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Every day is a school day

3 July 2020

This week…well…this week’s blog speaks for itself! Our Information Officer, Iain, shares his experience of balancing home-life with work-life during lockdown. I’m sure many of you will have experienced a similar journey.


Thank goodness that’s all over, eh? No, not the virus, or the lockdown measures, or the social distancing, or the staying at home so much, no, I mean the schoolwork! The school holidays are finally upon us and that hard juggle of the kids’ work with my own work has come to an end with minimal tantrums from either side. No longer do I need to think about examples of figurative literary techniques or whether the calculation inside the bracket comes before the one outside it, now I can concentrate more on my own work here at BIPC Glasgow and the wider library. But looking back, how did I survive it at all?

Like most of us I suppose I’ve learned how adaptable I have to be to work well through this. I wasn’t prepared for it at all. This situation was new to all of us. Having spent my adulthood working in libraries, travelling to work and delivering the vast majority of services face-to-face, only to have that suddenly and dramatically change took a bit of getting used to. I quickly realised that the nature of my role had changed quite significantly and I had to focus on delivering what I could from a distance. It was a real challenge and one we’ll all no doubt continue to face as the months of 2020 roll on. But that’s something we’ve been used to here at the BIPC. You never know what an enquiry may throw at you. You have to be flexible and adaptable. With our enquiry service remaining open throughout we’ve had to field our fair share of interesting questions.

 

Working from home


Alongside learning new methods to do maths – as my old methods, regardless of whether they reached the correct answer or not, were always dismissed out of hand – I had to learn how to use Zoom and WebEx. And have the patience to smile and mute my microphone in order to deliver parental wrath to my new work colleagues whenever the kids realised they had an audience and decided that would be the best time to perform – the least they could do was give me half an hour of uninterrupted screen-time in return for all the wonderful lunches I was making them. Giving up my office PC for my rickety old steam-powered laptop that had to be given an hour’s notice to power up was a poor trade indeed. No doubt tech issues were the thing that plagued us all the most. Something we’re hoping to help people address with our Power Up directory, helping businesses with vital digital learning.

What happens when we return? Personally, I’ll have some tough, philosophical questions to ask myself – do I stop making my work colleagues lunch? Do I start? If they don’t get work tasks done on time do I send them to their rooms? Do I stop asking my colleagues if they’ve brushed their teeth or made their bed?

Whatever happens, it’s clear that another learning curve is just around the corner. The landscape will have changed. The demands of the general public and our customer bases may be quite different to what we’ve been used to, what we’ve dealt with in the past and what we’ve been prepared for previously. We’ll need to adapt to new customers and new customer needs. We may need to think about this pandemic resulting in a new audience for our businesses. BIPC Glasgow will be here to support local businesses in finding those new audiences, retaining and reminding our old ones we’re still here and to kick start those new ideas and how to protect them.

Turns out every day is indeed a school day.

 

Iain Riley is Information Officer at BIPC Glasgow

Ian Riley

 

 

Ghost-Busting!

26 June 2020


We can sometimes find ourselves using our skills and knowledge at the most unexpected times. Take this week, for example. Following the announcement by the Scottish Government that we can form an ‘extended household group’ I found myself watching (the original) Ghostbusters with my 11 year old niece. I’d forgotten what an entertaining popcorn movie it is, with snappy dialogue, fun special effects, and great soundtrack. By the end of it we were singing that song and agreeing that it would be cool to be a ghost-buster.

Despite being in ‘Uncle’ mode, I found myself slipping effortlessly into ‘Work’ mode and (possibly because I often try to convince her my job is ‘cool’) fired up the laptop and logged onto one of our free online business resources called COBRA.

Although (somewhat sadly) COBRA doesn’t have a Business Opportunity Profile for ‘Ghost-Busting’ specifically it does have lots of others and I knew we’d find something suitable. I wanted to use COBRA to show my niece how we could start turning her idea of being a ghost-buster into something real. It would be fun, I assured her. It would also count towards her home schooling. That sealed the deal.

MBP323 – Paranormal Investigator’ had lots of useful information. Okay, it didn’t say where we could source proton packs or an Ectomobile but it did give an outline of what you can expect to face as a Paranormal Investigator. It provided links to paranormal societies, and ways income can be generated beyond hunting ghosts.

