An estimated 400 delegates together with a record breaking 72 exhibitors enjoyed an action packed day’s events at the Torbay Business Festival last Thursday at the Riviera Centre. Organised by the Torbay Business Forum (TBF), a voluntary group of local business people, the event was sponsored by Outset and Bays Brewery and included four inspirational speakers throughout the day.
Exhibitors expressed their thoughts of the day; “It was a great day and well done to all involved” said exhibitor, Andy Gait from PSP Insurance. “This is one of the best shows I have ever been to,” said Jacqui Shaw from Coralline Health. “ I have picked up so many leads and there is a real buzz to the place”.
“The event was very good” said Matt Bettesworth from Bettesworth, “It’s good for business to business aswell – we can confer between each other which is really useful.”
The speakers offered some useful pointers in helping businesses across a range of subjects including getting the best out of people, being cybersecure, learning from adversity and a sprinkle of marketing magic.
People Power was the main focus for Sarah Barrett from SBarrett Consulting Ltd. Having worked internationally with Astra Zeneca, Sarah explained the both financial and business impact of poor engagement with staff which can result in significant increases in absenteeism and sickness, and drop in quality and productivity. Sarah also highlighted 3 examples of ‘best practice’ in staff engagement, explaining; “Google, John Lewis and Innocent all have excellent reputations for engaging their staff either by empowerment, clarity in expectations and developing a fun, creative environment in which to work.”
Tim Godfrey, Chair of TBF said; “We were delighted to welcome Laura Cowie from Devon and Cornwall Police who joined with Barclays Digital Eagle, Amber Olsen to give a fascinating, albeit scary, talk about cybersecurity. Amber showed us ‘How to be a Hacker’ to identify vulnerabilities in business and home networks – a valuable lesson for all”.
Laura said that over the past year, there were 2.5million cybercrime attacks and that fraud and cybercrime are now the country’s most common offences. Laura highlighted the 3 main reasons for cyber attacks. Firstly ‘human’ – weak passwords, poor training, accidents – and recommended ‘Think and Hover for 5 seconds’ before clicking on any link to prevent fraudulent links being opened. Secondly ‘out of date systems’ ie not updating regularly. “When the computer prompts you to update software, never press the ‘later’ button. Do it NOW. Go and get a coffee whilst it is being updated. Install now means Install Now so always press that button and relax for 5 minutes.”
The third reason which allows hackers into your systems are ‘gaps in defence’ – mainly due to insecure Wi-fi. Passwords should ideally be 15 characters long with capital letters and a symbol. Laura encouraged businesses to contact the Action Fraud line and the Police if they have any problems.
David Markham talked about ‘A Fishy Tale’ and told of the eventful journey which has seen the Blue Sea Food Company grow from a tiny business with 6 employees into a £10m business with over 180 staff. “We have coped with everything from cash flow issues, fires, poor acquisitions – and now currency and Brexit issues. On a positive point, I have to say that 2 departments in Torbay Council – Business rates and the Environment Departments have been fantastic in helping us during the past 10 years“ said David.
Finally the marketing duo from Big Wave Media, Simon Beer and Ronnie Halden, sprinkled a little marketing magic on the audience giving some invaluable hints about developing social media strategies. As Simon explained – outline your goals and audience, audit existing channels, develop your content strategy, use analytics to track progress. “It is also vital’, said Simon, “firstly to check your website is mobile friendly across all the range of phones and devices, secondly do a speed check – any longer than 7 seconds to load is a problem as Google does not send people to slow accounts – and thirdly set up a Google Search Console accounts.”
Delegate Helen Brenton said :” Thank you for a fantastic event today. Really enjoyed it. See you at the next one!
Angela George, Vice Chair of the TBF said; “The team has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make it a great show and we are so pleased the event went so well.”