Guest Blog for The Business Network

Do you know the benefits of writing guest blog posts? By writing a blog post for us you are taking your business to a whole new audience.

Guest blogging can do wonders for your search engine optimisation, help establish yourself as a thought leader and you might just pique the interest of a prospect who could be looking for your products or services.

If you are interested in guest blogging for us here’s what you need to know.

Your post should be approximately 250 – 500 words.
You can include up to 3 genuine links i.e to your website, landing page or a profile
You should provide us with a head shot of yourself and a brief byline of no more than 150 words.

Your blog post can be on any topic but it must relate to the business and industry that you represent at The Business Network.

Send your blogs to

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Elevator Pitch – Eight great tips!

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short factual introduction of you and/or your company which has been reduced to approximately 35 words!  This must capture the attention of your audience over a short period of time leaving them wanting to find out more!

Imagine you have walked into an elevator and a potential hot prospect walks in behind you!

You’re not prepared, what do you say?

The answer is – “Be Prepared” for eventualities like these and write your own elevator pitch.

When planning and writing your pitch,here are a few tips to keep you on track;

1. Keep it short!

2. Remember to include: What your company does and who for (clients), and what makes you are different from your competitors?

3. Pitch yourself not your ideas.

4. Have a hook – The objective of the first 15 seconds is to have your prospective customer listening and wanting to know more.

5. Don’t use jargon or lots of statistics!

6. Listen – It’s important to talk, but it’s also important to be able to listen too!

7. Don’t forget the pitch! – It is really easy to get so caught up in the details of who you are that you forget to mention what you need!

8. Practise, practise, practise! So should the opportunity arise it will flow.

Always being prepared ensures that you are ready to deliver the perfect pitch at any time, which can only help grow your business.

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A Solicitor’s Thoughts On Residential Conveyancing

Once a not so dear one asked me why I was at the “noggin” end of the law. Needless to say the prospect of a little domestic violence appeared at that point to be most appealing! However, it is not only lay people who express this opinion for it is endemic within the legal profession itself.  My Brother is an Aviation Finance Lawyer in London and every Christmas I get the same look of pity, “Nicola you were so bright; you were top of your class; you were Head of House; you had a top training contract in Manchester; why don’t you retrain?” The reason is that I actually like conveyancing. It can be fast and furious and no two jobs are the same. Doing the job properly means that you come to know your client, their expectations, their worries and most importantly what they want to achieve in the transaction and when. Job satisfaction comes from knowing that you have got your client through a stressful move with the client feeling in possession of the facts at all times and that they have come to trust you and recommend you. Conveyancing is highly technical and is a balancing act of priorities, time-scales and risk. It is easy to get right if done properly and very easy to get wrong if you do not have the necessary expertise.

 I qualified in 1985. In those days personal searches taking 2-4 days did not exist. A local authority search in North Yorkshire could take 12 weeks to come back. There would be anything from 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion and Fridays were spent walking from one office to another along the high street with a Solicitor’s cheque in hand, swapping cheques for title deeds. That was an age when we were allowed to trust our clients instead of having to quiz them about their ID and source of money and when bank and building societies were more interested in having parties at Christmas, dishing out Christmas presents to members of the various professions in the town, than suing us.

Big businesses have tried to round up the public through referral fee schemes to out of town practices. Referral fees are not in the interest of the public as ultimately they are paid for by the public and built into conveyancing fees with the middle man who undertakes no conveyancing getting his cut. A referral fee based recommendation has nothing to do with the quality of service that has been provided or the ability of the fee earner to understand the requirement of the client.

I am a member of the Dewsbury & District Local Law Society and Chairwoman of their Conveyancing and Private Client Group. We are running a campaign shortly to encourage the public to keep it local. We are pinpointing the advantages, namely; personal contact with a dedicated Solicitor; being able to contact that Solicitor who will have knowledge of the file; convenience and accessibility. We are consistently told by the Law Society “Know Your Clients”. The best advice I can give to you is “Know Your Solicitor”.

