January 31, 2017 by Antonia Cummings

Moving Away From The City

Most new companies, you would have thought, would want to be right amongst it in the City of London. it’s the economic hub of the U.K and billions of pounds worth of business are transacted every single day. Surely moving out to the suburbs is conter-intuituive…isn’t it?

But, that is exactly what Doug Bates and Chris Mason of Intelligent People did way back in 2002. They made two key decisions.

Key Decisions

Firstly, they decided they’d had enough if recruiting IT staff (I can understand that, I did it for 25 years), and they decided their fledgling business should be put on a “lifestyle” footing.

“Absolutely right”, laughs Doug, we were wasting so much time commuting. The trains from St Albans to london were notoriously unreliable and we were just losing too much time stuck in tunnels”.

“They still are”, interjects Chris, “unreliable. Strikes, leaves on the line and they are just so crowded, I never got a seat getting on at St Albans”.

So, what did they do about it?

Making It Happen

“Simple”, says Doug, “we were starting Intelligent People in 2002, so we decided, as we both lived in St Albans, we’d move the business there. Recruitment is a tough game, but we wanted some degree of lifestyle in our lives. We were both relatively young and recently married, and we liked out recreation time, so we made the change”.

“Yes, it’s something we like to offer to our staff as well”, continues Chris, “we feel we get a better quality of hire by offering something a little different in terms of what other agencies offer their staff in recruitment. Not only that, but we like to hire young and train into our very specific modus operandi”.

Can you expand on that?

Market Experience

“Indeed, it’s quite simple”, Doug takes up the story, “working in Digital and Online Marketing, we like to hire people who have worked in marketing, but have that salesy side to them. It’s a very specific skillset, and we like our consuktants to be able to talk the client’s language. So all of our staff have worked in marketing. We then have a very specific method of selling, which we have an in depth training program to skill up our consultants”.

“It works really well”, continues Chris, “and as you can see from the sales board, they all do very well.

So, what areas are you finding the busiest at the moment?

Vibrant Market

“Digital marketing is alive and kicking, big time, at the moment”, Chris continues, “in all honesty we’re seeing a rapid in crease in vacancies across most online marketing disciplines”.

“What I think we’re seeing is a demarcation of job functiions”, he continues, “as digital marketing technology marches forward, we are seeing different roles being created. It’s like the greater tech is leading to a demand for more detailed skills within different facets of the overall function”.

“For example, we are now seeing a lot of Chief Marketing Officer Vacancies as the heklicopter view and control of all the disperate functions becomes vitally important”, says Doug.

Huge Increase In Vacancies

“And, as an eCommerce recruitment agency, we are seeing a massive increase in open jobs across all eCommerce roles and levels”, adds Chris.

Loyalty Marketing Jobs are another area that is really alive at the moment. It’s become key to retain and maximise the take from every customer. as competition for online dollars intensifies, customer retention and maximasation is ever more important”.

Guys, thanks for those really interesting insights into life at Intelligent People. A modern and enlightened way to do recruitment in 2017.

Next article – growing a small business

February 11, 2016 by Antonia Cummings

What is Affiliate Marketing

Hi Antonia here,

affiliate-marketing2016I hope you are well. Today I want to take a look at Affiliate Marketing.

I think it’s reasonable to suggest that affiliate marketing tends to get a “bad rap” these days. My guess is that comes from shady online marketers employing dodgy traffic techniques in order to get visitors to sites for male enhancement and other related products and such like.

Is It A Deserved Reputation?

Now that reputation may well be deserved in some cases. But the facts of the matter are that affiliate marketing has been around long before the Internet brought the method into sharp focus.

Quite simply affiliate marketing is where a third party drives sales in return for a commission.

It just so happens that the Internet makes it much easier to find products to promote for profit and also for product owners to make those products avaiable to marketers in order for them to be able to promote.


Product aggregators were the first sites to spring up as sites like Clickbank made it easy for online marketers to find am aladdins cave of digital products to promote. Electronic products were the obvious place to start online as they can be delivered via the digital medium (PDFs , eBooks, Video training etc).

However, gradually, with the increasing sophistication of eCommerce software, affiliate marketing extended into all areas of online trading. Indeed products with high worths started to be marketed via affiliates and some very creative methods of both promoting and marketing have been seen.

Physical Products

The first major network to go into the physical goods market was Commission Junction. Of course Amazon were early adopters, but initially Commission Junction was preferred as the commission levels were higher.

However, Amazon is now the most sohpisticated affiliate network around and also has partner offers included. You can sell virtually anything as an Amazon affiliate. And now, with advent of easy store builder softwares, building an Amazon store on your website is a piece of cake (it used to be really awkward).

CPA Networks

Next came the CPA networks. This stands for Cost Per Acquisition. Digital Marketers loved this innovation.

