Why I am heading home, and not to Business 2012

Guest blog post written by Nikki Hesford, MD of the Miss Fit group of brands http://www.missfituk.com and business speaker.

There is certainly something ironic about a business exhibition that is created to show us all how to run a business, failing so miserably in the basic lessons of running one itself. School boy errors – lots of them, which is not surprising when the MD is little more than one himself. Now I am in no position to be ‘ageist’ – I had my son at 17, bought my house at 19 and started in business at 22. I am still only 26. However, I will also be the first to admit that in the first year or so of running my business, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow half of the time.

One thing I am learning as I get older myself, is that you begin to pay more attention to detail and you have a better understanding of doing things competently – for example you start moving the sofa to hoover under it, rather than just going around it, you start rinsing the plates before you put them in the dishwasher, you go on holiday packing plasters, safety pins and washing powder…. Under the age of 25 everything is hap-hazard, with an ‘it’ll do’ mentality – a sentiment strongly resonated at Business 2012.

I was signed up to Business 2012 last summer as a keynote speaker, and we agreed the terms of me coming to the show. To cut a long story short, I was told the person who had agreed my contract (the Events Manager) didn’t have the authority to agree a contract with me and they couldn’t honour it. One of the terms was that I was a speaker in the main hall, as it would not be worth my while taking two days from home and travelling to London to speak to an audience of fifty – I was told this simply wasn’t possible, that the main arena was for speakers who had paid substantial sums of money to be there. I was told I would have Hall12 for 200 people. Not entirely satisfied, I couldn’t be bothered arguing and agreed to the amendments as I was looking forward to the show and I had publicised my attendance.

On the morning of Sunday, and slightly irked that I had missed the Paddy’s Day pub celebrations to get the train down as well as my son on Mothers Day – I tuned in to Twitter to read numerous ‘Don’t bother coming down here yet, its absolute chaos’ tweets.

I arrived at the o2 (I have never been before) and I’m looking around for the Business2012 logo and a sign that says ‘This Way’ as per all other shows I’ve spoken at. There was none, so I headed towards a queue (“Britishness” – to see a queue and get in it without knowing what it is for). To cut another long story short, nobody knew where I should be, where I should go or how to get me through security, I finally got in and they didn’t have a badge for me so I was given a silver wristband.

My speaking slot should have been 12.45 but it was actually revised for 1.15pm – when I got there, a handful of people had arrived, but none of them had come to see me. I don’t know who they were expecting but it wasn’t Nikki Hesford. It turns out the online planner, where many people had pre-arranged their visit had advised everybody that I would be speaking at 2.45pm. But the small A5 booklet clearly said that I was speaking at 12.45pm. Confused? Me too. I did the best job I could, and as I was leaving the room a queue of people ask me where I am going as they had come to see me – in their hand is the A4 magazine, which says I am speaking at 2.15!

So it’s now 2pm ish, I can’t be bothered going all the way home to come all the way back for the drinks and Richard Branson gig, and I don’t fancy loitering for three hours freezing my backside off, so I’m told there is a coffee/rest room for VIP Elite/Speakers to use. I head off looking for it, I find it, but of course I don’t have a pass to get in. So as a last resort, I decide to seat myself in the Indigo lounge and hear Nigel Botterill speak, thus comfying myself in readiness for the main man.

Nigel, who I haven’t met, but follows me on Twitter (he probably won’t after he reads this) started off as a very good speaker and I was impressed – he was likeable, energetic, and made a few good points. Then came the hard sell. I have spent £343,000 on learning about business” and “If I wanted to learn to play the piano, I wouldn’t sit myself down and try and work it out for myself, I’d get a teacher” (you can see where this is heading…?) “Buy a mentoring package with Nigel, owner of seven different million pound businesses ONLY £1000 (I can’t remember the exact price to be honest) if you book it IN THE NEXT TWENTY MINUTES”.

Before I knew it, booking forms were being passed down my row of seats, and we were told ‘this price is only valid for 20 minutes, book it now”.

Well I was a little shocked. I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about hard selling a heavily discounted £1000 product with a twenty minute expiration date to impressionable wide-eyed small business owners at a business show? And then I start wondering to myself, exactly what IS a “million pound business”? Is it a million pound turnover? Profit? Or just a valuation? Well one of Nigel’s million-pound businesses (which is actually his wife’s but we’ll move swiftly on…..) ‘My Mag’ has told 1200 packages since 2003, at £2,397 so assuming everyone paid full commercial rate (does anybody actually do that?) that’s £350,000 turnover a year. If that makes you a million pound business, then I’m one too! Yippee! (Only two of the 7 ‘million pound’ businesses were registered and the turnover was too low to require declaring it. However the abbreviated accounts were interesting, as Mr Botterill claims to have been taking home £20,000 a month in 2004 with N5 and that it was wonderful – but the 2004 accounts show a formally insolvent position. (Perhaps it was insolvent because the MD was taking a £20,000 a month salary?)

