Category Archives: Blog

Blog posts and latest happenings with Unlocking Potential

Lab On The Train – Visiting Innocent HQ

Last week we went on a road trip and took eight Cornish businesses along for the ride. As part of our Future Focus programme, a delegation of 15 went to London to visit Innocent headquarters, Fruit Towers.

Here’s the lowdown:

Who went?
A-Game, Agile PR, Baker Tom’s, Buzz Interactive, Fish For Thought, Frugi, JillyRox, Kingdom & Sparrow and Made For Life.

Why Innocent?
In September last year, Dan Germain Head of Brand at Innocent, was the keynote speaker at our Future Focus event which kick-started a series of Brand, Culture and Communications Labs. He invited us along to their headquarters to check out the processes and culture within Innocent which has seen it recently awarded Top 3 of the 2018 Sunday Times Top 100 companies to work for.

Upon entering Fruit Towers it became apparent how the company has gained such a renowned reputation, with a help yourself smoothie fridge, baby photos of employees on the wall, games tables, a banana telephone and even a naughty step, it’s far from a conventional office environment.

What happened?
Delegates took part in our first ever Lab on a train hosted by Future Focus Innovation Coach Angelo Spencer-Smith on the way to London. Then it was a tour of Fruit Towers, followed by talks from the Sustainability Manager and People Team at Innocent.

On the second day, there was a visit to the Museum of Brand and Packaging, where Trevor Hardy from Future Laboratory gave an inspiring talk about future trends and how technology is changing consumer behaviour.

What did the delegates think of the trip?
Lucy Jewson, Frugi – “Altogether it was mind-blowing, we got loads of ideas and little nuggets that we can bring back and potentially implement or give a Frugi-twist to.”

Paul Trudgian, Fish For Thought – “It was a fantastic experience with very open people. I came away with so many thoughts about what we could do at Fish for Thought, in terms of learnings.”

Adrian Noott, A-Game – “It was a fantastic day at Fruit Towers in London, really worth doing.”

Daniel Gradwell, Kingdom & Sparrow – “It was really interesting to see such a bright, dynamic workforce. I’ve got some really fresh ideas to take back to Cornwall.”

Do you want to step away from the everyday and try something new with your business? Our Future Focus programme could help you do this. Check out the current Labs we are running. You can register your interest here.

Hendra Holiday Park – An established business driving purposeful change

How can an established business drive purposeful change? That was one of the questions discussed at our recent People, Planet, Profit Event where we explored how business leaders can better measure their impact on the world and move away from the traditional “take, make and dispose” model of business to use their business as a force for good.

We heard from Jon Hyatt, Director of Hendra Holiday Park, who is doing just that. Jon and his team have been working hard to switch the family business to a more sustainable model.

By using thousands of solar panels to power the site, along with installing biomass boilers, the holiday park has reduced its carbon footprint by 62% in the last 10 years.

The business has also been getting customers involved in their sustainable journey, by encouraging families to recycle their waste where possible. There is now a ‘freecycle’ area in the holiday park where guests can leave unwanted goods such as beach toys and camping gear for others to reuse.

These small steps have helped to reduce waste to landfill by 50% in the last 8 years.

Jon said: “We are truly a mainstream business catering for families and couples, we don’t claim to be an eco-destination or a totally green business- we’ve got a long way to go on the sustainability front. But the whole team is behind it, we’ve got lots of ideas, lots of things to try. We’re not here to preach to anyone about how they run their business or what they should do, but we’re proud of what we’ve done.

“Our strength is we’ve got a fantastic team and everyone is behind what we’re trying to achieve. I’m amazed at the suggestions we get from all levels of staff about how we can make it a better environment for our guests, a better environment to work in and better for the environment in general.”

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Future Focus: Inspiring Cornish Business Leaders

Our Future Focus Events are designed to inspire Cornish business leaders to make innovative changes in their company…and our latest event packed an impactful punch!

We’ve just heard that after attending our People, Planet, Profit Event at the Eden Project, local business SLS Catering has hired their first Environmentally Responsible Sales Co-ordinator. Great news!

People, Planet, Profit Action Wall

Delegates heard from an impressive line-up of key speakers who talked about everything from global movements, to becoming more responsible in business, behaving with purpose and how to embed this within business ethos and every day operations.

SLS Catering said they were inspired by the talk from Ed Gillespie of Futerra, as well as local business leader Tom Kay of Finisterre, who discussed how they use innovation to achieve sustainability.

We wish SLS Catering the very best of luck with their new team member.

Do you want to find out how our support could help you develop your business? Find out more about our Future Focus programme here.

People, Planet, Profit : Action Wall

Sustainability was the theme from our latest Future Focus event People, Planet, Profit and our audience fully got on board. It was encouraging to meet so many business leaders who are passionate about making a cultural change in their organisation to become a force for good.

With conversations focused firmly on sustainability and making purposeful change, we asked delegates to write down what action they had been inspired take in the future.

Notes posted on our action wall ranged from environmental pledges, such as ‘plant a tree for every product sold’ to social initiatives, including ‘employees can volunteer with a charity for a day’. Several businesses wanted to look into sourcing more products locally or aiming to achieve a zero waste system.

Our keynote speaker, director of Greenpeace and co-founder of Futerra, Ed Gillespie, inspired us all with his passionate talk.

He said: “It is our job to make sustainability so desirable that it becomes normal. It is fundamentally important that our vision is to change the world, imagine a better one and then apply logic to make it happen. Purpose gets you up in the morning and purpose needs to be better than yourself.

“We need to think about the future in everything we do, we need to plan and make products that have longevity built in. We already have the ideas, the money and the technology – this is the new economy; an economy which addresses social need.”

If you want to step away from the everyday, why not get involved with our Future Focus programme. Find out about our upcoming Labs here.

People, Planet, Profit



































If you want to step away from the everyday, why not get involved with our Future Focus programme. Find out about our upcoming Labs here.

Driving Purposeful Change : Future Focus Lab

Overview of Topic

If you want your business to be more purpose-driven, do less harm and create benefit (not just for your shareholders) this Lab is for you. Explore how business leaders are better measuring their impact on the world and moving away from the traditional “take, make and dispose” model of business to use their business as a force for good. Explore new thinking from two flourishing movements, The Circular Economy and B Corporations, and work with experts to create a new vision for your business’s future.








































Spaces are filling up fast so don’t miss out and register your interest today or give us a call on: 0845 600 3660

Otter Surfboards Making Waves With Future Focus

Otter SurfboardsJames Otter, the founder of Otter Surfboards, recently attended our People, Planet, Profit Event at the Eden Project. After graduating from Plymouth University back in 2009, he got in touch with our team to support him with his dream of running his own business. While working as a carpenter during the day, he spent his evenings and weekends building up Otter Surfboards. 8 years later, he is a keen advocate of sustainability and mindfulness. James and his team source timber locally where possible, use upcycled offcuts from other local businesses in their surfboards and save sawdust shavings for the wood burner to heat the studio. His business has grown tremendously over the last few years consisting now of a team of five plus office dog Buddy.

After listening to our Future Focus keynote speaker, Ed Gillespie, we caught up with James to find out what messages he would take away from the Event.

“At the end of Ed’s speech, he said if there’s one thing you should take away it’d be, go and talk to the people that you’re working with and make sure that you’re personally on the same page. Not just working for the sake of working, but you’re all heading in the same direction- that’s definitely where I want us all to be.”

James is continuing his business journey with Unlocking Potential and is now taking part in our Future Focus Lab series ‘Growing a Business With Strong Core Values’.

We look forward to catching up with him again to find out what changes he has been inspired to make in the business. If you’re interested in finding out more about our Future Focus Labs click here.

World Book Day 2018

Whether you are looking for inspiration to start a business, develop a skill or address your work/life balance, diving into a book can be a great way to step away from the everyday and get inspired to make change. From romance and mystery to self-help; a good book can open your mind, make you think differently and maybe even change your life.

To mark World Book Day we asked business leaders taking part in our Future Focus Lab ‘Growing a Business With Strong Core Values’ for their must reads. Take a look at the list, you might just find the inspiration you need lurking on some of these pages:

Only Planet– Ed Gillespie
In an inspirational tale of global adventure Ed Gillespie takes anything but a plane to circumnavigate the world.

The Happy Hero– Solitaire Townsend
The Happy Hero reveals the secret of enjoying a better life and sets out the principles of how to feel good by doing good.

We do things Differently: The Outsiders Rebooting of Our World- Mark Stevenson
An acclaimed futurist visits people around the world who are solving the planet’s biggest problems by innovative means.

Doughnut Economics– Kate Raworth
Oxford academic Kate Raworth identifies seven critical ways in which mainstream economics has led us astray, and sets out a roadmap for bringing humanity into a sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things– Michael Braungart & William McDonough
Braungart and McDonough explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they will provide nourishment for something new.

The Craftsman– Richard Sennett
The Craftsman is an exploration of craftsmanship – the desire to do a job well for its own sake – as a template for living.

The Case for Making things with your Hands– Matthew Crawford
Crawford brings to life the psychological and intellectual satisfactions of making and fixing things, explores the moral benefits of a technical education and argues that the skilled manual trades may be one of the few sure paths to a good living.

On Kindness– Adam Phillips & Barbara Taylor
Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and historian Barbara Taylor present an elegant, thoughtful and concise analysis of kindness in history, in life and in the modern world.

