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Credit Crunch Divorces create cash for local businesses

Business, Marketing, Design & PR, Starting Over Show Press Page 6 Comments »

Credit Crunch Divorces create Cash for local Business

Family lawyers have indicated that relationship break ups will increase because of financial pressures at home, but a recent survey carried out by Suzy Miller of ‘Certain Shops’ and ‘The Starting Over Show’, indicates that new singles will spend more on financial and well-being services than their married counterparts, creating income for businesses.


National family law organisation Resolution, are expecting an increase in the number of UK divorces as the credit crunch really starts to hit. With consumer research firm Claritas estimating that one in six UK marriages currently end in divorce (16.4 per cent), Andrew of Woolley of Resolution accredited family lawyers’ firm Woolley & Co Solicitors said: “In my opinion and experience, money problems just exacerbate a situation that is already there and certainly create an increase in stress—so a relationship under heavy strain may not cope with one extra burden, that of paying rising bills.”

At the same time, a new and ongoing survey by professional services directory `Certain Shops – Professionals Online’ supports anecdotal evidence that, following a relationship break up, people are more likely to buy new properties, update their wills and insurances, and spend money on themselves.

Results to date show that in the three years following the break up of a relationship:

  • 26.5% rented a property more than once

  • 36.7% bought a new property

  • 51.0% went on a foreign holiday more than once

  • 27.3% joined a gym

  • 20.0% changed their appearance

  • 35.3% changed their job

Financial advice and legal advice were considered ‘definitely important’ for people going through a relationship break up (53.1% and 50% respectively) with well-being advice also as a definite at 45.5%. The highest score for ‘definitely important’ was 82.8% for ‘people to listen to them sympathetically’.

Fatima became a divorcee in Sussex 6 years ago and she feels that her experience was and still is fairly typical. “Post divorce I was not in a position to buy my ex-partner out of the house, but I did re-mortgage as a way of refinancing. I needed to change my will and talk to financial advisors and reassess mine and my children’s financial stability. Despite limited funds I went on holiday with a friend and her children and concentrated on rebuilding my sense of self. That was really important.”

The evidence shows that the new singles represent a market force of their own and this is starting to be recognised as their expenditure benefits businesses on a local and national level. Sam Foster of Miss Fit Personal Training is a Brighton based fitness expert who is able to help individuals back on track through her business: “I work with many clients who have experienced a life changing situation like divorce and people realise that a big step to getting their confidence back is allowing time to focus on looking after themselves again. A way to kick start this is by improving their overall health through a balanced diet and exercising more, which I am delighted to be able help them with. “

This boost for businesses also explains why companies and individuals are eager to exhibit at the UK’s first ever divorce fair the ‘Starting Over Show’ [ ], which will be held in Brighton this Spring, on Sunday 15 March 2009 at the Barcelo Old Ship Hotel.

Photographer Scott Collier is one of the show’s exhibitors and also completed his own divorce last year and despite being a successful wedding photographer, Scott is a keen supporter of the show and the starting over ethos: “I will be at the show as a photographer who takes memorable pictures of children and their parents. Many of my recent clients have broken up from long term relationships and need good photos of themselves and their loved ones to boost their self esteem. I see many of my photos appearing on Facebook every day as people use them for their profiles. I think it’s great to see people picking themselves up and starting over, and I’m glad to be a part of that process.”

Sussex based Suzy Miller, who is Company Director of Certain Shops and Producer of The Starting Over Show instigated the survey and says the event has been designed to target people who have experienced a relationship break up, life crisis or significant change to their circumstances and who want to turn their life around. The show will bring together a wide range of services, products and organisations designed to help visitors move forward in their lives.

“With the credit crunch starting to hit, quality professional advice and a vision of a better future are more important than ever. That’s why we have counsellors and life coaches as well as lawyers attending the show, including a workshop with the best selling author and inspirational speaker Nick Williams. We want the show to demonstrate how to seek the right support and the benefits of taking positive action, rather than succumbing to a negative or resentful feelings or feeling constantly overwhelmed at the thought of ‘what do I do now?’ The show will give people access to all the resources that can help them to really start over, all under one roof.”

If you are interested in the event as an exhibitor or attending please contact Suzy Miller at
suzy (at)

Similar divorce fairs are springing up in Europe – Switzerland has staged it’s first event this year. The Economist (June 7-13) says that the credit crunch “looks far from over”. But despite rising food and fuel prices, and consumer confidence falling, “actual spending has not yet weakened to the same extent.”

Interesting statistics:

  • One in five of all men and women getting a divorce in 2005 had already been through a divorce. The Office for National Statistics said this figure had nearly doubled since 1981.

