Start Smart

Lowry Hotel
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I first mentioned the Business Growth Hub on the 31 Dec 2012. It describes itself as
"A community for ambitious growing businesses to thrive, with the support and expertise of first class industry leaders brought together by the Business Growth Hub ,"
The Business Growth Hub was established in 2011 and is accountable to the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership. On the 22 Oct 2014 it organized Manchester's first ever Venturefest (a rare example of Manchester following a lead from Yorkshire) and on Friday 7 Nov 2014 it held its first Start Smart Conference at The Lowry Hotel.

The conference was directed at those thinking of setting up their own businesses.  Having attended the Northern Futures Summit 8 Nov 2014 IP Yorkshire and Ballet Black's Triple Bill 7 Nov 2014 Terpsichore in Leeds the day before I arrived at the morning coffee break which meant that I missed Prof Lynn Martin of the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University, Isla Wilson of Ruby Star Associates and Gemma Roe of Rotunda Living. However, I did catch futurologist Tom Cheeswright of Book of the Future and Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management who delivered interesting and in a sense complementary presentations. 

My ears pricked up when Mr Urquhart Stewart said that he had been a barrister which prompted me to ask him why in the Q & A session at the end. I observed that this was rather a good time to be a barrister as the Legal Services Act 2007 had opened up the industry to competition. I added that the Bar built had always outsourced its management and marketing operations to clerks while getting on with the business which was a business model that both he and Mr Cheeswright had commended.  Mr Urquhart Stewart replied that I was a very rare breed indeed. In his experience most barristers and indeed solicitors were foundering. He said that his brother who was responsible for running a set of chambers elsewhere in the country had engaged the services of a marketing guru without thinking about who they were marketing to or what they were marketing. However, he did concede that there was something in my observation and that lawyers (like anyone else) should respond to change by assessing what they were good at and offering their services to those who needed their skills rather than bemoaning changes in the market.

For the last two hours we attended business breakout master classes in accessing finance, cyber security, marketing Manchester and IP.  I had put my name down for IP and accessing finance. The IP master class was given by Tom Lambert and Rachel Nicholls and I am ashamed to say that I probably made a confounded nuisance of myself (for which I apologize) by asking questions of second medical use when Tom was talking about obviousness and the unitary patent as well as making an observation about confidentiality. They both spoke well and I learned something new from Rachel, namely that the tick that Nike has registered as a trade mark may derive from a fold on the dress of a statute of the goddess. I never made the access to funding seminar because I was waylaid by Sean Randles by webvm who taught us all about making YouTube videos. Another excellent presentation.

During the day I met some interesting entrepreneurs including a young chemical engineer who was starting her own industrial waste disposal consultancy and had brought her little boy with her. Regrettably she had forgotten her business cards but I gave her one of mine and I do hope that she gets in touch with me for I can think of several possible areas for collaboration. I also met Gyles Denn, the Business Growth Up's Start-up Manager who impressed me considerably and we discussed possible ways in which I can contribute to the business community of my native city.

Altogether it was an excellent day. Comparing it to Northern Futures the day before we may not have had the Deputy Prime Minister, Mayors and Council Leaders or leading thinkers like Jim O'Neil, Ed Glaeser or Tony Travers but we got some really useful practical tips and information which we can use in our businesses tomorrow. If anyone wants to discuss this article or entrepreneurship in general, he or she should call me during office hours on 0161 850 0080 or click my contact form.