marketing managers are measured more by the quality and number of quality sales leads they generate than the soft fuzzy brand image stuff that hard nosed businesses deplore.

Smart marketing managers make sure they work for companies with compelling value propositions, rather than those who have little more than “the brand” going for them. This article is aimed at successful companies that are achieving good results using best practice with a low cost per quality sales lead.

As the title of the article suggests, and Google’s explosive revenue growth proves, it’s highly likely that any successful company will have at least experimented with Google Adwords. If your company is currently spending more than a million Euros a year on conventional marketing (conventional adverts, direct mail/telesales, trade fairs, and events) and has never spent anything on Google Adwords then something is almost certainly wrong. Even a few thousand well spent Euros/Pounds/Dollars on Adwords can generate better results than conventional marketing. This article is more aimed at readers who find this statement obvious rather than those who have yet to learn/understand. If you don’t understand and you want to keep your job, stop reading this article and learn about Adwords now.

Let’s take a fictional but potentially realistic case study (could this be you?)

You are a successful marketing manager. The company you work for defines the key goal of your department as “the number of high quality sales leads you generate for the sales team”. You generate leads, they sell. Suppose you spent GBP/Euro/ US$/ 20-50K on Adwords in 2008 and its been highly successful. The cost per high quality qualified lead was less than 40 Euros, and the sales team regard you as something of a hero. Senior management hasn’t quite “got it” yet, and still ike to go to expensive trade fairs, splurge on conference sponsorships, but you’ve been redirecting budget to on line and have cut Trade Press advertising completely. Your spend at Google is increasing. However all the planned Google Adwords advertising has been done in English, and you know that this isn’t smart. The multi lingual Adwords pilot was a fiasco (more on this later).

As a result of the global economic downturn, new international markets have been given a higher priority. The CEO and other main board directors, have been asking questions about countries in which the company doesn’t have a good position, and results are expected. The sales team expect you do help them in the same way you have in your traditional English language markets.

The familiar problem is people and resources. There are fewer people than a couple of years ago. The current view is that the existing team has to “try harder” meaning “put in more hours”. Its only when a group of countries gets in enough revenue that a dedicated person is appointed (and that is always in sales not marketing). Senior management is aware of the “chicken and egg” problem, but will not create new positions in marketing without a guarantee of a return. While they understand is that is impossible to visit all countries , they expect prioritization. Anyone who finds a solution can look forward to rapid advancement. The challenge is to know how to prioritize and how to spent scarce resources well.

Your in-house know how about Google Adwords is better than some consultants. You know what it means to have “content network” turned off, to reduce the low value click throughs. You are using Competitor activity is being analysed with “site-related keywords” in the keyword suggestion tool and with You have robust rapid site development so that well designed keyword rich landing pages for your campaigns can go up within 48 hours – learn more about landing page design here. If your in house team are too busy (sounds familiar) you have approved outsourced web developers who are quick, cheap and reliable. You are using exact matches and using Google Analytics Conversion Code to track the results. In English on line marketing, you are ahead of the game. The situation in foreign languages is however far from satisfactory. Looking to get the most of SEO and improve the ranking of your website? Then it may be in your best interest to check google keyword position, as this can help you understand what’s going on.

As a result of brainstorming and common sense, the idea of Adwords advertising in languages other than English has been considered and an unsatisfactory pilot has taken place The most successful keywords in English were translated, and keywords bought in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Most were surprisingly cheap usually except for some German keywords which were astonishingly expensive, suggesting that someone valued them very highly indeed. As a result of inadequate budgeting there we no dedicated localized landing pages in the language of the key words so to start with clicks were directed to the correct bit of “about us” on the corporate web site which is in German French Italian Spanish and Japanese. This produced reasonable traffic but a high “bounce rate” where visitors arrived and left almost immediately. Visitors arrived expecting to see information about latest products but soon discovered that the web site did not provide the product information they were looking for in the right language.

Dramatic and stressful situations arose in the headquarters where Italian and German speakers started calling up and finding that no one was available to talk to them. Marketing was made to feel stupid. Surely it was predictable that Adwords in Italian might lead to Italians calling up.

