Cotton Court Business Centre

Training Services

Boost, Winning Pitch & Enterprise4all choose us for next business event

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Next month we welcome Boost Business, Winning Pitch and Enterprise4all to Cotton Court again for another one of their Lean Launchpad events.

The Lean Launchpad is part of the Growth Support Programme, a fully funded programme delivered by Winning Pitch and Enterprise4all. The Launchpad is a 2-day programme of support that has been specifically designed to equip you with the tools, knowledge and techniques not only to launch a successful new enterprise but also to accelerate your growth.

Day 1 has been created to establish the motivation and ambition of you as an entrepreneur and to provide you with the proven lean tools and techniques to help you assess your position in the market place and develop your sales strategy for growth.

Day 2 is designed to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to scale your new business rapidly and the essential building blocks needed to scale including support from Access to Finance specialists.

Features and benefits of the Launchpad:

  • Access to bespoke, innovative workshops tailored to examine your business model and assess the growth potential.
  • Access to a wide range of tools developed to minimise the risk of starting a business.
  • 1-2-1 coaching with a wide range of sector specialist growth coaches, trained to provoke, challenge and drive for success.
  • Personal Action Planning designed to help you reach your growth potential.

To find out more about how boost can help you and your business? Have a look at their website here!




Back to the future

When should you repeat something you’ve already done? Or to rephrase, when should we recommend staff refresh their positive handling, physical intervention or restraint training?

First Aid At Work has for a while now been every 3 years, AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is recommended now every 6 months whereas some providers of positive handling have for many years operated a refresher every 3 years. I haven’t picked up a squash racquet for 3 years I wonder if I had a go this evening, if Id be any good…

Law and legislation

There is already in place a requirement that physical skills are to be periodically refreshed on a regular basis. This is supported in Health and Safety law and the associated guidance documents, one of which is the Management of health and safety at work regulations 1999.

Regulation 13 (2) states that:

“Every employer shall ensure that his employees are provided with adequate health and safety training

a) on their being recruited into the employer’s undertaking; and

b) on their being exposed to new or increased risk”

For example if new working activities are to be undertaken, a new piece of machinery is installed or, a service user or pupil presents new challenges that staff haven’t experienced or, simply aren’t prepared for. Sometimes incidents, near misses or accidents can be a reason to look at a risk assessment which could then identify a requirement for a fresh training needs analysis.

 “The training referred to in paragraph (2) shall –

a) be repeated periodically where appropriate;

b) be adapted to take account of any new or changed risks to the health and safety of the employees concerned and

c) take place during working hours

This act of parliament also refers to staff members “capabilities”;

“Employers should take account of the employees’ capabilities and the level of their training, knowledge and experience”

A risk assessment would have been carried out initially to identify which employees require training, this demonstrates compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which states employers shall provide (in accordance with the associated risks) information, instruction, training and supervision.

Any risk assessment should be being reviewed annually as a minimum unless where there is a change identified which could affect the health, safety or well-being of staff prior to that period. So if twelve months ago this training identified staff needed training of a certain level in specific physical tasks, twelve months on can we be certain that the employees “capabilities” to perform said skills haven’t deteriorated? Even if they never use them? By that rationale, does this mean, that staff who are intervening all the time, get better through having more practice? No, not necessarily.

Practice makes permanent

Now annually, along with other CPD commitments I refresh my own instructor training in the use of force at Lilleshall national sports centre with Mark Dawes and his team at the National Federation for Personal Safety. Why do I refresh? Best practice, consistency of my delivery, to be updated on new developments in the industry and to network with like-minded professionals. In a nutshell it keeps me fresh and current. Mark did a brilliant video on consolidation and re-consolidation which inspired me to put this post out for my connections and clients explaining why we promote annual refresher training.

If staff are allowed to let their competency and ability slip through there being no positive reinforcement or constructive guidance on honing physical skills, then by repeatedly performing certain skills incorrectly, they will get very good at performing them incorrectly!

Let’s take into consideration the principle of “recall”, when someone is told,shown and they also experience something (the importance of people practising techniques and pressure testing them is of importance here) then after 3 months they are likely to recall 65% of the content.

If staff aren’t using strategies then they are likely to forget techniques far more quickly, this is why an instructional video and an accompanying manual to any physical skills course should be something employers look for when procuring training. This allows staff to re-consolidate and remind themselves of techniques between their refreshers, these are also useful for audits and to assist with debriefs. Often, positive handling or physical intervention providers are not so keen on sharing visuals, perhaps for fear of being copied, potentially held liable for the repercussions of what they have been promoting or, of being shown up on the premise that what they are teaching, which often, to put politely, should be put in a DeLorean, driven to 88mph and banished from history.