If you want to step away from the everyday, why not get involved with our Future Focus programme. Find out about our upcoming Labs here.


Lucy Cox Faced Dragons’ Den – What happened next?

Halto What Happened NextAt the beginning of February the Unlocking Potential team and most likely the rest of Cornwall, watched Lucy Cox and her sister pitch their inspirational business, Halto, a revolutionary gadget which alleviates the problem of neck pain when wearing halter neck bikinis to the Dragons’ Den.

Lucy works on our Breakthrough programme which supports new businesses to grow their ideas into reality. She put her own advice into action and is now on her very own business journey, alongside the people she supports.

We caught up with Lucy to find out about her Dragons’ Den experience and most importantly, what happened next!

What was it like to go on Dragon’s Den?
It was one big melting pot of curiosity, excitement, hard work and terror! The actual filming day was quite a small proportion of the time invested overall, with about four months run-up of prep, planning, liaison with the BBC due diligence team, marketing strategy, panic and tireless, repetitive rehearsing. We knew we had one shot to get this right, and to walk away with maximum publicity, but it was all down to those precious moments in the Den so we knew we needed to be over-prepared.

Keeping it a secret was probably the hardest bit because no one knew about it and we were constantly having to make excuses as to why we were unavailable or taking another ’PR’ trip to London or having to work late again. All the while secretly counting down to ‘Den Day’! Thankfully there were two of us so we could bolster each other up throughout the process.

The set was nothing like we thought it would be, but the BBC team were fabulous and did a great job of putting us at ease. We can’t lie though, the moment those lift doors open must be akin to the moment plane doors open before a parachute jump. We just had to take a deep breath and step out, relying almost entirely on muscle memory and blind faith! At that moment, I think we both cursed ourselves for deciding to do a live puppet show as well as open ourselves up for a grilling by Peter Jones! Thankfully it paid off, and the Dragons really appreciated the effort.

We didn’t get a chance to meet the Dragons either before or after our time in the Den, so it was a very odd recruitment process for taking on a potential investor! They would have been such a huge part of our business, so the match had to be right, and ultimately Dragons’ Den is an entertainment show. We certainly had our favourites before we went in, but we both felt that despite the obvious door-opening potential of having one of them on board, that none of them turned out to be exactly the right match for Halto. Most of them were so lovely and gave us some incredible compliments and advice, so combined with the national TV exposure, we definitely got the best deal from it!

As an experience, it certainly forced us to ‘grow up’ as a business and to test ourselves as entrepreneurs, and it was a hugely positive experience.

What happened next?
After filming had finished, we were told that our slot may or may not be shown on the series and, if it was to be shown, they wouldn’t give us an airing date until a month before it was due to be aired. That meant that we ended up waiting over 8 months before we heard anything from the BBC again. We had planned ahead assuming it would be aired so that we were prepared to receive the spike in web traffic. A pre and post-airing campaign was put together, and a lot of time and money invested in a new website and marketing campaign.

With only a few weeks notice, we implemented all our plans and got the PR wheels turning, gaining some phenomenal media exposure over the course of the week leading to airing. We saw a significant spike in traffic to our website and social media platforms, and our website held up really well, not dropping out for a second! We saw a surge in direct web sales and enquiries from a range of businesses who were interested in stocking (or working with) Halto, and given the Spring airing date, it has set up perfectly for summer sales.

Our focus now is to ride the Dragons’ Den wave and continue to grow our business. Appearing on the show was one of many marketing campaigns to boost awareness of Halto and its benefits, and has certainly given us a great platform from which to springboard into 2018.

Special announcement at our Future Focus event!

At the Future Focus Event hosting over 150 delegates, key speaker Tom Kay and founder of St Agnes based business, Finisterre, exclusively announced to the audience that they are now a certified B Corp. This makes them the second business in Cornwall, and the first European surf brand to become a B Corp.

Speaking at the event, Tom said  “Finisterre was founded in 2003 on three commitments: to product, environment and people. For these past fifteen years, these commitments have been at the heart of every decision and our journey has been one of innovation to achieve sustainability, whilst continually striving to minimise the impact of both our business and product.

Achieving B Corp* status is a big moment for Finisterre: Affirmation of what we have been working hard at since founding and giving us more to strive for in the future. I cannot think of a better place to have announced it than at the People, Planet, Profit event held today at the Eden Project.”

Future Focus Events, run by Unlocking Potential, bring inspiring and influential speakers together and put them in front of Cornish Businesses to help share global ideas and future-proof business. The next Future Focus Event takes place in early May. To find out more about the next event, sign up to receive updates.

Future Focus Events are part funded by the EDRF and run in partnership with Exeter University.

*B Corp is a global non-profit movement promoting a force for good to solve social or environmental problems. The B Corp vision is that companies will one day not only become the best in the world at what they do but also be the best for the world.

Driving Purposeful Change : Future Focus Lab

Overview of Topic

If you want your business to be more purpose-driven, do less harm and create benefit (not just for your shareholders) this Lab is for you. Explore how business leaders are better measuring their impact on the world and moving away from the traditional “take, make and dispose” model of business to use their business as a force for good. Explore new thinking from two flourishing movements, The Circular Economy and B Corporations, and work with experts to create a new vision for your business’s future. The three sessions will kick-off after our People, Planet, Profit Event on 20th February 2018 with keynote speaker Simon Phillips (The Change Maker Group), internationally-renowned academics from the University of Exeter, and local business leader Matt Hocking (Leap) along with others already making the change.

Lab Dates
20th Feb
14th Mar
Apr – tbc

We asked local business leader Tom Kay founder of Finisterre to discuss his approach to the circular economy and how Finisterre uses innovation to achieve sustainability:

What will be covered in the Lab?
• Understand the principles of Circular Economy and B Corporations, brought to life with inspiring examples.
• Reflect on the impact your business has, and consider whether either approach might be right for your business.
• Evaluate your appetite and options for change and learn how to get started.
• Explore with likeminded business owners facing similar challenges and hear from those that have begun to lead the change.

Circular Economy – Aiming to redefine growth, a circular economy focuses on positive benefits instead of the traditional take-make dispose model of business. Hear how others are designing out waste, keeping products and materials in use through repair and remanufacture and providing environmental and societal benefits.

B Corporation Certification
– A growing global movement redefining success in business. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered
marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.

Gain a greater understanding of how the Circular Economy and B Corporations are changing the way we do business from global corporations to Cornish businesses. Explore with game changing business leaders and academic experts the impact that your business is having and the possible routes to change, looking at what is achievable and appropriate. Plus with support from your Business Development Manager, your peers in the lab and access to a range of resources, including some potential follow on coaching, you’ll be closer to realising your ambitions.

Spaces are filling up fast so don’t miss out and register your interest today or give us a call on: 0845 600 3660

Unlocking Potential’s Lucy Cox facing Dragon’s Den this Sunday!

Get out the popcorn, put your Prosecco on ice and prepare to sit back and watch one of our lovely team members on hit BBC 2 show Dragons’ Den this weekend!

We’ll be taking a break from our usual Sunday night chores to catch our very own Business Development Manager, Lucy Cox, as she takes on the formidable Dragons alongside her sister and business partner Lerryn Clare.

Have you seen their video announcing their fantastic news?

At 9 pm on Sunday, we’ll see them pitching their inspirational business, Halto, a revolutionary gadget which alleviates the problem of neck pain when wearing halter neck bikinis. The sisters had the idea for the business after discovering there was nothing similar in the UK market.

Lucy works on our Breakthrough programme which supports new businesses to grow their ideas into reality. She put her own advice into action and is now on her very own business journey, alongside the people she supports.

We caught up with Lucy to find out about her Dragons’ Den experience and how her role here helped her launch her own business.

You’re going to be on Dragons’ Den- how did that happen?

We realised quite quickly that getting the word out about Halto was key to the business’ success, and with small marketing budgets, we have always had to think creatively and often do crazy things well outside our comfort zone. It is fair to say our marketing stunts have got increasingly crazier over time, and this may be the cherry on top! It was probably the most terrifying experience of our lives (and we’ve been through childbirth!).

How has your job here helped you develop your business?

I have learnt so much as a Business Development Manager. The team are incredibly knowledgeable and attending all the workshops and mentoring sessions have taught me so much. I also learn so much from all my fabulous clients. They are bold, knowledgeable, talented people, and I am so proud of them all.

What’s it like supporting other businesses and growing your own idea at the same time?

It works perfectly, to be honest. Not only am I able to learn and share knowledge, but I’m also on the pointy-end with my own business so I totally understand the emotional and financial strains of starting your own business. It is like being part of one big family and we all understand what each other is going through. It helps me be better at both my jobs.

What advice would you give people who are starting their own business?

Know who your customer is and know what benefit your product brings to them. Then I guess it is about being brave and just getting out there and doing it. There is only so much you can do or learn before you take that leap, so just go for it. Don’t be afraid to be cheeky to get what you want.

Find out where our support could take you.

6.5 Unexpected Benefits of Stand Out From The Crowd

Do you feel like your career has stagnated or you’re not reaching your full potential? Our employability course Stand Out From The Crowd could be just the thing you need to get your career moving and land your dream job. The fully accredited course covers everything you’d expect of an employability course; CV writing, applications and interview skills, but also a whole lot more.