The second phase of the pilot was to direct the clicks to distributors’ web pages and country offices.

The distributors had no idea that their leads were arriving thanks to global marketing, but were olf course appreciative. A retrospective survey revealed that there was some increase in the number of leads coming off distributor web sites, but as distributor offers and promotions never matched exactly what was going on in the wholly owned subsidiaries, integration was hard.

The country offices were not set up to deal with sales leads generated in this fashion. Traditionally minded sales reps did not have the skills to properly and quickly qualify the leads, and some bad feeling was generated as sales managers grumbled about the fact that students and competitors were “wasting” advertising money on by clicking, And marketing felt their efforts were not being properly followed up on.

Conclusions, lessons to learn, and action items

The main lesson to learn and conclusion are that foreign language Google based market entry strategies can be a very cost effective way of generating sales leads and new potential distribution channels, provided the project is well executed. Objectives must be properly defined . The company must be prepared to deal with things they are not used to, like people ringing up who don’t speak your language..

Local language Google Adwords work if the results are measured according to traditional online advertising metrics. – they are cheap and people do click on them.

If you are doing the project in house, you need to prepare carefully, or if you want to outsource it, make sure that you use an experienced market entry consultancy that knows about internet and on line markets to set up the whole process with you.

You must review and define marketing campaign objectives before you start. Obvious objectives could include

– Market Research

– Finding a distributor- By-passing disloyal distributors- Rewarding and supporting good distributors- Generating leads for in house sales and business development executives There may well be additional business goals that you could also support through “Adwords plus a landing page” process, like selling excess stock, re-launching old products, finding acquisition targets, or new suppliers. It is a very flexible way to reach a new audience. But it is best to start with “low hanging fruit” IE projects which (if they succeed) will be regarded as a success by everyone, like “finding a distributor” in a country where sales are not satisfactory.

It’s obvious that it doesn’t make sense to do Adwords in Russian to promote a product that is not ready for the Russian market. If you do not have a distributor in Russia, or you have good reasons to believe that one or more of your products might sell very well there, then it can be a cheap and quick way to find out both if there is a market, and find a distribution channel.

It may be that you have a distributor (or more than one distributor) in a particular country, but you know that they are not always feeding sales leads to you because they offer more than just your products. Well targetted local language Adwords can very cheaply make sure that end clients find out about your offering , and depending on the situation you can handle the lead directly or pass it to a distributor with the best chance of winning.

The process is straightforward, once objectives have been decided.

Buy appropriate keywords. A knowledge of Google Adwords keywords is essential. If you don’t have experience in doing this in any language, engage a professional to get you up to speed. Do not necessarily rely on you web master or web development team unless you are sure they have the knowhow. Often companies feel that they should crack this issue in their home market before going international but this does not always make sense. A moment’s thought should tell you that there may be less competition for important keywords in for example Vietnamese or French, than English.

Developing a properly designed local language landing page to achieve your objectives. A Landing Page is the web page your potential client arrives at when they click on the link you are promoting through Google Adwords. A basic rule of on line marketing that the results are far better if people who click on a link arrive at pages that are designed with the campaign objective in mind. For example, a business to consumer company might want a landing page leading to the sale of a particular product, whereas a landing page designed for selling to businesses, (or premium consumer products like Ferraris or yachts) might focus on the objective of getting phone numbers and other contact details so that sales people can follow up later. Use a good translation company like Argos Translations for flawless translations. Ask for references, and evidence that they are using native speakers in the target language, and know about web page design issues. A bad first impression costs much more than the savings of having it done cheap.

Having appropriate tracking of the clicks. This is a task that many executives find alarming. Make sure that any experts and consultants are able to communicate the results in language that you understand with a strong grasp of the business implications. Google Analytics (GA) is a widely used tool, and it is easier to find experts to help with GA than any other.

Figure 1 Typical GA screen from a PMR site

Identifying who is going to deal with the results, especially from the point of view of language and time zone perspectives, and making sure that training is organised so they understand what you are trying to do. If there is one thing that is going to cause this project to fail, it’s will be the lack of preparation to handle the results in a professional way in the local language.