 

Image for trade mark number UK00001367199

 

The opportunity profile gave links to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP). They’re a paranormal society who provide training, news and events for paranormal investigators. It also had a link to the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA – my niece didn’t find that acronym as funny for some reason). They provide an online course in UFO investigation as well as publishing guides and advice for UFO hunters. There was also lots of market research information, amongst other things, in the paranormal field (presumably haunted), key to creating a successful business plan.

That led us neatly into the factsheets (beneficial to any business) that COBRA is also stuffed full of. I showed her how we could use it to write a business plan and formulate a marketing strategy. I stopped short of opening the COBRA factsheets on VAT registration and intellectual property (is ‘Ghostbusters’ trade marked? Yes! Although, perhaps ironically, The Real Ghostbusters logo – registered under Class 29 {mainly foodstuff} is now dead). I didn’t want to overwhelm her.

We were writing down notes and making plans… or at least I was. My page was full of considered thoughts, ideas and mind-maps - hers was full of drawings of Slimer and the ‘No Ghost’ logo.

She looked at me admiring her drawings and said she didn’t really believe in ghosts, but hoped I’d had a nice afternoon. She asked if we could go for a cycle the next time I was free.

At BIPC Glasgow we don’t have a Slimer, an Ectomobile, or catchy soundtrack (suggestions welcome) - but if lockdown has given you time to think about the possibility of turning a business idea into something more real… who ya gonna call? business@glasgowlife.org.uk

 

Tony Lyon is Librarian at BIPC Glasgow

Tony Lyon


Social Enterprise: Finding the meaning behind your business

19 June 2020


I’m still on a blog sabbatical so this week, our Information Officer Alistair takes the reins and tells you why Social Enterprises are vitally important to the local community - particularly during troubled times.
 

One word you may have heard more recently in the business community is resilience. This is something everyone should consider when starting up. One business model has resilience built into its core, the social enterprise.

Learning from the community

Although I knew about the term it wasn’t until last year that I began to understand what it really meant. This journey started with the Social Enterprise Academy Growing Enterprising Communities course. I learnt that social enterprises share a lot in common with private companies; they must be trading, they are often registered, and are distinct from the public sector. Where they differ is the asset lock, with all profits reinvested back into supporting a social or environmental cause or growing the enterprise. This is all brilliantly explained in the Code. What really made an impression was meeting Glasgow-based social entrepreneur Nadine Gorency, or Blanche as she’s better known, from the Govanhill Baths Trust.

Opportunity through adversity

When I met Blanche it wasn’t where I expected, in an converted snooker hall. This was a temporary home having moved from the Govanhill Baths for its refurbishment to provide a wellbeing centre for the community. This is the culmination of 19 years hard work, refusing to accept plans for closure and fighting for their social cause. This is resilience. Hearing Blanche talk about her experiences showed her passion and tenacity to motivate and empower people.

MP Alison Thewliss visits Rags to Riches Project

Blanche manages the Rags to Riches project which upcycles furniture and creates sustainable fashion. There are other facets to the Trust such as running pottery workshops and even leasing out a hairdressing space. The range of enterprises they have created shows how you can build a value-based business that offers opportunities for the community it serves.

Supporting social innovation

All this began to make me think. Working in Glasgow Libraries for the past five years I’ve met my fair share of characters who do wonderful work in the community. It’s that spirit that we want to support in the BIPC, and now I could see how our resources would be perfect for a social entrepreneur. Cobra can be used to brainstorm your business ideas, IBIS World and Fame to research the market, and Funding Online to find potential funds. Read our Social Enterprise Industry Guide and see how to get the most from our resources.

Navigating the social enterprise eco-system

New social enterprises rely on financial support and many are currently facing their own challenges brought on by the Coronavirus crisis. With so many organisations out there, it can be a little confusing at times, but we can help guide you through the social enterprise eco-system.

The Social Entperprise Eco-system Map


To get started, GSEN have a useful members directory and support agencies page that can help you connect with others. GCVS are experts at capacity building and funding applications. We can also refer you to advisors at Jobs & Business Glasgow who can offer help advice online.

