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Ask my wife if I should be giving time management tips, and she will probably laugh.

Here I am, a man who still types all his emails with just one finger. She jokes that I run my whole business with that finger – and she’s not wrong. But over the years I have learned some productivity tricks that help me be a much better businessman – even if I’ll always be slow at one or two things…

I get up at the crack of dawn each day. It means I’m up and productive at least two or three hours before most people. Don’t get straight on the laptop – take your time. I actually take at least an hour to get ready in the morning. This isn’t as terrible as it sounds; I do some of my best strategic thinking with a spoon of porridge in one hand and my phone in the other. This is one of the benefits of getting up really early – it’s quiet and calm and you can think in peace. I’m usually at the office with a clear inbox by 8.30am.

BigChange breakfast

Cheat at emails

I’m dyslexic so writing emails can be a struggle. I can spend a long time using spell-check and a thesaurus to get messages just right – but automatic corrections can result in more errors than they solve. So these days I let Google do the heavy lifting. You can search for readymade messages online. I lift paragraphs and then just have to edit them slightly to make them work for you. It’s an amazing timesaver.

Be brutal with meetings

Every meeting must have an agenda, clearly stating what outcome we are trying to achieve, and listing the topics we need to cover. This helps keep everyone on track. I’m also getting better at knowing which meetings I actually need to attend – once you have your ego in check, you realise you don’t need to be present for everything. I find that whenever I’m called away for something urgent, and all my meetings have to be moved or cancelled, I know pretty quickly which ones need me and which ones I can remove from my schedule entirely. Sometimes I arrange meetings, turn up just to make sure everyone else is there, and then leave them to it. When you’re running a business, it’s important to be ruthless with your time when you can.

BigChange conversation settings

Hack your inbox

I use Outlook and have a system in place, which sorts my email into conversations. This means that my long list of unread messages is grouped by subject line. So even though I may have 200 new emails, they come up as just 15 conversations, which is much more manageable. Any email I need to keep an eye on is given a red flag, which means it’s easy to sort the urgent ones from the low-priority. Unlike many business owners who will limit the time they spend on email, I’m on it all the time. I have no attention span, so you’ll find me sneaking a look at my inbox during meetings or when I’m with my family. But that level of obsession has helped me grow my business – I know what’s going on with my business every moment of every day. I think you need that level of focus to be successful when your company is young and growing fast.

Find thinking time every day

I don’t drive and I travel two or three days a week, so I get a lot of thinking time on train journeys. I absolutely love it. I’m dreading the arrival of HS2, which could slash my thinking time by half. Growing a business is like climbing a flight of stairs. Each year, you ascend another step. Gradually, you get higher and higher, which means you can look back, and see where you’ve come from more clearly. This is when you really need your thinking time, to assess what you’ve done well – and badly – and plan for the next step.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. I certainly have… Writing this post has made me realise I need to take a typing course. It’s never too late to start using all 10 fingers! I’d also love to hear your time management tips, so please leave a comment below and help me to keep on learning.

All the best

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

Every year, I read articles claiming to know the best place to start a business in the UK.

The same old cities always get a mention. London. Bristol. Cambridge. Edinburgh. Today, I’m here to tell these researchers they’re wrong. It’s Leeds.

Five years ago, I founded BigChange. It’s my second tech start-up based out of the city. I knew this was the best place to do it, because I’d seen the benefits growing my last business, Masternaut, here. In fact, I couldn’t envision building a company anywhere else.

The city is home to the most incredible and diverse workforce in the UK. They come from our top universities, or are trained up by all the ambitious companies based here. Whether we’re recruiting for back office, commercial, technical or marketing employees, we’ve never struggled to find great candidates.

When building a team, you want as many different kinds of people on board as possible. Every perspective or experience helps to build a better product for your customers. Leeds is a cosmopolitan, vibrant city; this is not something that’s unique to London.

People here are happier than those in the capital. Their wages go further each month, and there is such quality of life here. You need to earn a minimum of £30,000 a year to live in London, and have any spending money left over after rent and bills. You’ll probably have to share with others though.

BigChange sceneryIn Leeds, you can have your own flat for that money, plus have money to spend on fun things and save. My colleagues all live in neighbourhoods they like, and feel that everything is within their grasp. Those that like the city life have their choice of restaurants, bars, cinemas, music venues, shops and stuff to do. We even have our version of Greenwich Village it’s called Chapel Allerton. Those that want a quieter life can live in the countryside, and yet Leeds city centre is just a 20-minute drive away.

A few members of my team have spent time in London. They lasted about five years before coming back here. They saw that the grass wasn’t greener after all. It’s easy to burn out in London, especially for younger people. You feel compelled to go out and be seen to be living a certain kind of life, which involves burning the cash.

I can’t even moan about our infrastructure. Leeds Bradford airport may be small but I love how quickly you get on and off the plane. Trains take a couple of hours to London but it’s time that I really value. I clear my inbox or spend the time doing some creative planning. I’m not a fan of HS2 – it will be too expensive and cut into my valuable thinking time.

The only downside to Leeds is the football club. But let’s not talk about that.

