How to hire amazing people!

Round & About


In the first of a series of helpful articles, Oxfordshire business hero Peter Mols offers his words of wisdom to help you employ the best people to help your business grow

300- 1: The #1 rule for hiring amazing people.

In the last month, a staggering 300 people have applied for jobs with our small business, and today, I’ll share my #1 rule for attracting the right people to you.

As a business coach, the facilitator of mastermind groups and the founder of a kick-ass networking group, I speak to lots of people who tell me that they scaled their business, only to find the challenge of “managing people” too hard, and decided to scale back down to being a “solopreneur”. It’s a sad story, which, to be honest, is completely avoidable if they’d just followed my #1 rule. 

Decide on the “culture” you want for the business before you’re ready to grow.

In the past month, 300 people have applied for positions at Outside Ideas, and I put it all down to that rule. It’s not because we’re paying the most, it’s not because we’re doing groundbreaking stuff and not because we’re the #1 in our industry (watch this space:). It’s because we focussed on telling the story about the business, where were going and our culture.

I speak to lots of people who tell me that they scaled their business, only to find the challenge of “managing people” too hard.”

I first learned about corporate culture more than 20 years ago during my business degree, when I read, Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson, Branson’s quote, “Train them so well that they could work anywhere, treat them so well they wouldn’t want to” sticks with me to this day.

The reality is, that most business owners are so focused on “making the furniture” that they never find the time to decide on the crucial first step to growth: deciding who you are, what you’re great at, where you’re going, and what you stand for; and WRITING IT DOWN.

By missing this first step, they set themselves up for a life of long weeks, short holidays, and spinning all the plates. 

In “business coaching” speak, we call this process creating a Vision, Mission, and Values, and I start there with all 121 clients.

If you’re a business owner who’s thinking about growing, my challenge to you this month is simple, spend some time answering the following questions:

  • Where is the business heading, where do you see it in 10 years’ time? This is your Vision
  • What do you want to be “world-class” at? This is your Mission
  • What are your internal values as a human? These are your Business values

Next month, I can share my strategy for attracting the right kind of people to your business using the Oi Way of hiring great people, or I can discuss creating values for your business. You chose, and let me know at [email protected] 

Onwards and upwards, my friends!

Local dig reveals ancient secrets

Round & About


Ancient Blacksmiths Unearthed at Wittenham Clumps

Archaeologists have unearthed an exceptionally rare Iron Age blacksmith’s workshop, dating back nearly 2,700 years to the earliest days of ironworking in Britain, right here in South Oxfordshire.

The discoveries were made by archaeologists from DigVentures during excavations at the headquarters of local environmental charity, Earth Trust, near Abingdon. Just downslope from the iconic Wittenham Clumps, the dig revealed a smithy containing artefacts like pieces of hearth lining, hammerscale, iron bar, and the exceptionally rare discovery of an intact tuyere – evidence of a serious ironworking operation.

“At Earth Trust, we’re thrilled whenever discoveries at Wittenham Clumps shine a light on the deep history of human activity in this area,” said Anna Wilson, Head of Experience and Engagement.

“Nearly 10,000 artefacts were recovered during the dig, and as we continue to analyse them the story gets more and more captivating. These new discoveries are literally forging new history before our very eyes and revealing more of the ancient mysteries behind this very special place” she said.

“We can’t wait to share more through our upcoming Festival of Discovery,” adds Wilson.

Festival of Discovery

The key finds will be on display February 17-18, 2024 during a special Festival of Discovery at the Earth Trust Visitor Centre in Abingdon.

The festival includes talks from the archaeologists, hands-on workshops with the archaeologists, and a free pop-up exhibition showcasing artefacts like the tuyere and rare small finds. 

Visitors will have an exclusive chance to see the discoveries up-close and learn more about the skills of these early Oxfordshire craftsmen. Tickets and more information are available here.

Ancient Blacksmiths of the Clumps

Radiocarbon dating reveals the smithy dates from 771-515 BC, soon after ironworking first arrived in Britain around 800 BC. The size of the hearth suggests this was no ordinary village blacksmith, but rather the workshop of an ‘elite’ or ‘master’ ironworker producing swords, tools, wagon wheels, and other high-value objects.

