Sunday, 26 February 2017

Olio launches with Sustainable Watford

A local sustainability Group has been set up with a mission to make Watford Carbon Neutral by 2030. The idea is already gathering support from local people with a passion to spread the message of more sustainable and less wasteful communities.

The group is based out of the Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore in the Parade, which is fast becoming a community hub to inspire local people to take action with new and existing initiatives.

Neal Emery speaking on behalf of Sustainable Watford says that there are already a myriad of great projects going on out there within the remit of our mission and we are encouraging them to get in touch. We are much stronger if we work together. We can easily raise the profile of groups... spread the word... increase awareness, engagement and participation. We all have great experience, knowledge and different connections... imagine if we brought all that together what we could do? ... there has never been a better time!

To get things off to a powerful start Sustainable Watford are launching Olio for the Watford Area. You can learn all about Olio via their website... In a sentence Olio enables (mainly) food items (but not exclusively) to be registered on a mobile application. Local users of Olio can then scan the registered items, make contact, and arrange for pickup / delivery all free of charge. With 1/3 of food wasted it is hoped that Olio can make a significant impact in Watford and beyond. This is a really simple way that anyone in our community can begin to participate with sustainability and have a bit of fun with it too.

Neal has now confirmed that +Reason ..... coffee shop and Bookstore is the first official Drop Off point for Olio locally. Drop off points are a practical solution for people wishing to participate but who are perhaps out all day or, who might be concerned about people calling. The items go through the same process except that the goods are labelled and made available through a drop off point. Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore is the first 'drop-off' point of its type in Watford but Neal is confident that each Ward in the Watford district (12) will have drop off points in the near future.

Please join in with Sustainable Watford via the facebook link below and take a look at the video recorded with Neal sharing the news about the Olio initiative.

Sustainable Watford FB Group can be found here



Thursday, 23 February 2017

Business Post: What are we waiting for?

One of the biggest challenges for anyone running a small independent business these days is that the variety of things that need doing and that it is impossible to have all the knowledge to do everything.

I know as a business owner myself the stop / start nature of getting things done. Something that you might want to do, and on the face of it would consider it to be no big task comes to a grinding halt as a combination of

  1. Lack of technical knowledge
  2. Waiting to have the money to get the task started
  3. Trying to find the right person to help
  4. The continual back and forth trying to work with others who have a busy schedule too
All the best intentions get thwarted as delay after delay, wait and wait saps the very energy and enthusiasm from your project. It's no wonder people end up going with someone recommended by another in desperation and just throw money at it to get the 'thing' finished.

We are constantly waiting for something to happen 


The biggest challenges seem to be around the use of technology. Probably IT knowledge, blind alleys, 2 steps forward 3 backwards, and using the wrong tools for the job, account for the majority of the delays.

The biggest sacrilege in all of this is that Small Independent Businesses are severely hampered by their ineffective online communication. That could be because, the tool they are using is wrong, or they don't know how to use the tool... or it might be that they don't even know a tool exists! Couple this with lack of willingness to get stuck in and give it a go means... we're often waiting around for expensive experts. Only to find out the expensive lesson (much later after wasting a lot of time)... that the expert was not an expert after all... just a few steps ahead of yourself ... been there???

What if you could easily and effectively create simple information pods for different aspects of what you do? What if you could just create them yourself? ... change them when you want... and they cost nothing to produce except your time?


When sitting back and thinking about the power of this it's absolutely mind blowing. Have you ever found yourself explaining a service or product you offer over and over again to different people?  Haven't you thought to yourself... groan, I've got to explain this all over again? ... it's tiresome isn't it? especially for the 1,000th time!

Or... you have a new project, something you really want to tell people about and quickly... you have pictures... you might even have copy... but where on earth do you put it?? 

We would like to explain clearly and effectively

  • The problem that we are solving
  • What we are actually delivering
  • Where we are going to deliver it
  • How much it costs
  • Call to action, either buying the service / product or making contact

... it needs to be low cost... it needs to quick and easy to do... most importantly you should be able to do it... STOP THE WAITING!

So what if you could take that explanation (story) and put it into a mini website which you could easily share for these kinds of situations? You can update it whenever it needs changing... and you can just forward on to whoever is asking for the info. You can of course share on social media, link back to your main website, put into newsletters... the use of these is infinite. Plus you can easily add forms to collect names and auto put into a spreadsheet... this makes them ideal as list building services too. All for FREE!!