  • The Divorce rate in England and Wales (UK) fell in 2005 by 7.7 per cent, however, so did the marriage rate! The marriage rate fell in 2005 by 10.4 per cent.

  • Hove, East Sussex has the second-highest divorce rate in Britain, according to a Claritas survey, with a rate of 29 per cent.

  • Brighton, Littlehampton and St Leonards, East Sussex, all have scores of more than 21 per cent and were all in the top 50 for divorces.

  • The Claritas survey showed that the national average divorce rate was 16.4 per cent.

  • Six per cent of the population, or about 3.6 million Britons, are either gay or lesbian, the government’s first attempt to quantify the homosexual population has concluded.(2005)

  • Amsterdam - Gay Dutch couples appear to divorce at a rate of about one percent a year – the same rate as heterosexual married couples

  • Relationship splits may inspire women to start their own business. A study by The Enterprising Women project published 2007 showed 18 per cent of the women business owners studied between June 2006 – June 2007 were single mothers.

Sources and links:

Starting Over Show

The Starting Over Show will be held on 15 March 2009 in Brighton. It is the first UK event designed to help people bounce back from relationship break ups and life crises. It will be a safe haven in which soon-to-be singletons can take professional advice to build the confidence and skills they need to go it alone. The philosophy behind the show is useful information, honest communication, personal transformation.

Certain Shops

Certain Shops aims to provide a reliable database of professional services that have all been personally recommended. The site covers a range of services from across the UK – from Legal and Accountancy to IT and Life Coaching.


Claritas UK


Norwich Union 2003


Sam Foster, Miss Fit Personal Training

Scott Collier

National Office for Statistics

Enterprising Women Community Statistics report

The Death of Communities – or new ones Evolving?

Business, Social Networking No Comments »

Last week, a friend told me she and her partner were splitting up and they were going to tell the two children that evening. She told me this through the window of my car as I was dropping my kids off at school. On the way home I popped into the local organic bakery. No hot cross buns ready that morning. They were a bit behind. Someone had broken in the night before and stolen the petty cash.

I live in a community. A village. A place where sad and bad things happen but people can share the news face to face. People talk about communities ‘breaking down’ and often site family break ups and robberies as part of that process. But I think that these are events that happen everywhere, and when they do, it is being part of a community that makes those that suffer feel supported and listened to.

Online social networking cannot mimic that face to face contact. Yet the the relative anonimity of places like Twitter can allow that same kind of sharing. Not just what someone ate for breakfast, but what they are feeling at that time. And with those tweets showing up on Facebook, Facebook friends browsing through can catch a glimpse of others’ lives and feel connected.

I am about to have two simultaneous phone contracts – an IPhone (tied to O2) which will allow me to online network when away from home, and a new Nokia through Vodafone, so I can keep my business number. Yet, my friends are complaining that I never answer the phone! They are coming to accept that the only way they can keep in contact is to pay a visit.

The trouble is, my networking community has irrevocably changed over the last 7 months and since most of my friends are only occasional users of Facebook, and nervous and confused by Twitter and the multitude of .ning sites I keep encouraging them to join, we just don’t get to talk to each other much any more.

People use the excuse for not networking online of ‘I don’t have time’. Well, I don’t have time to sit still and talk on the phone, since talking and doing five other things at once is not one of my gifts. Which is why I make most of my calls when in the bath (hence the echoey backdrop to my voice and the need for a ‘spare’ phone).

But I can send out messages via blogs and networking sites in between finding the kids’ school uniforms, eating breakfast and trying to find my car keys (oh, I found them last night – in the fridge). I admire people who don’t have mobile phones and create a calmer way of life. I just don’t get to spend any time with them – just a passing hello on the school run – as our different orbits fail once again to connect. But when business colleagues have the same mentality – relying on overcrowded email inboxes and missed calls to keep in contact, that is a lifestyle choice that may cost them dear.

The Times Online posted The 50 Best Business Blogs last June. But blogs are not just a way of sharing information – they are a way of sharing views and comments as well. The business community needs to start understanding that getting involved with other people’s online conversations is a very powerful way of keeping a community in contact with your own values and, by default, that of your business.

There is a bypass threatening to carve up our village. With that would come larger stores, perhaps the death of the small local shops, and something precious will be lost. Will online communities soon be the only ones left where people can share the pain and pleasures of their real lives?

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Ethical Business or just the `Green Wash’? Full article.

Business 4 Comments »

Coming off the sea at the end of Brighton Pier, and blasting its way through the air conditioning system of the Horatio Bar, a gale was blowing down the back of my neck.