“It’s exceptionally rare to find a complete tuyere, especially one that’s as old as this. Although there are examples from later periods, including Saxon, Viking-age, and medieval pieces, this is one of the only known Iron Age ones in the country, if not Europe. The fact that it dates not just to the Iron Age, but to the first few centuries of ironworking in Britain, is remarkable” said Gerry McDonnell, the archaeometallurgical specialist who examined the finds.

“What’s more, the size of it suggests we’re looking at a hearth that was much larger and more specialised than that of your average village smithy” he continued.

The vast majority of artefacts produced in the Iron Age weren’t very big and could be produced with quite a small hearth, while larger hearths would have taken much more skill and resources to control, said the researchers.

“The only reason a blacksmith would need a bigger hearth would be if they were forging something long like swords or trade bars, or big like cart wheels. And these wouldn’t be done by your average village smithy who would normally take care of everyday objects and repairs” explains McDonnell.

“The fact that this early Iron Age smithy had a specialist tuyere shows us this was much more likely to have been a serious operation by a highly skilled, elite, or master blacksmith” he concluded.

Even though the Iron Age takes its name from the mastery of this metal, sites that provide us with direct evidence of how they did this – especially ones from such an early period – are extremely scarce.

“It’s always exciting to uncover the remains of ancient buildings that were occupied thousands of years ago, but it’s even more special when we find such direct evidence of who lived there and what they were doing inside” said Nat Jackson, DigVentures Site Director, who led the excavation.

“In this case, the range of evidence is remarkable. We’ve got almost every component of the blacksmith’s workshop; the building, internal structures, hearth lining, tuyere, even the tiny bits of metal that fly off when the blacksmith is hammering the metal. The only thing we haven’t found is the tools” he said.

“It’s an incredible thrill to uncover something like this. It basically allows us to peer back in time and see what could have been one of Britain’s earliest master blacksmiths at work” he concluded.

Excavations also revealed an Iron Age settlement including a cluster of roundhouses, an Iron Age pantry, and evidence of ceremonial or ritual activity including animal burials, as well as a later Roman villa where archaeologists found the remains of a tiny Roman pet dog.

Local residents now have an exclusive opportunity to view these finds first-hand and learn more about Oxfordshire’s ancient ironworking heritage at February’s Festival of Discovery.

A new lease of life

Karen Neville


Second Hand September, upcycling furniture and repair cafes are all fabulous ways to fall in love again with something you once cherished, not only will it save you money but you’ll be doing your bit to help save the planet too!

How often have you bought something (often on impulse) got it back home only for it to loiter in the back of your wardrobe unworn for years? It’s probably something we’ve all been guilty of at one time, so this month rather than a) buy it at all or b) leave it lurking unloved, why not get involved in Second Hand September?

The Oxfam run project has been going since 2019 inspiring people to shop in a way that is kinder to the planet and with the recent record temperatures much of Europe has been experiencing it’s only too easy to see the effect of climate change.

In September 2022 more than 26,000 people only bought second hand during the campaign and as one shopper remarked when the initiative launched “I didn’t buy any new clothes for 30 days. Then it became two months and now it’s been nearly four years!”

By buying, wearing and donating second hand clothes you’re helping to reduce the demand for new and thus helping to reduce the damage to the planet. Did you know an estimated 16.2kg of CO2 is emitted for every pair of jeans made, that’s the same as driving around 58 miles in a car.

And it doesn’t just stop with clothing, Oxfam shops and online offer an extensive range of homewares, books and toys too. There are stores aplenty all over, visit to find your nearest one and get donating and buying pre-loved now.

Got clothes you don’t want anymore or just don’t know how to make the most of them, don’t throw them away, help is at hand from Oxfordshire’s Lucy Briggs who combines a love of clothes with her passion for sustainability. She advises being ruthless with your wardrobe, divide your clothes into three piles – keep, maybe and nope.

The “nope” pile is key. Lucy says: “It’s OK to let go. Give it a new home where someone else can love it. Moving our clothes on responsibly takes more effort but dramatically lowers their carbon footprint. Gift to friends and family, attend a clothes swap, donate to charity shops, resell or upcycle.”

Clothes swapping or swishing is a fun, budget-friendly and sustainable way to update your wardrobe, as Lucy says: “The concept is simple – bring the clothes you don’t want and swap them for new ones!” Swishing events are becoming more commonplace – you never know what gems you could unearth. Visit her website at Sustainably Styled.

