The Unofficial Business Startup Blog

Providing news, views, reviews, tips and links to resources for the entrepreneur and small business start-up.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Notebook Fetish

I seem to have developed over the past year a notebook and pen fetish as I seem to do a lot of jotting down ideas etc. Anyway I was going to buy a couple of Moleskins form the usual place but I stumbled across Rhodia, which is a French notebook maker/seller, which I purchased via a small Bristol based business called Papernation. The notebooks arrived and they are just great almost too good to write in them but I soon got over that.

The real reason for this post was that Papernation had a delightful little blog which wasn't just about the hard sell but you could feel the passion for their products, unlike some other sites that sold similar products.  Oh Papernation also have a twitter account, which was quite cool and so I follow them. The pricing was the same and the delivery was fast (ordered saturday evening and arrived Tuesday morning). They come in orange and also black but i love the orange as it looks so classy and for some strange reason every-time I look at it I want to write something in it!!

As for the pens nothing fancy but they need to have a good grip and write well. I threw out my cheapo nasty don't write after 5 minutes ballpoints.  I now use the Zebra Z-grips as well as papermate widemate. However on Monday I discovered the Signo Uniball 207 in Morrisons 5 for £1.98, which was too good to resist. It's quite a light pen but feels good in the hand and writes very nicely in my Rhodia notebook. I am not into the expensive pens as I tend to lose them and these are quite cheap so it's not a worry.

The Pre-Budget Report

I tried to find something to smile about in the pre-budget report and I nearly did when I saw that you could get £200 scrappage for an old boiler however as we just had a new one fitted last month there was nothing to smile about at all. Increased N.I. by anothe 0.5% on top of the increases which will kick in later years, which employer in their right mind would take people on. The economy will recede by nearly 5% next year so expect tough times, unemployment will keep rising and the Tories might (?) gain power. 

IPhone Contract nearing an end

My beloved iPhone's contract with O2 come to an end in January or I think it does? Well it seems that O2 has put togther a nice little package to stop us all going elsewhere as they are no longer the exclusive carrier.  It's simple really we move over onto their Simplicity tariff. Whats the difference, you may ask nothing apart from it being only £20 per month as against the current £35. We get the same picture 600 mins, oodles of text, voicemail, wifi, internet for £20 pm. I'll take some of that thank you and well done O2, that should keep lots of iPhone users jumping to Orange or Vodaphone.

Apparently its not advertised on the website yet so its best to phone O2 as the offer on the website isn't as good, also they can switch you quick as a flash over the phone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Using Statistics

It was if someone at the BBC was reading my thoughts as I came across this article on presenting information and fits in nicely with the previous post. I am not sure if the Billion Dollar O gram works for me but I see it's use in several areas.

The article is here

Presentation Zen

I haven't looked at it for a while but it was a damn good blog for information on how to make your presentations look better.  The formats changed a bit but the main information about presentations are in his links section on the right hand side so do give it a good look.

The link for the excellent presentations tips are here 

Whilst the design aspects of presentations are here 

There are three names you should enter into the search box on the website: Steve Jobs, Seth Godin & Lawrence Lessig. Looking at their posts and respective links will make you think in a new and positive way about your presentations.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excellent Podcast Aimed at New Web Startups

Alex Bellinger of Smallbizpod has just released his latest podcast and if you are thinking or involved in a new web startups (yes 2.0 and all that!), then it's one podcast you need to listen to. It gives a great insight as he's chatting with a couple of new web startups. You really need to give a listen if you're even thinking of a web startup.

You can listen to it here via his website

It's also available via iTunes here 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recession What Recesssion

I would have expected it to be one of the first things people would stop buying as belts tighten but no the lattes are continuing to flow.  The major chains are opening coffee shops like the supermarkets open their small city centre outlets.  However its not just the major chains who are opening small independents are finding that good tasting coffee and good service can help to make a business a success. Check out this short BBC piece here.

I am not sure about having a business meeting in a coffee shop such as the crowded one show in the article. , are you really going to discuss a large deal sat in one of them?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The PIcnic's Over - Tough Times in New York

I was looking at the New York Times website when I came across this page and for me I had to ask why? Who opens up a coffee shop (named Picnic) in the middle of a recession in a suburb of New York, where you have rivals quite close by? They opened in March and closed in October brave but perhaps a little too brave. However the couple involved already have another business so good luck to them they gave it a go.

What I found really interesting was the comments made by US readers and to me it showed the difference between USA and UK entrepreneurial  culture. In the UK the comments would have probably been more negative. Anyway read the article here and decide for yourself.

Some other information regarding Starbucks financial outlook are also here

Friday, November 06, 2009

Springwise - A Mine of Business Ideas

Ideas ideas ideas, sometimes we have them and most of the time we don't. However the Springwise website (www. and newsletter can bring you those new business ideas straight to you. I've been a subscriber for well over a year ( if you ask me how I came across it i couldn't tell you) and there are some really good business ideas being generated around the globe. Some will travel, some won't as they are specific to that region or country. Give it a look and see what you think you could adapt for your own local market. 

The website is at   

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Well Done Jaime

I was flipping through last Thursday's edition of the Manchester Evening News and in the business section I saw that ex-Innospacer tenant Jaime Markey of JAMpr had been named as one the UK's top 29 PR practitioners aged under 29.  Excellent news and it was great news to read as I can remember her time in Innospace always on the phone, a born grafter, bags of confidence and someone who believes in her clients (I better stop now). JAMpr  is a great example of a new business startup and JAMpr moved out to The Express buildings in Ancoats, which I think was a very good move.

I wish her all the best for the future and the MEN online article is here.

The JAMpr website is here 

Windows 7 Student Deal - Initial Thoughts

Yes, I took up the £30 student deal (downloaded only) and loaded it onto my Macbook, why well I wanted to see how good it was as I never gave vista a look after such negative reviews from users so XP it was. I only really needed it for one or two applications, which are specific to Windows.

The install was done in less than 40 minutes which was fast and on first look Windows 7 had me in a state of wow, things have improved greatly and I mean greatly.  It's slicker, faster and more intuitive so it seems that they've taken a leaf out of Apple's book!! A couple of nice touches are the fact that you can 'pin' applications to the task bar and review them by holding your mouse over them. The broadband/Wi-Fi set up was the simplest I've come across and yes it just works. I loaded safari for windows and its seems faster than under OSX.

The offer finishes in January, so snap it up as the price at Amazon is a lot more but remember it's download only but you can turn it into a self-loading disc, plenty of info on that floating about.

I think Microsoft have actually got things back on track and should get those XP users to switch to Windows 7 quickly and they won't be disappointed.

However you may be quite happy with your existing version of XP or Vista but remember that Microsoft will stop supporting XP in a few years.

Oh before you do upgrade check to make sure you have the minimum system requirements needed to run Windows 7.

A fully licensed copy available for £30 who's complaining not me.