Below are a few examples of these 'Information Pods'. Please do take a look and if you are interested in finding out how you could use them for your business... do email: southwesthertsDL@link4growth.biz or tweet to  @ L4GSWHerts

South West Herts Community Projects : https://sites.google.com/view/SWHertsProjects
(the above site also contains links to 4 or so other sites also created using the platform)


IPSL Innovation - People - Skills - Linkgrowth : https://sites.google.com/view/IPSL


As a final note...


This isn't taking work from web developers and web designers. This is work that would never have got to a web developer. These are supplementary additional information 'Pods' that enhance and embellish other online colateral. 

New Local SWHerts Business Newsletter out! ~ Issue 1

Earlier this week the first in a bi-weekly email publication was launched. The main focus for the Newsletter is the 3,500+ micro businesses in the South West Herts district. The purpose of the newsletter is to begin to share the vast amount of good things that are going on in business and to begin the process of bringing together businesses to work together.

This micro business sector is a hugely important part of our local economy... Yes we have a lot of big names in the area, Hilton, Weatherspoons, Beco, The Lottery, and TKMax to name a few, but even more important are the micro businesses.

Unlike their big brothers Micro businesses are often unseen, invisible hives of activity quietly providing services in and amongst us... with little or no help whatsoever. The purpose of the Newsletter and... the Town Business Creative in a wider context is to start to grow the local business community and really support and nurture these local heroes.

It isn't easy running a business and there is a lot stacked up against us. Rules, regulations, invisibility, keeping up with trends, new technology, doing everything that needs doing... and trying to satisfy customers whilst staying ahead of the game... many don't make it...

This 1st Issue features many of our local business heroes... if you are in business yourself... visit the wesbite and learn more about the newsletter, subscribe, and make sure you support the local business community. If you have a story we want to hear from you... enjoy. ...Next Issue is out on the 7th March.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Networking Focus - Watford Weekly Biz

If you are in business and you are in South West Herts then when it comes to Networking you are spoilt for choice. If you take a quick visit to the Networking page on here you will see exactly what I mean... and I am guessing there are one or two missing as well.

You will see on that page we have put together a Networking Calendar for the area this enables all the different networking groups to add their events into a single place (if they choose too). As a business owner wanting to Network in the local area that makes much more sense to me... I can look in one place and plan accordingly.

This post we are going to focus on a group that meets twice a week in the Garston / Leavesden area of the SW Herts District. They meet at the Watford Indoor Bowls complex which is nestled behind the Watford Leisure centre. This group is called Watford Weekly Business.

Watford Weekly Business have no affiliation to any other Networking groups (independent) and meet twice weekly on a Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7-9am. The format of the meetings is loosely on a proven formula but as the group is run for the benefit of the members the meetings are more flexible than many.

Regular attendee and member for many years +Tania Clarke has this to say about Watford Weekly Business...
“I've been to lots of networking groups, some many times. The only one I keep coming back to is Watford Weekly Business. I have been enjoying the Friday Breakfast now for 5 years. This is one of the friendliest and most supportive groups. It might take a while to see the business from the group, but it does come and it's really solid business. Plus the personal growth, the signposting and guidance is what really results in our businesses development. Come join us and be amongst friends for a delicious breakfast… probably the best networking breakfast in Watford.”
So at just £40 per annum membership and with a lower than the norm £10 for breakfast this represents a great value group. For those who are experienced at attending networking groups you will be pleased to know there is no lockout rule at this group... nor is there the constant need to dig out referrals. The group believes that referrals and testimonials will be given when earned...

Although attendance each week is encouraged the group is far more understanding in that we are people first and lives come before a networking breakfast.

If you are interested in attending either the Wednesday or Friday group, contact can be made through the website... http://www.watfordweeklybusiness.net/

Monday, 20 February 2017

Innovate & create if we want a different future...

I talk to a lot of business owners in SW Herts and I can count on one hand those that tell me things are rosy and that they've never had it better. I can also count on one hand those people running businesses that are thinking really hard about how they can change where they are at. Well if there is no innovation please look forward to more of the same folks!