All they had to do was deliver a lead! They didn’t even have to make a salee in order to receive a commission. If you talk to some of the most advanced Interent Marketers, this is where they ply their trade.

As I said, there is no need to make a sale, just get a prosect to fill in a form in order to receive a commission. And, this works well in many markets such as weight loss and muscle building.

Commissions per for completion can run into hundreds of dollars in the right market. So, the message is clear if you want to attack this type of marketing. Pick products with high CPA commissions.

Teething Problems

The problem with this was that some of the affiliate programs were difficult to find. The CPA networks themselves were very risk averse and it made getting authorised to promote very difficult for people trying to break into the market.

So, the next innovation was CPA network aggregators, like Offer Vault. Here you can find every affiliate offer from pretty much every network all listed in one place. There is a clever search engine making it simple to find offers from any niche you might care to consider.

What will come next for affiliate marketing? Well, most of the ntorks are trying to make it easier to buy over mobile devices. However, there is resistance from users.

Mobile Next?

Yes, people will make locaol searches to find a restaurant via mobile, but buying via mobile is still in its infancy. Indeed over 50% of searches are conduicted via mobile now (that tipping point in the U.S and U.K was reached towards the end of 2014), but sales via mobile are still a small percentage of overall online sales.

Total Affiliate Marketing Sales

The affiliate total market went well over the £billion mark in the U.K in 2015. I’ve heartd wildly differing figures for the U.S anywhere from $3billion to $10.8 billion. Come what may, that is a lot of commissions.

What do these sites look like?

Here’s an example of a good affiliate marketing site, and here are some great product reviews for Niche Reaper V3.0 and also for Instant Azon Amazon Storebuilder which I thoughtm might be of interest given the subject matter.

I hope you found that useful, heres a video overview of affiliate marketing.

November 4, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

How To Grow A Small Business

Hi Antonia here again,

As a small business owner, I have found one of the biggest conundrums to be trying to find the right size for my business. Yes, I want to get my business growing (to earn more money), but I don’t want to be so big that I have to start employing staff.

A Difficult Question

business growsAnd, why is this such a difficult question for the entrepreneur to answer?

Personally, I think it’s that most people of this nature are simply drawn by the need to survive and prosper under their own steam. Out of all the business owners I talk to, I hear many and varied reasons why people strike out on their own.

Some of the most popular include:-

  • I just had this idea and had to run with it
  • I couldn’t work for the boss any more
  • I can do it better than my previous employers
  • The boss / my employer were doing it wrong
  • I wanted to live by my own efforts

These are all totally valid reasons for starting your own business. But, having got started and a successful business (to some degree) underway, just how far do you go to grow it?

How Big To Grow?

Some will want to grow as big and as fast as they can, but for many their business is a lifestyle choice. All they want is to support their life at a reasonable and comfortable level.


David Hardisty – Business Growth Expert

Small business growth expert David Hardisty has looked at and worked with many start ups, small local businesses and entrepreneurs. Here we look at some fo the things he does to assess how and where to grow such businesses.

“The first thing I do”, he says, “is try and get “inside” them. Understand their psyche, their raison d’etre if you like. Why did they do this in the first place and then, where do they want to go”.

“You see, most people know they want more, but they simply cannot quantify those “feelings” of wanting more into something tangible. So, my job is to talk to these people and try and find out what makes them tick, and then to truly understand exactly why they did what they did and exactly where they see the end goal”.

Understanding Your Business Goals

“If I had a thousand pounds for every time I take someone to a place they never realised they wanted to go, I could retire”, he gives a broad grin.

“Getting to that point can be painful, but it’s worth it. It’s only once a small business owner understands where they want to take their business that you can put a plan in place”.

I guess it’s a bit like how do you know you’ve got there if you don’t know where you’re going. I think I learned that as an MLM marketer back in the mid 1980s!

So who do you help out?

“Most people I meet are the entrepeneurial types who are overworked, stressed and trying to do everything themselves. They have ended up coming away from the core skillset in order to provide that for their customers and the whole thing has ended up getting out of control”.

Getting It All In Order

“Basically I help them get things back in order”.

So, what practical help do you offer?

“It depends on what they need, I guess. Yes, I know a bit of a trite answer – sorry”.

“But anything from selling skills, to sales processes. Market identification to marketing strategies, both digital as well as traditional. But, two of the really key areas are time management and business processes. So many of these Guys are just into what they do and have no idea how to run a business”.

“It becomes almost a psychological process for people like this”

Yes, I was like that to start with.

“Once I have taught them how to run a business they can be more efficient and the business growth they are looking for comes naturally”.

Government can help as well (as well they should)!

If they do want serious growth then I help build growth strategies that include a longer term hiring and expansion path. This can, of course, include the financing option. I have also helped other businesses grow by franchising the operation. That is a very popular choice for business growth”.

David Hardisty Ltd is a business growth consultancy in Horsham West Sussex. You can find their wesbite at  http://davidhardisty.com/

This video is interesting as well.


