Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a global, week-long festival of live events taking place throughout the world from 18-24 November 2019. And with the UK being one of the world’s most vibrant start-up hubs, GEW UK is joining forces this year with a group of leading enterprise and entrepreneurship organisations around the world and encouraging UK startups to #GoGlobal.
Following is a list of some noteworthy events, both here and abroad, that current and would-be entrepreneurs can look forward to.
Attend a workshop guaranteed to help aspiring entrepreneurs begin the process of owning a successful business – including evaluating business ideas, developing a business plan, and exploring financing options.
Guest speaker Jeffrey Krauss, from The HR Office, will cover best practices for policies, benefits, and unique selling propositions to help your company retain employees while attracting new ones.
Ideal for current and future founders, investors, and ecosystem builders, the two-day Founder Factory event aims to celebrate and connect successful founders and business leaders in the Philadelphia region.
Students aged 5-19 from across Eastbourne will deliver over 50 hours of magazine style programmes on 87.7fm and via www.eyr.org.uk, while learning a range of employability and personal skills.
Connect and network with like-minded businesswomen over a three-course lunch and hear inspirational stories from two acclaimed business speakers.
Join a discussion on inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically aimed at those who are facing barriers that are preventing them from normal access to the workplace.
This interview-format event will allow the audience to learn about the struggles and positives of entrepreneurship and finance, whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur or an entrepreneur with a full-time job.
A lively, interactive seminar packed with practical marketing hints and tips only available to those who have not already started a new business, including an overview of how to select the most effective marketing methods.
Corpus BDS aims to support young and upcoming entrepreneurs through this week-long event by providing the necessary stimulation, encouragement and relevant information to foster their entrepreneurial growth.
The November meeting of Women in Telecoms & Technology (WiTT) celebrates women around the world in the tech sector and features inspiring presentations from several leading women entrepreneurs.
To keep an eye on these amazing events, download our PDF calendar so that you have access on the go.TopLine announces two senior promotions
We are delighted to announce two senior promotions: Katy Bloomfield has been promoted to Head of Client Relations and Luke Budka to Head of Digital PR and SEO.
In her new role, Katy will be designing and running our client acquisition, management and retention programme, ensuring that our digital PR and SEO clients continue to enjoy a premium service from TopLine Comms. Katy joined TopLine in 2017 as Comms Director, having previously climbed the ranks at Founded and gyro.
As Head of Digital PR and SEO, Luke will take a strategic lead in building, developing and improving our PR, search and content offering. Luke was one of TopLine’s founding employees and has become an expert on search and digital PR.
Founder and CEO, Heather Baker comments: “Luke and Katy are established leaders within the TopLine business. They were key drivers of the integration strategy following our acquisition of Six Degrees in 2018, and they both ably stepped up to take on more leadership responsibilities during my maternity leave. We recently set our three-year company strategy, and I look forward to working with them to deliver on that.”TopLine Comms is officially one of the UK’s top 25 SME Culture Leaders!
We’re delighted to announce that TopLine Comms has ranked 18th in Real Business’ 2019 UK SME Culture Leader table. The award recognises our UK and South African teams and our commitment to putting a culture strategy in place.
Real Business, in association with Breathe, designed the awards to champion UK SMEs that put company culture at the heart of their businesses. In the second iteration of their SME Culture Leaders campaign, they identified the UK’s top 25 small business pioneers dedicated to building impactful, positive culture that lasts.
We’re particularly pleased with this award because we’ve been working on our culture strategy for a while. As a B2B PR agency, our jobs are fast-paced and we’re all busy. But a healthy work culture is so important for staff happiness and retention, that we’ve made a concerted effort to improve it over the last year.
Creating a happy work culture is a job in itself and we wanted to work with those in the know, to make sure we got it right. We now work with an organisational development consultant to measure and improve career development opportunities, employee feedback and benefits. Having insight from a third party has been crucial for us – you need some impartial advice to get it right.
We also make an effort to speak directly to the team about what they want to see from their workplace. For example, on World Environment Day this year, we surveyed our team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for our new sustainability policy. They asked for better recycling facilities, a ban on single-use plastic in the office, and volunteer days for environmental causes – all of which we implemented right away.