BigChange Leeds supemarket

Some incredible businesses have started life in Leeds. From M&S, which was founded in the city back in 1884, to Next, which began as a tailoring company in Leeds in 1864, to supermarket giant Asda, this place has been the launch pad for many bold and successful entrepreneurs. It is now the second-largest financial powerhouse in the UK, second only to London. And the tech scene here is thriving. Who needs Silicon Roundabout when you have Future Labs?

I love being a West Yorkshire entrepreneur building a business that employs people in the local area. But I don’t just do it because it feels good, I do it because Leeds is the best place to find great people, have a great life, and build a world-beating business. My last business ended up employing 500 people, which is something I’m really proud of. With BigChange, I hope to create something even bigger.

All the best

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

When I was a kid, building my first business selling artisanal bread, I met someone who made a great impression on me.

Back then, I was on the Government Youth Opportunity Scheme, which gave young people £80 a week to put towards setting up a business or learning a trade. I was exhibiting at one of the events organised by the scheme, and all my bread was on display.

This man, was involved with the scheme, came up to my stand and said: “What you need is to find someone who can varnish your bread for you. That will really make it glow. I know someone who can help.”

Martin Newspaper
I didn’t know it at the time, but the man’s name was Arnold Ziff OBE, and he was the boss of a £100m property company called Town Centre Securities. Yet, off he went, this millionaire entrepreneur, and two hours later he returned with a piece of paper. “Give this guy a call,” he said. “He can help varnish your bread for you.”

Arnold Ziff MHDSRIP, who passed away in 2004, was an incredibly successful businessman but that’s not what he is remembered for. He was a renowned philanthropist, who gave away much of his fortune – mainly to projects and good causes around Leeds. And he wasn’t flashy about his charitable work; he did most of it under the radar, helping anyone who needed it – even me.

Last week, I was lucky enough to receive an award from the Institute of Directors (IoD). Not being big headed but I’ve won a lot of awards over the years. This one was different: it was for corporate social responsibility (CSR). It felt like my greatest ever accomplishment.

Martin Port IOD director

Charitable work is so important to me. At BigChange, we currently support 18 different charities, across mental health, cancer, education, and careers. These are all causes that are close to my heart.
There are many reasons that I love to help charities and support my local community. It starts with my faith, which is all about sharing and giving. We call it “Tzedakah” in Hebrew and it underpins my whole view of the world.

All my colleagues at BigChange get it. I’ve been so touched by people’s generosity and commitment to our charitable causes over the years. It creates such positivity within our organisation.

Ultimately, when BigChange reaches a certain size, I would love to be able to spend more time working in charitable organisations. Not sitting on committees or joining boards – that doesn’t work for me – but driving real change. I’d like to run projects and deliver on goals, and help charities cut costs and be more effective.

Some time ago I did some work with Age UK, which receives a lot of donations from supporters in the form of bags of unwanted goods and clothes. But when they were taking these donations, they weren’t asking for names and addresses, which meant they couldn’t claim Gift Aid (which allows charities to claim 20pc extra back from the government). We advised them to change their policy, and now the charity makes an extra £2m a year through Gift Aid.

I’d love to do more projects like that, and I hope that other company bosses follow suit and turn their entrepreneurial talents to the third sector.

It brings me great joy to have built a profitable company that can give back, and to have become an entrepreneur with the skills to help charities build better organisations. I hope that Arnold Ziff OBE MHDSRIP would be proud, and I hope that, one day, I too will be remembered. Not for how much money I made, but for helping others.

Martin Port Signature
Martin Port
Founder & CEO

BigChange, the mobile workforce management company, today announced that its billings for the first six months of 2018 grew to £5.46 million, a 75% increase on the corresponding period last year.

Following a record 2017 in which the company achieved full year turnover of £6.6 million, BigChange has signed more than 100 new customers and secured 3,000 additional users of its mobile workforce management platform so far this year. New customers include ArcoBraemar Shipping Services PLCBID GroupBioMarsh EnvironmentalJackson Fire & SecurityPHMG and Snorkel UK.

BigChange’s cloud-based platform provides organisations with a range of productivity tools for mobile workers and those responsible for managing them. The unique system includes CRM, job scheduling and vehicle tracking functionality, a mobile app for paperless operation as well as a new on-demand booking app that customers can use to facilitate rapid comparison, service scheduling and payment by their own users.

Since its launch in 2013 BigChange has helped monitor and manage more than Eight million jobs and tracked sufficient driving miles to cover over 100,000 trips to the moon. The company has expanded the size of its workforce from 60 to 80 people since the start of the year.

Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, comments:

“Advances in cloud computing and mobile technologies have allowed us to create a simple, scalable platform and start a revolution in the way organisation’s of all sizes monitor and manage their mobile workforces. We’ve been growing at a healthy rate for several years and seen demand accelerate in recent months.”

Martin continued:

“BigChange brings about lots of little changes in organisations that add up to make a big difference in how they operate, liberating them from paperwork and plate spinning so that they are free to do what they do best. Across our customer base we are helping to reduce risk, boost safety, create efficiencies and enabling the delivery of smarter, more customer friendly service.”