August 4, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

Do What You Love – Make Money

Peter and Julie Maxted run Pets, Homes and Gardens and Pet Sitting Franchise Business. Here we look at some insights into their world and how and why they got started…helping people to start a business that coincides with their passion for domestic animals.

Love pets? How we turned our passions into a regular payday

It’s becoming more and more common these days for people to ditch unfulfilling 9 to 5 jobs and focus on what makes them happy. There are plenty of books, seminars and courses that show you how to make your dreams come true.

However, what they don’t give you is a support network – and that’s the difference between earning a few quid now and again or establishing a successful business.

The ‘find your passion’ business model isn’t an easy one to sustain, so how did we establish ours – and continue to grow?

Back to the beginning: why pets?

Even as owners ourselves, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how important pets are to people. Research figures put around 50% of the UK population as pet owners, and pet sitting services are on the rise.

The associated costs are considered part of the holiday budget; pet insurer PetPlan’s research revealed that a quarter of pet owners factored their furry, feathered or scaly loved ones into their holiday plans.

Pet owners are happy to pay for quality services, and peace of mind is priceless. Both of those things together can be hard to find, however, and good pet carers even more so.

We saw this and realised there was a market; after 13 years of trading we saw that PHG could become a byword for caring, professional pet care services across the UK.

How franchising works for you

You get to focus on running your business without the stress and guesswork, plus you can hop onto a trusted and established brand. There’s still hard work involved, such as keeping up with regulations and legislation, plus the day-to-day running of your business – but the heavy lifting of building a brand has already been done.

How to make it work

You can be as flexible as you like. Our franchisees turn over between £15,000 to £70,000 a year, which isn’t a bad return on investment for less than £2,000. Whether you scale the business up or down, be prepared to deliver exceptional service as standard.

A franchisee doesn’t need to be an Apprentice-style power entrepreneur either; a car, computer and basic IT skills are the basic requirements. We’ll teach you the rest, such as marketing and advertising skills.

A business in a box: the gift that keeps on giving

There are lots of people who would love to do what we do, but face a few obstacles. Most of the reservations we come across from new franchisees, like this, are fear-based: lack of business expertise to support their ambitions, worrying that being their own boss will be harder than their current day job. All barriers to starting a pet business that we can breal down for you.

Taking on a pet sitting franchise is more reassuring than starting from scratch; it means you get a successful template for running a business, and plenty of guidance.

Click HERE For More Information About Becoming a PHG Franchisee.

And…here’s a video from one happy customer!

April 3, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

3 Methods On How You Can Get A Business Idea

business-unusualHave you considered of having your very own business? If you do, then you need to come up with a business idea first before anything else. How are you going to get such idea? All you have to do is to follow through one out of the three methods mentioned below:

Method 1 Find A Need

This is what most businesses are based. The founder of the business saw that there is a need, then they have created something out of it to satisfy and address that need. When people’s need has been satisfied that’s already a sure recipe for success. So, what you can do is be observant. See for yourself what could be a need that you can address through a service or product.

Example of this sort of business – click here.

Or, you can ask yourself is there something I need for myself. Are there any people out there who do share the same need as I do? This is where you start researching, asking people around, and come up with conclusion that indeed there is a need. Later on, you come up with a business idea how you are going to address that need with the use of a service or a product. Be sure there is no other company out there who have addressed such need. In this way, you become the very first one who addresses such need, find a solution for it, and eventually people will come knocking at you. Before you know it you are earning millions.

Method 2 Look At The Trend

business-growthAnother method of coming up a business idea is for you to look at the trend. Check out what is the latest trend today. If you find a trend, ask yourself how long will this trend last? This is where you need to do a thorough research about it. See what the experts have to say as to the longevity of such trend. When you already know you then come up with a business idea. What product or service you can introduce to the market in line with the specific trend.

There is one thing you need to remember, you are coming up with a business idea base on trend. You need to ready yourself as to what the future might be if you proceed with such business. Are you going to be in the business for 5 years or 10 years? Are you going to get back your ROI in an x amount of years? All these need to be considered if you want to be successful in such kind of business.

Method 3 Combine Ideas

Last method is for you to combine one business idea with another idea or two. This will enable you to come up with a new one and eventually your idea is much better. You can get ideas from simply everywhere. One good place is for you to check out your local area. See what business idea you can get out, and then mix it with another idea.

Perhaps, you might consider checking out the Internet for other ideas. Even grab an idea or two from business magazines. You can never tell how many ideas you can get if you put your time into searching for them. Who knows you will be able to have one great business idea?

Are you now ready to start unraveling a business idea? Do pick which method mentioned above you are going to use. For sure, you will be able to come up with an idea today or for days to come. Think of it as a mind exercise. You will surely see the benefit out of it in the future when you put your idea into reality – a successful business.