Walk a mile in my shoes

I spent the weekend with a very dear friend of over 45 years. We had a blast. It was an extraordinary time as we both run our own family businesses and snatch a coffee or lunch maybe a couple of times a year. She is passionate about her business which has escalated beyond recognition and she is a leading light in her sector. I’m so proud of her achievements. The business is growing at a rapid pace and she is on it literally 24/7, 365. A total inspiration. I love her to bits and we talked about her business and the challenges as you do.

My business is a membership, events and consultancy one and hers is in manufacturing. At one point she got very annoyed with me and said how on earth could I ever imagine what she did, the plates she spins, the amount of staff she is responsible for, the competitive nature of TV and the amount of money she has to make to keep the business afloat. Of course she was right. You have to walk a mile in someones shoes …… lesson learned.

We did however speak about the important things we have both experienced, the ups and downs and downs and ups. You get the picture. But there are a few things we absolutely share that are vital to our well-being as entrepreneurs. REPUTATION is everything and the bigger you get, the harder it is to maintain throughout the entire workforce. TRUST is a rarity, but we are lucky that in a family business its a given with our family members. And JOY which is what we both have in spades.

I love her comments here:

‘As you go through life, there will be good days and what I prefer to think of as growing days. Sometimes, when the odds are stacked against you, and there seem to be more growing days than good ones, there is always the temptation to throw the towel in, walk away or even lash out. What I would say to my beautiful children is simply that


Don’t you just love that!

Time Honoured Skills: The Rarest of Finds

What is it about luxury goods that make us want, desire, covet and admire them? Is it the rareness of the wood, leather, metals, or the unique craftsmanship or recipe handed down through the generations? Is it knowing if you need to know the price, you can’t afford it? Is it the secret network of suppliers to trusted makers? Is it the name of the brand and knowing you can be part of the inner circle if you were just able to get your hands on it? Of course it is all of these things and more. But above all is that luxury is based on TRUST, LOVE, PASSION, KNOWLEDGE AND KINDNESS.

We trust that the products are made with authentic materials, of the highest quality and from the rarest of finds. We know that each and every masterpiece was made with love which oozes out of every grain, cloth, gemstone, casket and glass. Passion is in your DNA and you can’t live without a passion for your craft, come rain or shine, good times and bad. When putting your mark on a piece, each one is an investment of your knowledge and skills over several years, therefore you know that it was created and will be received with love. Most people don’t have the stomach for it in this easy come easy go world we live in.  And finally, luxury is produced only as a result of the kindness afforded to the family behind the brand, the way they treat each other, praise and nurture their people who in turn, gift this emotion to their customers.

Family businesses have been supplying luxury goods since the earliest of times and continue to hand their knowledge and craft skills through the generations. Boodles, Bremont, Chivas Bros, Russell & Bromley, Fortnum & Maston, Clive Christian, Sliver Fleet Boats, Lobb, Ettinger, Capstar Chauffeurs, The Goring, Le Gavroche, Bovey Castle, Britain & Co, Scott Dunn, Walkers Shortbreads, Highgrove, Floris, Johnstons of Elgin, James Purdey & Sons, and John Smedley are just a tiny sample of contemporary as well as multigenerational family owned enterprises that provide the world with some of the most iconic British made brands around the globe. And it is no coincidence the UK produces 10 of the worlds top 50 luxury brands in sales.

Luxury branded products come from a sense of place. The most valuable whisky from Scotland; world class cheese from Yorkshire, hand-made leather goods from Walsall, Glass from Devon, Gold from Wales, bespoke yachts from Dorset and the finest woollen-wear from Ireland. And more often than not they are thriving family owned enterprises.

Big is certainly not beautiful, it can be bijoux and priceless.


A new opportunity, purpose and confidence booster.

