Cotton Court Business Centre


Practical Business Growth Event for Preston Businesses

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Headed up as No Fluff – No Theory—No B******* Event for Preston Business Owners. Just proper practical advice THAT YOU CAN IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY to make your business grow the next day.

So whats it about?

The 9 things super successful business owners know and do that most business owners don’t know or don’t do.

  • There are a lot of people working very hard out there – they are driven and passionate about growing their business but they are not achieving the levels of success they had hoped for.
  • At this session we will look at what the high flyers are doing to make their businesses grow massively – even in hard times – and pull out the tools, tricks and techniques that EVERY business owner could use, straight away to make a proper impact to their bottom line…that most business owners don’t know exist or worse still ignore.

What will you leave with?

  • Tools, tips, tricks, secrets and techniques that will help your business grow.
  • An understanding of WHAT tools are out there and HOW you can use them.
  • A whole stack of practical ideas that you can implement into your business THE NEXT DAY
  • A proper, dynamic, fast-paced session with no fluff, no theory and no B…….
  • A sense of motivation from a session that you’ll enjoy…I promise

Presented by duo Chris Richards & Steve Allen

The event is 10am – 12pm here at Cotton Court Business Centre

#Hashtag in our life & business

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Hashtags have become a prominent part of the online life and as of late, and more social media sites have allowed for the categorising program known as Hashtags. Hashtags are used to allow users to tag posts, pictures, or even video with a hash symbol (#) followed by a word or phrase, such as #Preston. Doing this allows the program to categorise anything posted with that hashtag

Firstly use hashtags sparingly, DON’T over use them! When people see too many hashtags their eyes glaze over. It looks like spam! Using four or five hashtags, in one tweet often appears as though they are just covering their bases, using every possible option or certain phrases the same way they use keywords on websites, just to make sure they don’t leave anything out.

Luckily without going into too much detail Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake have created a funny sketch of what a Twitter conversation sounds like in real life! #thatshowwedo #lololololololololol. Taken from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Show


Good News we’ve highlighted three different ways businesses can use hashtags to their advantage.


A recent survey done found that 51% of people said that they would be more willing to share company hashtags if they were awarded discounts or chances at prizes if they were to do so. This allows a level playing field when it comes to simple effective promotion for small businesses. Not only can you give discounts, and therefore bring in more customers, but this allows you and your business to track promotions activity online.


Hashtags open up the social media world to you and  your company. A website or a URL post only brings you to the company’s website while a Hashtag allows people to use it in everyday conversations they have on their social media profiles.

This also allows you to track the conversation and get a better idea of what is being said and how you can utilise that information. Want to know more? Read our blog about Hashtag (#) for business networking.


Target certain areas or people based on hashtags. For example, if you want to market to people with new homes you can use the hashtag #newhome to target those who are using that specific hashtag. Using this method is also beneficial  it allows you to pick out the individuals who are most likely to be using their social media channels and therefore more likely to give you and your company positive posting which you can then track using hashtags.

A growth conversation with…Luke Massie

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Taken from Boost Business Lancashire a featured article about one of our Business residents Luke Massie, who has now become a ambassador for Boost Business Lancashire .



Photo taken in Cotton Studios | Lancashire’s Premier Studio Hire Complex

Our latest growth conversation is with Luke Massie. Luke has been named among the country’s top 100 young entrepreneurs having built up and sold his first business by the age of 18. Luke currently runs four businesses, employing 14 full-time and six part-time staff. He is also the founder of The 1to500 Club, an online student marketing business that has successfully piloted in Preston. Luke is currently looking to roll out the platform, now rebranded as Studenthood, to university cities across the UK.

What is the biggest challenge you faced when growing your business and how did you overcome this?

Finding the individuals to be part of my core team. I overcame this by being patient and waiting for the right calibre of people. I don’t just employee people based on their CV or past achievements. I try to get to know people as individuals before getting them involved in any of my ventures. I’ve managed to find people that I believe can express my vision and are a part of achieving my goals.

What qualities must a growing business owner possess to be successful?

Resilience. You will fail, and the likelihood is you’re going to miss targets you’ve set yourself and feel you’ve not succeeded what you set out to do, but if every time you fail it makes you stronger then that’s what sets you apart as a successful business owner. Many people will doubt you along the way so the business owner has to demonstrate high levels of self belief to achieve success.

What top tip would you give to a business owner embarking on a growth plan?

Dream big and don’t be afraid of failing. Plan little and often because many markets are so dynamic that sometimes long-term planning is in effective. Three-week, three-month and six month planning is absolutely necessary. Consumer needs are changing all the time and you have to be able to adapt, so listen to market research and customer feedback.

Which entrepreneur do you admire and why?