If there are no suitable in house staff, consider outsourcing the call handling. If you don’t have speakers of the language of the country you are targeting have a company like PMR set up the in bound call handling in the right time zone with a local number. On Line Chat is cheaper and more manageable but not as professional. For many potential business partners , getting voice mail will disqualify you as a potential business partner.

If the objective is to find a distributor an experienced export manager knows the questions they would like to ask of a potential distributor so your landing page must include that questionnaire. For some of the best companies that might like to be a distributor this is a highly sensitive topic with their existing vendors, so it is a good idea, to have the option “would you like us to call or discuss this face to face” as they may not wish to have anything in writing until they have met and trust you. Multi part landing pages, where the first step is to capture phone and e-mail is a good idea so that if a representative of an interesting company signs up you can call them if they drop out later in the process.

It is unlikely that you want a partner who speaks none of your languages but you will have enquires from senior executives who may not speak your language. You need to be ready to follow up fast and well with the good leads. This is easy to set up with a little experience

Use the opportunity to develop end client sales leads. Nothing will impress a potential distributor more than having some serious interest from end clients. You are going to be called by end clients, so the person doing it (whether in house or external) needs to be properly trained. You need to be aware of the fact that if you are not ready for sales in a particular country because – for example you don’t yet have localised packaging instruction manuals, and regulatory clearance from safety or other official bodies, this needs to be carefully communicated with potential customers. We recommend brainstorming the potential questions clients might ask, and writing best potential answers. For example, if a potential client asks “do you make product x?” and the person taking the call in a call centre in Vietnam doesn’t know, they should not truthfully say “ I don’t know”, but also truthfully say

“I’m not an expert in that area, can I take down some of your details and get someone to call you back? My main job is to make sure I understand your basic requirements and route your enquiry to the right person, what exactly do you want to use product x for?”

They may ask “where can I buy product x ” and in this case you can quite truthfully state that “we are looking at launching product x in Vietnam once we have service programmes set up”, and then ask questions like

what other products are you considering? ?”

“how much are you willing to pay?”

“What sort of products or solution are you using at the moment?”

to get a feel for their budgets and potential.

If you intend to generate leads in countries where you already have distributors you should communicate this clearly to the distributors and present it as a benefit. If they have good web marketing you may well want to them to organise appropriate landing pages. We know that distributors vary in quality. It’s best to work with the ones who see your web sales lead generation as a benefit and use the leads properly. You may want to introduce a different pricing strategy for “your” leads. You will need to have sensitivity to the delicate political issues of “who gets the lead” in countries where you have more than one distributor. This means that all leads generated need to be reported to the person responsible for managing distributor sales in that country. An automated system to forward leads is not a good idea. During a pilot Judgement is needed, and of course there are opportunities to steer and incentivize distributors to behave in the way you want by making clear that the ones who support your objectives either get better pricing or more access to the best leads.


This type of marketing costs a lot less than a stand at a trade fair, and more countries can be researched at the same time than would be feasible doing everything the traditional way.

A good campaign for the right company should generate enough profit to pay for itself in the first year. I t is clearly best to start in the countries where you are most confident of success, and if you are not sure about the way forward, talk to experienced market entry consultants who have the web design and language skills, and the commercial experience, to make a success of it.

community building

An interview with Maciej Noworyta – school boy and founder of

March 15th, 2010

Maciej Noworyta is the founder of and won a school entrepreneurship competition at The Marie Skłodowska-Curie high school in Skawina Poland in February 2010. 12 pupils with exceptional extra currucula contributions to school and local life were asked by their entrepreneurship teacher Barbara Werner to present their “plan for the future” to a panel of 5 judges. A panel of judges of which I was part, selected which plan was best. Among the criteria we decided were most important were

1. Degree of initiative (better to considering starting.doing something new than simply working for someone else

2. Realism. Any signs of awareness of the challenges and difficulties that would have to be overcome were viewed positively

3. Communication skills and persuasiveness

We all agreed that Maciej Noworyta was the clear winner. This interview by e-mail is to both promote his success to wider audience and to make him an example to inspire other would be entrepreneurs as part of my work promoting youth entrepreneurship

RL Please describe how you came to be the founder of ? What motivated you to start the site?