For further information please contact Nicola Briggs at  Hellewell, Pasley & Brewer  66/68 Daisy Hill Dewsbury West Yorkshire WF13 1LS and you can catch her on 01924 455515 or email:





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Print……Is it all that?

The world of print has become increasingly difficult over the last few years with companies going out of business with constant regularity.

Yorkshire continues to have a larger concentration of commercial printers than anywhere else in the UK and this is possibly because of the previous demise of the textile and mining industries several years before. In short, we’ve had it pretty rough around here, and with figures being released by one of the print industry bodies over the last week or so, where it’s expected that another 20% of the existing print companies in country will fail before the end of 2013, it’s going to be a another long year.

There’s no print “genre” or size of company in particular that is feeling the pinch, it’s everyone from the guy who was made redundant and decided to install a single colour press in his garage to the huge multinationals printing millions of magazines a week.

This is why The AB Print Group has changed and diversified over the years from a small litho print company employing a handful of staff, to a company with in excess of 40 members, capable of producing a wider gamut of printed items than almost anyone else in the area, all from under one roof. This is a boast which we are very proud of & which prompted the Daily Telegraph to shoot our corporate video and ask us to join their business club. The video can be seen at our website and I would urge you to take a look and see what we are actually capable of and where we could help each other. This diversification has enabled A B Print Group to stay strong in the marketplace and continue to grow whilst many of our competitors have fallen by the wayside. It also of course means that we can guarantee colour consistency throughout our processes, an obvious pre-requisite in “brand awareness”. This is something which has in part, enabled us to accrue a database of customers including many household names throughout the length and breadth of the country. We even have a fully manned office in Devon to look after several of our customers based in the southern counties.

We have always been conscious of quality and service and this remains paramount whatever we produce from a single business card to a prospectus, financial report or exhibition system. Very few companies in the area have our “green” credentials and even less can boast a wind turbine to generate some of their own electricity.

In these austere times, many companies decide to reduce their advertising and marketing budgets to “make ends meet” when maybe they should be doing exactly the opposite to generate new and increase existing business. This is where we can help and please remember it’s a proven fact that on average four to seven more people see a piece of printed matter, than an e-shot.  Worth thinking about?

For more information about AB Print Group please contact Adrian Ashpool, Account Manager on 01924 473481 or email



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Do you know about the recent changes to child support?

Each parent is responsible for maintaining their children.

So, on separation the parent the child does not live with maintains their child by paying maintenance to the parent the child does live with.

How much they pay depends on their income and the number of nights the child(ren) stays overnight with the parent he/she does not live with.

How child support is paid depends on whether the parents can reach agreement or not as to the amount of support payable between the parents.

Recent changes, introduced by the Government, to the Child Support Agency (CSA) now mean parents are encouraged to reach agreement and arrange payment directly between themselves. Such agreement should be recorded in a written agreement, known as “Family- based Arrangement”, to prevent any problems arising in the future in relation to the issue of discharging responsibility for maintaining your child(ren). The amount of child support agreed can also take into consideration the cost of school uniform, school dinners and other expenses. Payment should also be made through the banking system so that there is a record of what has been paid and when.

However, if parents cannot agree how much the parent the child(ren) does not live should be paying to the parent the child does live with then either parent can ask the Child Support Agency (CSA) to calculate how much should be paid. Recent changes introduced to the CSA mean that from 2013 the CSA will make a 20% charge of the amount calculated is payable will be made to the parent the child does not live and a 7% charge of the amount payable being made to the receiving parent for their involvement. One benefit of involving the CSA is that they have wider powers of enforcement of arrears against a non-paying parent and the costs of enforcing the arrears are met by the CSA save for the charges mentioned above.

