Aston means business podcast

Stories from entrepreneurs and insights from our experts

Welcome to Aston means business podcasts where our top academics provide essential advice to business owners and managers, entrepreneurs and students. In March 2020 we turned this podcast’s attention to small and medium sized businesses in our community (known as SMEs), and how they are responding to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Our guests are interviewed by Steve Dyson, a business journalist and former daily newspaper editor who has presented dozens of regional programmes for BBC’s HARDtalk series.

Aston means business podcasts can be found on Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.

Season 3 - Episode 7 - Trafalgar Marquees

James Morris, managing director of Trafalgar Marquees, explains how he initially lost 90% of revenues in the lockdown but is now growing again after switching from corporate events to providing extra space for NHS COVID-19 testing centres and school classrooms. Mark Hart, professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston, praises the turnaround, and highlights the new government-backed Help to Grow: Management scheme.

Release date: March 2021


 

Season 3 - Episode 6 - Nomad HR and Recruitment

Amy Foster, founder of Nomad HR and Recruitment in Atherstone, Warwickshire, has launched a social enterprise to help find jobs for the young unemployed. She's already got six back into work, including a homeless youth. Nathalie Ormrod, local director of the UN's Principles for Responsible Management Education at Aston Business School, praises Ms Foster's “inspirational journey” as “heart-warming” and “courageous”.

Release date: March 2021


 

Season 3 - Episode 5 - NLT Electrical

Nathan Tromans, the founder of NLT Electrical, explains how a new marketing strategy has helped him revive his company's fortunes after its revenues were halved by COVID-19. Dr Rob Thomas, a teaching fellow in marketing and strategy at Aston Business School, praises Mr Tromans for his “exemplary” approach in developing a stronger market orientation, improving customer relationships and realigning NLT’s brand values.

Release date: March 2021


 

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Fun Fest

Sarah Beattie, owner of a full-time nursery and the Fun Fest holiday club franchises, explains how government finance helped her businesses survive COVID-19 and is now funding her launch of a new nursery franchise. Martin Potts, a senior lecturer in the Accounting department at Aston Business School, praised Sarah's “financial literacy” and explained how a “working capital cycle” can be used to monitor finances.

Release date: January 2021


 

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Centric HR

Sandra Berns, founder of Centric HR, explains how her revenues have tripled in the last year, partly as a result of an initial investment of free and low-cost advice to companies at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown. Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, says this was a great example of how SMEs can invest to grow.

Release date: December 2020


 

Season 3 - Episode 2 - Integritax

Adnan Khalid, founder of Integritax Accountants, explains how his revenues doubled by using the latest digital accounting tools to help SMEs survive COVID-19. Matt Davies, of the Accounting Department at Aston Business School, says undergraduates are now using the latest Xero software on compulsory undergraduate accounting modules.

Release date: November 2020


 

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Smart Learner

Tommy Sandhu, founder and director of the Smart Learner driving school, explains how the business has continued to grow and now has a four-week waiting list, despite COVID-19. Dr Geoff Parkes of Aston Business School says it's crucial for SMEs to "be focused, listen to your customer, and look beyond the crisis".

Release date: November 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Metal Assemblies

Iain Collis, managing director of Metal Assemblies, hopes a new Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) will drive better data management to increase the car parts firm's efficiencies and profits. Prof Ben Clegg, head of the Operations and Information Management Department, says Aston Business School will act as a change catalyst to help the company's productivity.

Release date: October 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Composite Braiding

Steve Barbour, managing director of Composite Braiding, describes how angel investors helped his component company’s plans to double in size in the next couple of years, despite COVID-19. Angel investor Liz McKenzie said she funded the firm because Steve was “switched on, knew his numbers, was realistic, and had a determined glint in his eye”.

Release date: August 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 8 - The Whisky Club

Amy Seton, owner of The Whisky Club in Birmingham, lost 95% of her revenues because of lockdown. She explains how a loan and small grant have helped her to invest in a new website and casks for online deliveries of bottle collections to customers across the UK. Prof Mark Hart of Aston Business School praises how Amy is keeping her brand alive and said: “Once you put your business on a website you are global."

