Category Archives: Business

Silk Mill in a Spin

Silk MillI read with interest the goings on from the Silk Mill from This Is Hampshire and thought “what a mess”.  So there has been secrecy around the appointment of three new trustees and the removal of three others.  And then to complicate matters the three new trustees receive a letter from the manager of the mill advising them that they are not actually trustees!

To me it all seems a bit of a soap opera and somebody needs to grab the bull by the horns. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity doesn’t seem applicable in this case.  For me this is an attraction, virtually on my doorstep that I have missed visiting.  I must admit that this adds to the intrigue.

Judge for yourself by reading the This is Hampshire story.  Or alternatively just take a look at the Silk Mill website where there is no mention of this whatsoever – but there are some nice pictures of the Mill itself.

A New Site for dnj solutions

 dnj solutions logo

So finally I have rewritten the dnj website.   Like many things in life I would have achieved this a lot quicker if I’d have procrastinated less and wrote more.  But hey, that’s water under the bridge now and I feel that the effort was well worth it.

I have slimmed down the site and focused on viewers finding out what dnj does, what experience supports this and oh yes, there’s a bit more about me on there. I think a lot of us find it easier to coach and constructively criticize others in this kind of development process but then struggle to apply the same level of self criticism to their own work.  Well finally I have jumped over all these hoops, I’ve slalomed through the procrastination course and the result is  I’d be very interested to know what you think and see whether I’ve achieved the goals of explaining the expertise, the services available to business and the benefits of doing so.

The Passing of Steve Jobs

With today’s news of the loss of Steve Jobs (and I find it hard to acknowledge this of a man only two years older than me) I can’t help but think that the world will be a less rich place without him.  As a king of the technology age it is perhaps appropriate that the social media world is being swamped by feeds and posts about this.  Steve Jobs didn’t personally invent the iPhone, iPad or Mac Book but what he achieved was the embodiment of the brand that brought us these tools.  In our business lives there are many lessons we can learn from the way in which Steve Jobs delivered the keynote on these products.  His legacy will be what he has delivered for Apple and he will be greatly missed.

Are Cheques a Pain for Business?

So the Payments Council has shelved plans to abolish the use of cheques by 2018.  Let’s face it cheques are a pain.  You need to get them to a bank and there is the possibility they can bounce. For us 5 miles out of town banking is a real hassle and to be honest (and against my better judgement) often gets left.  That’s because it takes an hour to do it and if you go to Winchester you have to pay to park as well.  Cheques are a pain.  

But here’s the rub.  For a small business they are the only way other than cash (and don’t get me talking about the daylight robbery of banks charging to bank cash) that you can freely transact at the time of settlement.  Card payments are great but there is a cost in equipment and for a micro business this may not be viable.  I’m  sure that the banks have a wonderful business case in support of card payments but they are not free – they are not even cheap.  

So until they can come up with a viable alternative, let’s no be so daft as to remove the only alternative for a lot of small business.  Let’s face it, if there was an alternative we’d use it and cheques would die out naturally.

Driving for Business

I recently attended a taster session (classroom based) on the work of the Blue Lamp Trust (  What I didn’t realise was how much risk you are putting yourself at by getting into a car for work.  In 2009 there were 2,222 fatalities on our roads – 220, 000 recorded injuries of which 25,000 were life changing.  30% were work related.  833 were driving for work.  20% of all crashes are caused by tiredness and 30% not wearing a seat belt.  The biggie for me is that most accidents happen within 3 miles of home.If you have people driving for you, make sure you have a procedure that works, that your staff understands and that you monitor because under health and safety law you have responsibilities.  Think about mobile phone use – do you have a policy on hands free use -even this adds 0.3s to reaction time.  What is your policy on tiredness, taking breaks overnight stops.  It is worth checking out what these guys have to say – it sounds like yet another administrative burden but in the long run it makes sense to do this.  As a final thought, do you check licenses for people who drive.  Do you keep a copy, could they be fake driving licences and how as an employer do you make sure that you are not copying a fake one.  You can get licenses independently checked for £5 to £6.  So if this interests you check out

Who makes money from Conferences?

Now I went to an event in Manchester recently put on by a government body –travelled up the day before.  I’m doing my bit to try and keep up with new regulation.  This is a two day event and the average day rate is over £300 per day.  So for the 200 plus folk there, I’m calculating the revenues were over £120k.  Assuming it costs around £50 per person per day to host the conference; that makes a total cost of £20k.  The rest of the revenue (around £100k) must therefore cover the other expenses of putting on the event.  Let’s say there are 20 government reps there each day.  That gives budget of £2500 per rep.  That seems a lot to me.  I booked the Premier Inn (with dinner less than £100) and went by train (again under£100).  Am I missing something here, or is my charge for attending subsiding some other aspect of their operation.

