Runway Training – Star Business of the Month – November 2014

About Runway Training Runway Training and Apprenticeships

Founded in 2008, Runway Training was born out of a need for a more flexible and accessible way for adult learners to gain level English and maths qualifications. Today the Tonbridge based company employs 15 people and offers blended and online learning solutions, as well as a range of professional development courses and high quality apprenticeships to employers including AXA PPP Healthcare, Hospice in The Weald and DFDS Seaways.

About Oliver

Oliver Trailor - Runway Training and Apprenticeships

Having completed a History degree at the University of Kent, Managing Director Oliver Trailor spent six months at a local Further Education College. Working within the Student Services team, Oliver spoke with individuals on a daily basis wanting to complete English and Maths qualifications to support their personal and professional development. For many the provision on offer was not accessible, busy home lives and work commitments meant travelling to college or attending evening classes was not possible. Having discussed a potential solution with a local Headmaster, who was becoming frustrated at constantly releasing staff for a whole day, the concept of offering an online course was developed.

“During the early days I used to just work on a laptop and had no fixed office. A day’s work consisted of travelling around various employers to visit learners and then making use of free wifi at local cafes to complete admin and check e-mails”.

A finalist for the 2012 West Kent Young Entrepreneur of the year award, Oliver has significantly grown the business and in 2013, launched the Runway Apprenticeships brand which delivers high quality apprenticeships across the Hospitality & Catering, Accountancy, Business and Health & Social Care sectors.

“We are very proud of our apprenticeship division and the high success rates of those apprentices gaining long term employment following completion of their programme. Our aim is to listen to employers and provide the very best service that meets the needs of their business, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach”.

Having helped over 7,000 learners achieve nationally recognised qualifications, Runway Training have learners all over the country and even some overseas. Away from work Oliver has a keen interest in Rugby and enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

Oliver’s plans for the future are to continue to grow Runway’s range of apprenticeship programmes and to develop an online English and maths GCSE course. He is also developing a shadowing programme with aspiring principal Nikki Gilbey to ensure that future FE leaders are able to learn from those currently in leadership roles.

Oliver’s Business Tip:

“Don’t be afraid to try new things and learn from your mistakes. Not everything will work, but it’s about how you learn from those experiences and move forward. I also try and look to those with more knowledge for advice and to discuss business ideas. If you constantly find yourself in a room full of people who know less than you, then you’re in the wrong room!”

Get in touch with Runway Training:

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Better Body Group – Star Business of the Month – October 2014

Better Body Group

About the Better Body Group

The Better Body Group was set up to solve a problem. People looking to lose weight or improve fitness were not getting the results they desired. This was down to two reasons; firstly their environment. All of the big gyms seemed to lack the right atmosphere. These chains were set up for profit only, the floor space was packed full of useless yet complex machines, the sales team seemed to be the only members of staff that cared (and that was only until you signed a 12 month contract!) and there was no extra care provided for those with special requirements.

Secondly the trainers were simply not qualified or experienced enough. There was (and still is) no governing body for personal trainers. That meant that anyone could become a personal trainer or therapist in a matter of weeks. Suddenly every man and his dog were becoming ‘fitness experts’ or ‘weight loss gurus’. This led to a huge rise in misinformation. Instead of trainers keeping their training methods based around science they simply started training their clients in the same way they would train themselves.

The combination of the two made it near on impossible for clients to achieve their goals quickly or safely. Cue the Better Body Group!

The Better Body Group Team has improved the lives of over 10,000 people in the south east. Our team of 30+ personal trainers and physiotherapists provide professionally guided exercise and nutrition solutions whatever your age, weight or goal.

About Director Chris Wharton

Chris Wharton - Better Body Group

After graduating in 2007 with an exercise science degree, Chris knew he wanted to run his own business. He first met his business partner Jason Crow by chance stumbling across his personal training company in Sevenoaks. It was just 12 months later that Jason and Chris decided on a partnership to open a bigger and better facility. Over the next 4 years they built the biggest and most qualified team of personal trainers and physiotherapists in the country in one of Europe’s biggest personal training facilities based in Sevenoaks. A second site has recently opened in Blackheath with a third due to open in Wimbledon village at the end of the month. The team are always looking for ways to better other people so they launched ‘Better Body Institute’. An education company working in conjunction with universities across the UK.

In his spare time Chris is keen to help other young entrepreneurs achieve their potential. He recently became a Volunteer Business Mentor for Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs and is a supporting entrepreneur for The recent 2014 Kent Excellence In Business Awards brought success as a Finalist in two categories the ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’, and ‘Customer Service and Commitment’.

Chris’ Business TipBetter Body Group

‘Surround yourself with the right people. I am lucky enough to have an amazing team of staff and clients to work with every day. What’s more I have been lucky enough to have a great business partner in Jason Crow who has helped support me through some tough times. Finding yourself a mentor or someone that has already made the journey you are taking can save you a lot of time…and money!’