But our most successful strategy is definitely flexible working. Everyone is allowed to work from home up to twice a week, and we regularly get feedback that this is one of the best benefits we could provide. The policy is based on trust and respect, as well as efficient, cloud-based infrastructure that everyone can use from wherever they are. Introducing flexible working has absolutely revolutionised the business-boosting employee satisfaction and turning the company into an award-winning employer.
We take workplace culture seriously because we want our team to be happy at work. It keeps them motivated and productive and makes the office a better place to be. Getting an award for it is just an added bonus.Why we are a cashless business
Earlier this year, we made the decision to become a fully cashless business. In short, the transition has been a success – it’s made us more efficient and more secure.
Thinking of taking the plunge, here are the benefits we’ve enjoyed since going cashless.
A lot of admin resource is needed to reconcile a box of petty cash to receipts and this process is prone to errors. It’s hard to keep track of cash in real time particularly when dealing with multiple team members in multiple currencies. Plus, even the smallest payments at the newsagent can be paid for by card – so there’s really no need for cash.
Put simply, by eliminating cash, we save time. Time that can be spent on more important business processes.
Championing fintech is what we do
We’re passionate about working with exciting fintech companies that are streamlining the world of payments and managing expenses. We use Soldo, which means that everyone who needs to spend money on the business has a pre-paid card that they can use. As a result, we don’t have to worry about dealing with petty cash for things like team coffees or office snacks. Instead, the team can go and get what we need, when they need it – and it’s easy to track who spent what and when.
Putting everything on a card means we know exactly where money is being spent. Not only can we manage expenses more effectively, but our team feels more empowered. What’s more, we can easily create a budget, track expenses and see what’s in our account in real time.
Going cashless means we have better security measures in place
According to Paymentsense, nearly a third (31%) of business owners admit to feeling safer using new payment technology. Keeping large amounts of petty cash on the premise makes you more of a target, so there’s a greater level of security and protection using card payments.
Your bank should have tight security measures to ensure that your money is protected. And on the off chance that your account is hacked or compromised, your bank should reimburse you for lost funds. The same can’t be said if someone loses cash (or has it stolen).
At TopLine, we’re all about systems and processes that make our working lives that little bit easier. Going cashless has definitely done that for us.Golden rules for an effective sustainability policy
According to research from the World Health Organisation (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide breathe polluted air. WHO also estimates that “around seven million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air.” Let that sink in for a bit.
These stats are a bold reminder that we can’t sit around and do nothing. And, given that we spend so much of our time at work, it’s a good a place to start thinking green.
To honour World Environment Day 2019, TopLine Film surveyed 1,000 office workers on workplace sustainability. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record, and three quarters (73 percent) would like to see their workplace improve its sustainability record.
We consider ourselves an environmentally conscious business and now we’re really putting that into action by implementing our own sustainability policy. First, we spoke to our team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for us.
The people have spoken
Thank goodness for good staff. The majority of us at TopLine (94 percent) are committed to protecting the environment and agree that we should have a sustainability policy in place.
The good news is that creating such a policy doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. The TopLine team has identified the following practices they’d like to see implemented in our new sustainability policy.
Improve our office recycling practices and ban plastic from the office
Our team would like us to ban single use plastic in the office, and that’s something we’re going to act upon immediately. From now on, TopLine will be a plastic-free zone. We’ll be providing reusable cups to prevent the lazy temptation of picking up plastic ones. If other businesses can’t afford to do this, then team members could be encouraged to bring a reusable cup from home.
Reduce energy usage with a switch off policy
Introducing a ‘switch off’ policy for everyone to turn off their computers and other devices at the end of every day is easy to implement but just as easy to forget. We’re going to put up visible reminders and hold everyone accountable to make sure we stick to it!
Initiate volunteer days
One idea that the TopLine team came up with is to volunteer our time to environmental and sustainable activities. They’ll find eco-friendly initiatives they’d like to get involved with and the plan is to give them time away from the office to do just that. This could be anything from picking up litter to helping plant trees locally.
Commit to sharing more sustainability related content
Living a more sustainable lifestyle comes down to being more aware and making better decisions. So, we plan on sharing more sustainability related content on our social channels and in our internal Slack groups. This should help to keep sustainability top of mind.
Aim to work with sustainable partners and suppliers.
