Tag Archives: BiP

3D Printing, Break Dancing, Beast Wagon and more

Westminster BiPs logoDid you know that half of young people in the UK aged 16 to 24 want to start their own business? Well, Westminster Councillors certainly do and when they decided to launch Westminster’s first Enterprise Week , to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week 11-22 November 2015, the focus was firmly on young people and access to enterprise.

With this in mind, we hosted an Enterprise Fair at Westminster Reference Library, one of many events held across the council and in BIP libraries for Enterprise Week, showcasing the range of business support and assistance for enterprise and self-employment, creative courses, programmes, apprenticeships, funding and more, offered by organisations from a cross section of industries including fashion, music, dance, food, graphic novels and more.

We were delighted to have with us as stall holders on the day the London College of Beauty TherapyIndustry in the StreetsFashion Retail AcademyNatWest Enterprise,  Westminster Enterprise CentrePortobello Business CentrePaddington Development Trust, Maida Hill PlaceBusiness Launchpad,  Orbital ComicsRain Crew, Young Enterprise and Producer/Presenter N. N. D. who featured sound bites from participants for her programme on The Workplace on ResonanceFM.

Julie Bundy & Simon Aslaaf from Maida Hill Place, at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

Julie Bundy & Simon Assaf from Maida Hill Place

The day’s highlights also featured guest speakers who shared business journeys and industry insights. We heard from Julie Bundy & Simon Assaf from Maida Hill Place , a social enterprise offering tailored support for food industry start-ups, who spoke about food enterprise and the Pop-Up economy, and why food remains their passion – for Julie, it’s the power of food to bring people together under even the most challenging circumstances; for Simon, it was the food industry’s capacity to stay afloat despite the advent of the internet, where, as he reminded us, you still can’t fry an egg!

Clint Sinclair and Sharifa M Momad breakdance at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

Clint Sinclair and Sharifa M Momad breakdance

We were also delighted to have Westminster’s very own Clint Sinclair, in his guise as managing director of Rain Crew London Dance, a non-­profit company working to bring people together through dance, delivering classes, events, performances and community based projects. From Clint and guests we learned about the world of the break dancers or b-boys, and the dance ‘battles’ or competitions that take them all over the world. With fellow dancer Sharifa Tonkmor, Clint gave a brilliant live breakdance performance and then introduced guest Spin (aka Juan David Gaviria), a successful B-Boy dancer who spoke eloquently about how looking to his future, he successfully combined his dancing with enterprise by training to become a barber.

Beast Wagon, created by Owen Michael JohnsonThis was followed by Chris Thomson, Event manager at Orbital Comics who chaired a fascinating discussion with Owen Michael Johnson, twice British Comic Award-nominated writer & artist and creator of Beast Wagon, a black comedy comic book series set in a zoo, and Jason Atomic, artist and all round cross cultural creative & performer.

All talked about how drawing as youngsters shaped their future careers and the economic & creative challenges of working in the comics/graphic novel industry. The panel discussion was recorded and is scheduled to be featured on Orbital as a podcast early next year.

We had 3D Printer demonstrations taking place throughout the day, engaging and entertaining visitors, who also had fun with the 3D goggles.

The 3D Printer - guest star at Westminster Reference Library's Enterprise Fair, November 2015

The 3D Printer – guest star!

We enjoyed the day and especially the opportunity to promote Westminster Libraries Business Information Point services and our special collections in fashion, art & design and performing arts here at Westminster Reference Library. We would like to thank everyone who took part and supported the Enterprise Fair.



Volunteer story

One of our volunteers at Westminster Reference Library‘s Business Information Point tells us about how and why he is volunteering and what he has gained from the experience:

Naseem, the latest BIP volunteer at Westminster Reference Library“Hello, my name is Naseem and I’m 18 years old. I attended a business breakfast at Westminster City Hall where I met Eveleen (who works at Westminster Reference Library) who told me about the Business Information Points.

At present I am studying a BTEC Business Level 3 qualification at City of Westminster College and am planning to go to university in September to do Business Management. I have an aspiration of one day becoming a project manager.

“I was interested in doing volunteer work at the library and am now working at Westminster Reference Library every Friday. I began last November and so far I am familiarising myself with various aspects of the library and the Business Information Point. I joined the library and have already borrowed some of the business books from the lending collection and learnt about the way the books are classified using Dewey Decimal Classification.

