Richard Alvin, the Founder of Capital Business Media, tells Business Matters the inspiration behind the company which is going from strength-to-strength even during the covid 19 pandemic
What do you currently do?
I am the founder of the Capital Business Media group (CBM), which includes the company which owns the Business Matters brand of magazine, website and digital output.
The company also owns the other small business related brands of Travelling For Business and Not Ltd, the property titles: Stay and Improve and Property Portfolio Investor as well as our newly launched EV Powered which covers everything electric vehicle from e-scooters to electric cars and electric taxis to electric powered plant machinery.
The company also has an office in New York which is responsible for the global fund management community EFM.
CBM also has a contract publishing division which produces consumer products for Aston Martin Lagonda and the Infiniti Motor Group.
I am also the chairman of specialist business research company Trends Research, which started life as a partnership between the Telegraph Media Group and Capital Business Media. We acquired the whole company in 2006 and now specialise in research of the UK SME community for a whole host of clients from the UK government to telecommunications companies O2 and Vodafone as well as some of the largest PR companies to help them gain national coverage for their clients.
I have also been the advisor to entrepreneur and host Peter Jones on the US business support programme Save Our Business. I subsequently replaced Jones to be the on-screen host of the show broadcast on HBO and TNT.
Like other business owners, I love to be involved with the actual doing side of the business, so I often find myself involved in all areas of the company.
I’m also a people person, so you can guarantee that I’ll be grabbing any opportunity to arrange a zoom or call with someone, whether it be a client or an associate. It’s something I feel is important in our line of work as casual conversations often provide great insight and you can discover things about people which they may not have thought were relevant.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I was lucky enough at the start of the decade to sell the two media companies I had founded and grown to large national media groups for large multiples. It was always the intention to stay involved in media and I saw that the global media group EMAP was selling two of their – then underperforming – business to business magazines Business Matters and European Fund Manager. Offers were made and once accepted a company was needed to purchase the brand and CBM was born.
Through hard work and a dedicated team we took the underperforming Business Matters within 10 years to be the UKs leading business title and appointed as the official business magazine to the London 2012 Olympics, which was a huge honour. We have continued to grow Business Matters, focusing on a multi-platform approach, and the rolling content website has grown organically month-on-month. However we have seen a huge rise on all our indicators at the start of the UK covid 19 lockdown and in September 2020 the website received over one million page views.
What defines your way of doing business?
I firmly believe that business should be, and is about relationships. Whether it’s a relationship with your clients, suppliers, team members or anyone else, people buy from people. If you employ a team with shared values, that’s what makes you stand out, especially in a deadline driven organisation like ours. With the right people, the best technology available, and strong processes in place, you can’t go far wrong.
What do you admire?
Determination and hard work. And, I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who possess those qualities.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
In the past I have invested in a number of start-up and growing businesses. Sometimes those investments were on a business angel basis, others saw me taking a seat on their board. I made an investment in the loss prevention company CrimeDeter through a direct approach and didn’t do the same level of due diligence that you would normally do and ended up writing off my whole six figure investment into the company. So the moral of that story is regardless of whatever business you are going to buy, take a role in, or make an investment into, you must do your homework.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Collaborate. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Be prepared to make mistakes, they’re going to happen, just make sure you learn from them, and learn fast.
Reward and recognise your employees as they are the key to a successful future. Define your values early on so that you can remain true to yourself throughout your entrepreneurial journey and embrace technology and ensure that your team have the very best ‘weapons’ at their disposal to carry out their roles.