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The Credit Crunch & Divorce Fairs – CertainShops newsletter Feb 08

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Divorce Fairs and why Financial Mediators can save you thousands

The Credit Crunch and intelligent marketing


The branding workshop for the business was going well, until the theoretical exercise of `rebranding an orange’ captured the imagination of the delegates to such a degree that they lost all sense of reality, and actually started up a new company there and then. Suddenly, CertainShops – professionals online was under the microscope not just for the effectiveness of its brand – but we needed to use the site to source professional service providers to quote for our new venture.

The `100% recyclable orange juice container that doesn’t leak in your pocket’ got them all so excited that my cries of “it’s only a game! This is just an imaginary exercise!” fell on deaf ears. Luckily, thanks to CertainShops, we were able to get quotes from a Contract Lawyer for a shareholders agreement, sort out an Accountant to organise our incorporation, and book a session with a Business Consultant to help us put together a financial plan and check out any compliance issues.

It was only when the Patenting and Trademarking Lawyer patiently explained that we could have some difficulty claiming a piece of fruit as our own intellectual property, that reality finally re-entered the frame and the spell was broken.

So we got back to the job in hand – concentrating on MY business – and ate the oranges.


Val and Don Rush – TR Resolutions, Matrimonial Financial Mediators

Divorce Fairs and why Financial Mediators can save you thousands

A common misconception is that Financial Mediators helping divorcing couples are hoping to get the couple back together again. A more accurate way to think of these skilled professionals is that they advise on your exit strategy from a relationship fraught with financial complications.

It is a sad fact that around 40% of marriages end in divorce, and the Government has been aware of the expense and misery that beset many divorcing couples for some time, and the Family Law Act 1996 was brought in to steer more people into mediation to resolve the problems of divorce and separation.

In 1999, Lord Woolf produced his report called “Access to Justice”. It set out a number of shortcomings he found in the current legal system. Amongst other things, he found it to be:- · Too expensive · Too complicated · Too adversarial · Too slow

Lord Woolf suggested mediation in appropriate cases as a way to overcome these shortcomings.

So what do Financial Mediators actually do? How do they make a difference?

- the reduction of animosity and fighting therefore much easier on the children who really hate to see Mum and Dad at loggerheads

- they allow clients to go at a pace that is comfortable to them. Having made the decision to split it still takes a while to accept and adapt to the inevitable changes and cope with the official paperwork – some people find this quite scary. It’s a big big step and mediators like Val and Don are sensitive to this- although they focus on the financial and children issues there is invariably psychological turmoil, and whilst mediators may not be counsellors, they are ready to empathise and give what emotional support they can- they have seen clients rekindle a workable friendship at the end of the process – really satisfying!- high profile cases like Paul and Linda M are so unusual. Often they have cases where funds are really really tight and it just doesn’t make any sense at all to pay competing solicitors unnecessarilyVal is adamant: “we do not in any way try to mend broken relationships. We make sure before we start that there is absolutely no chance of restoration and then work to make the inevitable split as painless as possible.”

Rather like marriage fairs which help you plan your wedding, there is a divorce fair in Holland which aims to give all you need to plan the perfect split.

The very first ever divorce or `break up’ fair was held in Austria last year. The fair gave advice on how to organise a post-married life, and to help couples to untie the knot as painlessly as possible.

The two-day fair was held under the motto “New beginning”. The event allowed would-be divorcees to consult lawyers about their rights and seek advice. The divorce rate in Austria hit an all time high of 50% in 2006, with 66% of marriages in Vienna ending in divorce.

The Saturday was reserved for men, and Sunday for women, so couples could avoid awkward encounters and retain a degree of anonymity. There was also a series of lectures on subjects like how divorce affects children and coping as a single parent.

This move towards accepting that the break up of marriages, and also civil partnerships, provoke complex emotional dilemmas and a great deal of fear, shows how the role of financial divorce mediators will become increasingly a necessary part of a healthy break up.

(thank you to Val Rush and BBC news)

Have a no obligation talk with Val by contacting her here……


Kim Stoddart – Blue Rocket Group, Ethical Media Relations

The Credit Crunch and intelligent marketing

The hot topic in business at the moment is the widely reported global economic slowdown, meltdown in the money markets and the effect on business in the UK. asked their readers if they had started to feel the pinch of tighter lending criteria or slower revenue streams, and if there were any measures they’d taken to alleviate this.

A significant number (28 per cent) said they’d experienced lower sales than usual in December and attributed that to the first whispers of a credit crunch reducing consumer spending. While advisers and bankers are telling us that lending for small businesses is unlikely to have been affected by any slowdown, many readers expressed feelings to the contrary. A total of 22 per cent had noticed a difference in the availability of funding for their business, saying that cash had become less readily available.

Of those who said that they had not yet felt the effect of such a slowdown, 18 per cent had begun putting some money aside, wary of a tough 2008. With cash flow a major issue for small firms at the best of times, this seems a prudent move. spoke to Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB, to get a view on the year ahead and see whether, as 15 per cent of you seem to think, the notion of an impending credit crunch is just a lot of hype.

He believes that ‘the credit crunch has not yet had a major impact on the retail sector. It has hit the balance sheets of those involved in wholesale borrowing but rather than causing a collapse of high street retail, it is likely just to mean a slowdown from consumers’.

He continues: ‘Even if the economy slows to 1.5 per cent growth, the bank could cut interest rates to 4.5 per cent. There is room to manoeuvre so I think we are far from looking at a recession next year.’

Hopefully, this is heartening news for many of you. This year could still mean a certain degree of belt tightening, but there are those who say that a full recession is not likely to hit.

Are you convinced?