Regulation – we can’t live without it – even if we want to!

It seems to me like the unwritten agenda these days is to get Government paid for by back door taxes.  So now we have a Fire Brigade who have to behave like a Police Force.  Businesses can no longer rely on the Fire Service for advice on how to make their businesses comply with the law.  It is our job to do that and ensure safety.  Now who is the expert here.  I do possess a modicum of common sense, but in case I should fall foul in some way I can now rely on the Fire Service to come in and fine me.  And after all as a business that’s the only service I’m going to get from the Fire Service.

And if I need to call a policeman I rest happily in the reassurance that if he is arriving on his bike he now has a 93 page manual to tell him how to ride it.  Now I haven’t read this document first hand but my sources tell me it contains such nuggets as advice to not apprehend a suspect whilst still on the bike.

Within medicine we have similar situations.  Now don’t get me wrong.  As a society we need to make sure that our medicines are safe and we are not letting criminals into our supply chains.  But how are we doing this – ever more regulation.  And as a company we have to pay more to be ever more regulated.  This regulation creep is destroying competitiveness.  It’s no longer important that you know what you are doing.  It’s more important to be able to explain that you have a written procedure for it and that come the revolution you can prove that you have covered your own backside.

As far as I’m concerned the net result of all this regulation is leading us to a society where the state will regulate every aspect of our daily life.  It’s also tax by stealth to finance yet more quangos.  As a country we are agonising as to how to compete with the emerging economies.  The plain truth is that we are bringing up a generation of kids who are actively discouraged from using initiative and common sense.  These days we need a procedure for everything.  Without common sense how is Britain ever going to be Great again?

Collaborate 2 Innovate 2009

I attended this conference today at the Cruise Terminal in Southampton.  Good venue and well attended with some interesting information on offer.  The day didn’t start well though.  An accident on the M3 combined with extreme inclement weather seemed to gridlock most of the county.  The net result was 18 miles in just over an hour and a half.

Buts the conference itself raised/reminded me of some important issues:

  1. You can achieve a lot through collaboration and partnership
  2. You achieve very little without trust
  3. Without focus you achieve drift
  4. Subtle signs of disapproval can immensly damage collaboration
  5. Concentrate on the group strengths not the individuals

David Vane’s session on social media was interesting.  Why not visit

Long Time Gone

So you get out of the habit of doing and then what do you know, months have passed by.  There’s no real reason for not doing it other than the habit of doing it has slipped off the radar.  The trouble for me is that no-one sends me an email reminding me to do it, so it’s then down to self discipline and an aging memory.  And that’s the most unreliable aspect.  My way to deal with this is to set myself a recurring task in my Todo list – in fact just in case I have put something in Outlook and also in my Todo list on the iPhone.The other areas which have kept me busy have been the development of Mel’s pet care business – Home or Away Petcare -in fact Jasper has been cuddled up as I type away. Business Development at The Dove Clinic and European Nutripharm have also made for interesting times.  Added to that is my ongoing role as vice chair of the FSB’s (Federation of Small Business) Southampton and District branch, (a short break there as the alarm clock which is Peter and Barney who seem to bark right on the nail of 6am every morning), my work on the current Mayor of Winchester’s Charities, and a bit of help with the South Wonston Youth Club.So back again soon

FSB Annual Conference 2008

My first Annual Conference – of any kind – and it’s very similar to what I imagine a political conference is.  There are people with really valid points to make and people with nothing to say who speak for the need to say anything.  So far I’ve said nothing and I think that by the time Conference closes tomorrow evening that’s likely to be the case still.  As a newcomer you are given a badge that identifies you as a conference virgin.  If I come again I’ll not get a blue band again and I may feel more confident of opening my mouth.  At least that way I’ll know the process and procedures.Today I’ve heard really good speeches from John Denham MP and Ken Clarke MP.  I’ve voted on motions on forming a national bank (defeated), one which was so memorable I’ve had to resort to my notes to remember what it was about (oh that’s right – it was on mortgage grants to inspire first time buyers) and curbing legislation on farming procedures (agreed).  People are very passionate and some turn up to speak and you are not sure (that they are not sure) whether they are for or against the motion.   More to come later.