The courts generally do not have the power to order the parent of a child who does not live with them to pay child support to the parent the child does live with. However, there are exceptions to this for instance where the parties have agreed the level of child support to be paid as part of the overall financial settlement on divorce. A court order for child support made by agreement of the parents is binding for the first 12 months from when the order is made. After 12 months either parent can ask the CSA to carry out a calculation if they wish to do so and the CSA calculate will discharge the court order. One benefit of a court order is that it may be enforceable if the paying parent is likely to move abroad, not so uncommon nowadays given people are moving abroad to find work or employers are expanding their businesses into foreign markets.

What about the parents who agree that a parent will pay school fees instead of child maintenance? Whilst in practical terms payment of school fees may be considered by most people as maintaining your child it is not automatically so by the CSA. It is important that any such agreement between parents is recorded in writing. Then in the event the either parent applies to the CSA (or the court in limited circumstances) for a child support calculation the agreement can be produced as evidence of what the parents initially intended. The CSA may take this into account, but there is a risk it may not and the CSA may still require payment of child support.

So, in summary it is cheaper for parents to reach agreement between themselves and any that agreement should be recorded in writing or be incorporated by joint consent in a court order

For further information please contact Sarah Hull from Norton Connor on 0113 2390088 or by email


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8 Reasons to choose a high street law firm

Whilst there are many online legal providers it’s still as important to make sure you check out their code of practice but more importantly you should take into account what matters to you.
Do you want……..

1. to be known by your name rather than a reference number.
2. to avoid having to go through security checks every time you call your solicitor.
3. to speak to the same solicitor throughout your case.
4. the solicitor to recall the facts of your case.
5. the solicitor to remember your personal circumstances, the name/ages of your children and refer to them on occasions.
6. to be actually heard by your solicitor and your concerns validated and then addressed.
7. your solicitor to have time to speak with you and to return your call as soon as practical if they are unavailable when you call.
8. a personal and bespoke service which is also value for money.

Most of all – do you want to feel valued?

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Family law advice you should take before you act

Before acting on impulse or making any drastic decisions you should always obtain family law legal advice, and in the following 8 situations seeking advice before you act is vital.

1. You are not happy in your relationship – what will happen if you decide to end it?

2. Your wife/husband has indicated they consider your marriage has broken down irretrievably – you may be entitled to a share of their pension or to stay in the house. Even if you reach agreement between you it needs to be documented in a legal format so that it is final and binding.

3. Your (unmarried) partner has indicated they consider your relationship has broken down irretrievably and you have children together and/or one of you or both of you own the property you live in.

4. You are helping your child(ren) or grandchild(ren) with the deposit on a house they are buying.

5. You are getting married and have assets you would wish to protect in the event of a future divorce.

6. You are thinking of moving in with your boyfriend/girlfriend or inviting them to move into your property.

7. You are considering buying a property with your (unmarried) partner.

8. You are experiencing difficulties with contact with your children.

Just because you consult a Family Law Specialist it does not mean things are going to become acrimonious – it is all about obtaining information so you can make an informed decision. Breaking up is never easy but it can help to have impartial support and guidance as to your rights, duties, responsibilities and obligations.

Court proceedings are a very last resort when all else has been tried and has failed. Generally speaking, very few cases actually proceed to contested court proceedings.
Resolution members and Collaboratively trained solicitors are committed to dealing with issues in an empathetic and non-confrontational manner.
Sarah Hull Norton Connor Ltd. A member of Resolution and Collaboratively trained. 0113 2390088

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The BIG Cookie Debate

On Monday 12th November it was all about the Big Cookie Debate at The Business Network in York. Jacky from The Big Ideas Collective educated SME’s on the importance of cookie control in a very non-jargon style – typical of the straight forward approach you can expect from this creative team.

Read on for about The Big Cookie Debate….

Arriving on the UK statute books well over a year ago the popularly dubbed ‘Cookie Law’ is slowly seeping into the consciousness of website owners.  Presided over by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) of the UK Government, this august body has the task of ensuring that we all abide by the new law governing the right of internet users to be informed when they are viewing a site that sets cookies.

But what is a cookie and how do they affect web site visitors?

