No welcome for the competition

Totnes is a tourist-led town in the holiday enclave that is Devon. And the locals are up in arms about a national coffee chain opening there. Over three-quarters of the local population have signed a petition urging the town council not to allow Costa Coffee to open there. Of course it’s not just Costa, the objections would have been around any of the other national chains like Starbucks. Objectors claim that Totnes is a thriving independent town that embraces individuality. With over 40 independent coffee shops and even an independent Coffee Festival it does not want to risk turning into a clone town.

Unfortunately for many of the Totnes residents the town planning process lies elsewhere and Costa have been given planning permission to open. The local MP has supported the petition and even suggested a boycott. Criticism has also been aimed at the landlords who residents feel are outsiders and just going for the largest rent available – So when is competition not acceptable?

As one of the established coffee businesses states the problem is while they feel they offer a better experience and coffee, the big brands are risk-free, and for many tourists the option of choosing a well-known brand is dominant over trying a new unknown experience. So have Totnes residents got a genuine concern or are they just trying to stifle the competition – now given planning permission, and opening soon, the market will probably decide for itself.

Dealing with customer problems

Recently in the UK one of the big mobile operators, O2 suffered a damaging communications failure which brought disruption to many of its 23 million customers. Being media savvy many took to damaging twitter messaging to express their dissatisfaction, especially as the O2 website slipped out service for a while due to high demand. What was interesting was 02’s response to the barrage of criticism – they opted to respond to these social media messages by taking a quirky self-deprecating manner and responding using a personal tone. Did it work? Continue reading “Dealing with customer problems”

Take time out – What is your business?

I was watching one of those TV programmes where a business expert helps out a failing business – in this case a restaurant. In the initial introductions the business expert asked “where do you think you are?” and the two business owners replied we both think we’re nearly there. The hesitation in which they said this spoke volumes, and the confused look on their faces as the expert suggested to them that they were very far from all right really highlighted the real problem. These people were so busy in their business they had really taken no time to consider what business they were in, and where they wanted to be. Continue reading “Take time out – What is your business?”

New start-up funding scheme in UK

The first pilot schemes will soon be underway after the recent UK budget announced a boost for small business with a new loan initiative. A one year pilot scheme focuses on people aged between 18 and 24 who will be able to apply to borrow between £5,000 and £10,000 (about $12K) to back their business idea. If this student-loan type scheme is successful, the government says it wants to introduce it permanently. While this has been welcomed by many in the small business community, this scale of small business funding raises a few questions. Continue reading “New start-up funding scheme in UK”

New Author Robert McCaffrey

I have been involved in marketing and business development for over 20 years, with experience ranging from the IT services industry to social housing, and currently in B2B with a market leader. My interest and enthusiasm for small business arose after two years of digital marketing experience with a non-profit organisation in the UK, helping people start up in business, as well as providing mentoring and online business support advice.

My interest is in business start-ups, especially from a European perspective.