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VooServers – Kent Star Business of the Month – September 2014

About VooServers®

VooServers was founded in March 2005 by its current technical director Matt Parkinson who had a keen interest in I.T. and the way it could influence and aid businesses and day to day life. The company has been built around its key principal of customer service always putting the customers’ welfare first in any key decisions. Since 2005 our product portfolio has grown significantly to include almost all aspects of hosted and managed I.T. services as well as complete data centre solutions such as entire hosted offices including e-mails, phone systems, electronic resource planning, document collaboration etc. With our 10 year anniversary approaching we now have 3 different global points of presence serving a wide range of clients from small businesses up to multi-national PLC’s whilst still maintaining our original business ethics in everything we do.

About Me

I started the company when I was 16 and just about to start sixth form at the Howard School in Rainham. I had always been interested in the ability to make your own way in life and combined with a strong passion for I.T. the two naturally came together to form what was originally a hobby intended to make a little bit of money to see me through school.

Matt Parkinson - Voo Servers KEiBA Finalist

Having started the company when I was still at school this often became a barrier to the development in the early years not only due to time constraints but the perception of me by potential customers. In the first few years I tried to steer clear of making my age known to anyone and most business was performed purely by phone or e-mail but even now having just turned 25 customers are often surprised at how long I have been running VooServers.

Over the years the hobby grew and grew and whilst I was still living at my parents and operating out of my brothers old bedroom I realised there was no better time for me to give my own company a go as a full time operation. Later in life there were going to be mortgages, bills and other commitments I would have to keep to and not having these at the time meant I was able to grow the business at a steady rate and handle all areas of the business in an efficient and controlled manner.

The Past and the Future of VooServers

The past 18 months has seen substantial growth going from having 2 members of staff to 7 and opening 2 new locations in New York and Frankfurt alongside expanding our primary location in Maidstone, Kent. We currently serve customers in more than 70 countries around the world so setting up new locations in key markets is essential to serving those customers efficiently.

The 2 new locations have also been fundamental in us launching our new highly resilient services in the past year which use all 3 of our locations to provide an always on and always available service which is key to our success as more businesses are turning to 24/7 operations and requiring access to data whenever and wherever they want it.

The vision for VooServers in the future is to continue developing new services as new technology is released alongside starting to innovate our own products and services based on in house research and technology which is not yet available on the market.

The launch of new locations in the past 18 months has also allowed us to see the potential for VooServers to become a globally recognised brand and we are already seeing a significant growth as a result of launching these new locations. Our sights are currently set on the possibility of opening additional locations in Moscow and Singapore in the near future to further enhance our offerings and growth.

My Business Tip

My business tip actually comes from Sir Richard Branson but it is the one thing that is always in my head and I think is key to the success of a young entrepreneur.

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes –

then learn how to do it later!”

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Hectic Lifestyles – Star Business of the Month – August 2014

Hectic Lifestyles

I have always been fascinated by the world of business and knew I would run my own one day.After a sporting accident in 2009, I damaged my knee requiring multiple surgical interventions including an experimental surgery. Due to this I was unable to walk for six months and couldn’t continue my job, so decided to spend my recovery period building something positive out of this unfortunate situation. I started Hectic Lifestyles after identifying a gap in the market and filling it with a product I found in Ireland.

Hectic Sports

Raising initial capital was the first hurdle I encountered as I didn’t want to borrow money from family or banks, so I saved carefully and used this to invest in stock and marketing. To reduce set up costs, I immersed myself into all aspects of business including branding, web design, online and offline sales and business strategy. As products sold, I re-invested profit into the company for further product lines and marketing to expand without debt and saw substantial year-on-year financial growth.

Bal Sandher

Today, Hectic Lifestyles Ltd is a multi-channel, online health and supplement retailer and distributor. We currently run two distinct brands, ‘Hectic Lifestyles’ and ‘Hectic Sports’, selling over 120 different nutritional products to consumers in 150 countries world-wide. We aim to cater to the ever growing demand of customers who work long hours in their jobs and have very little time to go to the gym or exercise. Our products are aimed to assist and maximise their efforts. Rather than selling the products of other companies, all of ours are produced and branded exclusively for us. This gives us incredible flexibility with innovative formulas, as well as the ability to market our brand with complete control. The ‘Hectic Lifestyles’ concept is relatable for a lot of our customers, meaning we have a lot of recurring custom.
The biggest milestone to date was moving to a new, larger warehouse and purchasing manufacturing machinery ready for the recent launch of our B2B wholesale brand, ‘Nutra Direct’. The development of the company as a whole and very swift expansion of Nutra Direct means we are already looking at an additional site to utilise for manufacturing and extra office space.

My vision for Hectic Lifestyles Ltd has always been to become a trusted and responsible leader in the supplements and sports nutrition field by providing the best quality products and realistic, useful advice to consumers no matter their health targets. I want to grow the company to provide local employment with a fun and flexible working culture – our employees are so important to us and we hope that we can nurture and grow their careers as Hectic Lifestyles evolves. We also believe in cultivating emerging talent will shortly be hiring apprentices in various areas through the Canterbury College Apprentice Scheme to offer hands-on work experience.

I’m so proud of how far Hectic Lifestyles has come and most recently won Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Kent Excellence in Business Awards. For the next generation of budding business owners my advice would be:

“Make sure you research your prospective market thoroughly. Planning and preparation is always the key, and above all, work hard – it will all be worth it.”