So we move on, Richard Branson begins his session and he is delightful and funny and inspiring – the highlight of the day. He advises us ‘you can’t learn business in a school, you have to just do it, however small you start, you’ll learn as you go along”. Very good advice, I hope some of the people who had just parted with £1,000 were listening.

Image representing Richard Branson as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

We proceed to the ‘VIP Elite’ drinks reception, and the entrance is so chaotic I am starting to feel as though I’m on the Titanic and I’m queuing for the last remaining lifeboat. Sir Richard is ushered in, people are calling his name, whistling, shouting – I need a reality check, this is a business event with business professionals? Anyone would think I was outside Old Trafford with David Beckham walking past.

I go into the reception, everyone has been given a piece of paper to get one drink. I don’t have one of these, I don’t even had a badge or a pass yet, but thankfully the barman gives me a glass of wine anyway – because by this point I think I must look like I need it. Now this event was advertised as a drinks reception with Richard Branson, a chance to network, complimentary drinks…. Apparently people have paid a lot of money to be there.

The area where I’m sat suddenly became quite empty, and it became apparent that everyone had fled to the third floor – I wasn’t sure why, but I’m British and I saw a queue so I got in it. I ask the chap next to me what I’m queuing for and he tells me ‘a photo with Richard Branson’, at which point I leave the queue. I don’t want a photo; I want a bloody glass of wine. It’s now about 8.30pm, I haven’t seen Richard Branson, I can’t get a drink, it’s pitch black in the venue and I decide to sack it off and go home. As I am leaving, I see Richard Branson being herded between hoards of people for photographs like a prize pony at farmers market and he doesn’t look entirely comfortable with it and neither am I, and I leave.

I was due to return to Business 2012 again today as a speaker, and although the consensus is that the organisation has much improved overnight and lessons have been learned, I simply cannot muster the enthusiasm to loiter around with my bags (I have to check out at 10am) in the freezing cold, by myself, all day until my slot at 4.30pm, which will inevitably run late, and will inevitably have nobody in it as everyone stampedes to the Indigo lounge to bagsy a seat for James Caan at 5.25pm. Another major faux pas on behalf of the organisers as this hall is miles away – visitors can see the celebrity speakers without having to come within 100 meters of an exhibitor. Bet the exhibitors love that.

Now I should add, that I am impressed by Vishal Misal’s ambition and determination to pull this off, and what he has achieved is actually quite phenomenal – the footfall was very good, they certainly attracted the crowds and secured some brilliant names, but the problems are in the attention to detail which comes with experience and maturity. You simply cannot hold an event of this magnitude by ‘winging it’ – I suspect in his hap-hazard approach he hasn’t considered breach of contract, (has a solicitor even been within ten feet of a Business2012 contract?) and the potential for disappointed exhibitors and purchasers of VIP passes to make a claim for a mis-sold product. I do hope he has plenty of cash reserves, just in case….

I apologise to anybody who had hoped to see me speak, but having already lost 36 hours of my life that I’ll never get back, and leaving an 8 year old back up north and a very large pile of things that need doing in the office, I deduced that it was time to go home and thus I write this post to you on a wonderful Virgin Pendolino – cheers Sir Richard Branson!

Comments are welcome, please keep it clean 🙂 You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @NikkiHesford

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About Nikki

Author of many 30 Day Blogging Challenges, Nikki spends her time helping small businesses with Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing. With 17 years of experience, she hasn't yet found someone she couldn't help to get more business from their website.


  1. Beethoven was self taught; Branson did not get a mentor. Churchill and Einstein all achieved despite rhetoric of the time suggesting “a trainer should train you” . If I wanted to learn the piano today I would goto Youtube, If I wanted to learn how to repair my bike I would goto youtube ( oh wait! I did ! http://loudmouthman.com/2011/05/03/on-your-bike/ ) what we might learn today is that the old adage of PT Barnum applies today “There is a sucker born every minute”. Of course if your business is selling services to baby dysons they your quids in !

  2. Wow.. an nice perspective from a speaker… I am rarely negative about business things and usually find the positives so hopefully they have seen the traffic and are reacting.. I am sure Richard doesn’t appreciate being a prize pony but is probably used to the hullaballoo he creates.. I think @huddlebuy need to look at what they advertised as well as the event people..

    Here’s to us all working together and creating a really cool on-line relationships with everyone who was at the show and many more besides…


  3. Gosh, does sound a tad disorganised Nikki – I think a woman should sort it next year 🙂

    It’s difficult enough giving up family & work commitments to go somewhere like that but to have to put up with the mistakes too must have been the salt in the wound.

  4. Hi all,

    I think overall there are some fair points raised – Vishal has clearly done an awsome job in getting this even spinning and generating the hype (everywhere I have been online there has been an advert for the event).

    I almost bought an evening with Richard Branson for £1,000+vat months ago, but was talked out of it by my wife (Not that I will ever tell her it was a great call) and I would have been very cheesed off if the tweets going to the #biz2012 hashtag were to be believed.

