Tag: CDS

Collaborate to access new markets

Karen McLeod manages the export advisory service at Scottish Development International (SDI), the international arm of Scottish Enterprise.  SDI offers support to help Scottish Businesses trade overseas

Last year a record number of Scottish businesses, large and small, started thinking globally and branched out overseas.  We spoke to Karen to find out why it’s important to consider selling internationally and the ways in which you can do it successfully.

Why is exporting important? 

Overseas markets have become increasingly important to the Scottish economy and in 2014 Scotland’s international exports were valued at £27.5 billion*, a 17.3% increase from 2010.

Our research shows that many overseas markets are underserved and there is demand for Scottish products and services internationally. This, paired with the fact that SDI supported 2,500 businesses to export last year, shows that there is opportunity and the ambition for exporting to continue to grow.

What are the benefits?

Trading abroad can boost your profile, credibility and bottom line.  That applies whether you’re trading with established markets such as the EU and USA, or high-growth markets like Brazil, China, India, Colombia and Vietnam.

International markets like these offer you access to new customers, revenue and ideas. Crucially, they enable you to spread your business risk, increase the commercial lifespan of your products and services and secure economies of scale which are not always possible at home. In fact, exporting is now considered essential for Scottish businesses that want to safeguard future growth.

The figures are compelling, showing that those firms that choose to export become 34% more productive in their first year** while those already exporting achieve 59% faster productivity growth than non-exporters**, positively impacting on staffing and financial performance.

Doing business overseas brings further benefits such as fostering ideas for new products and services. Once a company has ‘dipped their toe’ into a new market this in turn tends to increase confidence and ambition and provides the momentum for further growth through exporting.

What are the barriers and how can you overcome them?

Exporting can seem daunting to smaller businesses and the thought of going it alone can often be off putting and seen as high risk.  Collaborating with others can be a way to address those risks and make the most of the opportunities that exporting brings.

Collaboration for international markets

Businesses can collaborate using the consortium co-operative business model. This model allows businesses to come together for a shared purpose; to buy or sell in scale, market more effectively, share facilities or jointly bid for contracts.

There are good examples of Scottish consortiums already collaborating on international strategy.  Examples of shared activities include creation of a portfolio brand for export, consolidated shipping and a joint e-commerce activity.

Winning support with the Collaboration Prize

We are supporting this year’s Collaboration Prize which encourages firms to think collaboratively and pitch an idea for a new collaborative enterprise that will help them to access new markets. This could be a new sector or a geographical market including international markets.

The winners selected by the judging panel will receive £5,000 (to implement their collaborative idea), support to set up as a consortium co-operative, up to £5,000 business support (delivered by Scottish Enterprise or Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and access to export advisor support from my team.  This includes a wide variety of services such as:

  • an export advisory service, backed by international trade advisers, offering tailored support and guidance;
  • online tools to help you create an export plan;
  • and business intelligence from 43 global offices as well as events to explore opportunities and network with valuable contacts.

The Collaboration Prize is being delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland on behalf of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Island Enterprise in partnership with Business Gateway and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

 

Sources:

*Scottish Government Export Statistics Scotland 2014 publication – click here to read.

**UK Government UK Trade & Investment research publication – Bringing home the benefits: how to grow through exporting click here to read.

Collaboration: a step-by-step guide

Jaye Martin, CDS specialist advisor

Collaborating with others can be a highly effective way for a business to achieve growth, access new markets and drive innovation whilst sharing the associated costs and risks.

The Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize 2016/17 is currently open for entries and aims to raise awareness of the collaboration route among Scottish businesses.

The Prize is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring collaborators, and exploring the prospective benefits of forming or joining a consortium is highly encouraged in order to help businesses of all sizes reach their full potential.

However, when it comes to forming or joining a consortium, what should a business consider? How does the process work and what are the specific benefits that can be delivered?

Here, CDS specialist advisor Jaye Martin shares a brief step-by-step guide to consortium working to help you determine whether or not collaboration is right for your business.

Step 1: Identify barriers to growth

For many small and micro-enterprises, lack of scale, time, finance or resources can all be barriers to accessing new markets, tendering for larger contracts or simply marketing services, and therefore barriers to growth.  These challenges will be familiar to many businesses, particularly those with small teams or those who provide unique or niche products and services.