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AM Marketing – Star Business of the Month – July 2014

AM Marketing Owner AmyAM Marketing, Digital Marketing, Canterbury, Kent McManus started her career in retail, managing a home and cosmetic store in Whitefriars, Canterbury. After developing a knack for marketing her store and products locally, she was headhunted by her first marketing firm at 22 years old and worked globally on health and beauty products with large clients such as Holland and Barrett, Amazon and Harrods. Her first product launch went on to win NBTY Europe’s New Product of the Year and New Innovative Product Awards.

In April 2012 at 24, she went freelance as a marketing consultant and landed a 14 month contract with DFDS rebranding the commercial areas of their new vessels and managing onboard marketing and communications for the Channel routes.  AM Marketing was born in October 2013 and this month features as our Star Business of the Month!

So Amy why did you start AM Marketing?

Amy McManus AM MarketingSince I was a child I have always wanted my own business. My parents had jobs which they regularly expressed a dislike for. They were (and still are) hardworking, honest people who seemed constantly under-valued and stressed. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story and after entering the job market I found myself in the same position.

I wanted to make my own business choices and make sure that those who worked for me were in an open, happy environment.

AM Marketing is an absolute joy to run and I love every single day. We provide marketing consultancy and management to large and small businesses; from local pubs to global brands. This includes strategy, digital, social media, PPC (Google Adwords), branding, websites, design, videos, photography and everything in between. We are particular specialists in PPC (Pay-Per Click) Advertising with all accounts set-up by our Google Certified and Bing Accredited Specialists. Our clients come from all over the UK (with a couple in US and Europe). As every client is individual with many diverse goals and requirements, we handle each account as such. Every proposal is bespoke to that client and their objectives to create the best results.

AM Marketing is a young company and I am a young entrepreneur. This can be a disadvantage when competing in the marketplace with larger and more established agencies. However, we tend to find that our clients prefer our lack of bureaucracy which allows their accounts to be more flexible. Regardless of our size and my age, the service we provide and results we achieve for our clients speak for themselves.

My business tip comes from my Dad:

“If you want to take the steps to start your own business, run a marathon, travel the world or anything else you could possibly dream of, don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t do it. If you’re prepared to work hard you can accomplish anything.”

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Harbourne Associates – Star Business of the Month – May 2014

My name is Chris Stephens, Director of Harbourne Associates which I started in March 2013 set up from a bedroom in my parents’ house. I’m a 28 year old, innovative, passionate individual with a drive to change the perception and Harbourne Associates Logomethodologies used in the current recruitment marketplace. I felt that not enough was being done to really dig deep and source top talent for corporates in the UK. Many opportunities were being missed by market leading clients due to pushy salespeople looking to earn commission and not provide a value adding service that employers are really looking for.

I had been in recruitment for 8 years and before that in various sales positions but always had a vision of a customer service driven approach built on delivering business growth for my clients. I had to persuade my parents to support me and invest some start-up money but thanks to this I am now running a business of seven people and working out of an office in Tunbridge Wells. The business is currently on track to turnover sales of £1m in 2016.

Recruitment dates back to the early 1900s. There was no Internet, Facebook or Jobsites. It was about learning your clients’ culture, environment and requirements thoroughly and spending time learning about competitors, neighbours and forward thinking businesses then networking intensely to track down top performers. Over time this entire concept has been lost and agencies feel it is OK to charge a huge sum of money for a very straightforward search on an internet job board – Monster or similar.

Chris Stephens - Harbourne Associates

Today’s world introduces so many more candidate attraction methods and Harbourne Associates utilises them in order to find, contact and manage key professionals. By working hard and being thorough, I am developing a new age service using an up to date, tailored approach in order to provide a “stand out” service.

Harbourne Associates is developing into a well-known specialist Recruitment Consultancy focusing its attention on the Sales, Marketing and Management sectors. We work with a large number of key industries including retail development, premium brands, food service, high-end fashion, hair and beauty, drinks and a developing area in industrial, manufacturing, construction and engineering markets. We have a highly experienced Executive Search Team that work across a wide range of industries within a developing client base. (Senior Appointments into the corporate marketplace).The team based in Tunbridge Wells is quickly developing and the company is growing month by month. Proven testimonials from Blue-chip clients back up the service we provide and how we can truly stand out from many leading agencies.

One of our clients described us as a:

“Unique, contemporary recruitment boutique, with a forward thinking approach to business, they use proven historical methods to source and deliver on key roles and provide a service that has substance.”

My approach with the support of a hardworking team includes a mix of headhunting, networking, attending exhibitions and events whilst spending the time to learn markets, mapping companies and use advanced recruitment databases; many key options that really do give us a competitive edge in today’s marketplace. I sincerely believe that Harbourne Associates’ success will only come from helping our clients to grow their business by sourcing the best candidates and matching them to their ideal job.

To date we have shown extremely high levels of success and conversion ratios that outmatch much of the recruitment market, not to mention staff retention figures once placed, apparent throughout many of our blue chip client base.

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