If you’re ready to make that career change or see your ambitions realised we’d love to hear from you. Tell us about yourself here or ring Emma on 0845 600 3660 to have a chat.

We pulled together a list of 6 (and a half) unexpected benefits you can get from the course:

Stand Out From The Crowd

If you’re ready to make that career change or see your ambitions realised we’d love to hear from you. Tell us about yourself here or ring Emma on 0845 600 3660 to have a chat.

Unlocking Potential Jobs On The Radio

We know how important finding the right people, with the right talents are to any business. Unlocking Potential has been matching talented professionals with innovative companies offering ambitious career opportunities for over 15 years, having helped advertise thousands of jobs in Cornwall.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be advertising the Unlocking Potential Job offer on Pirate FM with our very own Nicky Luke doing the voiceover. If you have not heard it yet, have a listen here.

Unlocking Potential Jobs

Employers can easily advertise their vacancy on our recruitment platform – hassle free. However, if you are signed onto one of our business support programmes we will help you refine and target your recruitment advertising, giving you the best chances of success in securing quality applications. We can help shortlist candidates with you and we will even organise, advise on and attend your interviews to help you select the best candidate.

The Unlocking Potential Jobs platform allows you to:

  • Post a basic job advert for free
  • Access a database of thousands of professional career seekers in Cornwall
  • Make use of enhanced advertising options
  • Receive extra support, advice, and guidance available from experienced recruitment experts

So get involved. Get in touch. Upload your vacancy today.

Future Focus Labs – learn how your business can become a force for good

Inside a Future Focus Lab We have a series of upcoming Labs that will give you the opportunity to get together with like-minded peers to explore the ways social, cultural and environmental responsibilities affect the way you do business in the future.

Following on from our Future Focus Event ‘People, Planet, Profit’ on 20th February, the Labs have been designed for you to focus on how to grow or adapt your businesses in a way that is both vision-led and commercially ambitious.

Jon Hyatt, the director of Hendra Holiday Park, attended a Future Focus Lab recently and would encourage other business leaders to do the same.

He said: “It’s given me lots to think about but more than that, lots of tangible actions I can take. I’d say it’s already had a positive impact on me and I’m excited to see the results on the business.”

The ‘Growing a Business with Strong Core Values’ will be kicked off by inspiring keynote speaker, Ed Gillespie Co-founder of Futerra, and facilitated by Steve Taylor from Golant Media Ventures.

Steve said: “Many business leaders want to operate in a sustainable and ethical way but they’re not sure how. These labs will focus on how businesses can grow in a purposeful way, whilst still remaining profitable. You will come away with an honest benchmark of where you are now, a clear vision of where you want to get to and a detailed plan of how to get there.”

The other Lab, titled ‘Driving Purposeful Change’ will explore how business leaders from more established businesses can adapt and change the impact their business has on the planet and how it can become a force for good in the future. This lab will be kick-started by Simon Phillips from The Change Maker Group, local business leader Matt Hocking from Leap and academic experts who will help business leaders identify possible routes to change, looking at what is achievable and appropriate.

Matt said: “Don’t ever think it’s too late to start this journey. Now is a great time to look at what you’re doing as a business, how you look after your own people and the impact you have on the environment. I find that so many businesses are already doing brilliant things but don’t realise it because it’s such a natural part of the way they work.”

The Future Focus programme can also offer your business financial support for recruitment or equipment, as well access to academic research, bespoke coaching and support for collaboration projects.

There is no cost to attend the Future Focus Labs; they are fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information about upcoming labs call Unlocking Potential on 0845 6003660 or email You can register your interest here.

Gill Pipkin – ‘6 Top Tips to becoming a business with purpose’

We spoke to Gill Pipkin, a business sustainability consultant based in St Agnes Cornwall, about starting her journey to becoming a certified B Corp and how businesses can become more purposeful. As part of the Future Focus Programme, we are running a number of Labs to help businesses innovate and grow. Our Lab on GROWING A BUSINESS WITH STRONG CORE VALUES begins on the 20th of February. Find out more.

Gill, can you tell me a little bit about what your business does?
I work with businesses to improve their sustainability and resilience by reviewing their use of energy, water, materials, labour, and space to ensure they are being used in the most efficient way. Where appropriate, I support them gaining accreditation or preparing proposals where sustainability is required.

Could you tell me in a sentence or two what a B Corp is?
A B Corp is a business or organisation that recognises the requirement that resources are used responsibly. It is a network that recognises that a business has a key role to play in promoting and embedding solutions for environmental and social issues. It is about working towards a more resilient environment and society.

Why have you decided to put your business forward to become a certified B Corp?
As a Sustainability Consultant, I wanted to demonstrate my commitment and gain affirmation that I am operating in an ethical way. There are many different certification schemes, but this one seemed more holistic in its approach, encompassing all aspects of running a business.

What benefits do you think it will bring to your business?
It gives my business credibility and ensures I remain up to date with current thinking and innovation. It enables me to network with like-minded businesses and share best practice.
What benefits will it bring to your customers?

I am able to stay up to date with latest innovations and thinking which I can share with my customers. I can put them in touch with businesses in a similar industry where appropriate and encourage them to strive to be the best they can.

Gill’s Top Tips to becoming a business with purpose:

1) Supply Chain. Consider the sustainability of the resources you are using within your business. Question if that business stable going forward? Do they share your business values? Source locally where possible – by supporting local businesses you are increasing all round resilience and improving the local economy.

2) Staffing. Think about how you attract and retain your staff. Millennials are more likely to look at the ethos of the company when making a decision about who they want to work for. Prospective individuals are now more interested in a company who provides flexible working arrangements such as home working and flexi-hours to fit in with lifestyle needs. Additionally, if your staff hot-desk this will save on building space, energy usage, and equipment costs.

3) Utilities. Do question if your utility supplier can use sustainable resources. Does your water company perhaps have access to a borehole? Could you use grey water for your toilets? In the future water will be traded as a precious commodity in the UK, particularly in more developed areas such as the South East where water supplies are already at a low level. Where businesses have space around their buildings, encourage wildlife habitats and ponds. The ponds will reduce the damage done by heavy rains. Water butts are another great investment.

4) Waste. How can you avoid it? Think about your product packaging – can it be recycled, or even better, reused? Also, think about the packaging used by your suppliers. Do a cost-saving analysis by thinking about how much your company can save by not using plastic bags. Remember that if you have commercial waste, you will have to pay to take it away. If some waste is unavoidable, can you repurpose it in some way?

5) Travel & transport. Avoid using a car where possible. Can your team car share? Can you promote a cycle to work scheme or even encourage your team to walk to work where practical. If you have business meetings, can you skype to the meeting or demonstrate your product online where feasible? Do question whether that weekly meeting needs to be face to face.

6) Reduce harmful substances. Find alternatives that won’t degrade the environment. This will help improve our economy by keeping our landscapes healthy. We can see the damage that poor environmental management has had in California – too much building in sensitive areas and not allow natural cycles to happen led to large areas of very dry vegetation. Left naturally, this would have been burnt at regular intervals in small areas creating less overall devastation – the resultant lack of vegetation and impervious soil caused by the ash mud led to the recent mudslides.

As part of the Future Focus Programme, we are running a number of Labs to help businesses innovate and grow. Our Lab on GROWING A BUSINESS WITH STRONG CORE VALUES begins on the 20th of February. Find out more.

What is a social purpose business?

Social Purpose Business

The way people do business is changing. Sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly are words on consumer’s lips as they become more socially conscious and want to know where their products come from. Combine that with tighter Government regulations and we are beginning to see a new landscape where businesses are being held more accountable for their actions.

Where traditionally businesses fell into two distinct categories; commercial enterprise or not-for-profits and charities, new business models are emerging including Social Enterprises and Social Purpose Businesses.

A Social Purpose Business creates profit, but has at its core a social mission and a goal of creating both economic and social value.

We took a look at some of the businesses in Cornwall that fall under these categories.

Cornish Mutual- provides training and support to local charities/organisations so they can improve and grow.

Cornwall Glass- set up a fund to support community and charity groups and have donated in excess of £50,000 since 2009.

Fifteen Cornwall- runs an apprenticeship scheme with Cornwall College that provides welfare support to young people that need a second chance to gain qualifications or start a new career.

Alan Goddard, Managing Director of Cornish Mutual, said: “Businesses can – and should – do more to support their local communities if we want to ensure a sustainable future. By supporting Westcountry communities both directly and indirectly, we are helping our local charities to thrive and our region’s vitally important organisations to grow and develop.”

If you’re looking to make meaningful change in your business, whether you’re a start-up enterprise or an established business, our Future Focus Labs are a great place to start exploring these social, cultural and environmental issues alongside your peers and industry experts.

On February 20th our Lab, ‘Growing A Business With Strong Core Values’, will help you to develop the strategy and capacity to grow your business in a way that is both vision-led and commercially ambitious.

You can find out more about the Lab and register your interest here.

The Davy Initiative – Electrochemistry in Cornwall

The Davy Initiative – Electrochemistry in CornwallThe University of Exeter and in association with PV3 Technologies would like to invite businesses in the region to discuss future developments and opportunities within the electrochemical sector.

As part of the Future Focus programme, we’d like to invite businesses to attend a special event on Electrochemistry in Cornwall hosted by our partner, the University of Exeter. You can book your ticket here.