You can also do your bit for the environment by upcycling and repairing and buying vintage. The Shed in Abingdon offers a hive of treasures, Owner Siobhan Sargeant has always fostered a ‘make do and mend culture’, saying: “The idea behind The Shed was to do my bit for mother nature, zero landfill, an eco-sustainable shop, with eclectic one-off finds, past treasures, make do and mend culture, passing on my ideas.

“I love looking for stock at flea markets, a good rummage is the best feeling ever, the rustier the better, more damage, scratches, layers of paint is a bonus.”

And once she’s hunted down her prey, it’s then the work starts to restore that piece of furniture, ensuring the wood retains as much of its character as possible, sanded back and waxed or painted. Visit her shop in Stert Street, Abingdon and unearth a gem of your own.

Oxford’s Annie Sloan is revolutionising the world of paint and with it how we look at our furniture. Her Chalk Paint is the epitome of upcycling with a palette of gorgeous colours to suit any colour scheme and home you can transform something that may have seen better days into a stylish piece that looks like new and you’ll be saving money too. It couldn’t be simpler to use with in most cases no sanding or prep required and can be used to paint wood, metal, melamine and flooring. It can be used to dye fabric, and is so versatile it can even be used to paint glass!

Visit her website for oodles of ideas, tips and techniques and to see the gorgeous array of colours, there’s sure to be one to revive that chair. More at

Pretty much anything can be recycled, upcycled or repaired and if you need a little help then head to a repair café. Repair cafés are free meeting places where you can repair your toaster or other electrical appliance, a bike or piece of furniture and just about any item you can think of! They’ll provide all the tools and materials you need and there’s expert help on hand to assist you.

Repair Cafés welcome everyone, if you have nothing to repair you can visit and enjoy some cake or tea or lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. The purpose of the events is to bring about a shift away from consumerism and viewing household items as disposable. The focus is on skill-sharing and building community, as attendees will be invited to learn how to fix their broken item alongside the repairers instead of throwing them in the bin.

Volunteer run, there is a network of more than 100 groups across Oxfordshire. Find your nearest one at

Foodies Festival returns to Oxford

Round & About


The UK’s biggest touring celebrity food and music festival series returns to Oxford for a huge August Bank Holiday weekend from 26th – 28th August

Featuring a line-up of celebrity chefs and chart-topping music starts, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Martin Kemp.

Known as Gastro-Glastonbury, Foodies Festival will take place at South Park across the August Bank Holiday weekend. The three-day event features live cooking demonstrations from TV chefs, stars of MasterChef and Great British Menu, plus top-rated Michelin-starred and award-winning chefs.

Star names appearing in the live cooking theatres include: MasterChef 2023 champion, Chariya Khattiyot, MasterChef: The Professionals champion, Alex Webb, MasterChef champion, Dhruv Baker, Great British Menu 2023 finalist, Avinash Shashidhara, MasterChef finalist, Madeeha Qureshi. Great British Menu and Michelin starred chef-patron, Paul Welburn, from the Swan Inn and Cygnet restaurant. Islip, stars of Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers and founders of Black Box Cake, Christine and Phil Jensen, Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch bread expert, Jack Sturgess, celebrity TV chef, Omar Allibhoy and TV chef, award-winning author and British Empire Medal awarded, Manju Malhi.

The musical feast is just as sumptuous with chart-topping diva, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, platinum-selling festival favourites Scouting For Girls, and Spandau Ballet and Eastenders icon Martin Kemp, delivering the ultimate 80’s DJ party.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor said: “It’s wonderful to be joining the Foodies Festival tour again. Warm summer weekends full of lovely food and music, and families having fun together – I can’t wait!”

Throughout the 3-day holiday weekend, visitors will enjoy a jam-packed schedule of TV cooking show champions and award-winning chefs in the interactive live theatres. In the Chefs Theatre, celebrities will create their signature dishes and share new tips and tricks, whilst in the Cake & Bake Theatre, star bakers whip up showstoppers and offer tempting sweet treats.

Visitors can browse the latest food trends in the Shopping Village, meet local producers in the Artisan Market and taste exotic and unusual new dishes in the Feasting Tent – which features a mouth-watering range of street food and delicacies from all four corners of the globe.

