GDPR – stops joy riding with data!

The Real Business Club was recently the victim of a misuse of data and information. It was an unpleasant experience. In a way – someone went joy riding with information and left us with expense and frustration. Our situation was well managed and well protected. It became learning rather than pain. It made the reasons for GDPR very REAL.

There are good reasons for GDPR.

We want to keep data safe and respected – you probably do too.

You probably want to comply with the law about data. You can – it’s NOT difficult.

Good trusted engagement with our clients is very important – it will be for you too.

We have already delivered practical detailed training to finance professionals. The feedback showed they want to take care, they can adapt their systems to comply and it is NOT a total nightmare.


The key step is to know the data your business holds about other people:

  • What have you got and what do you use it for?
  • Have you got more than you need?
  • Do you keep it longer than you should?
  • Is what you use it for likely to be reasonably expected by the individual, based on their relationship with you?
  • Do you match data obtained from elsewhere?
  • Consent – clients actively opt in


The next step is to comply with how you hold it, use it and dispose of it:

  • You will need some planning to do this.
  • You will need people responsible for data and
  • You cannot ignore this!



Don’t be an information joy rider or encourage others!


TOP TIP – GO TO THE HORSE’S MOUTH – the Information Commissioners Office (ICO)

These are great resources – straightforward and comprehensive.

GDPR practical training and advice for small businesses – BOOK here

Contact The Real Business Club if you would like GDPR practical advice and a complementary review of your readiness for GDPR. Email

For other enquiries contact Isabel King on 01189 680813 and

Being Hacked is Horrible!

Last week for The Real Business Club was not much fun. It was however a good learning journey, although an uncomfortable one!

Have you ever experienced one of the following?

  • An incident out of the blue
  • Unsure what has happened and beyond your control
  • Concerned for impact on your business including reputation
  • Frustrated that someone maliciously attempts to fraud people
  • Disappointed that the world can be like this (NOT always!)

What happened?

The Bad news

Someone maliciously accessed a dormant Mailchimp account, imported a mailing list of their own, used publicly accessible data about us and made up an invoice template.

This was then sent to thousands of people on that list – most of which we did not know and who had never had any services from us. We spent time and money handling calls, emails and finding out what had happened.

The GOOD news

Our data had not been compromised and we had done nothing wrong with our contact data.

The actions we took closed down the situation quickly; we responded to all calls and in the vast majority people understood and were sympathetic.

Learning points – we share because we don’t want it to happen to other people:

  • Take seriously the possibility that your identity/data may be compromised
  • Have an emergency plan of what would happen and what you would do if your identity/data was compromised.
  • Action plan – public announcements and use of social media, phone messages
  • Action plan – check what your providers would do for you – are they competent? Get them to tell you what they would do is such a situation.

Top tips – safe data

  1. Passwords – make sure they are strong, protect them with two factor authentication, store them safely, change them on a regular basis, at least annually. If you are in a team make sure others can find them in your system so that they can action changes if an emergency arises.
  2. Get advice – make sure you have a good email account/website administrator who takes correct action, investigates promptly and advises you on public messages to get out.
  3. Social media – have a message prepared that can be adapted to the particular situation and that you post out through uncompromised routes.

Don’t let this happen to you

If you want a recommendation of a good email provider/web administrator who can help you have a strategy in place please contact us via email ( or phone 01189 680813

Helpful Links:

A wider issue than just us:  

How to set up two factor authentication in Mailchimp:

Starting a business – know it all? If you do ★ don’t read on

If you don’t read on and join us

I have been doing some reflective thinking over the Christmas break. I have been in business just over 10 years and most of those in The Real Business Club with Dawn Edwards. When we started out we knew some essentials but there was a whole lot to learn. We learned from doing for sure, but we also learned from workshops and from others who had been “round the block”.

We still think face to face learning matters and so…

…one thing we do is run public face to face real workshops (rare indeed!) We continue to work with all kinds of people starting out on this journey.

If you know anyone thinking of starting a business, who knows some things but needs to learn more to prepare them for the ups and downs, please signpost them to these workshops.