Thursday 1st February 2018 9 am – 3 pm
Tremough Innovation Centre
TR10 9TA

Humphry Davy (1778–1829), the son of an impoverished Cornish woodcarver, rose meteorically to help spearhead the reformed chemistry movement of the late 18th century and became a pioneer of electrochemistry. He discovered several new elements, including magnesium, calcium, strontium, and barium and in the course of his career was involved in many practical projects e,g. the application of chemistry to agriculture and designing a miner’s lamp which reduced spontaneous combustion!

Today, with the explosion in battery technologies, electrochemistry finds itself at the forefront of a wave of innovation again – an enabling technology relevant to a vast variety of industries and applications. It is also an area of increasing focus for a government led funding opportunities such as Innovate UK calls and The Faraday Challenge.

What’s more, Cornwall finds itself leading the way again, one example being PV3 Technologies in Launceston who provide electrochemical materials, contract electrochemistry R&D and sub-contract manufacturing of electrochemical and nanomaterials to clients across the globe.

Please join experts from academia and industry to explore new networks, raising the profile of Cornish capability in this sector and identify opportunities for funding support and potential collaborations.



Please contact Hollie Kirk or Jaime Tinker for more information.
Impact and Partnership Development Manager
University of Exeter
01326 21 4385

Cornwall Business Awards – Calling All Entrepreneurs

The 13th Annual Cornwall Business Awards are now open for entries and here at Unlocking Potential we are thrilled to be sponsoring the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award’. The Awards celebrate innovation, achievement and entrepreneurial spirit and the glittering event shines a spotlight on the amazing people who help drive the Cornish economy. Programme Director Allyson Glover is keen to encourage Unlocking Potential clients to consider applying:

“At Unlocking Potential we are driven by the entrepreneurial spirit that surrounds us every day in our work. Integral to our mission of creating fantastic jobs and thriving businesses here in Cornwall, we relish the opportunity to celebrate those outstanding individuals who bravely lead the way. Their drive, determination, vision and relentless hard work is inspiring and we need to shout their successes from the rooftops”.

The event will be at St Mellion International Resort on April 19th and TV food Critic Greg Wallace has been announced as this year’s star speaker.

Here are some Key Dates if you are thinking of applying:

Nominations Open 8th January 2018
Nominations Close 16th February 2018
Shortlist Announced 15th March 2018
Awards Ceremony 19th April 2018

And finally, here’s a video of Allyson at the Awards Launch talking about why the “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” is so important:

To find out more head to

What Happened Next? Leading People, Culture & Change Lab

Watch an overview of our recent Future Focus Lab, ‘Leading People, Culture and Change’ which took place at Driftwood Spa in St. Agnes.

The session was run by the expert facilitator, Sally Read, with over 18 years of practical experience across all sectors focussing on people, processes and strategy development, including five years as Organisational Development Director for Seasalt. Sally guided those attending through an exploration of how they’re working and how they might adapt to create an organisational development plan based on strategic objectives.

Business leaders took the time to self-reflect, with an opportunity to explore leadership and team culture with an expert. With a balance of input, discussion, individual and group work, the business leaders in attendance shared ideas on organisation structures and addressed the driving or resisting forces for change within their teams.

If you’re interested in taking part in our ‘DRIVING PURPOSEFUL CHANGE‘ Lab which starts on the 20th Feb then please get in touch by calling us on 0845 6003660 or email us or tell us more about your business here.

To view an outline of the Lab, please click here.
Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.

Leap – ‘Make a living making a difference – Why we’re a BCorp’

Unlocking Potential spoke to Matt Hocking and owner of design studio, Leap which is the first BCorp business in Cornwall. As part of our next Future Focus ‘People, Planet, Profit’ event which takes place on the 20th of February, we’re shining the light on Cornish businesses who are making a difference to the community and environment whilst being successful.

Leap has been a certified BCorp since 2016. BCorp is a global non-profit movement promoting a force for good to solve social or environmental problems. The BCorp vision is that companies will one day not only become the best in the world at what they do but also be the best for the world.

Matt, can you tell me a little bit about what your business does?

Leap is a Cornwall based design studio, founded in October 2004. We create thoughtful design solutions that exceed expectations to triple bottom line standards including branding, design for print, website design and build, illustration and exhibitions. We also offer eco web hosting and we insist on materials and systems that protect and benefit the environment.

Why did you decide to put Leap forward to become a certified B-Corp?

I’d been following the US studio, Freerange, since they produced the award-winning ‘Story of Stuff’ film – I loved it so much and I saw they were a BCorp. Not knowing what a BCorp was, I looked into it and discovered it was heavily US based at the time, this was in 2008. Over the years I kept following BCorp until I saw they’d entered the UK and so I put Leap forwards for the accreditation. I did this as it gave me the learning I desired to be a ‘business for good’.

It’s not about being the best it’s about sharing, being part of a movement and being accountable to ourselves and our progression as a business that’s now in its 13th year.

What benefits does being BCorp bring to Leap?

1) A cost-effective way to measure Leaps environmental and social impact.

2) Legacy. We can see our reports going back year on year and the improvements and changes we have made.

3) Having a certification – it’s something that we’re proud to showcase on our website and marketing materials.

4) Access to a global business community that shares knowledge.

5) As a certified BCorp we have access to the BHive platform. BHive allows us to post questions and utilise a marketplace.

6) BCorps are very social! There are regular meets in the UK, globally and via webinars as well as retreats and the ‘Best for the World’ gathering (of which Leap was one of 156 businesses in the world awarded for ‘Best for the World Workers’ in 2017).

7) An opportunity to work/partner with like-minded individuals and organisations around the world.

8) Employee engagement.

What benefits does being a BCorp bring to your customers?

I feel for certain it’s the clarification that we are doing things right, that we aren’t just a profit-driven organisation. BCorp shows the level, detail, and transparency that we go to be a ‘business for good’.

Do you have any tips on how businesses can shift their business approach to becoming more purposeful & how this might encourage new clients?

Do the B Impact assessment, don’t worry where you score, just do it and see where you score, it’s free until you certify so use the tool, learn, share and celebrate. You don’t have to do everything at once. We’ve concentrated on our team as we want a sustainable, long-term invested team.

Leap focused on environment and creativity first then worked on the team. Never think you aren’t good enough or it’s too late to start. Now is a perfect time, you will surprise yourself. I find that so many businesses are already doing brilliant things but don’t realise it because it’s such a natural part of the way they work.

Remember, business is not just about profit level. People and planet and sustainability are so important, think long-term and not a quick fix and whether you’re part of a growing global community like BCorp, or a Social Enterprise or another form of business that ‘does good’ or just deciding this is the way to work, something needs to be done. We have one planet and a healthy planet equals a healthy population.

In our next blog, we’ll be hearing from Gill Pipkin Consulting who has recently applied to become a BCorp & her journey to becoming one.

People, Planet, Profit” is a ground-breaking Event hosted by Unlocking Potential for Cornish businesses in the inimitable and revolutionary setting of the Eden Project. It’s an unmissable chance for you to grasp the opportunities and benefits that come from being a responsible organisation in 2018.

If you’re interested in taking part in our ‘DRIVING PURPOSEFUL CHANGE‘ Lab which starts on the 20th Feb then please get in touch by calling us on 0845 6003660 or email us or tell us more about your business here.

To view an outline of the Lab, please click here.
Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.

Future Focus Lab: Using Data to Drive Strategy

Data insights are critical in helping you unlock the little things that could make a huge difference to your businesses success. You may have a strategy, but is it the right one? Our Expert Facilitator, Patrick Towell (Golant Media Ventures) will help you to unlock the profitability in your data.

Over-reliance on data to make decisions, or complete trust in gut instinct alone, can lead to poor decisions. Small data brings the two elements together to build excellent decision-making ability in business; combining traditional data with the things you see and hear around you to create a robust business strategy. Knowing what information is already at your fingertips, creating data to better understand your business and communicating that data effectively to others – can bring about transformational change and create a business strategy for growth.

Lab Dates
30th Jan
27th Feb
27th Mar

This Lab is designed for anyone who wants to get a handle on how small data can enhance the way your business does things. Understand what it is and how small data can help you with market research, customer service and retention, productivity and performance. Whether it’s targeting, efficiency, expansion or being cost effective, there are endless opportunities and potential pitfalls. You will receive support from your Business Development Manager, your peers from the Lab sessions and access to a range of resources, including some potential funding to help you move forward with your ideas.

To explore this topic further with Patrick and to plan how you can unlock the profitability in your data, find out more about our ‘Using Data to Drive Strategy Lab’ which begins on 30th January. You can call us on 0845 6003660 or email us or tell us more about your business here.

How to Grow a Business with Strong Core Values

On the 20th February 2018, we will be launching our next Future Focus Labs series at the Eden Project. The Labs are peer group workshops for business leaders and this series will help you to develop the strategy and capacity to grow your business in a way that is both vision-led and commercially ambitious. It’s designed to help you achieve profitable growth from purposeful, responsible and sustainable business and our experts can help you to nurture your goals. The three sessions will kick-off after our People, Planet, Profit event at the Eden Project on 20th February 2018 with keynote speaker, Ed Gillespie (Futerra)
and expert facilitator Steve Taylor (Golant Media Ventures).