Other attractions include the League of Fire’s Oxford title belt chilli eating competition featuring the World champion, ‘Chilli Queen’, Shahina Waseem, fairground, children’s activities, and family-friendly areas.

Tickets on sale now. Day tickets from: Under 6 go free, £3 (child), and £19 (adult). Weekend tickets from £38 (3-day). Home – Foodies Festival.

Eynsham Carnival on Saturday, 1st July

Round & About


Roll up, roll up to this family-orientated village carnival featuring a parade, shirt race, morris dancing & craft fair!

Eynsham Carnival is a village institution – bringing traffic to a standstill on the first Saturday in July.

A parade follows the traditional madcap Shirt Race around the centre of the village ending at the Queen Elizabeth playing field in Oxford Road, OX29 4HG. Fantastic acts, funfair, stalls and a craft fair along with a bar, tug of war and lots of family friendly activities make for a great day out.

Morris dancing, Shirt Race and parade from 11am in the village centre, carnival field open from 1pm. Craft fair 12pm-6pm. Disabled parking only on site, other parking available a short walk away at the Siemens plant.

£5 on the door/ £4 advance/ £3 children & concessions. Under-fives & carers free. Tickets available in advance in Eynsham from Evenlode DIY, Post Office & Eynsham Cellars. Visit Eynsham Carnival and see @EynshamCarnival on Facebook.

Festivals: Live & Direct

Round & About


Summer is on its way which means festivals season! Here’s our guide to the best festivals near & far and the chance to win tickets.

Are You Listening? Black Honey, Thomas Headon & dozens more will rock Reading in aid of Mencap on 6th May;

The 44th international Newbury Spring Festival will also offer classical highlights aplenty, 6th-20th May;

The Investec International Music Festival features world-class concerts including Tenebrae, Julian Bliss Quartet, Sitkovetsky Trio, Gary Hoffman & Wu Qian, walks and talks across the Surrey Hills, 2nd-13th May. Visit

“I’m so excited to be hosting Pub in the Park in Marlow,” Tom Kerridge tells us, “of course, we’ve got some incredible chef hosts topping the bill and I can’t wait for a weekend of good food and good vibes. Top-notch food is at the heart of what we’re all about and I know we’ll have the very best festival food around from our incredible restaurants… we can’t wait for you to try it!” The shindig, 18th to 21st May, also has a sizzling music line-up, too, including Sugababes, The Jacksons, Tinie Tempah, a Dick & Dom DJ set, Ministry Of Sound Disco and Bananarama.

“Probably the finest free music and beer festival in the world…” Rokefest will rock its new home The Chequers, at Berrick Salome, near Wallingford, 26th-28th May, with great bands & more, all for great causes;

Let’s Rock the Moor in Cookham, Bucks, on 21st May offers OMD, Roland Gift, Kim Wilde, Space, Soul II Soul & more;

Andy C, Annie Mac, Camelphat, Swedish House Mafia & dozens of other dance titans will star at Creamfields South in Chelmsford, 26th-28th May. Visit

Want to win tickets to Creamfields South? Find out how at the bottom of the article.

Classical music fans will love the 16th English Music Festival at Dorchester Abbey, 26th -29th May;

ShyneFest at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon, on 3rd June, will star Republica, Rhythm of the 90s, The Replicants, Sarah Dearlove, Doubting Thomas, Ashes & you’ll find bucketloads of family-friendly fun such as escape room games & animal encounters, food, plus camping & glamping options.

Cornwall is worth a visit anytime, especially 2nd to 4th June when Great Estate Festival near Redruth will dazzle with a stonking music line-up starring Primal Scream, The Selecter, Ibiza Symphonic with DJ Andy Joyce, A DJ set from Bez of Happy Mondays (watch this space for our interview next month), Cuban Brothers & more;

Wychwood Festival will rock Cheltenham Racecourse, 2nd-4th June, with Happy Mondays, Travis, Sam Ryder, comedy, a kids’ lit fest, headphone disco & idyllic camping beneath the Prestbury Hills;

Arrive thirsty for Twyford Beer Festival, raising money for male cancer charity Orchid, 9th & 10th June;

Hampton Court Palace Festival offers legends including Grace Jones, Kaiser Chiefs, Björn Again, Rick Astley, Soft Cell, Kool & The Gang and Tom Jones, 6th-17th June. With British Fine Foods picnics & bouji hospitality packages, this is a classy affair…

KITE swoops back into Kirtlington, near Oxford, 9th-11th June, with Hop Chip, Dame Joan Collins, Suede, Candi Staton, David Holmes, Sir John Major & David Baddiel.