Despite this, sitting wrapped in my coat as if about to leave, I listened with great interest to the ‘ethical’ businesses who bravely gave their websites up for scrutiny at the ‘Striding Out – Ethical marketing and branding event’ held in Brighton, UK, at the end of February. It was a great event, but I do have a general gripe about these kind of sessions.

As an entrepreneur, I am frustrated by the lack of goody bags at these kind of events. Yes, we get the information and inspiration, but what exactly am I supposed to DO now? What can I take away that allows me to put this newfound knowledge straight into action?

I believe one thing is to create an ethical sustainability policy for my business, but what I really want is to walk away from these kind of events with a template for creating my own, with links to appropriate help if I need it (even if that means paying for that help).

I was inspired by Sam Wilson of EcoEvents who has done so much homework in creating ways for events to be more ethically run, but also (and just as importantly) defined systems and mechanisms for measuring the successes and failures, and making the organisers of the events accountable.

And if businesses want to not just be part of the `Green Wash’, they should be accountable, at least to themselves.

What is the point of me creating a sustainability policy if my vision is not balanced by my commitment to achieving deadlines? And buffeted by the realities of every day life, will I not need to make constant revisions for my ethical goals to still be attainable?

I spoke recently with Vania Phitidis, an elected member of the Green Party, who is working with Wealden District Council on awards for `green’ businesses. Vania is keen to give advice and encouragement. Businesses should not be shy to make use of their local green MPs to get feedback and advice.

I shall be asking for plenty of help to not only get my first ethical sustainability policy for my business into good shape, but I then want to encourage other businesses to do the same, hopefully providing a basic `template’ that they can use as a starting point. Maybe I need to begin a section on the blog part of the site called “Starter Packs” – self help guides for SMEs who want to make the first steps themselves into creating ethical policies for their businesses? Perhaps even have a ‘an ethical PR starter pack’ – or ‘Create your own branding workshop’ (which would incorporate your ethical values into how you present your business)?

Getting expert guidance would be even better, but that costs money, and sometimes I think it is good to make the first steps on your own, since it is your own passion and commitment that will lie at the heart of any ‘policy’, and that may need some uninhibited development first.

One of the companies at the Brighton event were Green Rocket (who also trade as Blue Rocket, but their principles don’t change with the colour). Their genuine ethical agenda is refreshing to see in the marketing industry. They have created a succession of articles on how to be an ethical business , and try to set an example for the values they hold dear.

Kim Stoddart, Managing Director and Founder of Hove based ethical media relations consultancy and social enterprise, Green Rocket, was concerned about the environmental impact of her business from day one. As a community interest company with an authentic environmental purpose(75% of the company’s profits are reinvested in green initiatives), Kim felt that the company really had to be green to the core and that meant the first place to start had to be the office.

Prior to launch, an environmental charter was put in place which was designed to reduce the environmental impact of the business’ everyday operations. This looked at every area of the business and just some of the broad range of initiatives put in place included: recycling everything recyclable, including paper, cardboard and plastic waste as well as old computer equipment, mobile phones and furniture.

Choosing suppliers for their green and ethical credentials; such as Good Energy for electricity, Magpie for recycling, the Co-Op for banking and Green Your Office for office supplies and office cleaning. Offices were chosen in a central location, to make it easier for staff to walk, or get public transport to work and to travel to client meetings.

Being an ‘ethical’ business is about more than leaving a reduced carbon footprint. Green Rocket is a social enterprise, but what exactly IS a social enterprise, and how can my business take on some of the same values and practices?

I asked this question of Martin Murphy, who along with Tom Howat runs Network 2012, a website dedicated to promoting the values of social enterprises.

Martin’s explanation was as follows:

“When thinking about this question I suppose the natural place to start is my own motivation. Late in 2006 Tom Howat, my now business partner came to me with an idea he wanted me to get involved with. That idea became Network 2012 an online business and social networking website and events company and we have been up and running now for just over 8 months with nearly 400 members signed up.

Our aim is to charge a small monthly or annual membership fee, which will contribute towards providing bursaries for those individuals, or groups who wish to start their own social enterprise but would otherwise struggle for start up finance.

In a small way we are working towards a more inclusive society and a fairer distribution of wealth and that is the driving force behind Network 2012. Working towards a social goal as well as a business goal is in my view what makes a social enterprise. In essence we want a fairer world and see business as the method of providing that fairer world. In our case an online networking business.

Though in business people see things differently and there are many different methods of working. For example some want to maximise profits and use those profits for a good cause while others wish to provide supported employment for those who would struggle to gain employment through the normal channels, and are not necessarily profit focused. Break even focused, sustainability focused maybe but not necessarily profit focused.