At TopLine, we work with a lot of suppliers, so we’re going to ask our current ones what they’re doing about sustainability and if there’s anything we can do to help. If you work with a lot of suppliers, then you’re just one part of the chain, so it’s worth asking them what their position is on sustainability. This not only highlights your company’s commitment, but challenges them to start thinking about greener practices, if they haven’t already done so.
Our planet is precious, and it’s under threat. These are just a handful of the ideas that came from the team, so we have a lot to work with to implement a solid sustainability policy. We’re proud of the fact that our team is uniting in creating a more sustainable work environment and we’d like to challenge other businesses to do the same. You can start by implementing the above but more importantly, talk to your team about what they’re passionate about. It’s a great way to implement effective policies that they will want to follow.Small Business Heroes is on hold!
We created Small Business Heroes back in 2013 to celebrate the people behind SMEs.
We felt their amazing achievements were going unrecognised.
To this day they remain a cornerstone of British industry:
- Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2018 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).
- Total employment in SMEs was 16.3 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.
- The combined annual turnover of SMEs was £2.0 trillion, 52% of all private sector turnover.
- SMEs account for at least 99.5% of the businesses in every main industry sector.
We doff our hats to the UK’s small businesses and if you’re a small business owner, we wish you the very best of luck.
So until next time…TopLine charts sixth in UK’s Best Workplace
Our culture plays a huge part in our ability to deliver first-class digital PR, SEO and video production services (as well as a home for our colleagues’ wayward dogs). We care about our people, we want them to succeed, and we give them the tools they need to realise their potential.
So, we’re delighted that TopLine has been named one of the UK’s Best Workplaces in the annual Great Place to Work (GPTW) rankings. Charting sixth, we’ve entered the upper tier of the UK’s office environments – also earning the GPTW Wellbeing Certification. The exciting news follows our recent Investors in People Accreditation, valid till 2022.
It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, and it’s great to be recognised for it. Here’s what some of that hard work involved.
A culture of open communication
At TopLine, we’ve always understood that our employees are our most valuable resource – and that our success is intrinsically tied to their levels of happiness, engagement, and motivation.
So we had the ‘radical’ idea to ask our team what makes them happy, engaged, and motivated. Not every initiative was immediately popular, but every initiative – from fitness socials to benefits packages – was improved by actively soliciting their thoughts.
And feedback is a two-way street: senior managers and business leaders aren’t shy about suggesting improvements in a sensitive and constructive fashion. Employees, in turn, have the opportunity to provide regular direct and anonymous feedback to line managers.
These efforts have paid off: we increased our internal employee satisfaction score by 15% within a single year.
A culture of fun flexibility
Flexibility is one of our watchwords, and for good reason: employees flourish when they’re able to balance the personal with the professional – never sacrificing the former for the sake of the latter. Our policy has always been that if you need to work from home, you can do so; that if you need to start at 7am and finish earlier in the afternoon, there’s no reason not to.
But while we encourage living a full, rich, and interesting life outside the office, we’re also keen to ensure that our colleagues form strong bonds with each other. Collaboration is key to great work. To this end, we hold regular team socials – which range from bowling to trampolining to the odd embarrassing karaoke night.
A culture of clear processes and policies
Okay, this might sound antithetical to the bit immediately above. But flexibility is at its best when it’s offered within clear structures – and with clear processes and policies.
We’ve made a real effort to align these structures, processes, and policies with our company values: positivity, creativity, and driven by data. This has improved the way we recruit (assuring good cultural, professional, and personality fit); the way we develop our team and provide tailored training opportunities, benefits, and opportunities; and the way managers and colleagues communicate, manage projects, and deliver for clients.
And once policies and processes are in place, we measure their impact with clear KPIs. If it’s not working, we want to know about it, and if it is working, we want to shout about it – and build on it.
At TopLine, we’re extremely happy to be recognised for investing in our people – and we don’t intend to stop any time soon.
Interested in joining a first-rate technology PR agency? Check our recruitment page for any current opportunities!
Introducing our new video brand
We’re excited to launch our new video brand, TopLine Film.
Since 2012, our video department has been an integral part of our digital offering and a major driver of business growth. However, our video service covers a much broader remit of client than the specialist tech focus of the TopLine Comms digital PR and SEO brand, so we have decided to separate the two into sister brands owned by the same holding company.