MN I have been interested in computers since I was a child. I used to spend a lot of time playing computer games and at some point I realized that I could turn it into something like a hobby, something creative and interactive with other people.

RL please give some numbers to describe how popular your web site is, and how much time you spend on the site every week.

MN On average, there are about 35.000 page views and 9000 visitors per day. I usually spend several hours per week on the site.

3. What do you do to make sure that your site is visible in Google and other search engines?

MN My site is regularly positioned by

RL There are many people, young and old, who start hobby web sites, What was it that you did differently that made your site successful

MN It was a gradual process, I introduced some news modifications to facilitate using the site so that visitors would enjoy it.

RL what personal characteristics do you ve that you would you say were most important in making a sucess of your web site.

MN I do not want to boast, but I am rather a hard-working, patient and creative person. I also have a lot of endurance.

RL What inspired you to go ahead with the project, was it family, friends, teachers or something else?

MN I was inspired mainly by a willingness to get to know something new in which I could see future and to educate myself in this direction. My nearest relatives also motivated me a lot.

RL You’ve attracted sponsorship and advertising from major companies. Was it easy for you to negotiate and deal with them ? did they realise you are still at school?

MN I think it does not matter how old are you. What really counts is that what can you offer and with what you can attract potential sponsors.

8. what are the biggest lessons you;ve learned as a result of this project?

MN Regularity and making a good, cohesive organization. And by the way I gained much experience during the process of creating such a serious project.

9 Did anyone treat you unfairly or badly in the course of your project? how did you deal with it?

MN Generally we work in a pleasent vibe. I strive for a perfect atmosphere where there are no conflicts at all. It helps in accomplishing tasks and ensures that everything goes in its proper direction.

10 you mentioned that the site is more of a hobby than a business – do you believe that sites such as yours can be profitable or does making money out of a site make it less attractive to visitors?

MN I believe that everyone who starts from scratch do not aim to earn money out of it. Of course, for the site to function we need some funds. However, thanks to people who work with me, we can make our hopes come true. I am sure that earning money will not negatively influence our work. Just the opposite – it will help in developing the site faster and any other ideas which are going to be consecutively introduced will let us implement some innovations.

11 . What advice would you give to someone of your age or younger who is considering a similar project, or starting their own business ?

MN. Much patience and singleness of purpose.

12.You mentioned that you want to start a web page design business, and that you have already done web pages for some companies. How do you intend to compete with the many other companies that are active in this area already?

MN. The two important things are professionalism and the way of presenting your work. I do not like being formulatic. This is why I am trying to create something which is worth people’s attention.

13. Were there any remarkable memories when you realised that your site wsa going to be successful? how did you feel

MN I just felt satisfaction. But it is worth noting that the site is not only the effect of my effort but also our editors.

14. have your family friends and school been supportive of your business ideas, or do you feel under some social pressure to do a “normal” job

MN Sometimes they were trying to back me up or at least not to disturb. I do not feel under pressure to do some other, more common job.

15, if you are successful (as I am sure you will be) and make a good income out of your first business will you start other businesses, or take time off relax and have fun?

MN. If what I am working on will thrive and go into planned direction, then for sure I won’t refuse a long rest for myself.

Thanks again and congratulations.

Richard Lucas

community building

Helping school children find out about the world of work – low cost high impact best practice from Winchester College, UK

An interview with David Baldwin –

July 2008

David Baldwin is a retired teacher at Winchester College

Winchester College is of the UK’s oldest and best known schools (for pupils from 12-18 year olds) – who has revitalized the careers function at the school. Making it better and cheaper than before he took over. This article is designed to highlight the simple, low cost actions that can be taken a parent, teacher (or pupil) by any school, anywhere in the world to develop local versions of this type of project.

Q1 When you took over the careers function, you weren’t happy with the business awareness seminar. What was wrong with it ?

DB it very expensive and done by people who were a bit past it.

Q.2 What did you actually do ?