Our title for the new Labs series is ‘Growing a business with strong core values’. It’s for businesses that have a core purpose/mission/values but do not necessarily make and market an explicitly environmental, ethical or social product.

With a group of like-minded business leaders you’ll build solutions to challenges such as:
How do you grow a business and maintain a strategic focus on your core values?
How do you envisage a mission-driven future of your business, whatever your product or service?
What are the best ways to integrate an ethical vision with a strategy for business growth?

This Lab series will cover these issues from a range of perspectives: tracking future trends; understanding consumer needs and mind-sets; identifying market opportunities; designing strategic plans; and helping business leaders develop the expertise to successfully grow a values-driven enterprise.

Explore this topic further with Steve and find out more about our ‘Growing a business with strong core values’’ Lab by calling us on 0845 6003660 or email us or tell us more about your business here.

Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.

Future Focus Event: People, Planet, Profit.

People, Planet, Profit” is a ground-breaking Event for Cornish businesses with purpose in the inimitable and revolutionary setting of the Eden Project. You have this unique chance to be inspired by special guests who are game-changers and trailblazers in creating the triple bottom line.

Future Focus Event

Ed GillespieSerial entrepreneur Ed Gillespie is the Co-founder of Futerra. Ed is a communications specialist who has built up a business with purpose which is renowned for helping bigger corporates to do the same. He’s helped Unilever with their award-winning “Sustainable Living Plan” and gets stuck in on the ground, by investing and heading up pioneering businesses such as Zero Carbon Food, a train over plane ticket agency and is also trying his hand at farming in an old London underground tunnel. Now Future Focus has invited him down to Cornwall to offer us his experienced and unique outlook on ensuring your business as usual remains business with purpose.

Simon PhillipsJoining Ed is Simon Phillips, Founder of The Change Maker Group and an expert in organisational culture change and professional development. He is a business owner too and knows what it takes to recognise potential to be a change maker and the challenges and processes that follow. For those established businesses who are excited by the opportunities to pivot, to do more and be more, Simon is an award-winning trainer, author, and speaker who can offer a clear process for shifting your culture and mission to reflect a social, ethical and environmental ethos.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic chance for Cornish SMEs to understand what it takes to be a responsible organisation in 2018 and beyond, looking at how do our social, cultural and environmental responsibilities affect the way we do business.

There’s going to be a whole lot to talk about so get your ticket now, then get ready, hold tight, it’s going to be an inspiring ride.

There is no cost to attend this event; it is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

6 Key Considerations When Selling

In the most successful organisations, everyone knows what they’re selling and how to sell it. But what if you or most of your team think “sales” and want to run a mile? Well, serial entrepreneur and business coach David Bone gives us some seasoned advice ahead of his upcoming Labs on building a Sales and Marketing Culture. His top 6 give us all hope when it comes to selling well – and it’s not all about the gift of the gab.

6 Key Considerations When Selling
By our Future Focus Sales and Marketing Lab Facilitator David Bone

Do you love what you sell? – quite often when I ask this question at workshops or in sales team meetings the answer is “no not really”.

Do you believe that if someone buys what you have to offer that their lives will be improved?  Conversely, when I ask this question at workshops or in sales team meetings the answer is an overwhelming “yes!”.

You produce something that makes people’s lives better – and helping them to realise that should be a pleasurable experience.  With that in mind, sales should be fun!

In my experience it is the most fun when you are in control of the process.  Control will come from thinking things through from the outset.

Here are six key considerations that will be sure to make your selling more enjoyable and profitable and will provide you with the basis on which you can develop innovative approaches:

Sales and Marketing LAB

  1. Start with a positive mindset…..selling is a good thing, you are improving peoples’ lives, “sales” is helping them to realise that. Develop a strong sales culture within the business – “we are here to help our customers”.
  2. Understand your customers……not only know who they are, but recognise what it is that they are really buying from you. What motivates them to buy your product or service?  How do they measure value?  Approach everything from your customers’ perspective, that way you can’t go far wrong.  Most importantly, do not assume…..ask!
  3. Understand your offer…….what do you have to sell and what are the key selling points?  How are you different from others in the market?  Can you really talk about all aspects of the offer with confidence.  Remember, if you are not confident  – your customers will be unsure.  Bear in mind that the offer is the entire “customer experience” – that is what your customers are buying.
  4. Simplify the communication……make sure that you are clear about what will motivate your customers and that those points (and only those points) are up front and central. The detail is (in the main) for reassurance purposes to support any claims that you are making.  Make every piece of communication count – ask what the purpose of it is.  Try to avoid ‘fluffy’ general statements such as “we produce a high quality product” (everyone claims that) – if you are going to make the statements back them up with evidence – “we produce a high quality product as can be seen in our 12-point quality check system”.
  5. Encourage questions……if your customer asks a question, or makes an objection, remember that is a positive – not a negative – they are throwing down the gauntlet to see how you react – now is your chance to show off and solve their problem!
  6. Remember people don’t buy based on price – they buy value…..You are in business to make a profit, and with this in mind I would suggest that you guard your margins. Please don’t immediately assume that if they don’t buy they think it is too expensive….(it might be too cheap!).  As a small business you should ask where you are positioning yourself.  Are you High Volume, Low Quality, Low Margin, or are you Low Volume, High Quality, High Margin.  In most cases you will be the latter.  Your customers buy ‘value’ not ‘price’.  You see evidence of how this works everyday of the week when you are a customer – how many of you go out and buy the ‘cheapest’ every time?  Just a 10% reduction in price can have a major effect on your bottom line.  A little exercise for you – Save a copy of your accounts – DON’T DO THIS ON YOUR LIVE ACCOUNTS – reduce the income by 10% (keep all other costs the same) and see what effect that has on your net profit.

To explore this topic further with David and to plan how you and your team can live and breathe your sales and marketing, find out more about our Sales and Marketing Lab which begins on 26th January. You can call us on 0845 6003660 or email us or tell us more about your business here.

To view an outline of the Lab, please click here.
Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.

Riding the Data Wave Blog: Don’t Fall for the Data Trap

We’ve crunched the numbers and more than a hundred and forty Cornish SME owners, managers and members of the local business community attended our latest Future Focus Event, Riding the Data Wave. Hosted at the Princess Pavilions in Falmouth on Thursday 30th November, the event welcomed BBC presenter and award-winning economic writer Tim Harford to de-mystify data, expose the pitfalls and uncover the opportunities. We also heard from a trio of local businesses, Jarrang, Hertzian and Red Hotels, who are expertly using data to grow, succeed and help themselves and their clients gain a competitive edge.

Tim’s talk focussed on how data enables us to avoid simple decision-making traps proven to affect many of us such as conformity and loss aversion. He gave clear examples gathering feedback quickly and cheaply (and acting on it) increases the chances of succeeding sooner:

I observe what data does and a lot of data’s power is it helps us avoid simple decision-making traps. It helps us be the best decision-makers we can be. The key is to keep focussed, say, “I want to do something. I don’t know how but if I ask the right questions, the data will give me the power to make the right decisions.”

Delegates at the Event took part in a data analytics presentation with fascinating technology from Penryn-based TouchByte involving facial recognition, whilst Unlocking Potential launched our own data capture mission with some interesting results back.

Whilst Tim’s talk looked at the bigger picture, our panel of local businesses gave the audience specific examples of how data was helping their business. Stafford Sumner from Jarrang identified how, “data should be loved, not feared” and that nurturing your database would allow you to have deeper conversations with fewer people. Chris Weavill from Hertzian warned that ignoring the data could hurt your business and that your competitors could be using data that you too could have used. Finally, Deborah Wakefield, Director of Red Hotels and a self-confessed tech-phobe, gave a fantastically honest account of misjudging at times the scale, time and cost of gathering and managing their data. They’ve come full circle after investing in staff who could crunch the numbers and the result she says, “encourages us to build beautiful relationships and we can invest in our team, our guests, and our suppliers.”

Of course, they offered many more fantastic insights and if you missed it, we grabbed them offstage afterwards to talk through their ideas and examples. Here’s the extended insights video.

If you missed this event and want to ensure you grab our sought-after tickets for the next Future Focus Event in February, make sure you sign up to our newsletter and Facebook page.

The Lumberjack Story

If you’ve been running your business for a while, you might be feeling like you’re always trying to catch up and juggling too many balls at once. Do you reckon it’s just not wise to take time out from the office right now? If you think that you haven’t got time to look at your strategy for future growth either, we’ve got a little story to share with you…

Scaling up Future Focus Lab

So…now how do you feel? If you think it’s time to start planning more effectively to benefit long term success then we have the perfect Lab for you. Business coach and scaling up expert David Bone is the man who shared this nugget with us and the good news is he’s facilitating our forthcoming Scaling Up Future Focus Lab.

Our Scaling Up Lab begins on 25th January and it’s designed to help established businesses focus on the growth you’ve been dreaming of. There are a few places left so call us today to register your interest: 0845 600 3660 or Drop us an email and ask us about it:

To view an outline of the Lab, please click here.
Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.