In celebration of the 5th year anniversary of Micro Biz Matters Day on Friday 11 January 2019 and in recognition of all of us who run micro businesses all over the UK I’ve made three pledges #IGave11 to support the sector. My first is to promote the day across all of my social media and contacts nationwide; the second is to offer 11 single hour sessions to anyone running a micro-business who feel they could benefit from my experience, advice, ideas on anything from branding to business marketing and family business advice. You can even just pick my brains! I’ve been in business over 35 years now – been there, done that, got the T shirt so to speak. If I can be useful in any way then do get in touch. No problem too small or too large!

Okay so let’s talk:


•Micro businesses are small and don’t have the cash to pay for an apprentice or a uni intern

•It’s a ‘win win’ because it’s NOT about the money.

•For every graduate who gets a job straight from uni there are thousands who have the talent but just don’t have the confidence to take the first step on the career ladder. Most end up working in retail.

•Many grads have little self worth, low self esteem or have mental health issues.

• Often youngsters have no idea of their purpose in life and don’t know who to turn to or where to begin – or even know the questions to ask. You can ask ‘What do you want out of life’?

•A micro biz is thriving, working, growing ecosystem and as such needs fresh resources, bright thinkers, risk takers and next generation team players.

•A micro biz can teach, encourage, nurture, build confidence, provide new skills and drop them in the deep end! You’ll be surprised how well this tactic works. Everyone steps up to the plate given half the chance.

•Every self-funded intern will be given a personal bespoke One Year Programme according to the role that’s available, provide training and learn how to feel comfortable with people, peers and clients.

•This is a ‘get work ready’ opportunity.

•Mentoring and work experience is provided as part of the programme.

•You can guarantee the intern a job through your network of friends, family, connections and business associates.

Here is an example of a bespoke programme I put together for one of my self funded interns. (For convenience it’s a shortened headline only version). Followed by her Testimonial and then 6 months into her new job. I placed her with a wonderful family business where she is thriving. She is on her way to success. Lucy worked with us 4 days a week and worked in retail the other 3 days to fund her rent, travel, food and beer money. She provided her own computer and software.


Bespoke 1 year program for a Junior Graphic Designer at Family Business Place


This is a 1 year post grad programme to enhance the practical experience gained working on live design projects as part of the FBP creative team.  The work and reflections should form part of a portfolio and should include scrapbooks of notes/the brief/reference material/design progressives etc.

Tutor time must be built into the programme of work in order for the student to feedback and discuss the themes.

For practical reasons the programme modules will be governed to a certain extent by the live working cycles of FBP ie regular events, marketing campaigns and magazine publishing dates.

Technical on-the-job training will be given while working on projects – in both formal manner and/or bite-size chunks a required. The student will also be expected to enhance their knowledge by subscribing to and following on-line learning courses (Linda.com and YouTube).

The course is delivered in a way that allows the student to develop his or her own specialist interests within the broadly structured graphic design units as they become competent, confident and independent.

FBP, based in Ditton near Maidstone, Kent has good public transport links to central London where the largest number of creative agencies in the UK have their premises. The proximity enables you the student to build meaningful industry links and enables staff to organise regular visits to exhibitions, festivals and events.


Programme structure

This will be an in-depth introduction to graphic design – with opportunities to develop the student’s creative thinking, build their technical knowledge and complete a number of small scale creative projects.

The program will consist of three elements:

•Live projects

•Research and reflection

•Self Initiated in-depth research and design projects


The Programme


Module 1 – Introduction to Magazine Design

Formal on-the-job tuition

To coincide with live magazine production

Research and reflection

Task 1

Research the magazine Industry

Task 2

How creativity Is maximised

Task 3

Examine and research the structure of magazines


Module 2 – Introduction to Illustration

Task 1   

Research illustrators and illustration style

Task 2   

Research examples of illustrations and professional illustrators from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries

Task 3

Live practical

Illustrate 6 features for use in Generation magazine


Module 3 – The Design Brief

Task 1

Reflect on the personal qualities needed to take a good brief

Task 2

Study different briefs from past projects

Task 3

Taking a verbal brief


Module 4 – Introduction to Branding

Creating a new brand

Listening to the client

Understanding the audience

Task 1

Look at super brands around the world

Task 2

Build your own brand

Task 3

Practical live work

Task 4

Creating a brand bible


Module 5 – Animation

Research best software for creative animation

Create an animated Christmas card for FBP

Homework: YouTube and Linda.com undertake an e-learning to aid the skills in animation