    The selling during a seminar is just wrong – there are so many different ways to sell and I have read Nigels book and think its pretty good to be fair as was the marketing bump I got for his latest training course but I think he may have let himself down with this trick.

    Overall I agree that its the attention to detail that make these things a success.

    The question is I have already paid £50 for my train ticket to go the the show tomorrow – do I go down and take a look or stay in the office and deal with a mountain of paperwork?

  5. Excellent blog… had me nodding & chuckling from the first line.

    …and am I glad that I didn’t trundle out that way today – thank you, Nikki(s) 🙂


  6. Well said Nikki. I have attended similar ‘wolf in sheeps clothing’ types of events – one in particular called the Entrepreneurs Summit. The event is disguised as a chance to listen to some of the ‘best entrepreneur’ and learn from their experiences but you end up listening to hour about hour of elaborate sales pitches wanting you to part with £1000’s – the cheek of these events is that you pay to go to listen to these sales pitches!!

    Whats wrong with good honest free advice from those who have made it (surely the good ones don’t need the money). Your business will get good will, a good name for itself and you’ll feel so much better for it.

  7. Dave Collins says:

    In the current economic climate, with start ups and small businesses being failed by the banks and the government, an event such of this should have been a positive and essential part of any start up management teams calendar. A 20 minute time window to take advantage of a £1000 coaching offer from a business man I have no track record with…not the help as the MD of a start up I was hoping for. I will be honest and say that in the end I chose not to go at all, having seen Nikki’s comments and others I decided that time (the most valuable investment my business can get) was better spent in the office. Our business is based in Battersea so not even a huge distance to travel but I don’t go to an event like to to spend money, I go to learn and network with like minded people.
    An opportunity missed!

    Great post Nikki and thanks for posting it Nikki(the other Nikki).

    Right back to making it up as I go along!


  8. Love the article Nikki. So a Business Coach used his talking slot as a sales pitch? Shameful behaviour. There’s far too many ‘self proclaimed’ business coaches out there who have never run a successful business (outside their coaching business, which as you’ve noticed, they’ll claim it is ultra successful). Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there getting milked by people who have done little more than read a book or take a short course.

  9. Good for you, standing up to them. As you say they focused so much on getting the numbers up and speakers they forgot look at the details of how the days would progress.

    I find the irony of it being a business event particulary amusing.

    Hard sale techniques like Nigel’s of this price only for 20 mins, while do make me stop and think do I want this product enough. Also make me think “don’t touch it with a barge pole” anything you spend that amount of money on you want to thourghly research and read reviews about, not be rushed.
    Or maybe that’s how it works pushy sales and no chance to change your mind.

    Hope you can find some positives to take away from this, or at least something that are a little less negative 🙂

  10. Have to say that this article could have been written about the National Achievers Congress 2011 – pretty much the same issues. We were due to attend Business 2012 but for once I am grateful that life got in the way. I enjoyed listening to Branson and Sugar at the NAC last year but had no plans to see them again this year as I wanted that time to see other keynotes. However, I am again appalled at the hard sell that is coming out of this event – I find it an insult and witnessed masses of folks fighting over the ‘once in a lifetime deal’ last year at the NAC – as Branson said – once in a lifetime deals come around every two weeks. I am shocked that Branson et el have put their name to such an event. Sugar said that there was no such thing as ‘get rich quick from a box’ and he is correct.

    There is a huge need and demand for a good business event – I would be happy to pay for it – nothing in life is free and I am sorry that the author wasted her time but good to have her feedback on it…maybe it is this sort of feedback that is needed.

    Party on.

  11. Love this. As for the hard sell. He must have just read Influence by Cialdini and said “sod it let’s just do it” scarcity tactics, faux under supply, time period, etc…
    It can be used for good but jeez there are some idiots out there who don’t mind ruining their rep for a few minutes of a quick buck

  12. Wow! Great review of the event, honest, open and to the point. Makes me very glad I didn’t go. I gave my travel card to my mum to head out there yesterday and I was going to go today, however, after the chaos of her registration and fury at having to listen to an unknown speaker sell his ‘sob story’ (surely they cant All have been overweight, divorced and £100 000 in debt?!?! 😉 and then push a package, I decided to stay at home and work on the businesses I do already have.

    I think that many of these new business gurus are leveraging off of the ‘celebrity culture’ we live in and in people’s need to be ‘something’ other than employed or self-employed. There is a real lack of integrity in these companies as they sell the ‘promised land you to can be like me’ approach. It’s all BS obviously, and I agree with the comment above that most of the main business guys we know, like Branson etc have done it with sheer hard work, determination and learning as they go from errors they make.

    I’m staying away from these hard-sell expos with ‘business gurus’ and sob stories in future. Mum made a wise suggestion: if you want to learn from Richard Branson, find every video, book or piece of content he’s written, and study it. One to one time.. without the £1000 price tag.

    Amen mum!