My duties begin each week with shelf tidying which includes putting the books in order and tidying the business magazines. I then use and explore the various online business databases available from the library. This is a good way of getting to know the BIP and collections. I will be using the business databases for my college assignments now and in future when I am in university.

Through my volunteer work I have already learnt new things and have developed my initiative & skills through carrying out a range of different tasks within the library. While I will soon go on work placement organised by my college, I hope to be able to continue my volunteer work at the library.”


Westminster BiPs logoYou can find out more about volunteering in Westminster Libraries and about the Business Information Points.

The BIPs run a full programme of events – visit Eventbrite for details.

Doing the business at Westminster Reference Library

Ever wanted to borrow business books from Westminster Reference Library? Well, now you can!

Launch of the business ending collection at Westminster Reference Library, September 2013Another milestone in the history of Westminster’s Business Information Point (BIP) project: We started with a single BIP in 2008 at Westminster Reference Library, which later grew and expanded to include three more libraries, the so-called ‘MiniBIPs’, located at Paddington, Pimlico and Church Street libraries. All four sites offer excellent support for established businesses and would-be entrepreneurs, including business books and journals, online business databases and events with networking opportunities.

The idea for the Business Lending Collection was sparked by our customers who regularly requested to borrow our excellent business books. As a long-established reference library this was not our normal practice, but we thought “Why not?” The ongoing BIP project gave us an opportunity to establish a small business lending collection. Since this was a new terrain for us, we took inspiration from the excellent lending collections held at the other BIP libraries.

The launch party was well attended and everyone was delighted with the new service which was thought to be long-awaited and necessary.

Launch of the business ending collection at Westminster Reference Library, September 2013We celebrated the launch of this new Business Lending Collection with guest author Barbara Anderson who signed copies of her book ‘Manage On Nil Every Year: How to make sure every pound you spend makes sense!‘ – one of the books now available for loan.



Paddington Library hosts monthly talks for the local business community, who wish to see their business grow and to network with other budding entrepreneurs – exchanging tips, advice and generally supporting each other. This is part of the library’s role as one of Westminster’s Business Information Points.

Manage On Nil Every Year, by Barbara AndersonThe most recent event was led by author Barbara Anderson, who gave an inspiring and spirited presentation about her new book ‘Manage On Nil Every Year – how to make sure every pound you spend makes sense’. Across six chapters, the book covers:savings, investments, protection, borrowings, debt solutions, and ‘the watchmen’.

The presentation was made jointly with Barbara’s publisher and the two of them did a question and answer session – there were questions about her career and background and how she came to set up her own company. Barbara talked about networking to build up a client base, and how it’s not an easy task to set up a business if you do not have much collateral or money to support you  – but with a positive, can-do approach it IS worth it!

Barbara Anderson at Paddington Library, August 2013Barbara has a loyal ‘fan club’ and many attendees were from across London and had never been to Paddington Library before. It was great to welcome so many new faces.

If you missed this talk and it appeals to you, come along to Pimlico Library – another of our Business Information Points – on 19 September when Barbara will be speaking again.


An ExCel-lent opportunity to show off our wares

Eveleen and I visited The ExCel Business Show last month to promote Westminster Business Information Points (BIPs). This event is organized every year  to create stimulus for budding entrepreneurs and business people.

BIP staff at the ExCel Business Show 2013

After a brisk tour of the many exhibits and saying hello to colleagues from The City Business Library, we set about promoting the BIPs and telling people the business benefits of a Westminster Libraries membership card – chiefly the opportunity to access fantastic online resources, free.

Zsuzsanna and the lizard at the ExCel Business Show 2013While this lovely Bearded Dragon lizard was unable to join, we signed up more than 50 professionals and enthusiasts. They included Blondell, who is keen to set up a business in the motor industry, and Guru, who knows he wants his own business but is not sure which path to pursue.

We were able to advise Blondell that she would be able to research the motor industry market using MINTEL, Keynote and Marketline reports, and Guru that he may find it easier to narrow down his business idea by first reading “20 tips to help you choose a business idea” from COBRA and then exploring the Business Opportunity Profiles which are available for pretty much every start-up you can think of – and many you probably can’t.

At the ExCel Business show 2013Whilst inside, one was overwhelmed by the sheer number of stands – there were more than 150 exhibitors, including business giants like Lloyds TSB Bank, PC World, IKEA etc., as well as small startups run by one or two people. The whole place was buzzing with deals being made, products and services being explained, people being enticed into buying, understanding, selling and networking. It was a frantic adrenaline rush for anyone entering the arena, with very inspiring and motivating lectures and seminars from famous speakers like James Caan.

