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Thanks for reading our stories - if you would like to hear more stories of success around the region, why not visit a group and hear their stories first hand - Click HERE to visit a group


Stories of Success - Lucy Painter 



My name is Lucy Painter and I am responsible for growing FUNDINGROUND Ltd. Based in Newark, Notts., FUNDINGROUND is a local independent business finance broker offering a local personalised service for local businesses. Our success is based upon the delivery of simple, easy and low cost business finance backed by industry specialists who still work with that old fashioned ‘people first’ attitude for service and relationship.

With a start up company, it is vital to build brand awareness quickly. There are many different ways to market a business, and I use all of them to support the growth of FUNDINGROUND. Nowadays networking is a channel which cannot be ignored. I believe very much that ‘people buy from people’, and whilst advertising, social media and paper leaflets can help to get the business name out there, there is nothing better than meeting new business contacts and forging strong working relationships with them directly.

I could see how the BNI model supported this ethos – weekly meetings and groups of a reasonable size. Equally the ‘one seat per industry’ rule around the table is very appealing. I started regularly attending meetings with the Grantham group (locally known as the Gingerbreads!) 9 months ago. The group was in its infancy and it has been great to be an active part of developing the group which we look forward to launching formally in the next couple of months.

Our weekly meetings have become almost like team meetings, with the opportunity to soundboard ideas with other business owners, both new and established businesses. The learning opportunities are endless – we deliver monthly learning sessions to the group and visitors from the skillsets around the table or invited speakers. Topics have ranged from ‘the use of psychology to grow your business’ to ‘top tips in health & safety.’

As a model it is easy to see how BNI can benefit any business. At the end of the day though, it does depend on which people are sitting around the table. I may be biased, but the people around the Gingerbreads table are an excellent bunch – we have fun as well as get real business value out of our sessions! Come and visit us any time!

Many thanks Lucy, and all the best to the Gingerbreads. 


Business Focus - BPS Electrical 






Ben is the owner of BPS Electrical, a security and electrical installations company. With over 15 years’ experience Ben has successfully built up his business & this month we asked Ben to tell us why he joined BNI (Olympians), and how it has made his business successful.

“Having only been in business for 12 months before attending my first meeting, I’ve now been a member for 4 years, 4 months now. I was only a start-up when I was invited and it was a great opportunity to meet new people and get BPS Electrical name out there. BNI is a brilliant way to give/receive referrals, as word of mouth marketing are essential for tradesmen and BNI is probably one of the quickest ways I’ve found of doing that.

We offer many services at BPS Electrical, the main, most popular are electrical installations, such as new build properties, rewiring older properties and alterations to homes and businesses. Plus, CCTV, intruder alarms and access control. Keeping my business busy is my most successful attribute, as the standard I work too is very high. I am also NICEIC registered, which I find can give my customers piece of mind. Most importantly, working hard and honesty keeps a business.

There are people out there that have negative views of BNI and most other networking events, but until you visit a chapter you will not know how amazing the benefits could be! It's free to visit and you could earn thousands, it's a no brainer to attend a meeting!!”

Many thanks Ben, and to find out more about BPS Electrical click here.


Business Focus - Allen Signs Ltd

Glen is the Sales Director at Allen Signs Ltd, a company providing sign solutions for businesses.  Allen Signs is a family run business established in 1965 and is celebrating its 50th year in business.  We asked Glen to outline what makes Allen Signs successful, and why he joined BNI.

Allen Signs Ltd provides a complete sign, display and vehicle livery solution from concept and design through to final installation and maintenance.  At Allen Signs our team becomes your team.  By listening to you and working closely with you, we help specify a product or service that suits you to make your first impression count. People often say ‘what type of signs do you do’ and the answer is very open, we can produce and manage all signage projects from small vinyl stickers upto large external illuminated signage, from magnetic vehicle panels upto full vehicle wraps.  Anything you can see or would like to see on your premises or vehicle to promote your business or services then we are there to help find the solution for you!

Initially joining BNI at Tennyson in Lincoln when I started with the business back in 2009.  I visited with my MD who was the member at the time and I took over from him as I saw it as a great opportunity to grow the business as well as build my personal knowledge and skills. People should always visit various types of networking groups to see for themselves how they work.  Sometimes BNI has a perception that it is too structured and pressurised which you would only dispel if you visited.  All the groups vary as they are full of different businesses with different people and different ways of expressing themselves.  I found the chapters I have been involved in to be friendly with a fun atmosphere which makes it an enjoyable group whilst maintaining a structured process that generates business. I feel BNI certainly helped Allen Signs and myself build a stronger reputation within the group, provided me with contacts and opportunities that ordinarily we would not have had.  Allen Signs have a second office in Nottingham which we want to develop and grow and so I knew BNI was a great way of starting to build relationships with local businesses.

Many thanks Glenn, and to find out more about Allen Signs Ltd click here.


Stories of Success - Rob Purle

Our success story this month is from Rob Purle of Utility Warehouse who is part of the largest group in Lincoln, Olympians. 