  13. This is Mum, the one from the comment above. 🙂 Yes, I signed up and went along (thankfully it didn’t cost me anything else I would really have been peeved) to the Business 2012 event hoping to learn something and perhaps get to hear Richard Branson in the flesh (so to speak)….I don’t need a photo, just to hear him speak would have been good enough. However, like you I found no indicators of where it was, just a lot of lovely young girls with WTF? written on their t-shirts…as it turns out that meant Wealth This Way!!! really? the original meaning would be far more appropriate. The queue was massive, the chaos undeniable and after 20minutes without much progress I left the queue and marched past the ushers and visited the 1st of the break-away rooms & caught the last 5minutes of Stedman’s talk. Next up was Norman Aaron or Aaron Norman…not sure which, but half way through when he got to the “I was fat/fired/divorced and $100,000 in debt when someone took me under his wing and made me a millionaire and now I can do the same for you with my $6,000 package” I got up an left. I am so sick of the Personal Development bs…”I was a loser like you and look where I am now sob-story of I was fat/fired/divorced & $100,000 in debt’ hard-luck story” They all say the same thing and it’s boring.
    Sorry I didn’t get to hear you speak Nikki, my level of patience did not run to longer than 45minutes….instead I went out and did the most sensible thing…I walked around London taking photos and enjoying the sunshine 🙂 I will however look up your blog and follow you on twitter. And I am sorry you didn’t get to have a good time in the evening…you were not alone. And as someone above quite rightly said: folks like Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and James Caan just went out and did it! They didn’t need a $6,000 package or whatever.
    Thanks for the blog, I was really glad to note it wasn’t just me!
    @notjustagranny and @3days_in_london

  14. Thanks both Nikkis for publishing this. Not surprised at the Botterill story, as Nikki H says, a little research into how he does what he does should be enough to warn people off but sadly enough of them keep buying into his franchises to make him look good.

    Thoroughly argee with Cemanthe above – there is a lot of great advice available for free and people who are *really* successful don’t need to do the hard sell – people will will beat a path to their doors.

    I really don’t get this business exhibition thing. The biggest exhibition hall we’ve got is the internet. We can find out who is worthy of our attention before parting with a penny and without moving from the office, and get *real* testimonials from people we trust on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus etc. Why pitch up to be sold to when you can make a buying decision without having to listen to the crap?

  15. What a refreshingly honest blog post! I don’t blame you for not hanging around for the next day and share your dismay at the lack of organisation and your poor welcome. I especially love your take on paying for a mentor and I really do wish more people would question credentials before taking the advice so freely given. I sometimes get the urge to shake these people gently of course and say, for goodness sake just get on and do it!

    Thanks for sharing Nikki,

    Best wishes


  16. A fascinating story Nikki; what a carnival it sounds.

    I’ve done my fair share of speaking at business shows; I even opened the Business StartUp Show one year and interviewed ‘Sir Alan’ (as he was back then) live in front of everyone.

    If building a presence on the speaking circuit, these shows are indeed a great opportunity if you have a product to sell on the day. Otherwise they are only any good for adding to your CV/experience sheet or for collecting business cards if that’s your thing. And any speaker who is paying ‘substantial sums of money to speak’ isn’t really a speaker.

    My advice for what it’s worth – don’t do it. Someone like you Nikki will always have considerably more reach than any show like that will ever give you.

    Sorry you had a wasted trip.


  17. Makes me wonder how long these ultra pitch-fest events can last before someone twigs that that’s what they are. Mind you, it’s the best place to see the greatest NLP and mass hypnosis techniques used live in front of a real audience outside of a Derren Brown gig.

    My favourite technique I saw in action at the NAC at the Excel last June were the 20 or 30 ‘runners’ who were employed to race to the side of the room to sign up, to encourage everyone else to panic buy. When I say ’employed’ of course I don’t mean those people were paid, as the top experts have they’re own disciples (called ‘crew’) who do everything for free.

    Being an ‘expert’ is a great business to be in and fortunately we can all be one “if you sign up in the next 20 minutes for my weekend valued at £12k, now only £1000, plus I’ll throw in £1M worth of ebooks. What? Turning the offer down? What message is that sending to ‘the universe'”. If the NLP doesn’t get you, Law of Attraction guilt might…

  18. I can see why that happened… as I entered this morning and lady gave me a flyer and said Oprah’s boyfriend would be talking in 10 mins… I strolled in and took one of the 200 available seats… chap on stage sharing how if you productise yourself you are likely to do better than if you just have 1 service in your portfolio… figure the main event is on next… 3 speakers giving more of the same later and I need to exit stage left… turns out I’m in the wrong bit…

    Talking to exhibitors and the general consensus was not terribly positive, they’ll be needing that exhibitor slush fund … but apparently Sir Richard got that for his photo shoot… what’s that Sir Richard “Cheer!”

  19. Jimmy Mulvihill says:

    Having seen quite a few blogs giving negative feedback about the Business 2012 event at the o2, I have to say that I am in total agreement. I went there with high expectations having seen the calibre of the people speaking there, but the whole thing was a bit of a shambles. On a few levels.