The biggest problem is... we are on the chess board. We are involved in our day to day business up to our eyes and then some. Although it is brilliant that we understand our businesses inside out it comes back to haunt us where innovation is concerned. The bottom line is we're thinking the way a person running our business would think... inside the box... controlled by what 'we know' which is a small subset of 'what could be' and... limited by one brain. We are also more than likely hampered by our lack of technical IT knowledge and what could be done more effectively for less... and we're so busy with our business we don't have time to build our network of trusted contacts...


So.... what is the solution? 


You've probably been networking before to meet new people, find new customers. For some this may work for many more... and I hear this time and time again... "I stopped because I wasn't getting anything out of it". If all people do when they go networking is look to get business then it will probably be a long winter and short summer.

Actually we need to innovate our networking too. Like you, I no longer want to follow the same script, hear the same elevator pitches and listen to people discreetly (or not as the case may be) 'selling' to me what they do. What I want as a business owner is to be mixing with people who are


  1. Thinking about different ways of doing things, thinking outside the box, finding alternative ways of achieving things
  2. Coming up with ideas for themselves, for others, and for the community as a whole
  3. Willing to share information and knowledge and signpost me to places which might be useful to me
  4. Supportive and through deeper relationships looking out for opportunities to help each other
  5. Able to admit that it's tough for all of us, be a bit vulnerable and recognise that if we all work as a team we can all come through this better
  6. People who are suggesting things not because they stand to benefit or gain from it, but because they genuinely want to see things improving for you


Innovate and Create


Imagine if we began to forget being fearful about competition and started collaborating with each other. Let's face it... could it actually get worse? ... if it did you would pack it in anyway, a thought that has probably crossed everyone's mind who is reading this.

What if you weren't alone in your business? ... what if you knew that you had a trusted set of allies ready and willing to come to your rescue if and when you needed it... and... who you would do the same for if asked?

What if you woke up tomorrow knowing that you were part of a thousand strong local business community all working hard to improve the local economy and encouraging our families, friends, neighbours, acquaintances, colleagues to use other local business owners? ... wouldn't the world look different?

What's stopping us? ... absolutely nothing... 

We just need to innovate it and create it, simple.


Final Words


This is the purpose of the Town Business Creatives. That applies to anyone in business locally in SW Herts. That's about us coming together and supporting each other and building a hugely successful local business economy... and guess what? ... that improves our communities too!!

We have begun the process... we meet twice a month... 3rd Monday of the month and 4th Thursday of the month, one in Rickmansworth the other in Watford Town Centre (Market Street)

You can check the events out on the Town Business Creatives page on the community Hub here 

We've also begun a bi-weekly local business newsletter that is free to subscribe and there are lots of ways you can join in with the Newsletter... for more information on the SW Herts Business Newsletter click here.
 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Food4Life project for those in need starts on March 5th

Parul Joshi from Beauty Spot Watford at Bushey Arches is the energy and passion behind a new initiative called Food4Life. Parul has always been community focused and has been wanting to give back to the community for many years, Food4Life is about to make this a reality.

Twice monthly on alternate Sundays Parul will be cooking vegetarian food which will be free for those that are in need. Those wishing to make a contribution can do so in a variety of ways, either with monetary or food donations, helping out on the day or with marketing, community support to help ensure that the message reaches those who could benefit.

There will be a mini website coming shortly and as soon as that is available it will be featured on here and also on the SW Herts Community Projects web site which can be found here.


Two local Newsletters to assist in growing our local communities

There are newsletters from the Mayor and there are newsletters from the MP both telling us what they are doing and what they are up too... there are some newsletters from community groups and residents associations which let us know what is happening close by... but there isn't much in the way of community news for our area which is basically the SW Herts district.

The Watford Observer does a reasonable job, but for those that don't like their style of reporting, or would like to hear more about the good news that is happening in our community then we have a real gap.

So In SW Herts there are two new newsletters being launched this month. One is for the SW Herts local business community and the other just for community news and stories. Two websites have been put together to explain more about each of them... and these can be found just below...

Business Newsletter
Please visit http://sites.google.com/views/SWHertsBusinessNews

This website details :-

Overview of the purpose of the business newsletter
The content that will be in it
The circulation territory and frequency
How you can join in and have your details included
How to get in touch with us

You can subscribe to the Newsletter via the website but here is the link too just for those who want to do it now.

In brief the Business Newsletter is to complement the Community (Community in Action) and Business (Town Business Creative) Innovation Network that is being built in SW Herts. We need to innovate new ideas and alternate ways to get things done in our communities and the Business Newsletter is about improving the local business economy through providing a nurturing and supportive environment for local independent businesses.