Release date: August 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Caviar and Chips

Marc Hornby and Jonathan Carter-Morris own specialist catering company Caviar and Chips and the 16th century Virgins and Castle pub in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Marc was first interviewed in episode 13 during lockdown. Marc explains how the pub has reopened and how they are looking after their wedding customers. Professor Mark Hart of Aston Business School says hospitality businesses need clear guidance from the government.

Release date: August 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Special Kids Company

Sasha Radwan, the founder of the Special Kids Company, tells how focused online marketing has helped her special needs clothes business to grow despite COVID-19. Prof Mark Hart, of Aston Business School, says Sasha's company was able to adapt because she already had the right systems and people in place.

Release date: July 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 5 - RWAD Project

Refugee businessman Osama Al Assaf quickly ‘pivoted’ from sports retail to the crafts sector during lockdown to cope with import issues and meet new demand. He also became an NHS volunteer. Dr Muhammed Al Mahameed, an accounting lecturer at Aston, explains how refugee entrepreneurs often react more quickly than many businesses to the pandemic because they're so used to facing crises.

Release date: June 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Rugged Nature

Joe Poxon, who graduates with a Product Design and Management degree this summer, tells how winning £50,000-worth of advertising helped his start-up male grooming business adapt to the lockdown. Professor Kate Sugden, Deputy Dean at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, explains how their students are taught a range of practical skills in entrepreneurship.

Release date: June 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Karim Supermarkets

Anwar Karim, of Karim Supermarkets in Lozells, Birmingham, explains how Asian convenience stores continued to serve communities throughout COVID-19, despite losing staff, friends and family. Professor Monder Ram, Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, said Asian retailers played a vital social role and were among the 'heroes' of the pandemic.

Release date: June 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Streetly Balti

Experienced curry house owner Shahab Uddin predicts up to 30% of Indian restaurants may struggle to reopen after COVID-19 because of social distancing rules. Professor Monder Ram, Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, agrees traditional cheap curry nights out will be over if venues cannot pack diners in. Prof Ram adds that the sector needs to invest and raise prices to realistic levels to survive.

Release date: May 2020


 

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Micro-Fresh

Byron Dixon, founder and chief executive of Micro-Fresh Ltd talks about their ‘fogging’ machine that can coat surfaces in places like health centres, shops and restaurants with its anti-bacterial agents. Mark Hart, professor of entrepreneurship and small business advises Byron on how to expand to a national and global scale.

Release date: May 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Little Soap Company

Emma Heathcote-James, founder of Little Soap Company which produces organic and ethical soap products explains how she is dealing with an upsurge in demand. We also talk to Mark Hart, professor of entrepreneurship and small business about some of the operational challenges that small businesses are facing during the lockdown.

Release date: May 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Green Sisters

Geeta Salhan, co-founder of Green Sisters, which makes homemade Indian snacks for people with dietary restrictions, explains how they're now providing full seven-day meal parcels for customers in isolation. We also talk to Paula Whitehouse, the director of Aston Centre for Growth, about how micro start-ups need more assistance from government.

Release date: May 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Caviar and Chips

Marc Hornby, co-founder of wedding caterer Caviar & Chips, explains how they're working hard with all customers, venues and suppliers because in return they'll look after the business in the long term. We also talk to Dr Julius Stephan, a marketing lecturer at Aston Business School, about how consumers' buying behaviour changes during crises.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Colour Cubed Creative Communications

Simon Greenfield, the managing director of Colour Cubed Creative Communications, tells how his £1 million turnover business has been severely hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, and how he's been let down by insurers. We also hear from Mark Hart, professor of small business and entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, who's been researching the pandemic's impact on businesses.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Rising Stars Property Solutions

In this latest episode looking at the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs Steve talks to La’Toyah Lewis founder of Rising Stars Property Solutions CIC a third sector property management company and Paula Whitehouse Director of the Aston Centre for Growth about balancing financial and social sustainability.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Shakespeare Distillery

In this latest episode looking at the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs Steve talks to Peter Monks co-founder of Shakespeare Distillery and Mark Hart Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business about how businesses are adapting in the short term and the long term.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Miss Macaroon