Rob has been part of the BNI organisation throughout the years, and we asked Rob a few questions about BNI and why he is proud to be a BNI member.

After joining BNI through an invite from a current member, Rob has stayed with the organisation over an 8 year period as he believes that BNI is an opportunity to better his business and develop more customers. Rob spent 7 and half years with BNI in his previous business, and has recently returned with his current business because he knew it was an opportunity that was too good to miss once the seat became available.  It works for him, and what he does, as  BNI gives him access to an almost limitless variety of contacts, to not only become a customer of his but also for him to share his custom. We received a wonderful quote from Rob when asked why should people join BNI saying, "If you're serious about developing your business the contacts you make are positive people who are serious about their business, it's the best opportunity to better yourself and your business"

Thank you for your continued membership with BNI, and hope your success continues.

To find out more about what Rob Purle does, click here


Business Focus - Pedigree Automotive Solutions

Pedigree Automotive Solutions is an independent vehicle provider, offering a wide range of routes to vehicle ownership and usage. They can offer cars and light commercials from all the leading manufacturers as well as sorting out finance.  With over 25 years experience in the motor industry and they are able to offer bespoke solutions for all your vehicle requirements.  They offer company and personal lease vehicles as well as purchase options.

Pedigree joined Trent BNI in November 2015 and they have been delighted on two fronts.  They have been able to use the services of many of the other members, such as two re-mortgages from Atlas Wealth Management, a new website from H22 Solutions Ltd, holidays organised by Around The World Travel, courier services provided by AWLS Couriers and printing from Ginger Root Print Ltd. Plus they have received business from three of the members who needed lease cars and one lease van.
Trent BNI is a really good and friendly group and the potential is fantastic for any type of business.  To find out more about Pedigree Automotive Solutions click here.
Stories of Success - Andy Middleton
Andy Middleton from Ginger Root Print Ltd has started a BNI Core Group in the heart of Nottingham City Centre.  The new Chapter is called Trent BNI and the meeting takes place every Thursday morning at 9.15am at the Alea Casino Nottingham. The group is steadily growing and now has 15 members that are all keen to grow their businesses.  

We asked Andy why he is so enthusiastic about running this group?

"I have been a member of BNI in the past and found that it helped me to generate new leads and grow my business. I wanted to use my experience in BNI to help others so I agreed to lead the set up of a BNI Core Group. The meetings are professional and fun and give us a good opportunity to get to know each other. We are already starting to generate work for each other and once we are fully launched we will be adhering to the BNI system as it is proven to work. Being part of a network of like minded businesses that are want to get to know each other both on a personal and professional basis is very powerful."

We also wanted to know why people should choose to visit Trent BNI?

Andy told us that they recently moved to the Alea Casino because it is a great venue and very central.  The meeting room allows members to network effectively and there is free parking, which is always a bonus for city centre venues. If you haven’t visited Trent BNI we highly recommend that you attend when you can. Your first visit will be free and we can assure you that you will receive a warm welcome and a freshly baked chocolate cookie!  To find out more about the group click here or contact Andy directly on

Ps Have a look at our Facebook Page.

Stories of Success - Paul Jones

This month our success story comes from Paul Jones of Integral Financial Planning.

"To sum up my BNI story I joined Forest BNI Chapter in June 2004 when employed by the Cooperative Insurance Society in the General Insurance seat. I joined on the basis that it would be a good place to learn about running a business as one day I always thought I would start working for myself.
In June 2005 I left Cooperative Insurance and became a self employed Independent Financial Adviser. As the IFA seat was already taken up in Forest BNI I looked at other chapters to see if there were any IFA vacancies. The IFA seat is in the top four of taken seats and I could not find a chapter with a vacancy.
I decided if I can’t find a seat I would make a seat and approached Steve Jennings who ran the Notts and Lincs area if he would support me in setting up a new chapter and after getting three other people together (Yvonne Gorman – Fat Cactus, Leigh Holland – RBS, Colin Fryer-Business Phone Calls) we set up a core group in August 2005. We launched in the first week of April 2006 with 15 members and the chapter is 10 years old this April.
I would say 75% of the business I write today stems from BNI somewhere down the line. In 10 years the chapter has had around 120 members and I have had an opportunity to form a relationship with every one of them. I still receive referrals and business from ex members from 9-10 years ago.
The biggest value BNI gave to me in the early days was an opportunity to build a relationship with a senior partner from a long established Solicitors Practice and a senior partner from a long established Accountancy practice to an new IFA business this was invaluable as a source of business. I now receive referrals directly from other partners in the two practices and have to remind the respective members that they have a referral for me at the next BNI meeting as their business partners contact me directly.
I would say BNI is a time given thing. The longer you are a member the more you build your network."

To find out more about Paul and his business - Click Here


Business Focus - number8glass

Each month we spotlight a BNI member's business and ask what makes it successful. This month we've been speaking to Castle Business member Katherine Wilson.