Community Newsletter
Please visit  http://sites.google.com/view/SWHertsCommunityNews

This website will explain... Overview of the purpose of the community newsletter, the content, coverage, how you can send in your news and a contact us form.

You can subscribe to the Newsletter via the website but here is the link too just for those who want to do it now. Most of our news never goes anywhere, no one hears about it. Often too small for the Watford Observer or not a big enough story... and so the story goes untold... not any more... send it to us through the website above... let's get this 97% of community news reported... now!!

The organisation responsible for putting this together is IPSL - Innovation - People - Skills - Link4Growth and you can read more about them here.

Below a short video introducing the two new newsletters...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Olio : Shall we stop food wastage?

There is a lot of food that goes to waste. I think you'll find we are all guilty of it... 2 for 1 deals... eyes a little bigger than our stomachs... food shopping when we're hungry! (don't do it, top tip). Well what if you could pass the food on to a neighbour (or someone close by) who would love to have it?

That in essence is the purpose of Olio. Take a picture, say what it is, where it can be picked up and at what time and post. Then others using the application can browse items that are available and make arrangements to collect. It is also suitable for non food items as well.

+Neal Emery from +Reason News who is the proprietor of the Reason Coffee Shop and Book Store in the Parade (Watford High Street) is behind the initiative to get Olio off the ground in the #Watford area.

Neal is waiting on a promotion and marketing pack to really kick start the project off locally as part of the Sustainability Watford project (FB Group link). Once the pack arrives look out for more news and communications about how you could participate in the initiative.

If you run a shop or a cafe and are handling food products or are prepared to operate as a drop of / collection point then this could be another way to join in. If people are more comfortable adding items to Olio but less inclined to have people come to their house then this is another great option. Imagine 50 outlets in Watford and the surrounding area enabling us to get surplus items into the hands of those that need them?

In terms of community building this is yet another opportunity for people to talk to others... come out of their houses, pop into local community shops. For those running local businesses to offer another service and bring people into their premises. There really are just winners here.

Please do visit the Olio website here... also download the App from the site... and... take a look at some of the food wastage videos here... it really is a huge deal, this is just one way we can all play a small part in reducing waste and helping people at the same time... if it is going to be ... it is up to WE!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Cassiobury Park progress with £6m upgrade with Borras

Well the Park is looking a little different down near the river these days. Spotted a post in the +Watford Observer about progress so thought I'd take a walk down and see how things are for myself.

As you can see things have progressed quite a lot. The Community Hub building looks to be nearing completion. Maybe a fair amount of internal work still to do but the main structure looks to have been sorted. There is also a lot of groundworks still to be finished but opening in spring 2017 definitely looks like that is on the cards. The outside area which I assume are water springs and paddling pool areas look now almost complete too.

Today the weather was what I would say was a typical February day. The trees dank and wet in the neither rain nor dry greyness of a cold 4c day. It always feels much colder in England as the moisture really does get right into your bones.

The Bandstand looked a little lost in the grey too. The bright colours seemingly sapped away by the greyness of winter as it defiantly stood there in the middle of the park. I've always liked that tree which appears to stand over the bandstand in this picture... and in the distance on the left the reborn Cha Cha coffee shop. You can see the full selection of pictures over on the Watford Community click here to go visit.

I'm not sure how the £6m in Lottery funding with contributions from the council ends up being distributed. You tend to go on trust with these things. £6m seems like a lot of money for what has been delivered. A big house with a landscaped garden... is pretty much what we have above... looks quite nice though.




Tuesday, 7 February 2017

FOCUS: Stephen Liddell ~ local author and lots more besides!