In the meantime here are some tips we have learned from people over the years.

Top tips for anyone starting up in business

  • YOU – Assess yourself – your personality, your skills, your motivations, your passions, your time management discipline, your weaknesses and how you will overcome these.
  • YOUR BUSINESS IDEA – Take time to get an honest reality check. Will enough customers want it and pay for it!
  • YOUR FINANCES – Assess your personal finances – A new business may not be profitable for 18 months. Will your personal circumstances stand this? What will you and your family live on if your business makes money more slowly than you really need? How good are you really at managing money?

The workshops will cover more DETAIL about these tips, and many more besides

Workshop participants have said…

What clients have said about TRBC Workshops

What our Workshop clients have said.



Investing in marketing? Get your head straight first!

Marketing focus – get focus before you spend money

I love working with people who are curious about what could be better in their business. Isabel, Director at The Real Business Club, reflects on working with a recent business owner client. We met through The Real Business Club’s marketing workshops in Thatcham.

Here’s a succinct portrait of the business owner. His overall challenge was that felt his marketing focus was unclear. He had:


  • skills
  • knowledge
  • track record
  • potential for a great business


But he also had brain fuddle

  • who or what was his real target market?
  • what website wording would get the market buying?
  • what goals should he really have?


Here is what came from the session with Isabel

Benefits – Investing his time in stepping back made a fundamental shift of thinking possible and led him to finding SOLUTIONS and

  • Confidence in decision making
  • Increased motivation
  • Options worth building on
  • Realisation – that even better is possible


What is your marketing focus like? If you are so busy or unsure why not head for coaching to use your brains!


This client’s top tips in a nutshell

  • “Are you struggling to find the answers on your own? .. then ..I strongly recommend investing time with Isabel and I can guarantee the time will be well spent!”
  • If your business is wearing out your brain – invest time (even just a couple of hours) in getting clarity and focus
  • As a business owner you are the decision maker. If you are so busy you don’t know whether you are coming or going – take time to become more effective.
  • Use your brains! Work out what you are best at and that customers want!


Would better marketing focus improve your business?

Could some coaching help your business? Let’s have a chat. Call me on 07759 074864


If you are a business owner who wants to freshen up your marketing why not come along to our workshops


CONNECT with Isabel on Linked in:

Marketing – it starts with the Big Sea doesn’t it?

Recently Isabel was coaching a business owner about their need for clarity in their marketing thinking and strategy.

We talked about the fact that there are lots of potential customers out there, all swimming around like different fish in a really pretty sea! The owner’s questions were around:

  • How is it best to catch these fish?
  • How do I get the fishing nets in the right place and target the marketing energy and investment?

Understand the fish!

We made a start on who and what the market for her service was really like. This helped her be clear on how her services fitted with the segments of the market.

At the end of the coaching session she had made a start on clarity over what her service really did. This leads to the answers – who is she aiming at and how will they be netted!

We talked through some really straightforward practical marketing and planning tools and how she could apply them. Instead of wandering around aimlessly in the big sea she can go to the best fishing grounds.

How a coaching approach worked

This person was experienced in business and life.

The skilled use of listening, probing and (yes!) some challenging questions revealed brain assets that were already there – they were just needing to be drawn out. Most business owners have these assets.

It was great to help this business owner unlock REAL insight, draw conclusions and then shape actions that had REAL direction.

Bite size goals

Coaching really helped her break what she wanted to do into chunks of actions and research that made sense, are achievable in amongst her busy family life and will save her spending money until she knows exactly what to spend it on for best effect..

Top tip

Marketing – Think clearly before you spend and time or money or stress in marketing methods.


Do you need more clarity to improve your businesses performance?

If you are a business owner who wants to freshen up your marketing why not come along to our workshops in Thatcham?


If you want to know more about business coaching

CONNECT on Linked in:



Are you a business owner who has used market research tools that have worked for you? please get in touch, love to hear from you – please comment at TRBC.09

Is Your Cashflow Costing You Money?

How does your business survive when you are paid late by larger companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP’s)?

With the late payment regulations changing from April 2017 for these organisations this might help your businesses cashflow!