Ask your staff how often they wish to retrain

“Employers should review their employees’ capabilities to carry out their work, as necessary. If additional training, including refresher training, is needed, it should be provided.”

Health surveillance is one way of performing a review and can take the form of peer reviews, toolbox talks or questionnaires even. Ask staff members what they would like more of, how they felt the training benefited them and if there are any newly identified challenges which certain training could help them overcome, or if the training was any good at all! If training isn’t fit for purpose, doesn’t fit the needs of the staff or service users then additional or alternative training should be considered.

I didn’t know that

Sometimes when I start to quote paragraphs of statute law and refer to sections of approved codes of practice head teachers, managers, care home owners and others in positions of authority can shrug and laugh and explain that’s not their job or, they weren’t aware of that.

“Managers should be aware of relevant legislation and should be competent to manage health and safety effectively”

Ignorance of the law is not a defence. If work schedules or time constraints prohibit you or your team from keeping abreast of current and established health and safety principles then it my be time to consider procuring a professional to assist with this. There are plenty of health and safety consultants out there –competent, qualified and registered professionals who can advise you on such vital issues and make recommendations on how the law works.

This is not 1955, this is 2015 and although Lexus have, as the ultimate art imitating life gesture provided us with the hoverboard not much else has matched up to this being the year Doc and Marty were transported to in the film “Back to the future 2”. I for one certainly don’t have a flux capacitor and we can’t yet travel back through the space time continuum to right the wrongs of ineffective physical restraint systems. There are however guidelines for providing staff with easy to remember, effective and appropriate strategies, some of which I hope I have simplified in this post (it isn’t rocket science).

We Launch Digital Marketing Training

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Lancashire Digital Academy is offering a new funded training course to eligible businesses in the Lancashire area. The training course is about Digital Marketing Essentials.

On the 22nd May, I attended the first part of the new training course, which was run by Tom Stables from 3ManFactory.

Throughout the first session, I learnt about different ways of marketing on different social media. On the social media subject, I also learnt about social media as lead generation, brand monitoring and intelligence, and case studies to illustrate best practice.

The second part of the training was on the 29th May, in this session, I learnt about finding an audience when digital marketing, analysing current marketing activities and also looking at a digital marketing checklist development.

As well, we also discussed what language is appropriate to be used on Social media. For example, what tone you should be using when speaking to someone on social media.

At the training, the thing that I found useful was when we learnt about using different social media to market and advertise the business. For example, I learnt how to use Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest to advertise Cotton Court’s services.

This training was delivered in one of our conference rooms, here at Cotton Court.

Lancashire Digital Academy Launch

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Lancashire Digital Academy offers comprehensive and flexible training for Lancashire based businesses, which multiple members of staff can attend. The free-to-attend courses include modules like Digital Basics, Social Media and Community Management, SEO and Content Marketing, and Email Marketing, Word Press, and Analytics.



To celebrate the launch of Lancashire Digital Academy, 3ManFactory hosted an informative breakfast panel event at Cotton Court on 25th February. At the event, attendees got introduced to the company, and engaged in a panel that was designed to tackle issues about digital employment. As well as discussing and debating digital skills, we offered breakfast and coffee.

The four week programme for businesses is free and fully funded for all staff.

To register your interest in the programme, please fill in your details on the form via the link below.


Best of Britannia – North

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BOB is an event that showcases British companies that design or manufacture in the UK and opens with an exclusive preview evening to trade buyers and media on the first day, followed by two days of selling to the public and trade visitors.

In May this year, Best of Britannia is hosting its first BOB North, right here in Preston!

The event will take place in the historic Post Office building and Flag Market in Preston, which will follow the winning format of previous BOB events in London. Here, you will see that there will be the best of British brands, a first-class opportunity to meet and do business with other like-minded companies and to sell directly to a targeted group of discerning consumers, who are keen to buy products that are made in Britain.

Best of Britannia will be working with Marketing Lancashire to make sure that all the best brands from the North will be represented at the event, including the finest food, drink and entertainment!


Also, on the 3rd of February this year, we held a Best of Britannia event at our venue, which 80 people attended.

The leader of Preston City Council, Councillor Peter Rankin said “Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, said: “The Best of Britannia in ‘Proud Preston’ will be a marvellous showcase for quality products and for the city. It is a vote of confidence from great British manufacturers that Preston has been selected to host such a prestigious event.”

Social Media Seminars are back!!

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Following on from 3ManFactory’s immensely popular social media series last year here at Cotton Court Business Centre. they will be returning with another four part social media series starting in May.

This time the sessions will be one a month over four months covering;


Social Media: What’s All The Fuss About?

With over 1+ billion users on Facebook, 500+ million on Twitter and 200+ million on LinkedIn there’s no denying that people are using social media in big numbers. But are they the right people? Should your business be getting involved? Tom Stables and Nathaniel Cassidy of 3ManFactory are here to make their case on why social media needs the attention of your business.