    Firstly, the organisation was shocking. I decided to go home today (Monday) at 4pm having been there since 10am and having spent the whole day yesterday there as well. Five out of the last nine seminars that I turned up to had either been cancelled, had the guest speaker replaced, or the time had been changed. For the last three events I turned up to, I was told that the guest speaker had been rearranged, and would I like to see the current seminar instead? All three of these times I spoke to the same woman on the door and she was visibly embarrassed that I kept on speaking to her about the lack of organisation. She even said to me “to be fair, it is a bit of a shambles!” I admire that honesty!! Unfortunately for me I had already seen all three of the last seminars that I was offered, due to the fact that many speakers seems to do two “performances” a day, a total of about six over the three-day event. This means that you have to plan carefully in order to avoid seeing the same event twice.

    It was extremely bad planning to hold the first day on Mother’s Day, and today it was about 80% empty. Upon entering the venue today, I would sit down at the back and would have a crew member literally poking me in the arm telling me to go up to the front row and sit as close to the speaker as possible “to make it look more full”. I am not sure how moving from one seat to another seat can make it look more full, and in any case, the attitude of the two crewmembers who did it on two occasions left a lot to be desired for.

    Seeing as it is an event which tells people how to help run their business, maybe a bit of feedback for the organisers would be useful for them: in future, you should have some signs up to tell people where to go to. It is best to hold it in an environment that is not subzero in temperature, and having a 300 yard walk between the Indigo 2 venue and where all the other seminars are being held is not ideal. Today, there was a red carpet premier being held at the cinema, which meant that in order to walk between the Indigo venue and the other seminars we have to walk through the backstage corridors. I walk very quickly, with extremely long strides, and it took me 5 min to walk between the two areas, which meant that they were over a quarter of a mile away from each other. 4 times I walked from where the Indigo venue was to where all of the other seminars were only to be told that the schedule had changed, which meant over a mile of needless walking. Upon turning up to the Indigo venue, when I tried to walk in the front door, I was told that the front door was exit only and I would have to walk around to the back of the venue and enter that way. I can understand if for health and safety reasons you have to have one entrance for exit and one for entry, but there was barely anybody going in and out of the building, so it was unnecessary to say the least. I was saying to the door security that nobody had come in and out of the entrance in over 5 min and can I just go through? I was told to “stop being a problem”, so in the end I walked around the back of the venue, entered the venue by this stage and then went to the back of the venue, a 300 yard walk to travel 10 yards.

    There was some unintended bits of humour. A group of women who were offering me the opportunity to have my photo taken with Steadman Graham! “You do not get this sort of opportunity every day!!” I guess there were correct, but if I am being honest, I thought it was laughable. A lot of the signs were held up with black gaffer tape and had a note at the bottom “this is a temporary sign.” They were still there today though on the second day… One of the keynote speakers was drinking red wine throughout his performance. His performance was at 11:45am, which was worrying to say the least!!

    At least 60% of the talks were the guest speakers trying to sell their products and talks. This in itself I do not actually mind, I understand that in order for them to provide their services they need to get some money back, so no problem there for me. The only problem was that today we had a guest speaker claiming that his usual fee is £7000 for two days but today, and only today, he could do it for £600 if we signed up within the next 20 mins!! It was like something from a market stall, and I felt he had cheapened his product. (I will not be naming the speakers, but if you are there you could properly guess who they are from my comments). Another one was claiming that he could give a “cast-iron moneyback guarantee” to his program, and he could make us property millionaires “with no money down!” “Why spend your money when you can spend the banks?” Hmmmm…….

    The vast majority of the speakers though had absolutely flawed presentations. One of them said that he made his millions from property, and it later transpired that he started in 1996. He said the way to do it is to get a 95% mortgage, borrow the other 5%, buy a house and start renting it out, then in a year when the property prices have risen, to remortgage the house, then buy a second one with 100% mortgage, etc. That was basically his secret in how to become a property tycoon. It was so naïvely impractical, and it had more holes in it than a teabag. At no point did he acknowledge the fact that the main reason that people were able to make such big profits from property rental was due to the government offering attractive terms to landlords for housing benefits which the new government is willing to offer. At no point did he acknowledge the fact that it is it is actually that sort of reckless borrowing that got us into the financial mess that we are in, with people borrowing beyond their means. He did not address the fact that banks are no longer given away 95% mortgages, with most of them requiring at least 25% deposit. Or the fact that if you remortgaged the property that had risen in value, that all of the other properties would have also risen in value over the same amount of time, so relatively you would be in exactly the same position as you were when you bought the first property. Not even a mention of the fact that property may not even go up in the next year. Also, he forgot to mention that property prices are a lot higher than in 1996, and while it was a viable business back then, it is a lot harder now to do the same. Not impossible by any means, just extremely difficult. But he kept on saying, “I have done it myself, that is proof that you can do it!!” Another speaker claimed that if you signed up to his book writing course and wrote a book, any book, that he would endorse the book for you and give a quote for your front cover if you paid him about £500. Then he said “if you go for the platinum package” (or something similar along those lines) “I will even read the book as well!!” So basically he is saying that he will give you a good review of your book without even reading it. That truly would be an endorsement not worth the paper it was printed on.