Steve Jobs. He was a true visionary who knew what the consumer wanted even before they did.

Why is Lancashire a great place to grow a business?

With more support coming from the public sector, investors are really starting to notice the talent the county has to offer. There are many SMEs based in Lancashire winning major contracts ahead of other areas of the UK. It demonstrates that as long as you have a good product, service and business, it doesn’t matter where you’re based in the UK, you have a chance to be successful.

Why are you supporting Boost Business Lancashire?

Boost is designed to support business owners, which is something I am passionate about. I want to support other young entrepreneurs that are just embarking on their journey. I have used many of the services the scheme has to offer, for example the Growth Accelerator programme delivered by Winning Pitch, the Access to Finance service and help from specialist mentors. I would recommend any business starting and growing in Lancashire to find out what support is available.

The Winckley Square Business Hangout

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The ever popular Winckley Square Business Hangout is back again thanks to Preston City Centre’s Business Improvement District (BID). Inviting businesses from across Lancashire to network in the gorgeous splendor of Preston’s Winckley Square.

Sponsored by Santander the under-cover networking event will be serving a light supper, together with a glass of something fizzy!

The ever popular Winckley Square washing line will be in full force….. If you’re great at architecture or web-design, think you’re the best legal eagle in the area, or manufacture some mean products, simply write it down and hang it up for all to see.

Similarly, if you’re looking to secure services or purchase products locally and want a good deal, pin that up too.


DATE: Wednesday 18th September
TIME: 4pm – 6pm
LOCATION: Winckley Square, Preston

TO BOOK: with your company and the name of your representatives (max of two per company) For more information please call 01772 653 000


Get voting again…. it’s been an exciting month in the Breathe office

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Guest blog by one of our clients:  Samera from Breathe Therapies

I am so delighted to announce that our very own hardworking Shelley Perry is an Eva Award finalist!! A well recognised event that stands for Enterprise Vision Award set up to celebrate entrepreneurial growth of women in the North West.

eva awards

It is touching to see the category for which she is placed under of ‘Inspirational Woman of the year’ as it is a title she truly deserves.

Now, the votes are open and I am eager to spread the joy.

Please tell everyone you know to get the word out by following the links below to place your vote with a few quick and easy clicks:

But the awards don’t stop there for us at Breathe Eating Disorder Service as we have also been lucky enough to be nominated for Holistic Business of the year award 2013, by the Holistic Directory who want to celebrate wonderful holistic businesses in the UK and the people that run them, so have launched an Award this year.

It’s absolutely fabulous to receive an acknowledgment and appreciation of the work we deliver within the community and to take this opportunity to thank the hard efforts and commitment shown daily by our clinical director Shelley Perry who is full of compassion and an inspiration to be around!!

You can place your vote by following the link below:

But Hurry, because the deadline closes on the 1st September and the winner will be announced on the 17th September, wish us luck and stay posted to find out the results!!

Your vote counts: Every vote is important to us and we thank you very much for all your support and votes in advance!!  We greatly appreciate it.

So please help us by voting for both of the awards listed and stay posted to find out what happens!!

CV – Get it right 1st time!

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Guest Blog Article by one of our clients,

Anand Lanka of  The Recruitment Provider

 It doesn’t matter whether you are an executive with years of corporate experience or a graduate with very little work history, this is your first opportunity to introduce yourself and knock on the door of any potential employer.

So where do candidates go wrong?

  • First rule is tailor the CV to the job, I know some of you will be saying that this is time consuming, but if you can highlight the requirements of the job and match your skills/ experience on your CV then you have a greater chance of being taken seriously. Remember your potential employer or recruiter is not a mind reader, they don’t know you. The employment market is very competitive and you need to tackle each job application with military precision.
  •   Personal profiles. These need to be quantified, candidates often put on their CV’s that they are “confident”, “bubbly” “excellent communicator”? If you are going to make personal statements of this nature you need to provide evidence else your CV will not get filtered to the interview pile.
  •   CV format. Make sure this is done properly. What does this mean? If you have a list of competencies/skills etc. don’t put them in one paragraph, use bullet points to make your CV concise and easy to read without putting war and peace on. Make sure everything lines up and your text is justified. Use the same font throughout.


  •    Gaps in employment. We see this all the time. With this, most people have genuine reasons for gaps in employment, you may have had children or spent time travelling which is understandable, so please put down the reasons. If you don’t explain the gaps then the recruiter is left thinking why? So get your dates right and make sure they coincide with each other.
  • Last thing Proof read your CV.Spelling errors and incorrect grammar will ring alarm bells to any potential employer. Most of all make sure that your contact details are up to date and correct, if you don’t no one will be contacting you for an interview!