Their performance and payment practices will have to be published twice a year from April 2017. This will need to include the average time taken to pay supplier invoices.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) confirmed that if payments were made promptly, then 50,000 businesses would still be trading and adding  £2.5 billion to the UK economy.

Are you a small business that would benefit from a financial organisation chasing late payments regularly for you?  Would you like to see your business bank account in credit?  Or would you like to reduce your overdraft costs?

Contact Dawn Edwards for further information either by phone 0118 968 0813 or via email –


National Insurance Changes – What do I need to know?

Since its introduction in 1911, National Insurance (NI) has developed from a form of protection against ill-health and unemployment to include a wider range of benefits.

It continues to change. It now helps people build entitlement to the state pension and other state benefits including maternity allowance and incapacity benefit. But if you don’t pay in, you don’t get the benefits!

Are you self-employed?

So as a self-employed person, have you contributed enough years? How will you know? One way to find out is to obtain a pension forecast.

NI rates for self-employed people depend on how much profit is made. But there is always the option to make voluntary contributions. The Real Business Club can help you do this.

Class Rates for 201TAT6/17
Class 2 £2.80 a week on profits of £5,965 and over
Class 4 9% on profits between £8,060 – £43,000 2% on profits above £43,000


From the 2015/16 tax year most self-employed people pay their NI contributions through self-assessment. If this is you, are you completing the right boxes on your Tax Return?

The government has announced that class 2 NI will be abolished from April 2018. At the same time class 4 will be reformed so that self-employed people can still build entitlement to state benefits. We don’t yet know how this will work, but we will continue to keep you informed of any changes.

Working Abroad?

At present people working abroad may not have to pay NI, but this will depend on where they work and how long they are abroad. If you work within the EU, you need to be aware that the Laws governing NI contributions may change as part of the UK’s exit from the EU. The rules for working outside the European Economic Area are more complicated. So advice and help is essential.

To get the correct help and advice for YOU, email or call Dawn  0118 9680813



Preventing the horrible side of a business tsunami – self management and sanity checking.


7 top tips – day to day and long term

Does it always feel good being a business owner?  It all feels lovely when business is going well doesn’t it?  Money coming in, feeling pleased at customer or client feedback and being satisfied with achieving goals.  But it doesn’t always go like this does it?  It’s not easy to talk about either! Sometimes it is just overwhelming and you end up trying to do everything and run / manage all aspects of the business.


The Real Business Club has known a few business owners recently who have faced real business struggles and Isabel asked them about what was going on and what would have helped.  In the next few weeks we will be putting out some blogs on the themes of how to manage when business feels crap.  The starting point is not being embarrassed about talking about this kind of thing!

Managing feelings of being swamped and overwhelmed

Here are some of the issues that are recognizable:

  • Too much to do (some of which may feel and be completely fruitless!) & feelings of too little time;
  • When it is not going well and desperation or frustration creeps in;
  • Finance pressure: when bills are still roaring towards you and money is not coming in;
  • Trying to be “out there” to grab what looks like it might be going;
  • Extreme Juggling: you are in overdrive but not sure that anything is working – panic sets in;
  • Unplanned & unexpected family situations and complexity that can bring pressure;
  • Health issues that can become related;
  • Mental well-being: eg not even wanting to talk and having a mental state that is bruised and “wants to be alone”, even depression;
  • Managing a spiral and being conscious of “slide”.

Top tips – monthly – actively.  If you didn’t do some of these when you started then why not plan some time to do this soon?

  1. Think through contingency with real objective “worse case” foresight – for income and for family situations;
  2. Actively consider the impact of family crisis on your business – eldercare, childcare, relationship breakdowns;
  3. Understand what and who really matters.  Define these, write them down even so that you can keep some focus and confidence in what you are doing;
  4. Keep looking for opportunities but be consistent in where you are looking and what for – plan a strategy and don’t be blown about by the waves.