Module 6 – Web Design

Formal on-the-job tuition

Understand basic structures of site construction

Identify key factors: ease of use, location, traffic

Task 1

Look at websites

Task 2

Design a website from scratch

Task 3

Put together a Mail Chimp e-newsletter

Task 4

Use WordPress to build  a basic web page using images and text

Task 5

Build your personal promotional website in WordPress


Module 7 – Branding, Promotional design, Brochure design

Task 1

Working with the FBP brand guidelines develop a new theme for The National Family Business Place Awards

Task 2

Research great brochure design

Use of layout, typography, imagery, paper stock, info graphics

Write 500 report on findings?

Task 3

Live practical

With the creative team design the new theme for The National Family Business Awards across all media channels from concepts to pre-press and digital


Module 8  Infographics

Study great infographic illustration styles

Task 1

Increase your knowledge of Adobe illustrator software and use Linda.com tutorials to design info graphics for a feature in Generation magazine

Task 2

Create a scrap book showing different styles of infographics to illustrate facts and figures

Task 3

Develop an FBP house style for information graphics. Take 10 killer family business statistics and produce a set of promotional postcards using infographics


Additional on the job activities and assignments

Introduction to Art Direction of photography

Print production

Development of creative ideas

Weekly blog

External work experience

External mentor



Final End of Year Show

Confirm date and create a private view invitation for friends and family, local businesses and local press

Curate showcase of work in the studio

Prepare speech

Receive FBP Academy Certificate


Lucy’s testimonial

My time here as a design assistant at Family Business Place has been incredible and certainly life changing to say the least.

Being given the chance to use my creative skills in the real world from the very beginning at Family Business Place has well and truly built my confidence as a designer, illustrator and young creative who always dreamed about working in design but not quite knowing where to start, who to talk to, where to go and not even having the confidence to put myself out there.

The bespoke design internship program created by Chairman Anita Brightley-Hodges has provided me with a wealth of things; not only friends and a great support network of peers to go to for advice and support at work, but also the amount of professional design skills I’ve learnt has been amazing. I can now use all the design software that an industry level graphic designer uses.

There has been an abundance of advice on design, portfolios and new designers I had never before heard of and came to admire. I have also met some amazing people along the way, and attended some amazing events and had work experience in between.

Anita provided me with an amazing mentor who is a well-respected figure in the design and typography industry. It was a great priviledge to help put a selection of award-winning work together for a show for The Type Director’s Club. Anita believed in me even though I didn’t quite believe in myself. When I had my first meeting with Anita, my confidence was at a 2/10 and now it’s at an 8/10 not only in design but equally in my personal life.

My dreams finally came true towards the end of my internship when I was offered a job in design, something I wasn’t sure  how to do by myself, will always be eternally thankful to Anita and her generous welcoming team at Family Business Place for providing me with the skills, knowledge, professionalism and most importantly confidence to go out into the real world.


Lucy Parris: Graduation from 12 month self-funded Graphic Designer Internship 6 months on …

I have been working as an illustrator and graphic designer in a thriving and exciting industry for the past 6 months after completing my internship and have loved it and Family Business Place helped me get there.

I joined Anita and her team at FBP as part of a self-funded internship program in graphic design, which is something I always wanted to do on a professional level. Without the internship I wouldn’t have gained all the valuable skills I now have, such as technical and digital skills, knowledge in graphic design as a multimedia discipline along with people and social skills.

I am using all the skills I learnt with Anita in my current role and I can really put into practice my expertise and feel confident in my dream job which involves using specific design software, technical illustration, pitching ideas and producing exciting products for an international customer base.