The social media series are all fast paced presentation sessions followed by a Q&A panel giving you the chance to get your questions answered by industry experts. These sessions are being hosted by Cotton Court and are a perfect way to network, soak up some knowledge and even get a bit of breakfast – they fill up quickly so make sure you book in advance!
Social Media: Doing It Like A Boss
Tom Stables and Nathaniel Cassidy of 3ManFactory will go through their short social media do’s and don’ts to help you hit the grounding running and avoid making any major mistakes. Plus some awesome tips and tricks on how to get more out of all the major social networks. If you want to achieve social media mastery then you need to attend this event!

The social media series are all fast paced presentation sessions followed by a Q&A panel giving you the chance to get your questions answered by industry experts. These sessions are being hosted by Cotton Court and are a perfect way to network, soak up some knowledge and even get a bit of breakfast – they fill up quickly so make sure you book in advance!

Social Media: Successful Strategies
Signed up for Facebook? Mild Twitter addict? Instagram junkie? Are you using social media but without a strategy? Then this event is for you! Tom Stables and Nathaniel Cassidy of 3ManFactory will go through their 10 successful social media strategies showcasing some of the simplest and most effective ways for you to engage with your connections and get more business!

The social media series are all fast paced presentation sessions followed by a Q&A panel giving you the chance to get your questions answered by industry experts. These sessions are being hosted by Cotton Court and are a perfect way to network, soak up some knowledge and even get a bit of breakfast – they fill up quickly so make sure you book in advance!

Social Media: Awesome Analysis
Tom Stables and Nathaniel Cassidy of 3ManFactory will go through their accessible analytics approach looking at what tools to use, what information is important and how to use the data that is available to refine your strategy. So if you you’re already immersed in social media but just need to know if what you’re doing is working then you need to attend this!

The social media series are all fast paced presentation sessions followed by a Q&A panel giving you the chance to get your questions answered by industry experts. These sessions are being hosted by Cotton Court and are a perfect way to network, soak up some knowledge and even get a bit of breakfast – they fill up quickly so make sure you book in advance!

How to Guide: To Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Twitter

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The No. 1 complaint we hear from businesses new to social media: “I just don’t have time.” What these people don’t realise is that social media doesn’t always require a huge commitment, especially Twitter.

As Facebook constantly changes and increases preference for promoted posts and ads, turn to Twitter for free and effective small business social networking. Your plan of attack involves two main tools: Hootsuite and Twitter Lists.

Your daily Twitter routine will  be down to 10 minutes in no time!

1. Set up your Hootsuite account.

Hootsuite is a free social media dashboard. There are others available, but this one is our favourite. Once you’ve linked your Twitter to Hootsuite, you can add streams, social networks and tabs. Add these streams to your first tab: Scheduled Tweets, Sent Tweets, Mentions, Direct Messages and My Tweets, Retweeted. Simply click “Add Stream” and follow the prompts. (simples)


2. Create Twitter Lists.

If you head to Twitter and navigate to your settings (the gear symbol in the upper-right corner). Click Lists > Create List. From here, you can create public and private lists to organise the type of content you want to see by topic, user, hashtag, etc.

list upload

Create a secret “Important Connections, or Competitors” list that will hold all the smart people you wish to network with on a daily basis. Other list ideas include “Clients,” “Good Tweeters,” “Local Business,” So on and so on. Get specific & in detail here.


3. Add your Twitter Lists to Hootsuite.

hoot list

Create a new tab on your Hootsuite dashboard by clicking the black plus sign. Label it “Important.” This tab will be your second stop in your new Twitter routine. In this tab, click “Add Stream,” then “Lists.” From your lists, choose a few of your most pressing streams, including your “Important Connections” feed. Create a few new tabs and organize your remaining Twitter lists by topic. Four streams fit in each tab comfortably, but you can add up to 10.


4. Add #hashtag streams to Hootsuite.

Create a new tab called “Hashtags” and fill it with at least four important hashtags you follow. Don’t forget about industry tweetups that would be good for you to keep an eye on. Under “Add a stream,” search for the hashtag that is relevant to your business or your brand. For example #lancashire #business etc.


5. Begin your 10-minute per day routine.

If you have time left over, browse your other streams for fun. The more you practice this routine, the faster you’ll get. If you use relevant hashtags, tweet interesting content, respond to tweets and retweet others, you’ll gain a following with only 10 minutes per day in no time.

Happy Tweeting.