The Isle of Wight Festival, the iconic shindig just over the Solent will offer great vibes, starring Pulp, George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers, Robbie Williams, Blondie, Groove Armada & more, 15th-18th June. Visit

Blenheim Palace is the superb backdrop for the Nocturne Live performances from the likes of Lionel Richie, Gabrielle & Pete Tong (with his Ibiza Classics), 16th-19th June. Tunde Baiyewu who will perform on 16th tells us: “Blenheim is an amazing venue so I feel blessed. I’m a fan of Gregory Porter as well as Emeli Sandé who are performing on the same date as me so I’m going to be enjoying it as much as any other member of the audience.”

Scouting For Girls, The Feeling and Barrioke, (with EastEnders star Shaun Williamson) will make for a great Fi.Fest in Maidenhead on 8th July; visit

A$AP Rocky & Tyler, the Creator will star at Wireless Crystal Palace, 1st to 3rd July and Cardi B & Nicki Minaj at Finsbury Park (8th-10th July); Hold on to your hats: Guns n’ Roses will star at BST Hyde Park on Friday, 30th June. And that’s not all: there’s Blackpink on 2nd July, P!nk on 25th June and Take That on 1st July. Visit

Rag’n’Bone Man, Westlife, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Ministry of Sound Classical, the Kanneh-Mason Trio and Jack Dee, as well as an Aretha Franklin celebration will make for another great riverside reverie at Henley Festival, 6th-10th July;

Sugababes, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Peter Hook & The Light, Incognito, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Soft Cell and more will star at Rochester Castle in Kent, 6th-9th July. Marc Almost tells us: “Doing festivals is always so great. There is such a feeling of ‘out for a great time’ and people really are so up for it and generous. This summer, I’m excited about seeing OMD who are always special, and I love Glen Gregory and Heaven 17. For tickets & more info please visit

The fourth Camberley Comedy Festival will take place on Saturday, 8th July, starring Phil Wang & more, in a mini big top tent; And Haslemere Fringe Festival promises another community culturefest;

Jack Savoretti, The Human League, Haçienda Classical, and Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra will star at Kew The Music at Kew Gardens, 13th-16th July;

Jungle Brothers, Professor Green, Sleeper, Roni Size & many more will dazzle at Readipop in Caversham, 14th-16th July. Established in 1998, the highlight helps vulnerable young people and older folk, plus aspiring artists;

Hot Chip, Gaz Coombes, Erol Alkan (disco set) Fabio & Grooverider Kaleidoscope at Alexandra Palace on Saturday, 15th July,

Royal Blood, The Vaccines, alt-J, Shy FX & David Rodigan are among the delights Truck is packing, 21st-23rd July in Steventon;

Our fave bash (and that of our cover star Noel) PennFest is back in Bucks with another bobby dazzler on 21st & 22nd July. As well as Mr G’s High Flying Birds, Johnny Marr will star, along with Gaz Coombes, Bad Manners, Kenny Kenn, Corinne Bailey Rae, DJ Fresh & Jumping Jack Frost. Organisers Nick Billinghurst & Matt Smith said: “We’re so excited about this year’s PennFest. With two such incredible, world-renowned headliners we feel it’s our strongest ever. It’s going to be epic!”

Want to win tickets to PennFest? Find out how at the bottom of the article.

Richard Ashcroft, plus Ocean Colour Scene & The Sherlocks, will star at Englefield House in Berkshire on Saturday, 22nd July. Promoter Giles Cooper tells us: “We’re so excited to be promoting this show with Richard for Heritage Live. I remember seeing The Verve’s first London gig at the King’s Head in 1991, when I worked at NME, with just ten people in the audience. It culminated with Miles Leonard agreeing to sign them by the end of the night!” Hozier will star with Far From Saints on 23rd. Pre-register for tickets at

Fairport Convention will star at the Fleur De Lys in East Hagbourne on 23rd July ahead of FleurFest, the community institution, 28th-30th July, along with Scott Doonican, Gregg Cave & more;

Building bridges, not walls’ is the motto of the inclusive WOMAD, the World of Music, Arts and Dance Music festival, returns to delight Charlton Park near Marlborough, 27th-30th July.