Top tips – long term strategies


  1. Plan “stand back” time actively – get out of the gold fish bowl and get some distance, have a coaching type session maybe?
  2. Actively plan in a review / discussion process (probably not just a “one off” when the water is rushing towards you!) with somebody who can be your outside reality check – someone who can help you be objective and on whom you can call, trust and rely;
  3. Decide on a safe physical or mental place that you can go to for “refreshment” and space – a regular spa day, a garden, a hobby that is escapism, a faith based activity.

If you are reading this and the tsunami has already reached you here are some useful resources / links:

Reading Your Way are hosting an open afternoon on 19th May 2016, from 1-4pm. More information can be found here:

The charity Mind also provides some great supportive information.


If this has been useful but you need some help carrying out the top tips (coaching etc) then contact The Real Business Club for advice and support either call 0118 9680813 or email

Workplace Pensions – Auto Enrolment

Do you employ at least one person?  If you do, you now have certain legal duties, which are listed below.

  1. You will have a staging date – this is when the law comes into effect for you.  The Pensions Regulator will have or will be sending each employer a letter with this date.
  2. You will need to confirm the primary and secondary contact for your company.  They will be responsible for making sure the legal duties are met.
  3. You can choose a pension scheme that is right for the company or join the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) set up by the government.
  4. You will need to work out which employees need to be in the pension scheme.  This will depend on their earnings and age.
  5. It is your legal duty to write to all your staff to explain how Auto Enrolment applies to them.
  6. You will have a deadline to complete your compliance declaration otherwise fines maybe imposed.
  7. Then of course there will be ongoing tasks which will include keeping accurate records.

All a bit confusing?  Find out more from a trainer from the Pensions regulator at our workshop in Bracknell on the 11th April?

For further details and to book please click here.


‘Help to Buy’ ISA

Help to Buy ISA – what are you or your children doing with their Christmas cash gifts?

If you’re a first time buyer, or your children are, save up to £200 a month towards a first home with a Help to Buy ISA and the government will boost the savings by 25%.

‘Help to Buy ISA’ accounts have been available since 1st December.  They will be on the market to open for 4 years, but once you have opened an account there’s no limit on how you long you can save for.

Make an initial deposit of £1,000 when you open the account – in addition to normal monthly savings.

There is no minimum monthly deposit – but you can save up to £200 a month.

Accounts are limited to one per person rather than one per home – so those buying together can both receive a bonus.

The bonus is available to first time buyers purchasing UK properties.

To claim the minimum bonus of £400 per person save £1,600.

Save £12,000 to benefit from the maximum bonus of £3,000 per person boosting your deposit savings to £15,000.

Each account is individual only available to those who are 16 and over.

Even if you take advantage of the initial £1,000 lump sum allowance, it would take four years and seven months of paying £200 a month before you could claim the full £3,000 bonus.  So it could be a late 21st or early 22nd birthday present for your children!  But of course it MUST be opened by them.

The bonus will be only be available on home purchases of up to £450,000 in London and up to £250,000 outside London and paid when your first home is purchased.

If you’re saving into a Help to Buy ISA you can’t save into another Cash ISA at the same time.

You don’t have to stick with the same product through the lifetime of the scheme and can transfer out to a different provider.

Providers are free to set their own interest rates so, as with any savings product, it’s a good idea to compare and shop around for the best option for you.

The initial wave of Help to Buy ISA interest rates announced by providers were competitive, although it’s important to remember that variable interest rates could change at any time.

Of course, the money you’ve saved is yours to do with as you wish, as is the interest, but if you withdraw it and spend it on something other than a home, you won’t get the bonus payment.

Finally, bear in mind that the bonus can only be used to buy a home – not for anything else.

How easy is it to claim the bonus?

This bonus will be paid at the point you’re ready to buy your first home – you’ll need to close your ISA account when you’re ready to purchase and you’ll receive a closing letter from the ISA provider.

You then give this closing letter to your solicitor, who in turn applies online for the government bonus.

The bonus is transferred to the solicitor, who then completes the purchase of your new home using the full bonus amount.


As there’s some admin involved in this process, make sure you make your solicitor aware well in advance that you plan to use your Help to Buy bonus, so this can be planned into the timescales for completing your purchase.

For any further information please contact Dawn Edwards.