Riding the Data Wave: Speaker Discussion

For those of you that missed our Future Focus Event, Riding the Data Wave, we caught up with speakers Tim, Stafford, Chris and Deborah for a quick 10 minute round up of the morning. They discuss how starting conversations about data in the workplace and getting it right, can improve profitability. Chris Weavill, Co-founder of Hertzian touches on how we hear the buzz words ‘big’ and ‘small’ data but until we think about what we’re looking for, or what we need to look for, then the data isn’t any use to us. The sheer range of different things that data can mean to different business proves it doesn’t have to be all about number crunching or paying for expensive software. You can do the small things, look at what the outcome is and then take action. For example, Deborah Wakefield, Director of Red Hotels, explains how she used customer profile data to select customer newspapers. It goes to prove data is in front of us every day, it’s how we look at it and utilise it to our benefit. Simplify your data and remember, don’t just guess!

If you missed this event and want to be the first to know when tickets go on sale for our February event, then sign up to our newsletter here.

6 Considerations For Optimising Your Business

If you’ve begun setting your business goals for 2018, it’s more than likely you want to grow your turnover and profits. But a goal without a plan is just a wish, as they say, so we’ve asked business coach and strategy guru David Bone the six secrets to optimizing your business for growth.

Even better, we’ve got David Bone’s amazing expertise available for Future Focus Lab delegates on our Scaling Up Lab. So if you want some expert help and peer-to-peer support to formulate your goal into a tangible action plan, read on, then register your interest here.

We buy a laptop and marvel at the ‘speed’ of our new machine. Two years later, we are complaining to our colleagues that this laptop that was once so fast that we were showing everybody has now slowed down to a snail’s pace – everything takes ages to load now, it is just so cumbersome.  Sound familiar to some of you?

Why does it slow down? – well simply because we have managed it poorly.  This does not happen to everyone, but for those of us that are a ‘bit lazy’ when it comes to organising the data on our machines it is a problem.  This is because we have just loaded more and more ‘stuff’ onto the machine and it takes ages to process everything.  When we first purchased the machine it was lean with minimum data to process – now it is cumbersome and weighed down. The same can be true with our businesses – when we first start out the business is lean, we can adapt very quickly, as the business gets bigger and we get more products, more people, more systems, more customers everything becomes more complicated – and consequently slower.

As with the laptop, this can be avoided (or at least limited) with good management from the outset, or if it has got slow we can ‘clean up’ the operation by getting rid of unnecessary things or streamlining programmes to work with each other. Whether you are a new business, or well established you will face the same challenges, and the key is understanding how you can control this. Over the last 5 years I have worked with a number of management teams from a wide range of businesses as they prepare for growth and we have looked at how they can optimise their operation to accommodate the additional activity required for their growth

Here are the six top considerations that have been identified for optimising their businesses as they scale up.  You might want to work through these and see how many things you can work on.  The important thing is that you are ruthless and honest – it is a bit like clearing out the attic – there may be things that you are sentimentally attached to, but that in reality you should dispose of as they are not serving any purpose other than taking up space.

  1. Your Offer – are you offering your customers what they really want or are you over-servicing them? Do you have too wide a range, or too many features?  How could you ensure that you are focusing on selling what really makes you the money?  Are there services that take up a lot of resource that you could give to a third party?
  2. Focus On Your Core Competencies – does the business focus what it is good at – or do you spend much time on activities that you are not so good at that do not add high levels of value and drain the business of valuable resources? If the resources were put into what you are good at you are more likely to have the dynamism within the business to grow effectively.  This is a very common challenge – for example – as you grow your customers make demands and you are convinced that you can deliver those things (rather than get a third party to do so).
  3. Play Your Team In Position – ensure that your team members are doing what they are good at (so they are most effective and motivated) rather than what they are not good at (so they are not effective and de-motivated) – this is even the case if you are running the business on your own – are you doing what you are good at or being dragged into other areas that you are not. This is very common – we spend ages recruiting someone for a role and then give them a job that is completely different once they join.
  4. Streamline Your Systems – ensure that all of your systems talk to each other to minimise administration and optimize communication – this is particularly important as you grow. Many off the shelf software packages (accounts, CRM, marketing communication platforms) can easily be integrated now.  Try to set yourself the challenge of only entering a customer’s name and address once.
  5. Conduct Meetings Effectively – understand how meetings work and manage them.  If you get the meeting culture correct in your business you will save a lot of time moving forwards (for everyone – and the cost of that time will mount up).  There are quite a few good publications out there that can help you to approach these effectively.
  6. Manage Bad Customers – this is the big one – bad customers will ‘suck the life’ out of your business. A bad customer is a customer that does not behave well, and consequently erodes profit – this may be because they are overly demanding, or perhaps they don’t pay on time. The thing to realise is that the reason that they are bad customers is because you have allowed them to behave in that way – Manage them…. There are 5 things that you can do with bad customers:
  • Educate them – help them to understand what is acceptable and what is not – find ways of punishing them if they do not play by the rules – financial punishment always works, as do putting the customer on stop.  This is a particularly good solution if the customer buys a lot but behaves badly.
  • Charge them for the extra service – if they want the extra service and you think that you have the resources to supply it charge them for this.
  • Downscale your service – grade your customers – if they do not buy a lot (and have little potential of doing so in the future) grade them into a lower bracket and do not give them the same level of service.
  • Sack them – tell them that you are streamlining your customer base and that you can no longer supply them – this is a really hard thing to do, but by getting rid of this dead wood (pruning your plant effectively) you will release resources to find and service more good customers. This is for customers who do not give you much business(and have little potential of doing so in the future) and do not accept the reduced service.
  • Recommend them to the competition – this is a great way to get rid of really bad customers and give them an alternative (so that they do not bad mouth you on social media etc). Let them ‘suck the life’ out of your competitors!

If these are measures you recognize you ought to take and want support from experts and other business leaders going through the same challenges, then we’ve got a brilliant chance to work with David Bone in one of our forthcoming Labs. Our Scaling Up Lab begins on 25th January and it’s designed to help established businesses focus on the growth you’ve been dreaming of. Drop us an email and ask us about it:


To view an outline of the Lab, please click here.
Find out about all the Labs coming up in 2018 here.


Watch: What it’s like on a Future Focus Lab

At Future Focus, we encourage business leaders to step away from the everyday and in our Labs, you can work with your peers alongside industry experts to develop a bespoke plan to innovate and grow. On 7th November at Trelissick Gardens, we held our Brand and Culture Lab for a group of local business leaders from companies such as Frugi, Kingdom & Sparrow, Baker Tom’s Bread, Buzz Interactive, Halto, St Austell Brewery and A Game. They came together to work with Angelo Spencer-Smith on the development of their brands and marketing strategies. Angelo is a Positioning and Differentiation Strategist, providing his specialist knowledge to businesses and offering new and creative ideas to support their development.

Here’s a snapshot of what it’s like on a Future Focus Lab

With an expert to guide and challenge them, our Lab delegates held lively and candid discussions on how to align their external brands with their employees’ behaviour. Angelo also ran exercises on how to fit their internal business culture and values with their external brand strategy, marketing and how they seek new customers.

To find out more about Future Focus Labs, including our upcoming Scaling Up and Sales & Marketing Labs, email us today: or call us: 0845 600 3660.

Our Take On Innovate UK 2017

Innovate UK 2017Innovate 2017 was a whopper of an event, two full days of expert speakers from industry, education, investors and support agencies. The overwhelming topic of conversation was about automation and artificial intelligence, and how it is already shaping every sector.

But more impressive to us were the 100 businesses and entrepreneurs showcasing their innovations. The place was packed with new products and services, from augmented reality swimming goggles to wearable poncho tents, and robot care assistants to radiation monitoring drones.

The Innovate UK team themselves were promoting their competition calls and also some of the new ways they are looking to fund innovation. Keep your eyes peeled on their website for new funding calls likely to be released towards the end of November –

We would highly recommend Innovate next year to anyone looking for:

  • grant funding to help develop an innovative new product or service
  • expertise and specialist support from universities or other support agencies nationally
  • exciting new tech to invest in or simply connect and collaborate with
  • just a good peek into the future of industry!

As with other networking opportunities, it was what you make of it, but we’ve come away with a number business cards and found innovators relevant to a number of the businesses we’re working within Cornwall and even set up an investor meeting for one of our start-up clients.

Innovate UK 2017

Isabelle Housni | Future Focus Assistant Business Researcher and Analyst

“Innovate 2017 was full of creative and zany products, some of which had the potential to completely change current practice- for example, a new type of engine called Dearman engine that uses liquid nitrogen to create both cooling and energy and is currently being trialled in Sainsbury’s delivery trucks. The emergence of these new zero-emission energy sources is good news for the planet and luckily there were a few!

The talks held some interesting discussions between panel members about the role of innovative technology. My favourite part of the conference would have to be the Automation talk in which a panel member told another panel member that their job would be done by a robot in 5 or 10 years, much to their surprise I’m sure. This was closely followed by Seaweed Bacon which I cannot wait to get my hands on!

I would recommend Innovate to the curious who like to have a nose around and those who want to keep up to date with the newest trends and products.

Innovate UK 2017

Hollie Kirk | Impact & Partnership Development Manager

Innovate UK for me this year was about celebrating the work of Innovate UK to date and bringing it to a regional level.

Traditionally held in London it is great finally see Innovate UK on the road… stop Cornwall?…or Bristol/Exeter at least! It was easy to get excited about all the robots, gadgets and what SMEs have to showcase, but for me, it was all about how these products and processes fill the bigger picture in relation to autonomy and how it will change future work practices.