Step 2: Look for a potential solution

Teaming up with other like-minded businesses and forming a consortium is an excellent way to break down these barriers. Suitable for businesses of all sizes operating in any sector, this model can help businesses grow by reducing the costs and risks associated with tackling new markets and investing in new products and services. It can also enable businesses to share resources such as back office functions and premises. Meanwhile, member businesses are able to retain their own brands, independence and control. You can find out more here.

Step 3: Find collaborators

Carefully identifying like-minded businesses to work with is crucial. Trust is a key factor. It can help if the businesses have worked together informally before. In most cases, member businesses operate in similar or complementary fields, although a lot will depend on the rationale for collaboration. You can read about the experience of a number of successful consortia here.

Step 4: Choose the right structure

The consortium co-operative model is an effective collaborative business structure. In simple terms it is an organisation run in a shared and equal way by and for the benefit of its members. Members are independent businesses and the consortium can be for any purpose which supports them, for example marketing, tendering, innovating or exporting. Co-operative Development Scotland has a track record in helping businesses and we’d be happy to help you explore the options. You can contact us here.

Step 5: Benefit from your collaboration

Collaborating can be a real game-changer for businesses. For example, one of last year’s Collaboration Prize winners, Ecosse from Above, was founded by three aerial photography companies and a web developer who wanted to create an online library providing high-quality aerial footage and images of Scotland at a reduced cost. Ecosse from Above has since built a library of over 5,000 high quality images and 500 affordable films from across the Scottish landscape which has grabbed the attention of tourism bodies such as VisitScotland as well as television and video production companies from all over the world.

Fellow winner ArchBlue Ltd, was founded by four organisations involved in providing complementary services to the heritage sector including 3D measuring and modelling, archaeological recording and visualisation, conservation planning and 3D printing. Working collaboratively has enabled the businesses to provide customers with a comprehensive approach to heritage site management as well as engaging methods of communicating a site’s story to the public. The consortium used its prize winnings to add strength to tender submissions and establish a brand identity.

As well as supporting businesses to access new markets, share risks and costs and develop new products or services, many businesses involved in consortium working also report increased confidence, better business connections, improved knowledge-sharing and an enhanced profile.

The benefits are tangible and numerous – and definitely worth exploring when considering the future of your business.

For more information about the Collaboration Prize, including how to enter and requesting an application pack, visit here.

Happy partners make for better business at John Lewis Partnership

David Jones started working for John Lewis Partnership as a Graduate Trainee in 1982. Since then he has held a number of roles, including running several Waitrose stores and some time as Waitrose’s Supply Chain Director.  His current role is Partnership Registrar, in which he is tasked with ensuring the business upholds the principles of the partnership. David gives some background to the Partnership’s employee ownership model, and how putting the happiness of the partners first makes for better business.

david-jones-by-jeff-hopkins-resized

David Jones, John Lewis Partnership

“John Lewis Partnership has not always been employee-owned.  The son of the founder, John Spedan Lewis, decided it was unacceptable that his family made more from the business than all other employees combined. His objection wasn’t just moral; he felt it was bad for business.

Spedan’s view was that if he created a more successful business that reinvested in itself, took a long term view, gave everybody a voice in how it was run, and actively contributed more to community and society, then more people would want to spend money in his shops.   In 1929, he sold his shares to a trust, that would hold the shares on the employees’ behalf, and he was repaid for these shares over the next 30 years.

John Lewis Partnership now has almost 400 shops, 90,000 employees and gross annual sales of over £11 billion.  The Partnership employs 3200 people in Scotland. There are seven Waitrose stores as well as John Lewis shops in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  We also have a customer contact centre in Hamilton.  We support many Scottish companies in our supply chain.  Quality of produce is paramount for Waitrose, and we are pleased to support many Scottish producers. Indeed, Stoat’s Porridge and Mo’s Cookie Dough are two Scottish companies who started out selling products in Waitrose, and have gone on to be national businesses.  We build long term strategic partnerships with our suppliers, and are proud to have been working closely with Aquascot so closely for many years.  I’m thrilled the firm has also adopted the employee ownership model.