    It is my opinion that with the economy being the way that it is, there are opportunities out there that otherwise would not be there. I started my first business in 2005 at the age of 21, and luckily I am now in a position where I have 4 companies I have set up with 42 people who I have been lucky enough to employ. There are opportunities out there, but this show is certainly not one for me. Ironically enough, I felt that the poorest performance was actually from Richard Branson himself. It has nothing to do with the man personally, but as opposed to him giving out advice, he just chatted about his life. Having read his books, there was nothing that I heard that I did not already know from the books, and I felt it was a real missed opportunity. I decided to leave today when I found out that James Caan was going to be filling in for Cherie Blair as I have been to a James Caan performance in the past year, a year ago, where he turned up 20 min late, left 10 min early (this was a 45 seminar he was meant to be giving so he barely did 15 mins!) and also he stopped his talk twice to answer his phone, which I thought was unprofessional beyond anything I had ever seen.

    To finish with the plus points, Raymond Aaron gave a great performance and was genuinely entertaining, as well as giving some really good advice. Nigel Botterill was very informative and did say a few things which I had never come across before, so it was worth seeing his seminar. Marco Kozlowski was entertaining and I could imagine anyone getting a lot out of going to one of his events. Personally, for me there were a few glaring omissions from the point that he made, but just because I did not agree with everything he said, does not mean to say that anyone else wouldn’t benefit from his considerable skills. They were the three people that I thought gave good performances, but I will not name the other seven that I thought gave poor performances.

  20. Thanks for a great response Jimmy

  21. so glad I made the decision not to attend, and more importantly failed to promote it to my database of contacts, apart from a few tweets.

    The guys and gals at Business Start Up Show must be a little more confident that there is no threat to their operation just yet.

  22. Hi Nikki – brilliant. I am heading in for day 2 to business 2012 (fortunately my training partner covered Sunday for me so I could enjoy my day with my children – and thank god he did as I would have been e
    Über disappointed to have given up a special day to be at what is a complete shambles of a show) – I presented ‘harnessing social media for business’ in one of the cramped seminar halls to a packed audience, crammed in and sitting on the floor and queuing out the doors. Yet some of the keynote rooms holding 200 were presenting to audiences of 3! How soul destroying. I am back there again – but following the shambolics and freezing conditions, I’m presenting and then swiftly leaving. at least I’ve bumped into a few people I haven’t touched base with for a while. So funny re Nigel Botterill – the info you exposed leaves me with such comfort that ultimately the truth wool out and that true business success comes to those that deserve it. Great post.

  23. Hi Nikki, this piece made me laugh, cry and above all cringe… I am an event director and have been organising B2B events for more years than I can remember, your description of the failings are sadly not uncommon and only give ‘events’ a bad reputation, destoying people’s faith and making them far more reluctant to invest in events, making it much harder for those that do a good job. You are absolutely right about the detail.. get that right and the rest will fall into place, be organised, be methodical, be professional and treat your partenrs, exhibitors and delegates and sponsors with the utmost respect – and don’t think it’s easy.. it’s not. There are some fantastic events out there, so don’t lose heart.. always a good idea to check the organisers track record. We are organising the Kent 2020 Vision LIVE event on 19th April and if you lived nearer would love you to see how it should be done. I hope you managed to have a re run of Mother’s day.

  24. Thanks everyone for the lovely comments (this is Nikki Hesford again). Since this blog went live, I’ve been contacted by quite a few people who are not happy – speakers who have paid, exhibitors, and VIP ticket holders. This discussion is also taking place on Ecademy and other business forums so there are a couple of things I just want to make clear:

    1) The purpose of the blog was to explain why I wasn’t there, and to expose the shambles to prevent any more new cash strapped businesses handing over money for the next show UNLESS there is a marked improvement. My personal view is that many of the organisers are corrupt – there are conversations that took place, then they were denied, promises made then denied they had been made…. but I chose not to write about that as it was all ‘he said she said’ and I was only interested in writing about proveable fact. Since then a number of people have come to me saying they were promised XYZ, and then when it didnt materialise Business2012 used the same line as they used on me “That person didnt have the authority to make that contract with you”. Hark back to my comments about the MD being young and inexperienced – he obviously isn’t aware of how the law stands on employees entering into company contracts.

    2) I ran this post because of how I felt about Nigel Botterill’s hard selling. Half of me wanted to keep my head well below the parapet and let someone else take the flack of stepping off the well trodden path of conformity, the other half of me knew nobody would. You cannot sell dreams to people, and that is what he is selling “buy this and you will be rich” its a dream and its unethical, and I couldnt stand by and let that carry on. Especially when there is no proof of his own success, and what proof there is massively contradicts his claims of being a successful businessman. I have downloaded quite a few of Mr Botterills company accounts and documents, I chose not to publish my findings – if people are that interested they can find the documents for themself, my aim isn’t to bring someone down by slinging mud a them, simply to make people think twice before parting with cash. If they just Googled ‘Nigel Botterrill scam’ before getting their chequebook out, they would probably think twice anyway.