Wilderness, at Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Park, 3rd-6th August, offers The Chemical Brothers, Christine & The Queens, Fatboy Slim, feasting with Adam Handling & Olia Hercules, mindblowing boutique camping options, theatre & more; visit

Fancy a trip to the past, maybe with a hair do to match? Enjoy vintage steam at Retrofestival in Newbury, 11th-13th August;

Stowaway near Buckingham will stimulate all the senses, starring David Rodigan, Irvine Welsh, Little Dragon, with feasting, revelry & more, 18th-20th August;

Retro fave Rewind South in Henley 18th-20st August will star Soft cell, The Boomtown Rats, and many more;

It’s time to go deeper! Chapter Two: The Twin Trail is the theme of the fabulous Boomtown. The team are building the Main City for a revitalised living theatre festival on the theme of The Gathering, 9th-13th August in Hampshire’s Matterley Estate,

Jools Holland will also headline at Weyfest, the boutique festival at Tilford’s Rural Life Museum, 18th-20th August.

Wondrous Towersey Festival will bring you comedy, music & fun, 25th-28th August at Claydon Estate near Buckingham. The line-up includes The Proclaimers, Frank Turner & The Divine Comedy;

Reading (& Leeds) is back to rock the August bank holiday weekend, 25th-27th August. Sam Fender, FOALS, Loyle Carner, Billie Eilish & The Killers are on the line-up;

Big Feastival on Alex James’ Cotswolds farm will serve family fun, food and frolics, 25th-27th August. Perennial favourite Justin Fletcher will delight along with Sigrid, Rick Astley, Blossoms, Melanie C & a DJ set from Hot Chip. Food stars will sizzle, including Big Zuu, Ching He Huang MBE, Asma Khan & Nathan Outlaw. Alex says: “With even more fantastic acts to be announced in the coming weeks, this is shaping up to be our best line-up yet.” Check out the full menu at

Want to win tickets to The Big Feastival? Find out how at the bottom of the article.

Love cars, love music? Then you’ll love CarFest, the family music & motoring festival founded by Chris Evans in 2011, at Laverstoke Park, 27th-29th August; Car-lovers will also enjoy The Billing Off Road Show, home to the most exciting off-road courses in the country;

Wallingford’s BunkFest is in its 21st year. The free-access community festival returns with its winning brew of beer, music and dance, 1st-3rd September;

Curated by Dub Pistols frontman Barry Ashworth, in association with Tonic Music for Mental Health, Mucky Weekender at Vicarage Farm near Winchester, 8th & 9th September, stars The Selecter, Stereo MCs, Goldie, Bez’s Acid House Party, Woody Cook, Eva Lazarus, Stanton Warriors & more with an outer space dress code. Visit

We have the following tickets up for grabs:

10 pairs of weekend tickets to Creamfields South

Two adult tickets for PennFest

Two Friday tickets to The Big Feastival

Click here to find out how to enter.

Ask Mastermind9, guru Peter Mols

Round & About


Local business hero & dad Peter Mols, named the nationwide Networker of the Year and champion of small businesses, answers some questions to help locals in his community

Q. Hi Mastermind9, I’m struggling to generate new leads for my business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out of business and I have some very loyal customers. But with the current rate of inflation, and cost of living, my current clients can’t sustain me. And if things carry on this way, I might have no choice but to completely shut down, or find paid employment to subsidise my income.

I’m working hard; I’m active on social media, I have a newsletter and I’m attending networking events, but I haven’t had a single new client in the last 3 months. My pipeline is dry, and I don’t know what to do. Have you got any advice? Sincerely, AE.

A: Hi AE,

Lack of leads is a really common problem affecting most small business owners. You have to keep feeding the pipeline, and you have to find ways to do this constantly. We think one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is to have only a couple of ways to generate leads. That’s just not enough.