At the end of day with tired feet and dry throats we came out, leaving behind the exciting world of the Business Show. We met many people at the event who were delighted – and astonished – to discover that there is a free service out there, with no hidden costs for their business research. Most found it hard to believe that thousands of pounds worth of invaluable market reports and more are available to use, free, from Westminster Libraries. We’re proud to host one of the best and most comprehensive ranges of online business databases in the country.


Our neighbour’s business

Business InformationLast week I headed out west to ‘Hammersmith & Fulham Means Business‘, described as the ‘biggest business expo in West London’. I was charged with getting the word out about what Westminster Libraries Business Information Points have to offer.  Joint provision of Triborough library services was suddenly writ large!

Westminster Libraries Business Information Points was one of over 50 stands, an interesting mix of small independent companies and support organizations. On this occasion, I was flying solo and while I initially bemoaned the fact that, confined to my table, I could not readily mingle with the crowd, I soon found that plenty of people wanted to chat. So much so that eventually I had to steal not one but two chairs so people could stop and chat and – more importantly – fill out membership forms and join Westminster Libraries in relative comfort.

So, of the 27 people who went home with a new library card, who joined and why?

Pimlico LibraryThere were sisters who wanted to set up a pet accessories company, a young man already running a lingerie company and seeking to further establish his business, a would-be designer & retailer of eco friendly jewellery wanting to get started.
It was heartening too to find people who were already trading now looking to expand, make new contacts or find out how to go about recruiting and employing people.

Paddington LibraryWhat, they asked, could Westminster Libraries Business Information Points do for them?

We provide access to some of the best, if not the best, online business information databases in the UK. License agreements with online providers mean that users must have a Westminster Libraries card to get access – something that the advent of Triborough Libraries has made easier for everyone in the three boroughs.

Church Street LibraryTo use the examples above, the sisters joined to access COBRA as it provides hundreds of business opportunity profiles, including one on pet services. It will tell you how register your company, or how our would-be jewellery entrepreneur can set up as a sole trader, or locate premises, start retailing online or from a shop. The lingerie entrepreneur needed market research to support his expansion – he will find all that he needs an more with Keynote, Mintel and Marketline. The eco jewellery designer wanted to use recycled materials and scrap metals – the KOMPASS Worldwide online products and services directory will help source these materials from the UK and beyond.

Westminster Reference LibraryNetworking was an issue for many sole traders or those already self-employed, Experian company information database will allow users to find new industry contacts and create mailing lists to market niche services.
All the BIP Libraries in Westminster hold events monthly providing excellent networking opportunities. You can also find out about these by liking BIPs on Facebook.

Not only have library members access to a wide range of exclusive business databases, many are available remotely from home or office via the 24/7 Library. So for all the above reasons and more, people took the opportunity to join Westminster Libraries to get access to these online information sources because they knew immediately they were on to a good thing! No argument there.


Business Focus: Dominica Alicia

Dominica AliciaSocial media entrepreneur Dominica Alicia recently gave a presentation at Paddington Library’s Business Information Point. Afterwards we spoke to her about how she approaches her business.

What’s your professional background?
I have been an employee for almost 12 years. I started working at the age of 15 because I wasn’t getting any pocket money and felt worse off than my friends and classmates. I got my first job as a sales assistant in one of the clothes shops in my town. I was attending college from Monday to Friday and working over the weekends. At the age of 19, I passed my exams to get into business school, but due to lack of funds, I was forced to find a full-time job and study part-time. I have two faculties: Finance and Strategic Management.

My first “real” and full-time job was as a sales assistant in a mobile phone shop, where I got promoted to a shop manager within just 2 months. That’s how my “employee career” started… My friends were telling me that I had been born with a silver spoon because at the age of 19, I was in a high management position and earning good money. Over the next 8 years, I climbed the career ladder in big international companies such as Orange and Yum!, where I was responsible for day-to-day management, marketing and recruitment.