    And finally, although it is a little late now, I wouldn’t say that for a visitor on a free pass there is no value in it. You can go, for free and see some great keynote speakers, learn a huge amount and meet lots of great people. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to speak at Business2012, or to pay to speak, or to buy VIP – but the exhibitors seems to be happy with their leads, and the free visitors passes are FREE, so if you’re not too far away and have a few hours available then by all means pop down there and make the most of it – just don’t part with any cash, especially as there are whispers going around (unfounded and purely gossip at this stage) that Business2012 will be in administration by next week.

  25. PS. Sorry missed out the important part – some forums are saying I am unprofessional for leaving a committment to speak. Ordinarily I would agree with them, however after Day1 the organisers were in breach of their contract with me – I had waived me fee to speak at this event subject to certain terms and they were not honoured and I could therefore no longer take time out of my busy schedule to honour my side of a contract that had already been broken.


  26. Heya

    Thank you for very informative post. I am heading to biz2012, was there on Sunday, saw what happened but I am still going.
    I have written why on a small website I made yesterday http://biz2012turnaround.tk/ (as well as quoting this blog here), In a nutshell, I believe that as a bunch of entrepreneurs we can make the most of every situation.

    Thank you Nikki for opening the discussion, maybe it will slightly change the formula ob Business 2013.

    Wishing you all a great day


  27. Could tell from the moment I received a sales call about this event it was going to be a waste of time. Why would a multimillion pound marketing agency be interested in exhibiting at a new generic business show when there’s at least three excellent marketing industry specific exhibitions which are a million times more relevant to us as a business. B2B event organisers need to tread carefully – so many empty promises am misleading statistics about the number and quality and visitors.

  28. After reading through the majority posts on how disastrous the day was. It surprises me that so many have missed the point and joined the negativity around the show in stead of looking at the positives. There were positives and this can only be viewed if you look at the glass as half full rather than empty! I was a speaker and exhibited and found like you that #biz2012 was poorly managed and executed but unlike you I got of with it and chose as number of other speakers and exhibitors did to make best of what we had and look at the positives and not the negatives.

    Business’s that made the effort to turn up to the seminars, visit stands and networking areas took away something more precious than glory hunters trying to get a picture with Sir Richard Branson and Lord Alan Sugar. They took away real inspiration by real business owners. It amazes me that their are so many critics when someone fails and or is perceived to fail! But there are not so many willing to praise and congratulate the efforts done to get business owners inspired. Instead people are willing to keep blaming overs for their misery and problems why they are failing.

    Yes I spoke and I didn’t say I was a millionaire and I didn’t try and sell a book, but I believe my seminars offered inspiration and guidance to people who want to know how to combat the recession without buying from me. As not once did I try and sell my business I was only trying to help business owners and individuals gain a little insight on how they can change the way they do business and start taking action to make things better by stop listening to negativity and focus on what they can change and be positive.

    I would not have interest or inspired everyone but I believe that when my seminar on the last day had over 50 people in and peopl queuing to hear me I was hitting the right cord with some people as the Microsofts and other big companies were struggling to fill there’s.

    Yes the show was not well organised and it was cold and there is always better, but unless you put your head above the parapha how do you know what can be achieved.


  29. Thanks for giving us an alternate view Mark 🙂

  30. Fred Fish says:


    Thanks for such an insightful report back from the event.

    It does sound as though the whole thing was quite farcical – my only regret in not attending was that I would have loved to have heckled Botterill.

    Never have I met a person so willing to hype his own reputation up despite having left so many people in financial ruin thanks to his misselling and general BS in the past. Most of his claim about his own success are as you know bogus, yet he never mentions the failed businesses he has walked from leaving massive debts.

    I understand his latest bizop has also failed massively and though he currently boasts to having sold the franchise rights to 400+ areas for over £800,000 profit – the sting in the tale will soon come to bite him on the perverbial…

  31. Great blog post and interesting to hear the point of view of a speaker. I was there on Monday as a visitor – though I nearly didn’t go, having heard so much negative feedback about the opening day. I enjoyed the day and got a lot out of it though I did get frustrated by the obvious organisational issues. My own blog review is here: http://www.theprooffairy.com/news/review-business-2012-show/

  32. Mark,

    Presumably the people coming to your seminar knew it was you speaking? I am sure you would be less satisfied if you had travelled an 800 mile round trip for free to speak, with nothing to sell, no stand to exhibit on, and the seminar hall you are speaking in is looking at you blankly because they think they have turned up for a guy talking about social media because the schedule has been so badly screwed up?

    A total waste of time for me – I sell bras, I wasn’t at the show to buy anybody’s services or sell any of my own. I was purely contracted to speak, and I wasn’t able to do that because nobody had a clue where I was or when I was there because three different times were advertised in three different guides, with none of them being the real time I actually spoke at!