As Partners in the business, our employees share the rights and responsibilities that employee ownership entails. This doesn’t mean that everyone is involved in every decision the business makes – we couldn’t function like that.  What it means is that they hold our leadership to account for the decisions they take.  We have 5 employees elected to our Partnership Board. These employees do not have management or executive responsibilities; they are there to provide the link with our partners and to test and probe the management. We have a democratically elected Partnership Council that ensures the business is run for and on behalf of the partners. The Council shares the views of the Partners on key issues and makes recommendations on policy.   The Partnership Council has the authority to remove the Chairman – although I’m pleased to say this has never happened!

Our Partners are rewarded for their commitment. The Partnership’s profit , after investment is distributed to Partners. This can be through pay, discounts subsidised leisure or learning. Each year we announce our annual bonus, which in 2016 amounted to 5 weeks’ salary for each Partner. Fairness is a key value and each member of staff receives the same percentage of salary in their company bonus. The same bonus is paid to employees whether they work in John Lewis, Waitrose or one of the other companies.  If John Lewis has a bad year, and Waitrose do exceptionally well, one balances the other.  This is the dual strength of our model.

John Lewis Partnership can never be sold, which gives us a powerful competitive advantage.  Because we have no option to sell our shares and invest elsewhere, each of our 90,000 partners has a strong incentive to throw all their energy and passion into making this year better than the last.

And it works. In a ferociously competitive sector, where we’ve seen the demise of high street brands such as Woolworths, BHS, Comet and others, we have not only survived, we’ve thrived.  Employee ownership is fundamental to our commercial success.  If we are to build a more diverse, sustainable and inclusive economy, we need to see more companies choose employee ownership.“

David Jones is speaking at a breakfast seminar on 20th October 2016 hosted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise at their Inverness offices. More information can be found here.

Creative Consortium Sheds Light on Collaboration Prize Benefits

Scottish Enterprise's David Smith pictured with Adventures in Light's Cristina Spiteri and Richard Anstice

Scottish Enterprise’s David Smith pictured with Adventures in Light’s Cristina Spiteri and Richard Anstice

This Thursday 12 November, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop launched the 2015/16 Collaboration Prize – which aims to encourage companies to consider establishing a consortium.

Businesses from the creative industries are being invited to submit entries by 17 December for a chance to win £5,000 cash and up to £5,000 in support to set their idea in motion. Up to five winners will be selected to take a share of the prize fund.

Adventures in Light was one of last year’s Collaboration Prize winners. The consortium brings together a 3D artist, filmmaker and carpenter to create dynamic projected installations for musical and cultural performances.

Here, chairman Cristina Spiteri describes Adventures in Light’s experience of collaboration and how they have benefited from winning the Prize.

It all began when Susanna, Richard and I met serendipitously in a field whilst VJ-ing at a festival. As artists we believed that by pooling our expertise we could offer customers something completely new and exciting – delivered seamlessly from idea creation to execution. We also found that working together enabled us to collectively use resources to purchase more advanced equipment and embark on more ambitious installations.

After a year working together (during which we provided installations for T in the Park, Edinburgh Science Festival and the Scottish Dance Theatre) we decided to enter the Collaboration Prize to formalise our partnership and reach new heights.

Judges liked our streamlined approach to tendering which delivered value for money to customers and maximum return for the business. For us, it makes sense for clients to be talking to one body rather than three individual businesses. It also means we can grow to involve other companies and artists to go for bigger jobs. As a prize winner, we received support from CDS to formalise our arrangement and set up a consortium. We also received consultancy assistance to develop our collaboration further as well as £5,000 cash to inject into the business.

Winning the prize has opened so many doors for us. It has allowed us to invest in essential new kit which has supported us to keep experimenting and inventing – something all creative businesses should do. We’ve also had the opportunity to work on some fantastic new projects including the International Science Festival and the Kelburn Garden Party.

Collaborating is now at the core of our business. It has allowed us to bring in specialist skills, and together craft something truly unique and far beyond what we could produce on our own.

Our advice to anyone considering entering the Prize is ‘go for it’. It’s a fantastic opportunity and it has really helped us to grow and succeed.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by midnight, December 17. To enter, go towww.scottish-enterprise.com/collaborationprize.

Support with preparing submissions is available from CDS. For more information email info@cdscotland.co.uk.

The Collaboration Prize was launched by Scottish Enterprise (SE), in partnership with Creative Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, Interactive Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).