What made you decide to start a business?
As a child, I wanted to become a doctor. I loved helping people out and for me, at that time, being a doctor was the only way to do it. When I was 12, I met my grandpa, who was a successful entrepreneur, and he became my first business mentor. My meeting with him had a huge impact on my future. Over the time, I knew that I wanted to have my own business in the future, a business that would help people. Despite the fact that I have been very successful in my job, something has always pestered me. I have had in mind all the lessons my grandpa taught me. I had so many ideas but it was difficult to implement them in my work place. I felt limited, like a slave. I earned a lot, but I hardly had any money. My childhood dreams about helping people kept coming back to me, but I had no idea how to make a business out of it. Finally, to my friends’ amazement, I left my job and moved to the UK. And that’s how everything started.

What is your business model?
I have a couple of businesses at the moment, or let’s call them “income streams”, like consultancy, training company and a marketing agency. In Wealth Business Experience, my team and I help businesses to attract more clients using online marketing techniques, mainly local marketing and social media. I am also an internet marketer, so I follow the newest strategies and apply them to my businesses first. If they work for me, I use them also for my clients. I am a totally results-driven person and if a client pays for a service, he/she must receive Return On Investment.

Before you started the business did you have a business plan?~
Yes and no. As soon as I left my job in the UK (as I was working here for a while), I started an eBay business. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but, at least, I had some freedom and could implement my own ideas. One day I received an email from some unknown source with an invitation to a marketing seminar. I decided to give it a try and went to learn new strategies on how to advertise my eBay shop.
It was the biggest eye-opening event in my life. Over 3 days, I learnt more than I had during my 5 years of formal studies. I realised that if I learnt this stuff, and offered it to businesses, I would be able to not only build a strong business, but help people at the same time. It was also a great consultancy opportunity, something that made me even happier, since I love meeting new people. Right after the event I started applying some strategies to my eBay shop and my sales increased by 250% just over a two-month period.
My friends got interested and since they were running some businesses as well, I started sharing with them some ideas. They got results and sent me some referrals. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, and there was no plan at all. Howeve,r before I decided to dedicate myself to this business and close the eBay shop, I spent a good couple of weeks on doing market research, analysing the competition, identifying a profile of my ideal client, setting up goals etc. I started small with some online marketing consultancy, but my business took off the ground very quickly and I knew that I would achieve whatever I wanted.

Where did you get the capital to start? Was it easy to get funding?
I started this business with next to no money. I did invest in an online marketing course and mentoring, which helped me to start with my consultancy. It was around £2500 from my savings. I have never asked for any capital to grow my business. I did not need to. I had enough clients in my first month to make a living. I am still investing in my knowledge, but I don’t hesitate to do it, because it helps me to provide outstanding services and better results for my clients:

Better Results = More Happy Clients = More Referrals = More Money

How long have you been in business and what are the key challenges you have faced?
I’ve been in business for 2 years now. There were many challenges. When you are an employee, others organize the time for you. There are some rules and guidelines, which you need to stick to. When you are working at home, there are plenty of distractions around you, like a ringing phone, distracting and time consuming websites, preparing another cup of tea… to name but a few. You really need to master the planning and stick to it. Otherwise, you will fail…
Another challenge is having undecided clients. There’s nothing wrong with them, we are here to help and advise. However I once had a client for website development. I did not sign a contract with them and the project took 8 months. They had no idea, what they wanted and kept changing the design… It cost me a lot – not only money and time, but also shattered nerves.

What’s the most important part about running a business?
You need to be really persistent, as there will be some ups… and downs! Running a business is not a rocket science though, if you have a plan. Set up your goals and measure your progress. Lots of businesses do not monitor their results. You have to know your numbers. What is your financial goal for this month, this week? What is the lifetime value of your client?

What’s your approach to cash flow?
As you probably noticed, I am really focused on numbers. And I know my numbers. I constantly monitor and measure my results. I know exactly how much I spent on every area of my business. I always pay 10% of all income to my “Financial Freedom Account”. This money is being invested in gold and forex and creates some passive income for me. This is always first. Then I pay all other expenses: salaries, trainings, stationery, etc.

What advice would you give someone thinking of starting their own business?
Do proper planning. Set up your goals. Ask yourself what you would like to achieve in 1 month, 1 year, 5 years…? How do you see yourself in 1 month, 1 year and 5 years? Research your market? Find out what the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors are. Define the profile of your ideal client. Brainstorm some marketing ideas. That’s really at least 70% of success. Ensure you measure and monitor your progress. Know your numbers: how much and by when?
You need to get it right. Time management and other skills – you can learn them over the time, but planning is the most important part.