My highlight was learning from Rolls Royce that instead of testing engines in the factory, which costs thousands they will now be stimulating those tests using virtual reality. No damage, no cost! Which improves safety and helps the environment.”

Favourite Two Products:


Innovate UK 2017

Jeremy Hurst | Innovation and Collaboration Manager

“Innovate 2017 showcased hundreds of inspirational projects that demonstrated just the surface of what makes UK innovation the envy of the world.  I met companies working on techniques using a photon capture device attached to a mobile phone to generate true random numbers for use in quantum cryptography; I explored the microscopic world using a pocket-sized microscope that uses a mobile phone display to show previously invisible creatures at an alarming scale; I saw battery technology that was the thickness of a piece of paper; and a company using AI to alter traffic flows at intersections to allow fast transit across cities by the emergency services.

I attended numerous seminars and learned about innovative techniques in vaccinations for the Zika virus which eliminates the need for temperature control for drugs in transit; using natural bacteria to slow the rate of decay in potatoes thus eliminating the need to treat potatoes with bleach and extending shelf-life by 20%; and companies using innovation to take into account the viewpoints of the end user to plan and build unique school infrastructure while at the same time enabling the local education authority to make savings through building standardisation.

The two days also enabled access to a plethora of advice and guidance from numerous support bodies from every conceivable Government department. Two days was not long enough to speak to everyone, however one of the more useful conversations was when I discussed the challenges involved with selling to the Government security sector with a suited military looking government official who introduced me to two organisations – one was the Defence and Security Accelerator who is the go-to organisation for negotiating the maze that is selling into the Government security sector. Interestingly, they are seeking good ideas to fund, with the application process being simply a one-page document, a guaranteed turnaround time of four weeks from submission to support, and you get to keep all of your IP.  Even more interestingly, they offer 100% funding and they tell me that 1 in 5 applicants are successful – so thinking caps on!

The other organisation that I found rather interesting was Ploughshare Innovations, a non-descriptive organisational name that I nearly walked past, but I’m glad I didn’t as, in the spirit of all nondescript company names in all the best films, Ploughshare Innovations turns out to be the UK Government’s technology transfer operation which licences Government security sector technology for use in commercial projects. They publish a list of technology on their website but tell me that this is not exhaustive and they are equally receptive to direct approaches requesting access to specific technologies, so if you’re new innovation needs access to military grade laser technology, for example, these might be the people to ask.

I think overall, the highlight of the show for me was meeting two students from Edinburgh University – Adam Anyszewski and Grzegorz Marecki – part of the 50 strong team called Hyp-Ed who made it to the finals of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition that took place in California earlier this year. They’re also taking an active role in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, with an ambitious vision of introducing Hyperloop transport technology to the UK, which would enable ground transport from London to Edinburgh in less than an hour.  While they didn’t win, they were so enthusiastic when they talked me through their pod technology, they weren’t trying to sell me anything, and they genuinely just wanted to make a difference.  Of all the great inventions in the room, this was a real business with purpose, and this team made the show for me.  Here’s a video of the competition that they appear in:

If you’re interested in attending next year’s show then keep an eye out on the Innovate UK website for ticket releases. Read more about Innovate UK here >

Watch: Build connections to help you find your ‘career happy’

Our Head of Business Development, Andy Peters talks in our latest video about our Stand Out from the Crowd employability course and the importance of having great connections.

“Our team of twelve business development managers have great contacts within Cornwall and often hear about a job opening before it has even been advertised,” said Andy.

Meeting our team via the Stand Out from the Crowd course can act as a pre-interview. We then have a good understanding of your skill set and can look out for upcoming jobs. We can also discuss any existing job positions in more detail with you and advise you on how to put an application together for the role.

“The Stand Out team can also help you identify job positions that you might not have had the confidence to apply for, for example, you may think that the junior position in that organisation is the best fit for you, but actually we can address your skill set and give you the confidence to go for the senior position”. Andy said.

As an example, we introduced an individual into a Newquay company, who were looking for a web developer; the applicant in question had recently left teaching and had a background in Physics. They got the job on a trial basis and three years on they are now earning in excess of 40k.

Our next Stand Out from the Crowd course starts on 23rd January 2018. This course is designed to fit around school-hours, running from 9.30am – 2.30pm and is delivered across nine dates at a variety of inspiring locations and business premises across Cornwall. The course, worth £1500, is heavily subsidised by The European Social Fund and costs £80 to take part.

To register your interest complete our form and one of our team will be in contact shortly. Alternatively, contact us on 0845 600 3660 or email

Big Unlocking Potential Bake Off

Unlocking Potential CakeToday was the Big Unlocking Potential Bake Off in aid of Age UK and Children In Need. Since our last Future Focus Event, when Dan Germain told us putting hats on bottles (The Big Knit) is Innocent’s most enduring marketing campaign ever, we wanted to do something ourselves for Age UK, (and of course a fundraising cake sale at this time of year isn’t complete without donating to Pudsey &Co.).

Here are some pics of the amazing array of offerings from polenta surprise, upside down Pineapple and bounty cupcakes to Lemon and poppy seed, turkey and cranberry pies and the magical-sounding Snow White Cake. Our very own Paul and Prue (Becks Polson and Andy Peters) took on the challenge of trying all 17 bakes and judging the winners:

Third place: Nick’s dairy and gluten free victoria sponge
Second place: Milly’s “Moist” nut, banana and carrot cake
First place: Emma’s fabulous UP Hot Air Balloon party cake

So far, there’s £50 in the kitty with kilos of cake still to be sold.



Stand Out From The Crowd on BBC Radio Cornwall

Nicky Luke from Unlocking Potential was invited by BBC Radio Cornwall to talk about our award-winning employability course Stand Out From The Crowd.

If you missed it and want to catch up, just follow the link: You can listen to her interview from 47:29 to 54:33.

Stand Out From The Crowd
If you want to be a part of an award-winning, accredited employability course that teaches you proven methods and skills to help get you the job you’ve always dreamed of, give us a call on 0845 600 3660 or email

Inspiring venues secured for Stand Out

Our next award-winning employability course, Stand Out from the Crowd starts on 6th of November.

Why do we love this course?  Due to our wonderful network of businesses we can deliver course dates at different locations; not only giving you access to the inner workings of the business behind the scenes but also advice from a variety of experienced and inspiring Cornish business experts.

About some of the venues

The Rick Stein Group – Head Office
You may have heard of him! Little did Rick and Jill know when they opened a small seafood bistro on the harbour side in Padstow in 1975 the business would grow to where it is today. Steins now has an expansive portfolio of some of the finest restaurants across the UK.

PFK  Francis Clark
With eight offices and in excess of 600 staff and partners across the South West, PKF Francis Clark is committed to bringing the very best professional accountancy service and tax advice to clients of all sizes throughout the South and South West of England.  They provide high quality cost-effective advice across their key markets of Family Business; Private Client, Corporate Business, Professional Practices and Not-for-Profit Organisations.

Brian Etheringtons
Now in its third generation, The Brian Etherington Meat Company employs over 50 people. In addition to their original wholesale butchery and delivery business, Etherington’s has diversified in recent years to include a gold-award winning farm shop, Cornwall’s first butchery academy and an established Cornish Pasty company.

BF Adventure
Starting from a disused mineral quarry a 60 acre classroom delivering a mix of adventure programmes; family days out; team days and working with charity and youth groups. The educational charity is now firmly recognised as a true Cornish success story.

View the full schedule of course dates & venues here.

“Stand Out from The Crowd ensures individuals are better prepared for work. I see first-hand that the course helps individuals to appreciate and understand how businesses work”. Michael Rabone, Head of Human Resources at the Rick Stein Group.

Inspiring venues secured for Stand Out For The Crowd
Inspiring venues secured for Stand Out From The Crowd
If you want to be a part of an award winning, accredited employability course that teaches you proven methods and skills to help get you the job you’ve always dreamed of, give us a call on 0845 600 3660 or email

Future Focus Event: RIDING THE DATA WAVE

With keynote speaker Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist, and special guests 

9AM – 1.30PM


Our forthcoming Future Focus Event offers a date with data, not to be missed.

On November 30th, in Falmouth, we are “Riding the Data Wave” with The Undercover Economist, and best-selling author, journalist and broadcaster Tim Harford. As the next Future Focus keynote speaker, Tim is combining his compelling ideas on economics, management and psychology with his ability to de-mystify the use of data in business. He has spoken at TED, PopTech and the Sydney Opera House and is an honorary fellow of both the Royal Statistical Society and Oxford University. His next stop is Cornwall to brief you on the facts and inspire you with the opportunities big data offers and the learning pioneering companies have already made.


This event is not just for analysts, statisticians or the tech-orientated – it’s for anyone who wants to get a handle on their customers and how SMEs are affected by data, including our local data champions who are already riding the wave, telling us about their big data; small data approach. Whether it’s targeting, efficiency, expansion or being cost effective – there are endless opportunities and potential pitfalls which affect every layer of business and we’re thrilled to welcome one of the world’s most respected and enlightened experts to blow the lid off business as usual.