The work I do on a day to day basis is really important to me and I am so grateful for being able to wake up every day and do what I love. I do have to pinch myself sometimes. But all it takes is one brave decision, trust in yourself and trust the people you work with. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made as it has change my life for the better.

In just 6 months in I have learnt so much. I am constantly growing every day and developing my practice and skills within design. I’m looking forward to continue working with my creative team and continue to grow as a designer.

This is just the beginning for me!


One of the highlights of our National Family Business Conference this year was the talk from Lord Bilimoria founder of Cobra Beer. The theme of the event was ‘GRIT’. What does it take to get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other in the face of adversity – be it through health, financial crisis, reputation meltdown and the like. Here is a man who has faced many challenges that would thwart other mere humans. He has fathomed, fixed, adapted and not just survived, but flourished to such an extend he is on a global brand trajectory.

Key to his success is his phrase ‘Humbitious’ I love it. This is where ‘a humble attitude meets ambition’. This so resonates with me and I expect with many others. I have also learned that especially when you have lost everything and there are dark days; there are those out there, friends, family, mentors, who come out of the woodwork, wanting to help in any way they can to get you back on to your feet. This experience in turn becomes part of your own DNA and fills you with the confidence and determination not just to come right, but to go further than you every thought possible. His three pillars for success are:

Simple stuff you may think, but hard to achieve and we know it may take a lifetimes work. I think it worthwhile holding a mirror and being honest with yourself when answering these questions. Without these three pillars there is no business worth having. In family business we can control these things much more than in a large corporate. We innately surround ourselves with those we trust – we know our brands are unique and often have been strengthened through the generations and finally we can make a deal on a handshake and look our customers and suppliers in the eye.

If you struggle with any of these thoughts, then do get in touch. Helping family enterprises discover their hidden gem of a brand is what I do.

Looking back and thinking forward

It’s the last week leading up to Christmas and we call it a day for a couple of weeks for all to enjoy a well-earned break. I’ve been doing a bit of looking back at our achievements, not so good choices, family challenges, as well as business.

For me some great events and projects include:

  • Northern Conference at Bowcliffe Hall with our fab host Jonathan Turner. Seeing family business chums who value this very special community and sector of the UK and Irish economy
  • Helping new clients with their family business challenges. Christmas can sometimes be a difficult time and can magnify hurt – whilst we put on a brave face
  • Being a guest speaker at PwC, Credit Suisse, Herts Chambers of Commerce on all things family business
  • Trekking 165km of the Camino de Santiago and raising just about 10K over the year for Alzheimer’s Research
  • Launching our Family Business place Membership – whoa!
  • Interviewing Lord Karan Bilimoria of Cobra Beer and the unstoppable Dame Stephanie Shirley
  • Having Wednesdays off with my Grandson Hendrix – pure joy!
  • Welcoming newbies on board, Rhian in Art, Caz in Membership, Danielle in bookkeeping
  • An exciting reshuffle of the Family Business Place focus and strategy
  • Attaining my Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising and taking part in the annual FFI Global Conference
  • Hosting a record-breaking year at the National Family Business Awards and welcoming the most uber amazing fabulous family firms from around the UK and Ireland.
  • Amalia winning the IoD Family Business Director of the Year – soooo proud! Firmly putting the family business sector on the map.
  • Launching the Kent Family Business Unsung Heroes Award – humbling and enriching – celebrating all those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make our family businesses shine

The list goes on, and too many fantastic events in 2018 to mention them all. Some sadness this year – in holding my mum’s hand as she took her last breath – dementia is cruel – and watching my dad’s health deteriorate with COPD. Sobering times to reflect on how lucky I am. So blessed, so thankful. Our parents make us the people we are today. What gems and gifts do you take from yours?

I’m sure like many you, it has been an up and down year, but that’s why we are here – to support each other over the coming months of uncertainty, family issues, business challenges. Mostly though I urge you to make the most of family at Christmas and to approach the New Year with optimism, energy. Let’s look to each other for support, advice, trade, and influence to help us to flourish in 2019.

Wishing you all a time of peace, harmony and love. From our family business to yours.