DB “ with the assistance of the wife of a colleague who is quite high up in retail marketing, we set up our own introduction to the world of business. I got hold of two former pupils who are now well known successful entrepreneurs to talk about their own experiences. The boys taking part were then set the task of making a business pitch. For this coming term, I have the services of two more alumni entrepreneurs and we will give the boys more freedom to choose what they wish to pitch for and will run a sort of Dragon’s Den[2] with the entrepreneurs forming the jury.”

Q3 Is attendance at these events compulsory, or do boys choose to attend voluntarily.

DB Compulsory for the year group but the boys chose between a selection (up to 6) of speakers in each of the four speaking slots.

Q4 You’ve had visits from companies, such as banks and financial institutions. What are the most important things to make such visits a success?

DB We had Deutsche Bank here last term explaining how a big bank works and they have offered to have a party up to visit the trading floor.

Q5 You organize “careers days”. Who is it for and what do you do?

DB  The two careers events are pitched at boys of 15 and 17. I have managed to amass a very diverse range of speakers from former pupils and present parents through asking via school and alumni newsletters, and just asking people. My aim is to give the boys insights into all sorts of professions, not just “standard careers. The format is a carousel of 18 or so speakers, from which the boys choose to listen to 3 or 4, each talk/presentation to last no more than 25 minutes, but the whole thing followed by refreshments at which the boys can meet the speakers more informally and feel freer to ask questions. This worked well in Summer of 2007 and Spring 2008.

Q6 You have a list of people who do offer work experience of different types. How did you go about developing this?

DB Further to this we have also built up a bank of people who can help find work experience for boys seeking to do it, and we do stress the importance of doing so. And I recently asked for further help on this from present parents.

Q6 You are not sure about the value “interview guidance” courses. Is it more the cost and way it is done, or are there more fundamental problems ?

DB The cost is a factor, but I am not always convinced by the techniques employed. We have let one provider go, as they were increasingly out of touch and lacked dynamism. I have recently observed another company working in this area at Charterhouse and Bradfield School and was very unimpressed by their workshops on self-presentation skills. Their careers talks varied in quality depending on the personnel they had in on that particular day.

Q7 You offer ISCO/Morrisby psychometric profiling to older boys- What is the main benefit of this?

DB Psychometric profiling sometimes comes up with some good things for the boys but the main thing is to get them thinking about themselves and their aspirations.

Q8 What other services do you offer?

DB A major non work goal is advice about universities, and there is a good careers/university library full of brochures and guidance leaflets and boys come and go all the time, asking for advice.

Q9. If a school that has no tradition of careers advice is looking at this topic for this first time, what are the most important things that you would advise them to concentrate on?

DB My own feeling is that careers advice is unlikely to be very “professional”, in the sense that most teachers could not possibly be expected to be in a position to cover all possibilities (unless of course you have a careers advisor who has done the diploma and is full-time). My personal feeling is that a careers department should just seek to open students’ eyes to what is out there, to get them started on the business of thinking about their futures. But this is a personal view – the College feels that what I am doing is fit for purpose and fulfills the need.

Q10. School children are under a lot of pressure to pass exams, and need time “to be children”. What would you say to the idea that introducing children to the world of work this early is inappropriate?

DB It is a fair point. Because we do it in a very unpressurised way and make if possible for them to meet and listen to a wide range of, usually, interesting people, we don’t feel it is too early, although I need to make sure the speakers for the 15/16 year olds are not to “heavy”.

Q11 How much did it cost to organise the events you have initiated? How much money did you save by discontinuing activities that you thought were over priced.

DB I’m sorry, I don’t have full figures. We paid speakers’ travel expenses where they wanted to claim them – probably came to about £200 and we gave them a very good buffet lunch which cost no more than £400, so that the event was very cheap. (If we were to get in an outfit like the one used by other public schools, a day would cost anywhere between £3000 to £6000, depending on which services you use. I will not be using them).

[1] A ‘public’ school in the UK is a fee paying private school, in contrast to free government subsidized state schools.

[2] A popular TV show where contestants compete with business ideas. Many entrepreneurs do not think that this kind of show corresponds to reality at all.