I met +Stephen Liddell a year or two back at one of his book launches at +Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore in the parade at the top of #Watford town. Stephen was recently contacted regarding Sherlock Holmes by a reporter... and after a bit of curiousity... Well... I'll let Stephen tell you his story...
"Since I gave up working for someone else... okay I was made redundant but I was very glad to leave, I have split my time between writing blogs, magazine article and books of various varieties and creating my own private tours business called Ye Olde England Tours.
Whilst some would say working in two non-related fields can stop either one from reaching the highest potential, I have always found the opposite to be the case with both opening doors for each other and creating non-related opportunities almost out of thin air especially with regards to media opportunities on the BBC, Bloomberg and various other outlets whether for books, tours or matters totally unrelated.
December saw one such event when I was approached by a journalist wanting to talk about Sherlock Holmes.  Presumably, it was my tours that got his attention as I surely cannot be thought to be a Sherlock scholar.   He wasn't able to tell me what publication he represented so there was a small risk that I might be giving away all my trade secrets.
However, there was nothing to worry about and this week I found out my tours and I are featured in Halcyon Magazine, published by Harrods Aviation for its high-end corporate flights out of Luton and Stansted.
My Sherlock tours are always amongst the most popular and I take people both to filming locations relating to the BBC show as well as older and more obscure sites related to other iterations of Sherlock or the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.   Many young ladies like nothing more than to spread-eagle themselves on the pavement where Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, 'died'."

If you'd like to find out more about Stephen's London walking tours or day trips out to the country then do visit www.yeoldeenglandtours.co.uk  whilst if blogs, books and magazines are more your thing then try out www.stephenliddell.co.uk

Sunday, 5 February 2017

If you go down to the market today you'll be in for a big surprise!

Piedmont - Food on the street
Since the market moved from the old Charter Place to where it is today there has been a lot of challanges. With only a few of the 'old market' traders remaining now (I think perhaps as few as 5 stalls) it was always going to be a difficult transition.

New stalls come and go as the Market develops a new sense of itself. It will never be the old market, it's completely different... so what is its character and personality going to be? ... it's definitely still work in progress that is for sure...

There is no surety about what the New Watford Market will evolve into but innovation is important and new ideas need to be tried constantly. This week has seen two new stalls open... one is Wood Fired Pizza service... the other is Coffee cart selling italian style coffee in the market area.

Rays - Cafe Cart
Both of these initiatives appeal to our noses with the delicious scent of pizza being baked and fresh coffee being made. Both are very reasonably priced and perhaps give us a chance to stop by drink a coffee, await our Pizza and perhaps chat to some of the stall holders... something few have done over the past 2 years.

If you want to track the two stall holders on Twitter then there links are below :-

http://twitter.com/piedmontfood
http://twitter.com/raysatticboutiq

Below videos of the two stall holders... take a look... both are really nice folk so let's go support them...





Flourish local artisan Bakery

I heard about this place last week at one of the #Link4Coffee events and decided that we ought to check it out. Local independent baker, coffee shop... sounds like something we ought to know about!

So spoke with +David Sawyer and we arranged to take a trip there on Friday afternoon (3rd Feb) to check it out. This is not a place you would stumble upon out of the blue as it is buried at the back of the Greycaines industrial estate... where Jones Cable and Bell Cable Media used to be if you are an old local like me...

The venue is open to the public between 8:00 and 4:00pm 7 days a week ... Catch their story here...

So as usual I was 5 or 10 mins late and David had already arrived... a Latte was waiting which I have to say was very good and at £2.20 also very competitive. I arrived at 2:10pm and although you could be forgiven for thinking lunchtime was over the place was buzzing. I think being on an industrial estate may make it unusual for passing trade but there are plenty of businesses around there so a bit of a captive audience.

Fresh scent of Baked bread always does it for me and no shortage of that... the bakery is extensive and as their story shares they now hire some 40 people.

David had already consumed his food by the time I got there, myself, I indulged in a Quiche which was exceptionally tasty. Another coffee some interesting and fruitful conversation and... contact details to talk about possible having a Link4Coffee here too... maybe between 9:30-11:00 they are quieter on some days... we shall investigate...

One to try folks... bag yourself some bread while you are there too... lovely to see local independent bakeries such as this emerging... More opportunity to buy local....

Local 'NewToWatford' blogger also went along to flourish in December 2016 and took some great pictures... you can read more here...


Saturday, 4 February 2017

New to Watford family shares their experiences

A family that is new to #Watford has been sharing their experiences of getting to know their area. Blogging, tweeting and facebooking we have been able to follow their journey...

On this occasion the blog is not about Watford but about surrounding towns ... Berhamsted to Boxmoor along the Towpath... here a picture of where my good friend +Tania Clarke actually lives... on one of these boats...


For the full story and lots of other interesting experience please get along to the Blog itself link below. There is so much to see... so thank you for the report... 1 year on from moving to Watford... looks like it has been good so far?

Please read ---> New to Watford blog