Tim HarfordTim will discuss the necessity of failure, has examined what innovation is and raises questions about big data. His approach is full of inspiring highs and practical insights for business. We’ll also be tying the big thinking down with tangible examples from local companies who are combining small data analysis with a human touch to grow and succeed. We’ll explore the complexities and synergies of crunching the numbers combined with gut instinct and whether big data could make us over-reliant on stats, not emotions to make decisions. Tim will be posing the questions:

“How can data help us learn and experiment? What traps lie in wait amidst the hype about ‘big data’? And how can we ensure that we measure the right things?”

We’re ready to learn and absorb. Are you with us? Register for your ticket now.

There is no cost to attend this event; it is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Keep up to date with upcoming events and news by signing up to our mailer HERE.

Watch: Pirate FM rave about Stand Out

Managing Director of Pirate FM, Mark Peters, joined us as an expert panel member for the last date in the Stand out from the Crowd course.

In our short video below he talks to us about his involvement in the course, how Pirate FM have actively recruited candidates involved on the course and why he feels jealous of the opportunity candidates have.

It’s clear to me that the individuals on the course have all been on a journey during their time with Unlocking Potential, whether it be resulting in a clear strategy for them to follow into employment or simply a confidence boost, the value is very very clear”

Pirate FM made contact with several of the candidates after the course who they’ve since gone on to employ. “Having the Stand Out from The Crowd course feature on a candidates CV would be a positive thing for me, as it shows that this person has the attitude required to push themselves forward in their career”.

Our next Stand out from the Crowd course starts on the 6th of November. The course is delivered over eight half days and one full day where topics range from how to how to get your job application noticed, team roles and teamwork and how to nail that all-important interview.

Stand Out is a fantastic opportunity to network, whilst also giving you the chance to meet employers in the sectors you’re interested in. You will also hear from expert business speakers and stand out alumni. View the full course schedule.

Interested? To book call 0845 600 3660 or email


INNOVATE 2017 – Discover the future of industry

We’re really excited for our upcoming Future Focus event where we’ll be riding the data wave on the 30th November. We’re always on the lookout for other brilliant companies helping businesses to innovate and be inspired. With this in mind Unlocking Potential’s Jaime Tinker Business Researcher and Analyst aka Professional Googler is always on top of upcoming events that we AND you should be at! In the run-up to our big data event, we’ll be sharing with you loads of content and key dates to help you with small data, big data and innovation to get you and your business ahead of the game.

Sign up to our mailer and we’ll keep you up to speed with Future Focus ticket links to the next superstar speaker in November.

INNOVATE 2017 is the UK’s leading innovation event hosted annually by Innovate UK. This year’s event runs 8th-9th November at Birmingham’s NEC.

Whether you’re a start-up or an established company, excited by what the future holds, or curious about new frontiers, INNOVATE 2017 is one of the most valuable events to attend. The event is a chance to meet creators, investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe. It’s a place to be inspired, and network with future-focused thought leaders. A chance to hear captivating speakers and see game-changing innovation for the first time.

Since 2007 they have committed over £1.8 billion to innovation and helped more than 7,600 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £11.5 billion to the UK economy and create 55,000 new jobs. Their aim is to help grow the UK Economy and keep it globally competitive in the race for future prosperity.

There’s something of interest for just about everyone this year, with a wide range of themes from artificial intelligence to alternative food sources (yes, that’s more talk about eating insects).
To make the most of the time out of office, ticket holders can pre-arrange 1:1 meetings with other attendees (innovators, research centres, universities, retailers and investors). And with over 2,750 attendees, you can be pretty productive.


One-day pass = £150

Two-day pass = £199

To find out more and register head to the dedicated website –

Be Inspired, Be Innovate, Be There!

Sign up to our mailer and we’ll keep you up to speed with ticket links to the next superstar speaker in November at our upcoming Future Focus event.

Leading People, Culture and Change Lab

Are you on the cusp of change? Will you have to expand your team if you want to continue to grow or are you wondering how your role as a leader or senior manager might evolve as the business moves forward? As part of Future Focus, we are running peer group sessions for business leaders. The Future Focus Labs will be led by business experts and are specifically designed to help you find energy and strength to innovate your culture for long-term success. Over a number of sessions, you’ll make beneficial connections and be exposed to practical tools, expert facilitators and fresh thinking to develop and implement an innovation action plan for your business.

This Lab is designed to help you manage yourself and your employees, so the people in your business – including you – know where you’re heading and how to get there. The series of three half-day Labs begin on the 8th November 2017, if you are interested in coming along, register your interest here.

leading people culture and change Future Focus

What will be covered? 

Expert facilitator, Sally Read has over 18 years of practical experience across all sectors focussing on people, processes and strategy development, including 5 years as Organisational Development Director for Seasalt. Sally will guide you through an exploration of how you’re working and how you might adapt to create an organisational development plan based on your strategic objectives.

Taking time to self-reflect, with an opportunity to explore leadership and team culture with an expert, will help you prioritise activities and communicate what you need to in order to execute your strategic plan.

We’ll focus on these issues during the workshops with a balance of input, discussion, individual and group work. You’ll get the opportunity to practice delivering your strategy to others, share ideas on organisation structures, analyse and address the driving or resisting forces for change within your team. We fill the half-day sessions with content and activity so you can work on practical solutions to your issues along with like-minded business owners.

If you are interested in taking part in our Future Focus events, please express your interest here.


This November – Stand Out & land your dream job!

Stand Out From the CrowdThe second instalment in our ever-popular award-winning employability course, Stand Out from the Crowd, is back and kicks off on Monday 6th November.

Stand Out is a tried and tested accredited course which gives you the tools to get your career moving in the right direction to help you land the job you’ve always dreamed of.

The course is worth £1500 but due to our wonderful funding partners, we can deliver this to you for only £80!

Tell me more in a nutshell:

  • The course is delivered over eight half days and one full day in a variety of inspiring locations.
  • Learn from industry experts including Steins, Francis Clark & The Falmouth Hotel. View the full schedule.
  • Topics range from how to build connections, honing your interview skills and effective team working.
  • 92% of previous attendees have secured either full or part-time employment within three months of completing the course.

“For me, The Stand Out from the Crowd programme is what gave me the courage and motivation to step out of my comfort zone and finally apply for a Management role in Marketing”.

Basically, if you want to dream bigger and need the tools and confidence to realise those dreams, we’d love to hear from you to talk through how this course can help. Tell us about yourself here and we can have a chat or give us a call on 0845 600 3660 and speak to Nicky or Chloe.

Future Focus – What Happened On The Day

World-leading brands inspire Cornwall SMEs and celebrate with Cornwall’s biggest business selfie

Future FocusMore than a hundred and twenty Cornish business owners and managers are now part of the county’s biggest business selfie. The photo was taken on Tuesday (26th September) at Unlocking Potential’s Future Focus event at Heartlands in Pool. In a first for Cornwall, bosses from two world-leading brands were invited to share their experience and expertise with a sell-out crowd of Cornish SMEs. Dan Germain, Group Head of Brand at Innocent Drinks and Gavin Jones, the IT Innovation Manager for The John Lewis Partnership offered Cornish SMEs a glimpse of how large companies are finding new ways to seek tomorrow’s customer.

Innocent’s brand champion Dan helped create one of the most engaging brands in the world, built on social media. He entertained the audience with stories of how the company inadvertently launched World Penguin Awareness Day, why putting hats on bottles is their most enduring marketing campaign and how the success of the brand can be summed up by the fact a loyal customer, “they liked us enough, they made us quilting!” He told delegates:

I think you have to look after the people who pay your wages and find a way to listen. The best brands are involved in the fabric of people’s lives and as humans we find the brands we like and that speak to us. In terms of authenticity then, don’t talk about it. Just be it.

Lucy Jewson, Owner of Frugi, an organic childrenswear company based in Helston said,

I was really interested to hear how, as Innocent have grown and enjoyed huge success, they continue to maintain the quirkiness to their brand.

Dan’s response was he lets his team get on with it because they live the values and mission of the company, even if that does mean there may be the odd PR mistake. The Innocent man also encouraged business owners to go with their gut more:

I use the quote, “If it feels right, I know it.” If you’re 70% sure, you should do it. Great ideas sometimes don’t get used because people are trying to finesse the last 2%.

With Dan’s focus on what goes on inside your business, Gavin Jones from The John Lewis Partnership focussed on responding to external demands. The IT Innovation Manager for The John Lewis Partnership advised delegates to move from surprise to anticipation when it comes to customer expectation in the future.

It’s important though that when we are looking at innovation, be customer-obsessed, not technology obsessed. Make sure you stay relevant and align innovation to your business strategies but think big, thing exponentially – there’s no point in incremental change.

Jon Hyatt, Director at Hendra Holiday Park attended the event:

This is the first Future Focus event I’ve been to and I had a fantastic morning listening to world-class speakers. Gavin offered some interesting insights into where future customer trends are heading and Dan’s story was so engaging and really, very inspirational. I was so impressed I’m now signed up for the next Future Focus Lab.

Programme Director Allyson Glover says the event is the first in a series of inspirational events from Future Focus, fully-funded by The European Regional Development Fund:

The event was a sell-out because of the world-leading brands we were able to bring to Cornwall and our speakers really delivered, helping us to support and inspire more than a hundred Cornish SMEs, including the lucky 30 who enjoyed additional focussed time with Dan and Gavin, in our Future Focus Labs.

Anyone who is interested in attending the next event, planned for November 30th, or who wants to know more about Future Focus Labs should sign up to the Unlocking Potential newsletter for updates – sign up here.