Remember “you only get one chance to make a first impression”.


                        recruitment provider


Why not try Foursquare for your Business

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When we think of social media and business, the first few things to come to mind are Facebook and Twitter. Yet, there is one mobile app that tends to get overlooked by businesses: Foursquare. True, it doesn’t have the same numbers that the likes of Facebook and Twitter can boast, but what it does have is a dedicated audience which has made over three billion check-ins.

Regardless of whether you’re a retailer or not, any business can use Foursquare and getting yourself set up is easy. The only thing it needs is you to get involved.

Why Foursquare?

While it has a web presence, Foursquare has been growing quite steadily over the last few years, and offers some unique opportunities for businesses and brands. With over 25 million users globally and 31% of mobile users active on social networks using Foursquare, it has an engaged community and a passionate user base.

Foursquare’s main strength comes from its users, the power of personal recommendation and sharing on different social media sites. By seeing where their friends are going and the places they regularly frequent, they would be more likely to visit if the recommendation is positive. Foursquare doesn’t get the same attention as Facebook or Twitter, but this presents you with a better opportunity to develop customer loyalty through deals. While Facebook has released its new ‘nearby’ function for its app, Foursquare is still the king of check-in and location.

Why not the next time your at Cotton Court Business Centre check in on Foursquare. We are running a series of special promotions for first time visitors and check in’s through to mayorship.

upload 1


Above you’ll find our offer for Permanent Desk Space for a limited time of £25 per week. For more information please visit Cotton Court Business Centre.

To download the Foursquare App or through the iTunes Store

3ManFactory Shortlisted for BIBAs New Business of the Year

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What a start to the year for 3ManFactory! After being shortlisted as Creative Business of the Year in the  Red Rose Awards and New Business of the Year in the E3 Business Awards, 3ManFactory have now been shortlisted for New Business of the Year in the BIBAs 2013.

The BIBAs are touted as being Lancashire’s leading and biggest awards ceremony, recognising and honouring the breadth of business achievement in Lancashire in all its variety. To be shortlisted for another award makes us a very proud bunch indeed: we’ve worked hard to and strived to be one of Lancashire’s go-to organisations for businesses that want to take their digital strategies to the next level.

We wish them the best of luck! We will see them at the premier awards ceremony.

For more information about The BIBAs 2013.

How to use instagram for business

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headerThere’s business to be won, customers to acquire, loyalty to create and fun to be had using Instagram for business. Even if you sell insurance, you’re in recruitment or you sell nuts and bolts – don’t count this channel out just yet.

Whilst your competitors are still headlong in the social media ‘big four’ (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn), you could be stealing market share with less popular or mainstream channels. In fact, many businesses could do very well looking for niche channels that they can dominate instead of being an also-ran on mainstream channels that are becoming more and more saturated with competitors.

Most of us know social media is here to stay and whether we like it or not it’s part of our every day business just as much as a telephone, computer or a website is vital to our business.

This means that, on the whole, just being ‘in’ social media is no longer good enough, you’ve got to be winning and you’ve got to have a smart approach to your digital communications these days if you want to make it all worth while.

As an agency, we’re working harder than ever to provide insight into how people can get a strategic edge from their social media activities and one way to add value is to start looking for new channels and applications to tap into as well as plugging away with the ‘big four’.

One such channel that’s still very much overlooked in my opinion in Instagram (it wasn’t overlooked by Facebook, mind you, who paid $1bn for the service so there’s some pretty clever guys in Silicon Valley who agree with me).

What Instagram loses to the big four in overall user engagement numbers, it more than makes up for with loyalty and a sense of community that tends to only exist on the less popular channels. It seems bizarre to intimate that Instagram has a small usership – 40 million users worldwide isn’t too shabby and there’s more than enough to justify looking for your slice of the action.

With so much going on, however, and so much more you’d like to be doing with the big four, why would you consider introducing another channel into the mix, let alone a mobile photosharing application? I can almost hear you asking out loud: ‘How am I supposed to use a photography app to generate more sales for my business?’

I’m confident that Instagram can hold your attention when it comes to direct business reasons to engage. One of the biggest and quickest indicators worth noting is that there are already plenty of well-known brands using Instragram to raise more brand awareness and loyalty.

Top 5 Brands Using Instagram:


Why use Instragram for Business?

  • It’s much easier to explain or communicate with visuals – a picture paints a thousand words!
  • People share photos up to 12x more than they share comments and text.
  • Instragram integrates with Twitter and Facebook seamlessly. 300 million Instagram photos land on Facebook each day.
  • It’s still in its infancy – getting in now will stand you in good stead for the future (it’s currently growing at a rate of one user per second with over 400 million users in total)
  • Instagram is growing four times faster than LinkedIn
  • A photo on Instagram could easily be seen by more people than an advert on a Time Square billboard in the same period of time


Still not convinced?