Follow us on Twitter – Cotton Court Business Centre Or our friends Cotton Studios

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! We hope you all had a great Christmas break, we are full steam ahead this month, and are looking forward to new projects and opportunities for 2014.At the beginning of a new year, many of us will have ideas about what we want to do better personally, in the year ahead. Making New Year’s resolutions for your business is just as important as setting personal goals for yourself.  Have you thought about what your goals and intentions for 2014.We took part in Lancashire Business View’s ‘Looking Ahead’ feature.  Take a look below at the interview with Rob outlining some of our goals for 2014:


What are the opportunities for your business over the next year?We’re keen to get more involved with training and development and have already started building partnerships with providers to be able to deliver a wide range of courses for business of all sizes. Courses so far range from social media and online reputation to improving your business by applying NLP and CBT techniques and we are always looking for other suitable courses to add to the catalogue. Cotton Court isn’t just a conference and training space or a collection of offices it is gradually becoming home to some of the brightest, up-and-coming businesses in the area, further positioning ourselves as a focal point of Preston’s business community. Better and deeper relationships with these businesses means growth for the Cotton Court brand.

What is the outlook for your sector for 2014?Well I see ‘our’ sector as being business more generally rather than simply being about rental space and conferencing. Cotton Court’s success is in line with the success of our clients and going by some of the stories coming out of the building things are looking good for 2014. 

What will your business do differently in 2014?Continue to work on our green policy and streamline some of our processes. The team here have worked hard to reduce the amount of paper, water and electricity we use, and in fact we achieved a bronze. We want to continue on this through 2014 and look to make a few more changes.

If you were Chancellor, what would be your New Year’s Resolution?To increase support programmes for start-up businesses, helping SMEs develop and become better equipped for growth. Investment in small business with growth potential is a sure-fire way to reduce unemployment through job creation. 

We would like to thank you all for your support over the last year and hope you all have a prosperous year ahead.

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


SEO | 6 Surprisingly Simple Factors That Will Take The Lead

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This time of year is suitable for retrospection. We’re able to take a good look at how things played out in 2012, and get an idea of the trends and patterns that are most likely to dominate the coming year.

2012 was rough for SEO experts due to radical changes in Google’s algorithms, including many updates to Panda, as well as the the introduction of Penguin. While content quality and inbound links continue to play major roles in organic rankings, let’s take a look at the other factors that will govern SEO in 2013.

SEO | Quality of Content

Ultimately, it all comes down to the quality and value of the content on your website. Google has been very explicit this year about good-quality content, and we expect this trend to carry over into next year in full force. By content quality, the metrics are:

uniqueness of the content/topic
resourcefulness and information richness (i.e., no thin content)


SEO | Mobile/Responsive Design

Although this does not directly influence the ranking of a page, it will play a role in your fortunes. Google was one of the first companies to become aware of this trend in web browsing due to the growing presence of tablets and smartphones.

Already, roughly 16 percent of searches come from mobile devices. This means local searches will be reaching their full potential both in SEO and in PPC.

Local businesses can no longer afford to excuse themselves from SEO or Internet marketing in general. This increase in mobile searches also means that site owners need to ensure that their site is served up well on mobile devices like having one site for desktop and other for mobile device.

SEO | Content Marketing

Content marketing is being touted as the next big thing. Experts have called it the new SEO. To an extent, this is true. As a general rule, content marketing attracts backlinks, and adds value for the user/reader. It is more challenging, because you have to generate more content of high quality, circulate it, and make sure your content gets published widely with ample social signals to generate substantial SEO value.

Since Google takes valuable content seriously, a solid content marketing strategy will be the key to climbing to the next level in SEO.


SEO | Social Signals

After much debate and discussion, social signals have largely been accepted as valid ranking factors. No doubt, you’ve heard lots of buzz about social search and how Google +1’s and shares are going to be important. Well, this is the year when you will see not just +1’s on Google and Facebook shares on Bing integrated more into traditional search results on topics that are shared, but also related topics on the same site.

Facebook just announced a major social graph search feature this week. This changes the way we search online and over time it will change consumer behavior and search as we know it today.

SEO | Rel=Author Tag

We’re living in an influencer economy of sorts. Influencers can be celebrities, bloggers, authors, or other industry leaders.

Because we’re in an influencer economy, and so much content is being created, the one way to differentiate content is by how many other people are sharing that content or talking about that content. An influencer has the ability to share a specific piece of content that gets more shares and gets talked about it by their followers. For search engines, especially Google, influencers are a great solution to separate the wheat from the chaff.

SEO | Media

Images and videos have become staples on the Internet. We’ve consistently seen that relevant results that include videos get ranked higher than text-only content. The further emergence of media content is an important development you can expect next year. It’s becoming essential to add relevant non-textual media to text content, because this adds value and makes the content more resourceful.

Find out more about SEO for your business by attending the SEO taster workshop with Howdan Marketing on Wednesday 12th June, 8.30am – 10am. BOOK NOW