If you do one thing, ask yourself… why?

A quote from Simon Sinek I heard from the course leader stuck with me from his Golden Circle: “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it” So whether you want better social equality, or to make this ‘Dear Green Place’ a little greener through sustainable practices, tell people why. Connect with your customers and spread your message and let us help you along the way. Email any enquiries to business@glasgowlife.org.uk.
 

Alistair McCafferty-Bain is Information Officer at BIPC Glasgow

Alistair McCafferty-Bain


A week in the life of… Rachel Jones, founder of SnapDragon Monitoring

16 June 2020


Our very first BIPC Glasgow Expert in Residence and now Ambassador, Rachel Jones of SnapDragon Monitoring has written an insightful blog over at BIPC at the British Library. She discusses the very relatable issues around a work life balance during the pandemic – definitely worth a read!

 

Rachel Jones is founder of SnapDragon Monitoring

Rachel Jones, founder of SnapDragon Monitoring


Patents: Protecting your inventions

12 June 2020


Another week, another guest blogger! Our Information Officer Kavan Stafford takes a light-hearted look at how you can protect your inventions.

Gloves, umbrella and a horse-propelled automobile

As you may have seen in the news recently, lock-down has inspired many a budding inventor to blow the dust off of their plans to revolutionise their chosen market. If you think you have an idea that could change the world then one of the first things you will want to do is ensure that it is as protected as possible.

The primary way to protect your inventions is through a patent application. A successful application will give you exclusive rights to your invention for a period of twenty years, providing you pay the annual renewal fees from the fifth year onwards.

However, while patents provide excellent protection for your invention, they can be an expensive route to take. With this in mind, you should consider whether your invention will make a large enough financial return to justify the outlay on the patent itself. Not everybody is so prudent and the UK patent registers are filled with weird and wonderful inventions like these:

 

 

A Horse-Propelled Automobile

Patent #GB1405575 (1975) – A Horse-Propelled Automobile

What if your car was powered by a horse? In 1975, inventor A. P. Pedrick asked himself just that question and this patent was the result. The horse is harnessed to the car and pushes it from behind. How do you get a horse to push a car, you ask? Simple. Attach a trailer full of food to the back of the car. The result? A frustrated horse but a carbon-free journey. Perhaps this idea was just ahead of its time…

 

A Wearable Umbrella

Patent #GB2172200 (1986) – A Wearable Umbrella

This is a patent which seems to have been made with the dreich weather of Scotland firmly in mind. Instead of wasting all that energy carrying your umbrella you can attach this one directly to your head, leaving your hands free for texting and social media. This is another idea which now seems to have been ahead of its time. If there is a better way to enforce social distancing than a gigantic umbrella on your head I haven’t seen it.

 

 

Two-Person Gloves

Patent #GB2221607 (1990) – Two-Person Gloves

It’s a problem as old as time itself. Picture the scene: a frosty Scottish winter morning and you’re out for a walk with your beau. You want to stroll hand-in-hand but those pesky gloves keep getting in the way. Well no more! With this patent , you can still touch while wearing gloves. The gloves have space for ten fingers and a cut out hole in the middle so your palms can touch like it’s still summer.

 

The patent process can be complicated and expensive, but we’re here to help. It’s worth doing your homework because not every invention turns into a million dollar idea. Sometimes an inventor would be well advised to take the advice of Jurassic Park’s Dr Ian Malcolm and be wary that they don’t become “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they [...don’t] stop to think if they should.

If you’ve been using your time in lockdown to turn inspiration into reality and want to learn how to protect your ideas, email us at business@glasgowlife.org.uk and we would be happy to help you on your journey.

 

Kavan Stafford is Information Officer at BIPC Glasgow

Kavan Stafford


Power Up - Connecting you with digital skills for business

5 June 2020


This blog isn’t all about me! There will be other regular contributors as well. We recently launched our Power-Up project, helping businesses develop their digital skills. This week, the project’s manager Ruth Hunter explains more.

Zoom or not to Zoom?

Just like millions of people across the country I have had to learn how to use new digital tools to maintain contact with family, friends and work colleagues. For me this has been a challenging and frustrating experience – “I can see you but I can’t hear you”, “I can hear you but I can’t see you”, “I can’t see you and I can’t hear you” have all been common utterances. Sound familiar?