At our November seminar data security expert and BIG Associate Pete Finnigan helped throw light on the issue: “Cookies are small text files that are placed on your device or computer by a website or read from your device by a website.  They contain only text and are usually used to remember something…” and that’s the key – they remember what pages you viewed, what links you clicked on, tracking your every move in some cases.

The proliferation of cookies has become an issue because their use can mean undue or, as some feel, unacceptable intrusion into people’s web browsing habits and how the use of this information then shapes what they see in future.  Often this can be helpful, often it can be annoying.  The real point being, to date we haven’t been given the choice to opt out of allowing this to happen.  Today, if the website you are browsing is complying with the law, you can.  Many companies are now seeking to be compliant, the result of which varies hugely, some are ignoring the law or simply waiting to see what competitors do.

What’s our advice?

As a website owner you are responsible for all content on your site(s) and that includes first party cookies (your own) and third party cookies (streamed from a site you don’t own i.e. You Tube/Vimeo/Face Book/Vebra etc.).  Choosing to ignore the law may not land you in hot water; there are millions of websites and, in all likelihood, the ICO isn’t going to fine you.  But we advise all our clients to address the issue because it matters.  Why?

  1. You demonstrably show you understand privacy issues and value your site visitors.
  2. You demonstrably show you care how you present your website and services.
  3. You demonstrably underline that you operate as an ethical business.
  4. Did we mention it’s the law? (See no. 3)

What you can do…

You can identify the cookies on your site by contacting your web developers to check and list them. You can try to check it yourself through browsers like IE and Firefox or you can commission a commercial audit.  On discovering and understanding what you have you can document and amend your privacy policy and place a cookie alert on your web pages to inform your visitor, importantly giving them the option to opt out of non-essential cookie use if they wish.

Good sites for further information:

One of our clients and our solution for them:

Once your policy and solution is in place, we advise an annual ‘MOT’, performing a website cookie check as part of your annual web hosting renewal.

For more information and help with your cookies why not check out  – supporting your business with trusted experts in their field, we supply high quality answers and bright ideas for your business.

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Tips to keep your legal costs down by Sarah Hull, Norton Connor.


Be Responsive

  • Respond promptly to your solicitors communications to avoid them having to chase you, at additional expense, for instructions. If you are going on holiday let you solicitor know.
  • Avoid contacting your solicitor unnecessarily. A quick yet regular general email to your solicitor may be expensive so agree a deadline with your solicitor when you will next touch base if you have not heard anything in the meantime.


  • Give as much information and documentation as possible to your solicitor, but be succinct as it takes time and therefore money to wade through irrelevant information. If you are not sure if it is relevant, ask.
  • Obtain as much information and documentation as your solicitor needs yourself and promptly to avoid the expense of your solicitor having to obtain it on your behalf. Keep documents in chronological order
  • Prepare summaries and/or schedules, where relevant, to provide an overview at a glance of the facts.


  • Where appropriate, try to resolve as many issues as possible with the other party – but discuss these issues and your options first with your solicitor to avoid detrimentally compromising your position.
  • Keep channels of communication open


  • If there is a possibility you may be financial liable to a third party then preserve what assets, capital and income you have to make meeting this liability easier. The liability may be the same but the financial hardship to service it may be in your control
  • Disposal of assets, capital or income may also increase your overall liability in the event arguments ensue as to what your motives were for disposal and whether such disposals should be ignored for the purpose of quantifying liability


  • Be prepared to adopt a pragmatic and costs effective approach. Always ask yourself – “Is the legal expense, emotional energy justified and proportionate to the gain that may be achieved and what is the risk assessment?”

Sarah Hull- Norton Connor 07.06.11

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Why I love The Business Network

October this year will see Cat Creative entering our fourth year as members of The Business Network. I have to confess that when I was originally introduced to TBN by a former colleague I was sceptical to say the least. At the time I was a member of an early morning networking group and we had done quite well with referrals, and I liked the fact that you were accountable to other members in the group each week so attending a 3 course lunch in the middle of the day just seemed far too fanciful! Continue reading

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