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Leeds Business Week 2015 – Day 5

16 October, 2015

If you’ve been following Leeds Business Week 2015 in person or online, check out Jonny and Katy’s reviews from earlier this week:

And if you missed Jonny’s ‘digital marketing for SMEs’ talks on Wednesday and Thursday, you can view his slides here:

Leeds Business Week 2015 Friday 16 October review

Review by Helen Robinson, Head of Marketing at

It was a crisp, fresh and bright morning that dawned over the final day of Leeds Business Week 2015: perfect weather for walking between events, and for blowing away the cobwebs from what I understand was a great evening at Chaophraya last night!

Yorkshire Mafia Women’s breakfast networking at The Leeds Club


There was no trace of cobwebs on the reception desk at The Leeds Club, where Sarah and Rebecca cheerfully greeted me with treats and a warm welcome for the Yorkshire Mafia Women’s networking breakfast.

The Leeds Club is a beautiful venue. I’ve attended both corporate and wedding events here and the facilities, service and food have always been exemplary. (Afternoon tea fans should check out The Leeds Club’s Christmas shopper pick-me-up event on 29th November.)


I’m not normally a fan of “women-only” events as I think the “pale, male and stale” networking events stereotype can best be challenged by our presence at mixed events. But the sell-out event was a great opportunity to meet and talk with business women and business owners. And it was great to see so many commercially-savvy youthful faces here, a reflection of the wealth of entrepreneurial young female talent in Leeds.

I then made my way over to Park Cross Street near Leeds Town Hall to hear business owner and mentor Viv Parry share her inspiring story.

Viv Parry ‘The loneliness of the long distance business owner’ at Entrepreneurial Spark, Leeds

Entrepreneurial-Spark is the world’s largest free business support network for entrepreneurs. Supported by NatWest, RBS, KPMG and Gett, this national free business startup accelerator program is designed “to inspire and enable positive social change through the action of entrepreneuring”.


On-trend bright retro furnishings, grass-flooring and a woodland backdrop turn this multi-use office, meetings and events venue into a fresh and inspiring space that nurtures creative thinking. Special credit to E-Spark ‘Excellence Engineer’ Jeremy, who braved a football injury and cheerfully welcomed everyone despite his broken arm!

Morning pick-me-up was provided by gourmet coffee club (@Beanify), served alongside some delicious cakes, pastries and fruit.

Best coat of the week award had to go to handbag designer Kate Pearson (@FABRIKKUK), whose bespoke creations will soon be available on her website (due to launch at the end of this year).


I also had a good chat with Carl Hopkins from GrowthAccelerator. GrowthAccelerator is now part of the Business Growth Service, a “government-backed service offering support to businesses with the potential to improve and grow”.

The title of Viv’s talk ‘The loneliness of the long distance business owner’ belied a story of optimism and determination (despite adversity) that was both inspiring and uplifting.

From growing up in Preston (hanging out and chuckling at the no. 69 bus stop) through becoming qualified as a chartered accountant and seeing through challenging buy outs, Viv took time away from her career to be a full time parent before stepping back into business leadership to take on the assets of a liquidated bakery and set up her own cake company Exquisite.

Here are some of Viv’s top tips for people going into business:

  • Never take your eyes off the money
  • The time to plan your exit is now
  • Be resilient even when it feels impossible to keep going
  • Be prepared to say no (Viv fought against tough a contractual proposition from a market-leading buyer to retain the balance of power between her and a big brand customer, by standing her ground and understanding her small business brand value and strengths)
  • Be an amazing numbers person – or employ one
  • People are amazing and rewarding, but also challenging and disappointing – always employ people better than you (a skills audit can help with this)
  • As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to bring the “Boom!” to your business every single day, no matter what

“I don’t want a monochrome life.”


Viv’s talk sparkled almost as much as her shoes. Her honest personal account about the challenges of running a business left the audience in no doubt that running a business is bloody hard work. But the rewards are open to anyone prepared to put the time and effort in, and see it through with single-minded determination.

Having been part of the Goldman Sachs SME programme (similar to E-Spark), Viv is a big advocate of SME accelerator programmes, saying she couldn’t stress enough the value of the support network that you develop, which she says all SME business owners need to develop and nurture to get them through the tough times.

Asked what she might do differently, Viv answered with a point about the importance of good marketing and a clear brand – not just as an ‘add-on’ later down the line, but upfront as an integral part of the start-up process. Each Goldman Sachs programme participant was handed a virtual “£50k cheque” and asked how they would spend it. Viv chose marketing. Seeing the huge value this brought, the first thing she did was then go out and find £50k to spend on marketing for real in her business.

Connect with Viv on Twitter @VivJParry or via her website at

The Entrepreneurial Spark programme is now open for applications. A free Q&A and tour of the Leeds space is taking place on Wed 21st October. Information and bookings here.

Other events on Friday included:

  • Everything you always wanted to know about National Living Wage hosted by PATH at The Leeds Club
  • Ladies That Launch (digital business support for female entrepreneurs) hosted by Superfast West Yorkshire at The Google Garage
  • Women in Business networking lunch hosted by The Met Club at Bibis Italianissimo

Instagram #enjoying #engaging’ talk by Mark Longbottom at Google Digital Garage

IMG_20151018_6My last stop was at Google Garage on Friday afternoon for Mark Longbottom’s ‘Instagram #enjoying #engaging’ talk.

Having seen the presentation in its early stages at one of our team workshops, it was great to see how Mark had developed the theme with lots of inspiration and ideas on how to increase engagement on Instagram.

Authenticity is key, Mark explains. And for those who think they need to be a technical whizz or a professional photographer, Mark explains that he keeps things manual and simple, using only Iconosquare and INK361 for metrics, along with ‘notes’ on his phone to save blocks of hashtags etc. With ideas on composition (such as thinking in blocks of 3, 6 and 9 photos), Mark gave me an incentive to re-visit my woefully unappreciated personal Instagram page and begin sharing photos again after a long break.


This recent Instagram blog post by Mark shares his tips on getting started, and a link to some of the slides from his Leeds Business Week talk.

Young Guns, Burgers and Beers at Almost Famous for Leeds Business Week

Yorkshire Mafia Young Guns (the sub-group for under-30s) also hosted their own networking ‘burgers and beers’ night on Friday evening. Chris Cooke from Lsi Promotional Products reviewed the event:

“There are plenty of young established people in Yorkshire who all want to network to build up their own portfolio of contacts, so the informal events that YM Young Guns regularly hosts are a great way to get involved. Organiser Ben has some brilliant ideas on how to build the group for the benefit of young Yorkshire businesspeople. It was great to see so many new faces on Friday night, opening the group up to new members who could come along and see what occurs at these events. Almost Famous were great hosts, providing massive sample “mini” burgers and free punch to all (although I’m sure I was the only one drinking that as the night went on, hic). Around 60 people came and went as the night went on, although next time though it maybe better to meet people where we can hear over the music!”

  • What were your #LeedsBizWeek highlights?
  • Who have you connected with at #LeedsBizWeek and who did you find most inspiring?

Do share your highlights below!

Thanks again to everyone involved in making the UK’s biggest business week happen.

From everyone on the team, we hope you enjoyed Leeds Business Week 2015 as much as we did!

YM presents Leeds Business Week

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