One prize – One giant boost for collaboration

 Screen Facilities Scotland 08

After the success of the inaugural awards in 2012, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) has today launched this year’s Collaboration Prize.

Screen Facilities Scotland was one of the three winners from last summer and Joanna Dewar Gibb, business manager at ARTEM LTD explains how the initiative has had an amazing effect on the consortium’s activities.

 

In the first instance, quite simply, being one of the winners gave us a boost of confidence to the Screen Facilities Scotland (SFS) working group that professional peers also deemed what we were doing as worthy of support.  The double layers of the CDS Collaboration Prize – the practical professional support and the hard cash – gave the working group a solid underpinning for the next steps in the evolution of SFS. 

SFS is now a fully established representative trade body with members and is, in itself, a full member of UK Screen Association.  This forged link between the two entities is a valuable membership benefit of SFS and our thanks go to Creative Scotland for their support with this.

As a recognisable and formal entity, SFS has been able to work effectively with Creative Scotland in a number of other areas as well.  Working as partners, SFS and Creative Scotland set up an eye-catching “Film in Scotland” space at the London Trade Show, BVE 2013. The stand was staffed by Creative Scotland and different SFS members and affiliates.  Each of us on the stand had different knowledge and expertise to share with visitors and the result was a collaborative Scottish presence at this media expo. 

Mini FilmBang directory

Mini FilmBang directory

Alongside this, each of the SFS members, Creative Scotland and other stakeholders took the opportunity to organise a networking event in Central London whilst we were all there.  With combined guest lists and again, many of us on hand to mingle with our guests, this was a valuable opportunity to connect with key clients in London, the media production hub of the UK. 

Copies of a revised Mini FilmBang directory were handed out at BVE 2013 and subsequently at the Cannes Film Festival.  This reference book lists the facilities companies in Scotland all in one place in a handy format. 

Circulating information and contact details of all the facilities and service companies in Scotland is a key focus of SFS as part of our combined collaborative marketing efforts. 

We have produced our logo (that graces the front of Mini FilmBang) and the development of both our website and Members’ Agreement are on-going, thanks again to combined efforts both of SFS members and the business consultancy element of CDS’s Collaboration Prize. 

Across our membership, we have companies that are direct competitors but even so, we find we are able to put those aspects aside to work together in areas of mutual support and benefit to everyone’s advantage. SFS members have been sharing even administrative tasks, like chasing potential member to make sure anyone who wants to be part of SFS is a part of it.

The publicity from winning the Collaboration Prize gave SFS a further boost with articles on SFS appearing in Screen International and Broadcast magazine, two key trade journals in our business.  The £10,000 prize win was the “hook” for the bigger story of the aims of SFS. 

The £5,000 cash prize is being allocated in part to our launch networking event that will include members, clients and key industry figures.  Alongside this, SFS is also planning to have a presence at this year’s Edinburgh Festival and Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. 

Business consultancy from Co-operative Development Scotland worth £5,000 was also given as part of the prize and has been incredibly worthwhile.  The different experts made available to SFS have each helped focus the working group to achieve key milestones in establishing SFS in a more straight-forward and professional streamlined way. 

SFS photo

On a strategic level, there is an industry-wide period of examination and evolution going on in our core business of film and television production. SFS is now established as a point of reference for those consultants and others charged with reviewing the health of the production sector in Scotland, including the current considerations about building a Scottish Studio facility. 

This is exactly where we wanted to get to. 

It means hard-pressed business managers/owners do not have to be approached separately on every matter but rather, with one point of contact under the banner of SFS, views of busy people can be amalgamated and submitted collaboratively.

In due course SFS plans to have a part-time administrator to manage its business. In the meantime, what is clear on a daily basis is that within SFS there really is strength in numbers and tasks – when tackled co-operatively – become so much more efficient and effective as a result. 

Being one of the CDS Collaboration Prize-winners gave SFS a most incredible boost at the outset of its evolution and we moved forward so much more quickly and efficiently than would have been possible without it. 

This article also appears in the latest edition of 3RDi magazine. Click here to view.

You can follow Screen Facilities Scotland on Twitter @ScotFacilities

Co-operative Development Scotland is a Scottish Enterprise subsidiary, established to help companies grow by setting up consortium, employee-owned and community businesses. It works in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.