In this special episode Steve talks to Rosie Ginday of Miss Macaroon a social enterprise business about how she is supporting the mental health and wellbeing of her staff during this crisis and Dr Wladislaw Rivkin an expert in leadership, wellbeing and employee resilience.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Koolmill

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to shut down the economy, we’re working with Aston Centre for Growth to turn the podcast’s attention towards how SMEs are dealing with the crisis. This special series is called ‘Aston means business: SMEs dealing with COVID-19’. In each episode, we’ll be talking to current and previous business participants in Aston Centre for Growth’s programmes. We’ll be providing a voice for them to discuss their challenges, share their experiences and discuss how they are dealing with the pandemic. We’ll also be interviewing some of Aston Business School’s top academics who work at Aston Centre for Growth, getting their expert insight, analysis and advice for SMEs.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Synergy Organisational Solutions

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to shut down the economy, we’re working with Aston Centre for Growth to turn the podcast’s attention towards how SMEs are dealing with the crisis. This special series is called ‘Aston means business: SMEs dealing with COVID-19’. In each episode, we’ll be talking to current and previous business participants in Aston Centre for Growth’s programmes. We’ll be providing a voice for them to discuss their challenges, share their experiences and discuss how they are dealing with the pandemic. We’ll also be interviewing some of Aston Business School’s top academics who work at Aston Centre for Growth, getting their expert insight, analysis and advice for SMEs.

Release date: April 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Fun Fest Ltd

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to shut down the economy, we’re working with Aston Centre for Growth to turn the podcast’s attention towards how SMEs are dealing with the crisis. This special series is called ‘Aston means business: SMEs dealing with COVID-19’. In each episode, we’ll be talking to current and previous business participants in Aston Centre for Growth’s programmes. We’ll be providing a voice for them to discuss their challenges, share their experiences and discuss how they are dealing with the pandemic. We’ll also be interviewing some of Aston Business School’s top academics who work at Aston Centre for Growth, getting their expert insight, analysis and advice for SMEs.

Release date: March 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 5 - CircusMASH

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to shut down the economy, we’re working with Aston Centre for Growth to turn the podcast’s attention towards how SMEs are dealing with the crisis. This special series is called ‘Aston means business: SMEs dealing with COVID-19’. In each episode, we’ll be talking to current and previous business participants in Aston Centre for Growth’s programmes. We’ll be providing a voice for them to discuss their challenges, share their experiences and discuss how they are dealing with the pandemic. We’ll also be interviewing some of Aston Business School’s top academics who work at Aston Centre for Growth, getting their expert insight, analysis and advice for SMEs.

Release date: March 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 4 - How the future of manufacturing relies on servitization

This week Steve sits down with Ali Bigdeli a Senior Lecturer in Industrial Service Innovation in The Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School. His interests lie in the operational and organisational change brought about when businesses intend to introduce technological innovations to the market. His research at the Centre focuses on how servitization helps a business to bring its products to market, expand the scale of its operations and increase financial sustainability and the business model innovation that is required to enable this.

Release date: February 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 3 - How happy and healthy staff increase success

This week Steve sits down with Wladislaw Rivkin a lecturer in work & organisational psychology. Wladislaw's research focuses on the interplay of work-related stressors, employee resilience, and leadership in predicting health, well-being, and performance at work. He also has vast experience as a practitioner who delivered several individual employee and leadership development programmes focusing on improving psychological health and well-being.

Release date: January 2020


 

Season 1 - Episode 2 - How to dismiss bad staff

Our second podcast features Associate Professor Kathy Daniels, a leading employment expert at Aston Business School who shares a set of top tips for bosses on how to dismiss bad staff. Kathy discusses the importance of investigations, evidence and following processes for anyone considering dismissing staff, even in cases of gross misconduct.

Release date: November 2019


 

Season 1 - Episode 1 - What happens when the money runs out

In our first episode Steve sits down with Chris Umfreville an expert in the area of corporate insolvency. Chris is the contributing editor for Palmer's Company law and before joining Aston Chris practised as a solicitor with an international law firm, specialising in insolvency related advice to major UK and international clearing banks and multinational accountancy practices.

Release date: October 2019


 

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