But then what does profit mean anyway? We live in a world today where I would argue for the most part profit is almost seen as another word for greed. We hear of “fat cat bonuses”, we see utility companies making what some might call obscene profit while the average person struggles to pay their bills and get by.

The world I want to see would entail those same utility companies run as social enterprises and the profits reinvested in the community instead of going who knows where! What if the profit were used to ensure that no one dies of exposure in winter instead of high bills being a reason people wont turn their heating on and do die of exposure? One day this is how it will be and I’m convinced that when that day comes we will look back at the way we generally do business now and see it as almost barbaric!

At the moment we have people who we describe as social entrepreneurs out there running social enterprises and working towards a better world. They are not people who take the attitude that we’ll never make a fairer world it’s too big a job they are people with a can do attitude who believe we have to start somewhere. They are heroes who work not just for their own benefit but also for the benefit of others. They do this often by working all the hour’s god sends with very few resources and the usual struggle for start up funding and most would say they love it!

I admire every single one of them. They are tired of living in an unfair and out of balance world where we see daily worldwide inequality, extreme poverty alongside fantastic wealth and children dying for lack of food, clean water or medicine and are doing something about it.

It is the doing something about it through business that makes a social enterprise and if current trends are anything to go by in the future we will be much more of a force to be reckoned with. By all accounts the social economy is growing 10 times faster than the normal economy. Being aware of this fact could be the make or break of any business! “

I agreed wholeheartedly with Martin, but had to admit:

“Martin, I want to develop a more `ethical’ business, but don’t know what I can do to `make a difference’ right now, whilst struggling to run my small business. I know that with making good `profits’ will come the opportunity to reinvest it and do good, but what can I do now while my business is still growing?”

“I take your point completely. I appreciate that starting and running a small business is difficult I think there are definitely things small businesses can do.

Check out their suppliers for example. Can they use a business that is a social enterprise/fair trade? Hopefully one that is competitive. Can they employ someone with disabilities, a single parent or long term unemployed?

The overall advantage and this is something that shouldn’t be lost is that in the long run this kind of thinking may give that company a competitive edge.

I attended a round table discussion last week with some representatives from large corporations all talking about Corporate Social Responsibility and whereas before the job of leading CSR was one given to someone an employer didn’t really know what to do with now they all have experience in the marketing arms of their respective companies.

A lot of it is about brand recognition and appealing to a consumer who is becoming more conscious about what products they buy. I also think that in future perhaps the rate of corporation tax may be lower for companies that do something for their communities.

As I’ve said earlier though Suzy I do think it may be hard to convince someone struggling to get their business off the ground that they can do anything but I’m sure with a bit of thought that they can.”

Suzy Miller currently owns her own company, an interactive online directory of vetted professional service providers recently voted by the Independent newspaper as one of the “101 most useful websites that will change your life”. Suzy has also created a blog to help the technically nervous join in with social networking online at

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Is your website legally compliant?

Business, Legal No Comments »


Janette Whitney – Award winning business consultant

Is your website legally compliant?

Much press coverage has been seen regarding the amendments to the companies act which came into force at the beginning of the year relating to your website and emails and the risk of £1000 fines for not complying with disclosure of the required information.

This caught the attention of limited companies and limited liability partnerships as this new piece of legislation only applies to them. However, most business owners (over 50% according to the D.T.I) do not realise that there are at present 6 pieces of legislation which your website needs to comply with whatever form of business you trade under – whether that is as a sole trader, partnership, Limited company, Limited liability partnership or franchise etc.

Which legislation affects your particular website will depend on what its pages contain, but the need to comply is vital as the fines and policing of internet operations are becoming more and more stringent, just in the same way that as a retailer with a high street premises you would have to comply with certain regulations – your website is your online shop window and the more complicated it is the more rules it needs to adhere to.

If you would like to know more about a Website Compliance Check and how to stay the right side of the online law please contact Janette Whitney of Award-Winning Business consultants, Janette Whitney & Associates by clicking here:

© Certain Shops Ltd 2006 All Rights Reserved

All text is copyright © of the author and Certain Shops Ltd. Logos are copyright © their respective owners.

The information and opinions in contributions to this newsletter and printed on the Certain Shops web site in no way reflects the opinions of Certain Shops Ltd.

Certain Shops Ltd. 72 Medway Drive Forest Row E Sussex RH18 5NX Tel: 01342 824871 textphone 18001 01342 824871 Registered in England & Wales Company no. 5685386 VAT no. 880175810 Registered office North Park Lodge South St East Hoathly Lewes E Sussex BN8