    There isnt a lot to be positive about when you’ve arranged two days childcare, missed Mothers Day and left a mountain of work and can’t even get into the venue youre speaking at because nobody is prepared for your arrival! And then when you do get in, nobody looks after you, you’re left wandering around aimlessly, having to prove who you are at every entrance.

    Im sorry, but that is not how I operate. I am used to the likes of the IoD and private sector events where they appreciate you coming to speak and they look after you from the moment you agree to take part to the moment you leave! I guess I just have high standards regarding how people treat me, but I make no apologies for that!

  33. Fred, with regard to Mr Botterill the information is easy to come by online – DueDil has his company ‘Quickie Products Limited’ in liquidation oweing £1.1m. Perhaps thats what they mean by a million pound company – that you owe a million pounds…?


  34. This is one of the rarest of things, I blog that I make it to the end of. Great article, glad I’m not bothering to go.

  35. Hi NiKki

    Think you are absolutely right to be honest and open about your experience. We can’t always be positive about things all the time when they were clearly not. I thought it was bad planning to hold the event on Mother’s Day for a start. But we know as business owners we have to sometimes make difficult decisions. I had to deal with a few guilt trips for going to Business 2012 on the Sunday afternoon as well as the long drive there and back from the Midlands..

    I attended 3 days at the NAC last year which I enjoyed but this year I was given a free VIP ticket from a friend and went along with another 2 friends who had press passes for the Q&A which we sadly missed due to the long queue to register. The place was freezing cold so we then went to the VIP Cocktail party hosted by Richard Branson…although he left shortly after and who could blame him lol….not quite the venue we expected but we had a drink there and then my friends and I went for a Pizza and had a laugh to make the most of our night before setting off home.

    Well at least I have learned a lesson… I will be spending all of Mothers Day with my 2 little boys from now on!

    Sorry to hear how it didn’t work out well for you Nikki.


  36. Hello, I think Jimmy makes an excellent. His description of Business 2012 was exactly what I thought of it. It was exactly that. I think we went to the same seminar and lectures, perhaps except the Branson one. He speaks the truth. Oh and don’t forget to mention how cold it was on Sunday! 🙂

  37. Stay away from anything to do with Vishal Misal — he is the crummiest and most shady business person I have ever met (and I met my handful of shady guys). Not only did he screw over a lot of speakers at Business 2012, but less than a year later he put on another one with Bill Clinton called Entrepreneurs 2012 and screwed over every single speaker that I knew of (as in taking money and running without paying anything back, refunding, etc.).

    Last I heard, they were going into administration / bankruptcy and it appeared that even then Vishal was trying to hide a lot of stuff and just being a horrible guy to do business with.

    I wouldn’t touch anything Vishal is a part of with a 100 foot long pole.

  38. It seems very ethic expert advise for Business. I am glad to read this blog and I found that business owners make so mistakes while doing business. So, this is an incredible and very impressive blog for me to read it.

  39. Came across this whilst searching for reviews on Nigel botteril! I think Iv just been spared investing in a hyped up concept. Blog was so useful and has made me realise just how pushy this Nigel is! I have been inundated with emails, webinar invites and ‘last chance to buy’ lines! Thanks

  40. Truth Teller says:

    I made the mistake of buying something of Nigel Botterill, It was the WORST THING I HAD EVER DONE his sales people lied to me over doubling the size and assured me there was no debts. This was blatantly broken and they were simply just looking to take my 18k plus of me. Nigel Botterill and his evil little minion Michelle are soul less bastards nothing more than con artists. Nigels teams basically defrauded me and would not do the decent thing.

    They will use there weight and size to bully people but not help you especially when they know its broken. I HATE NIGEL BOTTERILL HES A LIAR AND A THIEF, HES DISHONEST AND WILL DELIBERATELY NOT TELL YOU THE REALITY JUST SO HE CAN GET A SALE. What I purchased of him came with a raft of debt and got changed at there will to suit there situation. They also tried to sell part of it from under me.

    Nigel you are a failure as a human being with no sense of decency, honesty, integrity just like you dont have original ideas. I have taken legal advice about our situation and you obtained my money by deception which is a crime and also MISREPUSENTATION. If you werent so loaded I would have taken legal action.

  41. sam smith says:

    “Marco, if, as your website claims, you are ‘currently an owner in a wide variety of successful companies’, were you lying when you wrote to us about your financial hardship and therefore could not and would not refund us?”

  42. sam smith says:

    “We are a group of Australians that has been totally ripped off by Marco Kozlowski. Before you spend a cent with him, please get in touch so that we can share our experiences and save you from getting yourself into some major trouble!!! Marco is a great marketer, but he is a liar and is totally dishonest. Ask us why!”

  43. sam smith says:

    “Marco, why are you walking away and failing to honor your refund commitment after promising you would to lots of Australians and New Zealanders? Why did you tell us you were shutting down your LHG, LHGN and LHS businesses that we signed up under – and were therefore unable to pay us – when clearly the sites are still operational?”

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