Jamie Field, TopLine’s head of production will become the MD of TopLine Film and the team will continue to operate from our London headquarters. We know that what brands want from a video production company is beautiful videos that drive ROI and our plan is to continue to create amazing videos while supporting our clients with strategy and distribution.
The TopLine Film logo was designed in-house and the new website (www.toplinefilm.com) was designed by Highscore.The cyber security challenge in South Africa
Cyber security is a worldwide issue. Reports on data breaches that affect millions of people around the world come in every day, but one continent in particular has been hit hard by cyber security attacks over the last year.
Research from the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) found that South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide. According to the SABRIC research, South Africa loses around R2.2 billion a year to cyber attacks.
It’s not a topic that has not gone completely unnoticed – in the latest Allianz Risk Barometer report, cyber incidents topped South African businesses’ list for top 10 business threats. But it’s an issue that still needs to be fully addressed, as the Liberty Life and Viewfines hacks of 2018 show.
South Africa is host to a lot of major company headquarters, particularly those in banking and retail and particularly by comparison to the rest of Africa. Naturally, this makes the region more attractive to hackers. South Africa also isn’t lagging behind in terms of technology like it once did. That means that the cyber security challenge in South Africa is not dissimilar to other areas around the world and needs to be addressed in a similar way.
Current measures in place to address the cyber security challenge in South Africa
The good news is that measures are being put in place by the government to properly manage the increasing rates of cyber crime. In November 2018, The National Assembly adopted the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, which once enacted, will see South Africans facing jail time of up to three years if convicted of offences which have a bearing on cyber crime. It also contains new rules for organisations in terms of what they can and can’t do with customer data.
There are some who dispute the efficiency of the bill – Jan Vermeulen, Editor at Large at MyBroadband.co.za, told CapeTalk FM that whilst it tries to do admirable things, it’s still too broad and “basically criminalises anybody that uses a computer or goes online.”
South Africa previously had a gap in data protection legislation compared to European countries, so the new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill seems like a step in the right direction. It might not be perfect just yet, but the very creation of the bill is a sure sign that the government is taking the issue seriously.
Cyber security training in South Africa
Like most countries around the world, South Africa is suffering from a cyber skills shortage. What’s unique to South Africa is the fact that students who might be interested in a career in cyber security are still mainly routed via a three-year diploma or degree in IT or Computer Science. Students are only exposed to security-specific subjects at an Honours or Masters degree level, which makes it more exclusive than it needs to be.
There are some short courses to be found online and from some Universities, including The Cyber Security Institute and Cape Peninsula University of Technology, but they will not be affordable for everybody and some of the courses still require previous knowledge in the field.
The National Cyber Policy Framework states that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) “shall be responsible for developing and facilitating the implementation of a national cybersecurity research and development agenda for South Africa”. In their article ‘Mind the Gap: Addressing South Africa’s cybersecurity skills shortage’, Prof Elmarie Biermann, Director of the Cyber Security Institute and Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling, cyber warfare strategy teacher at Stellenbosch University, say that so far, there has been ‘a distinct lack of momentum in this regard’ and that South Africa ‘can no longer afford not to invest in creating both cyber awareness and a cyber workforce, both within the public and the private sectors.’
How companies can address their own cyber security challenges in South Africa
South African companies that are concerned about their cyber security can take comfort in the fact that plenty of cyber security solutions are readily available in the region. Email security solutions are usually the first port of call for companies looking to eliminate the number of phishing emails and spam that their employees are at risk of clicking on.
There is also the small matter of educating employees. A lot of the fundamentals of cyber security come down to awareness and education. By implementing simple steps such as password managers (like Lastpass, for example) and requiring employees to change their password every quarter already makes them more aware of the issue. But it’s also worth telling them about the implications of a cyber attack and what that would do to the business. If you then have practical steps that they can take, they’re more likely to understand the need for a more stringent cyber security strategy in the business.
It’s also worth looking at your current employees and seeing whether you think any of them have what it takes to train up in cyber security. Those with a knack for technology often seem like an obvious choice, but research has shown cyber security specialists often have to be good communicators, logical and strategic in other ways, which means there might be a less obvious candidate amongst your team to train up in cyber security.