“You have to keep feeding the pipeline”

We would take a closer look at your social media, how often you’re posting, what’s the quality of your content. Are you adding real value to your audience? The same goes for your newsletter. What quality are you offering your readers, and how relevant is your content to them? Are you collecting feedback? These are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

And secondly, if you want to keep your pipeline running, don’t just rely on organic social media posts. Success in 2023 will come down to proactivity.

We’d consider the following:

• Get really clear on your customer avatar (here’s how)
• Creating a top 30 (a list of the 30 companies you’d like to work with)
• Getting a Google business profile and working hard to get lots of testimonials.
• Sending prospects in the post
• Creating downloadable content that speaks to your avatars pains or desires
• Create blog posts with Calls to Action
• Asking for referrals from your best customers
• Advertising in places that your avatar hangs out (ahem… such as Round & About)
• Attending trade shows or business expos.
• Doing more networking

We’re sure that by mixing up the different approaches to lead generation, you’re bound to start attracting some new customers.

We hope that this answers your question and gives you some new ideas or inspiration. Onwards and upwards my friend!

Mastermind9 provides mastermind groups for business owners who want to grow. We bring together groups of diverse and skilled business owners under Non disclosure agreement to create powerful trusting and supportive communities. Visit

Well done to Yellow Submarine team!

Round & About


Oxfordshire charity Yellow Submarine has won a national independent award run by Not On The High Street founder Holly Tucker to continue its great work helping people with learning disabilities and autism live life to the full

Many people with learning disabilities leave school with limited life skills and as a result poor life chances. This often leads to isolation and being marginalised. Yellow Submarine’s project start working with young people in the community settings from the age of 11 onwards, to build their social skills, confidence, independence and ultimately their employability. At the same time, Yellow Submarine supports families and carers with respite.

The team are celebrating their win in The Independent Awards 2022 represent best-in-class examples of UK small businesses. Both the public and expert judges chose Yellow Submarine’s life changing café as the High Street Shop Award winner.

Yellow Submarine has been overwhelmed by the support for the nomination. The votes from customers and supporters led them to be a High Street Shop Award finalist, but never could they have imagined bringing home the top prize on Thursday evening.

Enterprise development manager, Sophie Bradley watched the awards ceremony live from her home with her two young children and was delighted to discover Yellow Submarine had won the £10,000 prize fund after being announced as category winners. On the live awards feed run by Holly Tucker, founder of Not On The High Street, an emotional Sophie said: “The café team have worked so hard over the past 10 years changing the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism as well as providing our customers with delicious coffee and home-made food. To receive this recognition and prize fund will have such a huge impact on our social enterprise!”

The café opened in 2013 to provide a stepping stone into employment for individuals with learning disabilities and autism. Over the years the café has grown and they now bake their own cakes and have an online store to send them across the country. The cafes have now supported over 50 trainees through traineeships and training programmes, graduates have gone on to achieve wonderful volunteering and paid roles within the Oxfordshire community.

The Independent Awards finalists were voted for in a nationwide vote and the winner were chosen by a panel of esteemed judges who are experts in the small business field. On Yellow Submarine winning the High Street Shop Award Jo Fairley, founder of Green & Black said “Yellow Submarine makes me feel proud of how the world really is changing in positive ways – contrary to what newspaper headlines might lead us to feel. I truly wish I lived closer, because I’d be getting my coffee there EVERY DAY.”

Yellow Submarine will be taking their win proudly into 2023 as they celebrate the cafe’s 10th birthday and support more trainees with their journey to employment.

£2 Million River Wildlife Project Success

Round & About


A ground-breaking project created by BBOWT, (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) to create a new channel of the River Thames and restore long-lost wildlife habitat, has been completed.

The 450-metre watercourse at Chimney Meadows nature reserve near Bampton, bypasses a manmade weir and will enable fish to swim along a 30km stretch of the Thames, and spawn for the first time in more than a century.

Created by BBOWT in a £2 million project at its flagship nature reserve. The channel is already populated with native fish, birds and mammals.

Working with the Environment Agency, the trust also created shallow temporary pools called scrapes near the channel. The project has re-established a naturally functioning floodplain habitat. Which was once common across the UK, but was destroyed as rivers were straightened, land was drained and connection with floodplain was lost.