Adopting digital solutions to keep trading has been a key focus for many businesses during the COVID 19 lockdown period with an upsurge in the number of businesses launching business websites, selling online and using contactless payment solutions to have safer transactions with their customers.

With digital for business now firmly in the spotlight, which digital skills do businesses need to develop and why? The government (DCMS 2017) has identified four core digital skills needed for sole traders and micro-businesses to flourish:

Maintaining a web presence

Having a website or social media presence can help you to build your business brand, reach a wider audience and be more responsive to your customers.

Selling online

Adopting eCommerce solutions can help you to boost sales and enter new markets. With 25 million people in the UK (LLoyds 2018 ) preferring to shop through their mobile phone, trading online needs to be considered to remain competitive.

Using the Cloud

Using cloud based software and storage solutions can help your business to reduce IT costs, protect your data and gives you the flexibility to run your business anytime, anywhere.

Digitisation of back office functions

Save time and money by using digital technology to streamline business practices including accounts, payroll, HR and customer records.

 

Power Up

Our Power Up aims to help you develop these skills by connecting you with appropriate digital skills and technology learning and support opportunities. To help you we have

If your are thinking about moving your business online the Getting your business online and e-Commerce sections of our Digital technology and skills support directory - by topic is a great place to start.

For more information on how Power Up can help you develop digital skills for business please visit our webpages or email us at business@glasgowlife.org.uk

Power Up is an initiative by Good Things Foundation with the financial support of J.P. Morgan.

 

Ruth Hunter is Partnership & Digital Engagement Manager at BIPC Glasgow

Ruth Hunter


Preparing for Post-Lockdown

29 May 2020

Like many, I’m looking forward to the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland. It’s clear, however, that we won’t be returning to life as ‘normal’ anytime soon.

The Scottish Government this week issued guidelines for retail businesses and customers which offer a glimpse into what the world will look like post-lockdown for business owners, their employees and customers.

The guidelines are clear, if you employ staff, you shouldn’t open your business without talking to them first. Any risk assessment should be done in consultation with them, either directly or through a health and safety representative chosen by them or selected by a trade union.

The guidelines also include an operations checklist. It isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of instructions, but is a good starting point to ensure the health and safety of you, your staff and customers are protected.

Whilst the onus is on business owners to install new safety measures to provide a safe environment to shop in we all, as customers, have a duty of care to take into account the health and safety of those around us. Many of us have experienced a change in the way we shop when visiting supermarkets, but as smaller shops begin to open during Phase 2 of the route map out of lockdown the need for greater awareness (and patience) will arise.

No matter how much we read about what to expect, the reality can often be quite different. Some reports suggest shoppers ‘may be reluctant’ to return to busier locations after remaining local for so many weeks. I can understand their concerns.
 

Guidance on travel from Transport Scotland

I’ve been working from home but there have been some occasions when I’ve had to travel to the Mitchell Library to carry out tasks that simply cannot be done remotely. It’s been very surreal. Despite exercising outdoors daily and visiting a supermarket weekly, it was odd being faced with a stationary train and a flashing, beeping green button for the first time. It was like hearing my alarm clock in a dream. I was aware of it and what it meant, but seemed incapable (for a moment) of putting the thought into action and pressing the button to open the door. Simple tasks I did without thought just a few weeks ago felt alien. Thankfully, there wasn’t anyone waiting, becoming impatient with my lack of action. 

Glasgow Central has had the majority of its seats removed, replaced by barriers and signs marking how people should move through the station (‘Keep Left’). This too is a strange experience and one people should prepare themselves for before their first trip into any busy station.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson set out fresh guidance for passengers in a statement in Holyrood this week advising people how to travel safely, which included urging passengers to use face coverings. This applies to bus, rail or tram.

Whilst these guidelines don’t signal an immediate change to Scotland’s lockdown policy, it’s important for business owners to familiarise themselves with them as soon as possible so potential problems can be identified now and dealt with in advance of opening. If you have any questions, or have difficulty finding the information you need, please get in touch at business@glasgowlife.org.uk.