I got into the show for the first time last year. My wife started watching it, so I was hooked. It’s overtaken Coronation Street and EastEnders as the top show watched in my house.

I just love the concept. It’s so light-hearted and upbeat. There’s no violence or real despair. Between Love Island and the World Cup, I genuinely feel like people across the whole country are waking up looking forward to the day. They feel the future is full of promise and entertainment.

Love Island Cast

I don’t have time for the people who say Love Island is “low brow” or un-PC, but then my kids are all over-18 so I don’t have to worry that they’ll be too influenced by the show. My sons watch it with me but my daughter isn’t such a big fan. I think it’s strange for her to see her dad watching girls in bikinis on TV – even though my wife is just as addicted!

This year’s hopefuls are an interesting bunch. The girls strike me as really vulnerable. There are often tears and outbursts. They seem so young. The boys, however, unless they truly have feelings for their partner, seem better suited to the villa environment.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching the personalities develop on screen. We employ a lot of young people at BigChange, so I have been trying to work out which contestant – if anyone! – I would hire off Love Island. And who I would avoid like the plague. I’d like to know what you think of my choices.

I’ve decided that out of all the hopefuls, I would definitely hire Samira. When I listen to her speak, she sounds so well-reasoned and sensible. That’s probably why she hasn’t been getting off with anyone; she thinks before she acts. She seems a more “together” person than many of the others in there.

Samira Love Island

I could definitely imagine her working at BigChange, either in sales or project management. I think she would be able to understand and communicate even complex technical products. I’m a big fan of Dani too, but she’s a bit too happy-go-lucky. Her head seems in the clouds.

As for who I’d kick out of a job interview, it’s got to be Josh. He has no restraint. He’s just like a puppy, always after the new toy. I’m also not a big fan of Dr Alex. Don’t judge me but I think he’s a bit of a wimp. I’d hate to turn up in A&E and get patched up by him. He’s probably a nice guy but seems so naïve.

As for Muggy Megan, she is getting a hard time from the public. I wouldn’t hire her because she’s a bit too much like Josh – easily distracted. But I do worry about what will happen to her when she leaves the show. I think she will be completely unprepared for what’s awaiting her on the outside. I hope she has people she can rely on to shield her from the worst of it

I wonder how much of the show is manufactured and how much is genuine. Alex Epstein, who was on The Apprentice, has worked at BigChange so I know from him that things aren’t always as they seem in reality TV. It’s easy to get stitched up in the edit.

Whatever you make of the show, you can’t deny that it has become an economic juggernaut. Online clothing brands are making a fortune from being associated with the show. Companies are vying for product placement on the programme. It has created its own fashion economy.

Can you believe that 3.4m people watch the show? I love that everyone, young and old, rich and poor, from every walk of life, seems to be into it. I was at the Dorchester at an awards ceremony last week and heard Andrew Marr talking about it. I bet that they’re chatting about it at Chequers. Theresa May will be arguing with Boris Johnson over their favourites, and Philip Hammond and Michael Gove will be butting in with their tuppence worth…

Ultimately, I think we all know who’s going to win this year. It’s got to be Jack and Dani. But don’t worry, Samira. If you miss out on the £50,000, there’s a job waiting for you here at BigChange!

Martin Port Signature
Martin Port
Founder & CEO

The UK’s leading bed manufacturer Silentnight has saved more than 400,000 litres of fuel in the last five years, cutting CO2 emissions by over 1,000,000 kilos as part of its sustainability drive.

The leading manufacturer identified an opportunity to enhance its delivery experience for both the independent retailer and the home-delivery customer and implemented the BigChange Transport and Delivery Management technology in 2013, before upgrading to the latest version in July last year. The move has now seen the business named as a finalist for a Technology and Innovation award at the prestigious Logistic Awards 2018.

From its state-of-the art factory in Barnoldswick, the Silentnight Group manufacturers over 500,000 beds per year and delivers direct to consumers, via a network of independent stores and through some of the UK’s leading furniture retailers.

The BigChange platform offers an all in one system combining back office delivery planning, a proof of delivery app for drivers, defect management and real time tracking, alongside paperless delivery which ties into the company’s wider sustainability agenda.

Robert Livingstone, Operations Director at Silentnight said:

“Our aim is to not only deliver the best night’s sleep for our trade and home delivery customers with market leading products, it’s also about ensuring we lead the market with our delivery service.

Robert Continued:

“The BigChange technology has ticked so many boxes for us; it’s driving tangible savings, transforming customer service and is a key part of our sustainability drive.”

Silentnight has prevented a staggering 105 million plastic bottles from going into oceans and landfill in just one year, after launching its Eco Comfort mattress manufactured from 150 plastic bottles. It has also pledged to support the Marine Conservation Society as part of its drive towards a greener planet.

The Logistic Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in the logistics and supply chain sectors, recognising the most impressive achievements throughout the industry over the past 12 months. The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 20 September at the Swan, Shakepeare’s Globe, London.

Bobst Lorry



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