The OpenSure Free Press 22nd August 2011

We defied the rotten summer weather and went to the beach yesterday, so here’s a slightly sandy version of the Free Press.

Enter Prize Zones
The government announced last week the creation of the Rotherwas Enterprise Zone. The big hope is that this will create jobs, particularly in the defence industry. Hereford Business Board Chairman Nick Kerry is quoted as saying:

“Perhaps we’re the example of rural regeneration that the government wanted”

Let’s hope so. Together with the promised broadband for the area it does position Hereford well to contribute to and take advantage of economic upturn. The Enterprise Zone is a good thing, but once again central government and big business has completely ignored the opportunity do anything for the thousands of small businesses and sole traders in the county, but then most of us have long since stopped expecting any help despite being a thriving and energetic sector, creating employment and contributing to our beautiful county through low-impact working practices and quality products and services.

Putting the cat among the social media
Twitter is making some changes. The one causing most kerfuffle is the removal of the Mentions column. If you want to find out more visit this MediaBistro article and this FreshNetworks blog post. Google is mixing things up too: it has expanded the number of site links shown in search results, all of which is ably explained in this eConsultancy blog post. And finally a LinkedIn security issue, with a walk-through of how to make sure your details are secure, and LinkedIn’s reponse to the criticisms. If you’re keen to make more of LinkedIn, here’s how.

As I write this, a few days ahead of publication, teenagers across the country are conducting a post-mortem of their A level results and working out where to go from here. As always, we think kids could do worse than consider setting up their own business, something we wrote about last week in this article on the back of the riots:

What did they have to lose?
Impossible to watch this week’s riotous events unfold without questioning how the future looks from a young person’s perspective. We found ourselves wondering this morning how many of those smashing up businesses ran their own business? We reckoned somewhere between none and zero.

If you run your own business, have grown it with blood, sweat and tears (not to mention exhaustion, no social life and penury) and have taken it from an idea to a going concern, you don’t dismantle it lightly. You have a great deal to lose if something threatens that business, and you have empathy and respect for others who have gone through the same process. You’re unlikely to be smashing their windows, nicking their stock and burning their vehicles – you know they aren’t ‘the enemy’, in fact the very opposite. They’re the people investing in their area, trying to create opportunity and demonstrating a faith in the community. It was the independent business people who were defending their premises, not Tesco’s manager.

Some of those looters have gone straight to jail. Anyone running their own gig would likely watch the whole thing collapse as a direct or indirect result of them having a spell inside. It’s inescapable – if you’ve built and nurtured something, you have something to lose.

Entrepreneurship to the rescue – just one more reason we should be encouraging our young people to start their own businesses and put their energies into something constructive.

The Green Bit

Competitive advantage, or moral obligation?
This BusinessGreen review of John Hegarty’s book Hegarty on Advertising revolves around the central point that any product making green claims has to be a bloody good product, not just virtue in a tube. Hegarty makes this point with reference to his own ‘biodynamic’ wine-producing business:

It is not enough to market products on the ground they are “worthy”, Hegarty said, arguing that, as far as his wine goes, people should “drink it because it’s a brilliant wine, but don’t buy it because it’s worthy“.

This point is backed up by Gareth Kane of Terra Infirma, who says:

“businesses are far more attracted by facts and figures, testimonials, risk reduction and the PR opportunities a green product can offer”

There’s no arguing with that. Gareth Kane talks a great deal of sense and is well worth following if you’re interested in using green methods to give your business a competitive edge.

We’re delighted to announce we’re involved in two events in h.Energy week, 15th-23rd October 2011. We’ll be at The Courtyard event on Monday 17th October, from 4pm, with the Energy-Efficiency in IT Clinic. Clunky title, simple aim: to help your company reduce the energy your IT consumes, advise on configuring your machines to best effect and generally get the most from your existing infrastructure. We’ll have open source software to give away and plenty of demos.

There will also be a GreenLight meeting on Thursday 20th October, at The Shire Hall, Hereford, 6-8pm. Jamie Baldwin of Caplor will be giving a presentation on business installations they’ve been involved in, and Pete Linnell of Life Space Design will speak on energy conservation in buildings.

GreenLight launched on 11th August with a pleasing number people attending. We had an interesting evening talking about how to make the group something that can really deliver benefits to business, and to that end GreenLight is evolving. Come along to the next meeting on 15th September at 6pm at The Shire Hall, Hereford, to find out more. We’re always on the look-out for speakers, so if you’ve implemented green means to gain a competitive advantage over a competitor, cut your costs or otherwise get ahead, we’d love to hear about it.

Other bits and pieces that have caught our eye recently include:

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