 

Tony Lyon is Librarian at BIPC Glasgow


Quick Guide: Webinars

22 May 2020


If your to-do list is exhausted and Netflix run its course – why not use this time to develop new skills that will help launch or grow the business you’ve always dreamed of?

We recently launched a directory that connects you with free learning and support opportunities to help develop the digital skills you need to run and grow your business. In addition to the huge number of free tutorials and online courses our directory offers, webinars are also a very effective distance learning tool that offer the chance for you to learn knowledge and skills from professionals.

A webinar is a video presentation, lecture or workshop you can participate in from the comfort of your own home. They are hosted online so you will need an internet connection and a device to watch it on. An audio headset can also be useful but most devices now have built in speakers and microphone. When you sign up for a webinar, the host will email you confirmation, normally with a link that will allow you to download the relevant platform to view it on.

I’ve attended a number during lockdown, some have been more useful than others but I have learned something from each. As with anything, it’s always worth doing your homework before signing up. It might sound obvious, but decide what you want to learn and start from there. The choice of online learning opportunities might become overwhelming otherwise.

So, you’ve launched your business, but are looking to grow and don’t have a huge marketing budget (if any). Why not learn how to take advantage of social media? If you’re not already, you’re missing out on an inexpensive way to reach millions of people. It’s more than simply posting something on Instagram and hoping for the best. Successful businesses deploy proven techniques that can be learned. Discover ways to increase brand awareness, increase your customer base, and drive traffic to your website. Perhaps you’ve decided your website could do with a revamp? Again, this is something you can learn for free by attending a webinar.

 

Whilst there are many ‘how-to’ videos on platforms such as YouTube, it might prove difficult to verify the quality of the information being provided. As with any form of learning, you will want to ensure the source can be trusted.

The British Library run a number of webinars delivered by experts in their field. They have also adapted their offer to include webinars specific to a post COVID-19 reality. They will show you, for example, how to use the Business Model Canvas to challenge your existing business plan or create a new one that’s more suitable to these turbulent times.

In addition to live webinars, Business Gateway have a selection of recorded online tutorials that you can watch at a time that suits you. They include tutorials on how to structure your business finance through COVID-19, and how to communicate with your customers throughout the pandemic.

We’ll be posting a blog discussing our Power Up project in more detail soon but if you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch business@glasgowlife.org.uk
 

Tony Lyon is Librarian at BIPC Glasgow

 


Latest on Business Lockdown

15 May 2020

 

As more businesses begin to open in England this week, the advice from the Scottish Government has remained the same – ‘stay at home'.

With restrictions on usual business practise set to continue in Scotland to 28th May, I thought I'd pull together some key aspects of the support available to help your business survive and adapt to these uncertain times.

The furlough scheme has been extended until October, with some flexibility built in from August to support the transition back to work.

The Self Employed Income Support Scheme is designed to offer support to the self-employed and freelance workers that mirror support given to furloughed employees. You can claim if you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Several criteria must be met.

HMRC have said most of the people affected should already have been contacted and invited to check their eligibility. Applications opened on the 13th May and payments should be made to successful applicants six days after applying.

If you haven't been contacted, but think you might be eligible, go to the Government's website and use the checker tool. Claims can then be submitted from the 17th May.

If you became self-employed on/after 6th April 2019 and are not eligible for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme you could apply for a grant of up to £2,000 through the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide relief to newly self-employed individuals who have not been able to access support through other schemes. The fund is open to people in Scotland, and applications made through your local authority.

There are also some loan schemes that you might not yet have investigated. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and offer other kinds of finance up to £5 million. If you receive an offer our partners at Gilson Gray will provide free legal advice on the loan, security and guarantee documents that your bank will require. The only costs you will pay will be for third party and registration costs.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover (the maximum loan available is £50,000). The Government guarantees 100% of the loan, and you won’t pay any fees or interest for the first 12 months.

The rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 situation makes it imperative to keep up-to-date with changes to advice and guidelines. Please visit the Scottish Government website for the latest updates to information and advice.

 

Our Business and IP enquiry service can be contacted via business@glasgowlife.org.uk
 

Tony Lyon is Librarian at BIPC Glasgow


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