12 Tangible Ways Instagram Can Add Value To Any Service industry / B2B Business

  1. Giving people a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into your business and your team can help to add credibility, trust and likability to your brand. We link our Instagram photos to a gallery at the bottom of our homepage
  2. Instragram can be a powerful visual way to provide real-time customer service to show ‘how-to’
  3. Instagram can be used to keep in touch with customers and show you care – send a picture of something useful to somebody else or evidence that you’re thinking about them
  4. You can use Instagram to promote and engage with events in real-time and provide a legacy of content afterwards
  5. You can search instragram to find journalists and bloggers who could contribute to your blog or include you in coverage elsewhere
  6. Using Instagram as a visual diary of projects can provide a great visual way to record and creatively present case studies of work that stand out and get attention
  7. Instagram can be your virtual scrap book to record inspiration, projects, ideas and reminders
  8. Photographing projects and products can provide specific visibility with prospects interested in the same subject matter in real-time
  9. Including location data can lead to exposure to other users close by –  this can open doors when it comes to being found by new prospects and peers, and build supplier relationships
  10. Instagram can be searched  (using the hashtags and user names) to find relevant prospects, peers and suppliers
  11. You can use Instragram as a quick, real-time means of keeping up with latest developments in technology and/or competitors
  12. Competitions can be run on Instagram and can leverage activity to provide visibility in other social channels

12 Tangible Ways Instagram Could Add Value To Any Sales/Consumer Business

  1. Feature your products and generate more visibility for your entire inventory
  2. Push new products to raise immediate awareness.
  3. Like and follow complementary brands that sell other popular related products
  4. Run competitions for the most popular photo of a product (encourages sharing to get the most Likes)
  5. Run competitions to find new products to feature –  ask your community to suggest new ideas
  6. Ask for feedback and use it to improve products and handle returns and customer satisfaction
  7. Link your Instagram photos to Pinterest and harness the growing power in that channel
  8. Release sneak peeks of new product lines to create hype or interest pre-sale
  9. Use Instagram to develop a strong brand personality and association with other brands
  10. Generate outreach opportunities with industry journalists
  11. Publically reward loyal customers with unexpected gifts or acknowledgments
  12. Create hype surrounding ‘Instragram only’ sales offers

When should I be posting pictures and engaging on Instagram?

  • When you see something of particular interest
  • When you see something of particular relevance to you or your audience
  • When you’re at an event
  • When you get the most engagement – experiment with when a photo gets the most attention and record when your photos are most likely to be seen based on this live feedback

How can I stand out on Instagram?

  • Try to be original – don’t post the obvious version of the shot, look for a better angle, an unusual side or perspective.
  • Use the standard filters to make an average photo look great.
  • Use the soft focus feature to exentuate aspects or blur out parts of the photo
  • Crop the photo well remove unwanted clutter or distractions from the main focal point.
  • Try using some other apps to take photos and process you photos for added effects first. I recommend Camera+Photoshop Express, & Gridlens

Who should I be looking to interact with on Instagram?

  • Peers
  • Prospects
  • Journalists/press
  • Bloggers
  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Customers’ friends
  • Industry experts
  • Neighbours (local business community)
  • Team members
  • Relevant brands
  • Relevant Twitter influencers
  • Relevant associations, governing bodies & awards committees

How do I find people to engage with on Instagram?

  • Search through followers of a relevant users and follow them / like their photos
  • Search friends of a relevant user and follow them / like their photos
  • Search for keywords by relevant user and by relevant photo, follow them and analyse/note what tags they use analyse who’s following them – follow the interesting and influential ones

How do I Engage with a relevant community on Instagram?

  • Like some of their photos
  • Leave relevant, positive comments using the right tags
  • Mention other users in comments
  • If people comment on your comment, keep the conversation going by commenting again!
  • Tweet other people’s photos and share them on Facebook etc

How should you comment on yours and other peoples’ Instagram photos?

  • Be nice. Compliments go a long way
  • Be sincere, make an observation that’s true and interesting
  • Be thoughtful either by suggesting something similar in content or style
  • Be humorous, there’s nothing wrong with making people laugh (in good taste!)
  • Be real, don’t just comment because it’s part of a strategy, comment because you mean it and have something useful to say – you should only be focussing on things you like or know a lot about and so put that to the test and use what you know etc.
  • Be quick. The more real-time you are the more notice people will take of you and the more people you’ll reach because it’s current and people are looking at it now.
  • Be smart. Use the right language and include useful tags that you know are used by the user or other relevant users

Find us on instagram: CottonCourt