The Business Show (part 1)

ExCel Centre

I went to “The Business Show” at London’s ExCel convention centre on May 11 and 12. (link already updated for the next show)

I’m not sure that I want to start my own business. Possibly I want to be involved in someone else’s start-up. I went to this show to see what it was about, to think about my options and to “dip my toe in the water”. Besides it had loads of free talks and there’s nothing wrong with listening.

The show was in the ExCel centre (the big building on the left, picture above) which is a huge space for holding conventions. It is located in the old docklands area of East London, near London City Airport (in the distance, centre of picture). During the Olympics this was the venue for boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting, and wrestling.

There were several other shows on at the same time, and I even wandered into one of them, but I think this one was enough. Like I said, I’m not sure how relevant some of this stuff was for me, so going to even less relevant shows didn’t seem optimal.

The Business Show itself was loads of stalls, each within their own walled cubicle, with businesses pushing their wares relevant for other businesses. Such as website companies, printers, property specialists, finance, exporting etc. The huge room was divided into six section, and each section was covered in a carpet of a particular colour. Also, each stall was labelled with each business’s name in a banner of that same colour. The colour coding proved particularly helpful in orienting me within the enormous room.

As well as stalls there were 16 ‘theatres’, either walled-off or roped-off areas of seats where speakers gave talks. And there were other similar smaller ‘masterclass’ areas, where you could book to be instructed by an expert in a particular area. The theatres I attended were called Small Business Advice Theatre, Business Startup Theatre, SME Marketing Theatre, Digital Marketing Theatre, Optimisation Theatre and Keynote Theatres 1 and 2.

The room itself was incredibly noisy as each of these theatres and masterclasses were amplified. Each talk was a combination of the speaker giving the audience some information and selling their business. Some gave more information. Some were just sales pitches.

One thing I learnt from the sales pitches is that 7 is the new 9.99. Previously if something cost £50, it would be sold as £49.99. But at this show it would be £47. Virtually every price I saw at this show ended in a seven.

In the next two posts I will give a run down of the talks that I went to, and a summary of the notes I made and impressions I had.

I suppose one of the things I took away from this show was that if I were to start my own business it needs to be scalable. Work on what you know, was one message. Which I do. But what I know is me doing graphics on a computer. I can hardly scale myself. I need a different idea than this for my own business.

One final (small) gripe about the ExCel centre is that there are no toilets inside the exhibition hall. One had to leave the show, or take a lift to a different level. There was no nipping to the loo.

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