Many still do fear a global recession and many small businesses are looking to reduce their overheads and the marketing budget is often the first thing to be reduced. However in difficult economic situations competition becomes tougher than ever and it is even more important to rise above your rivals to attract customers.

Kim Stoddart, MD and founder of ethical media relations company Blue Rocket, told me why it is important for business owners to spend wisely and how an effective public relations campaign can generate real results to help them ride out the storm during this testing time.

“It is now more important than ever for businesses to be marketing themselves in the right way through the right people.” Explains Kim. “Careful planning and intelligent thinking can create a low-budget strategy that provides a fantastic return on investment and ensures your business continues to attract customers.Historically during times of economic downturn one of the first things that a company considers reducing is its marketing budget. Whilst it is understandable given the pressures on daily cash that a business will want to asses its spending; cutting activity in the wrong areas can have a damaging impact on the company’s stability and long-term future, or worse.

Businesses can’t rely on existing customers staying and need to think about attracting new customers as in order to secure a steady cash flow companies need a consistent pipeline of new business. This means raising awareness and driving action amongst their target market. When done properly, an effective public relations (PR) campaign can improve a brand’s positioning and reputation, giving it credibility and communicating its key selling points over and above the competition.

A well-run campaign can also be conducted on a low cost to provide a huge return on investment. PR provides the next best thing to a word of mouth recommendation and during this difficult time that matters more than ever as people need to work with businesses that they trust. Press coverage is generally far more effective than say direct marketing or advertising that doesn’t build trust in the same way and is often more expensive anyway.

It’s really important that SMEs are careful with their money when embarking on any PR campaign either in-house or outsourcing. They need to get the objectives of the campaign clear from the start and ensure the key messages about their company are being communicated to their target audience. It’s all very well securing press coverage but if its not improving the brand’s reputation and driving sales what’s the point?

Now more than ever businesses need to get it right from the start to generate press coverage that is going to help develop their business.”

(thanks to and Kim Stoddart)

If you want to plan your media strategy have a chat with Kim Stoddart at Blue Rocket.


“It was too hard!”

Ok, I admit it, the competition was too difficult. In fact it was SO hard, that nobody won! The good news is that the great prizes are still there to be had, so I will create a much much easier one for March. Be prepared.

“How do we make our businesses more `ethical’ without spending loads of cash to do it?”

There are many ways of being `ethical’ without it causing financial strain on your business. I am collating articles and interviews with people who can give advice on this area and I welcome contributions. So for articles on being more `green’ and sustainable, and on how to be more like a `social enterprise’ (if you are not one already), take a look at the Ethical Business section in our Support Network section….

“Women are staying optimistic about business”

For some, being in business in 2007 has been a struggle; for others it has been a journey to freedom. And most women agree that no matter what yesterday brought the future of business is looking bright. In fact, nearly 83% believe predict their businesses will do better in the coming year.

So say the results of The Women Business Owners Survey & State of Business Forecast 2008 sponsored by the Women’s eCommerce Association, International. The survey was created to find out what factors contribute to women business owners’ success as well as where women see themselves in the future. Overall Findings

• Nearly 71% of respondents fall into the Services and retail categories.
• Close to 84% of respondents reported having a business that was both Virtual and Brick and Mortar
• More than 60% of respondents had undergraduate/post graduate college degrees.
• Almost 61% of women reported starting their first business between 18 and 39
• 42% went into business to be their own boss and to create a more balanced work-life ideal.
• The number one long-term business goal chosen by women is “to produce an income-generating venture that will sustain a comfortable lifestyle.” (74%)
• More than 45% reported a 20% (or greater) increase in revenue in 2007 compared to 2006
• 47% of women reported networking with business/professional organizations and Virtual/social networking groups. More than 75% say they plan to participate in social networking site in 2008.

Dialogues with hundreds of women business owners as well as the results from the survey confirm that women are not only equipped to take risks to succeed, they do it each and every day as evidenced by the types of businesses they run and the lengths they will go to in order to exceed their goals year after year. Sometimes it’s taking a step back, at other times its finding funding or exposing themselves to new networking opportunities.

Other factors that women attribute to overall success: the majority of women believe in ongoing education to stay ahead of the competition in order to exceed the goals achieved in previous years. Giving back to the community, mentoring others and being role models are also important motivators to their overall feelings of achieving success. To read the full report, visit:

(thank you to the WeMagazine)


10% Discount for CertainShops readers for a wonderful holiday in Spain in a former Buddhist retreat in a natural park in the hills above Granada.

La Pena is a beautiful building in a natural park in the mountains of southern Granada. It comes with 22 acres of land with olive and almond trees and offers amazing views over the mountains with distant views of the sea. It offers the perfect tranquil getaway and antedote to city dwelling. La Pena is also a 40 minute drive from the coast and about a 45 minute drive from Granada city. Granada and Malaga airports are also quite close by.

In addition to the Certain Shops offer we are also offering ten percent off for anyone who books before the end of Febuary 2007, a further eco offer for anyone taking the train to get there and if that wasn’t enough ten percent for each person you recommend that results in a confirmed booking. If you get enough that means your stay is free!

Please see for information on this very special place.

In the Frame

For any CertainShops newsletter readers who commission me to take their photos, be it corporate or domestic, I can offer them a FREE large size, panoramic canvas print of one of the photographs of their choice.

Contact me, Scott Collier, at:

Special offers from our Client Members

FREE LAPTOP with ‘s best value Broadband Service from the Utility Warehouse
This amazing package offers all the benefits of BroadCall, and a free high-spec Fujitsu Siemens laptop. It is available to all existing and new customers who have at least one energy service with us. The laptop even comes with a free lifetime extended warranty (for as long as you remain connected to BroadCall Laptop tariff).
Contact Client Member Cath Godsen, via

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