This wetland is now able to store floodwater for longer, helping to protect homes and land from flooding. Predicted to worsen as a result of climate change. The trust is also working in partnership with Bangor University and the EA. Who are undertaking research to demonstrate that active floodplains can store carbon and be part of the solution to the climate crisis.

Estelle Bailey, BBOWT’s chief executive, said: “This project is an amazing achievement for restoring vital habitats for wildlife, to move freely while tackling climate change. Our mission as a trust is to put nature into recovery. We want to see 30% of land in our three counties properly managed for wildlife by 2030. This is a golden piece of that wild jigsaw puzzle. We know we cannot tackle climate change without restoring nature. This project is a shining example to the whole world of how we can achieve that by working together to bring wildlife back.”

This is a golden piece of that wild jigsaw puzzle

The two-year project was funded by a £2 million Water Environment Grant. From the EU’s European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The project was managed by environmental consultancy JCTR, designed by environmental engineering consultancy Atkins, and main contractor on site was Hampshire-based FiveRivers. Which delivered all the environmental, wetland and improvement works.

One of the central aims of the work was to create a channel that would bypass Shifford Weir. A structure has existed at this site since the 1890s. When a new ‘short cut’ channel was dug to connect two parts of the Thames and enable easier transportation of wool from the Cotswolds to London. Shifford Weir is owned and operated by the EA and helps with the navigability and flood risk management of the Thames. But blocks the movement of fish. This is one of the reasons that, in recent years, the river environments in the area have been classified as having poor ecological status.

The new channel, in combination with a new rock pool fish pass at Duxford Ford, will allow fish to pass some of the last remaining barriers on the Upper Thames. Fish will now be able to freely swim around the Duxford Loop of the river. Even during low water levels, to access some 30km of Thames between Eynsham and Radcot, including 2.1km of potentially good spawning habitat. Crucially, this helps populations of native species including barbel, chub and dace to be far more resilient to environmental change such as hotter, drier summers, and to pollution events.

The new scrapes around the channel will help the nature reserve’s curlew. An iconic wading bird with a distinctive downward-curved beak that is in national decline. The curlew is an indicator of the wider health of the wetland. But they need wet pools to feed on aquatic insects and longer grass, in which to nest and hide from predators. Both have now been restored.

The project has also attached ‘baffles’ to Great Brook Ford which will further help fish to swim upstream, and planted new, native wet woodland around Duxford Ford. With hundreds of willow, alder, birch and hawthorn trees.

The entire project was overseen by BBOWT Living Landscape Manager for the Upper Thames, Lisa Lane. Despite the fact that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the middle of the work. Lisa said: “It was really challenging to make this project happen for many reasons. It came close to failing a few times. Lizzie Rhymes at the Environment Agency has been a great support in particular, since we first discussed helping fish over or around the various barriers in the river back in 2010! I can’t wait to show people what we have achieved.”

Chilterns Walking Festival October highlights

Liz Nicholls


Enjoy walk, foraging, local & literary history, cream tea, garden tours and more as part of Chilterns Walking Festival, 15th-30th October.

The tenth Chilterns Walking Festival features a programme of more than 50 walks and local events to help you enjoy the autumn splendour, the golden beech trees and hedgerows bursting with colour.

Highlights include Pipsticks walks on the day before All Hallows Eve for a spooky walk along the River Thames and lots of ghostly tales from the riverbank! Or take a Walk on the Dark Side with an exhilarating stroll through Bones Wood and Crowsley Park, tuning into the sounds and sights of the night, and ending at the pub for hot chocolate.

50 walks and local events to help you enjoy the autumn splendour

There’s also a foraging walk among the magnificent sweet chestnut trees to learn about and enjoy the bountiful autumn fruits of the forest. Literary walk discovering” in south Oxfordshire including the house where he once lived.

Discover and walk some of the ancient routes which criss-cross the Chilterns, exploring Drovers routes and the Slow Ways historic routes. There’s a nature walk at Aston Rowant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of National Nature Reserves. Join the rangers to see the wildlife that makes them so special, finishing with tea & cake.

Tour guide Bobbie Latter will take you on a guided walk around historic Marlow, followed by a hands-on lace-making experience and a delicious afternoon tea. Plus there are map reading courses, pub walks, local produce tasting, historic garden tours and much more.

Find out more

For full info please visit