Katherine is a designer/maker working in stained glass and she set up number8glass in 2009. Katherine makes a range of contemporary glass pieces for people and their homes, from her studio in Tollerton.  She also undertakes commissions and runs making sessions so that people can have a go at creating their own glassware. Her work is available in several shops and galleries in the East Midlands and further afield.

Katherine is a member of Castle BNI Chapter and the referrals she gets from her BNI network make up an average of 20% of her income. She believes that most people are used to purchasing from shops and so it can take a bit of time before they feel confident in commissioning a maker direct; as BNI is all about developing productive relationships, it makes it the perfect place for makers to flourish.

She believes her success comes from having the opportunity to share her passion for her craft and show contacts what is possible with glass. “Having a great website (designed by a fellow BNI member!) means that everyone can get a good idea for my style and price range, so that when they meet me and get to handle pieces, it is very easy for them to know they want to purchase.”

To find out more about Katherine and her business - Click here

Stories of Success - Anton Fowler

This month we wanted to hear from Anton Fowler, the Creative Director of Bubble Design.  Anton is one of BNI Notts & Lincs longest serving members, when we asked Anton why he got involved in BNI he explained ‘BNI knocked on my door (quite literally, 12 years ago) at the time I had been working for various companies as a freelance graphic designer.  BNI gave me the courage to quit what I was doing and focus on my business, Bubble Design and to start to build this.’
Anton is a graphic design professional with over 20 years experience working with SME’s, charities and a range of B2B businesses.  He has been able to use his skills to build and grow Bubble Design which is based in Lincoln and has over a 1000 clients in the UK and overseas.  Some specialties offered by Bubble Design are: Brochure Design, Web Design, Logo Design, Corporate Identity, Point Of Sale (POS), Branding, Stationery, and Illustration.
We wanted to know how BNI has helped make Anton’s business a success.  Anton said ‘There are eight training modules available to BNI members and I have been on all of these, some I have attended up to 10 times! This is because the training is first class and it helps me to keep focused on how to get the best out of BNI.  I have also been able to apply the learning to build my own business.’
Anton also shared with us his experience of becoming a BNI Director Consultant ‘I had the honor some time ago to become a BNI Director Consultant, another great opportunity to be trained and learn what it takes to grow a chapter. I began building a Chapter in July of that year and by Christmas it had 30 members and was the number one launch chapter in the UK.’
‘20 years ago, I never imagined that I would be capable of achieving something like that.  I left school with no qualifications and no money. Using my skills as a graphic designer alongside what I have learnt through BNI has transformed my life. I have worked really hard to be where I am on my journey. I could not have done this without BNI.’
‘The principal of Giver’s Gain is so true. I put a lot of time into BNI and what I get back from it is so much more.’
‘There simply isn’t a better investment for my business!’
It’s been great to hear Anton’s success story and understand how BNI has helped him and his business grow.
To find out more about Anton and Bubble design, click here.


Business Focus - J M Wills and Legal Services 

The legal formalities that surround making a will and planning for your future can often be intimidating, and it may seem like a daunting task; but at J M Wills and Legal Services the whole complex process can be carried out in the comfort of your own home.

Director Jan Woolley has over seventeen years experience in the field, and has a background as a lawyer, so she has the expert knowledge to give reliable straightforward advice. Jan explains that after setting her business up 3 years ago, her key to success apart from hard work, has been the relationships she has built up.  She has strong relationships with other professional businesses locally that refer clients to her business. This has all come through her being a member at the LINK chapter of BNI for the last 3 years, and as a result of her membership 50% of all the work J M Wills and Legal Services has come directly from referrals given by BNI members.

To find out more about Jan and J M Wills and Legal Services – Click Here


Stories of Success - Simon Meadows

"In over 20 years of being in business and 6 of those working successfully with clients as a Business Coach, I have always valued high levels of customer service and persistence on delivery of product. As I work 1-2-1 with small and large companies to increase their profits, build a better team and gain more time from their business, I only surround myself with a trusted team and set of resource providers.
I recently needed such resources, quality commercial photography, business insurance and web design. I knew that BNI members, of all chapters have signed up to the code of ethics and could be trusted to deliver quality and on time. I knew that they would go above and beyond to service my needs.
So I contacted three businesses that I had met at BNI training, two whose seats were at the time vacant in our own chapter and I was not disappointed. Chris Vaughan took high quality photos for my promotional material; Swinton Commercial Insurance provided a bespoke policy to cover all areas of my business and Sarah at Spoon Media is now working with a construction group that I chair to host and create an interactive web site.
Givers Gain is one of my core values since my time in BNI and I directly link my success from BNI to my contribution to those members within it. Over the last two years our chapter has contributed 35% of my overall revenue. I attribute, this increase to my appointment as Chapter Director, gaining that well known visibility and credibility. I also strive every month to reach my KPI’s in the member traffic lights. I am sure this attention to the metrics keeps me focused on my giving and receiving success.
I therefore have no hesitation in recommending BNI to everyone I meet, as not only a resource for selling through but an outstanding resource of businesses you can buy from and refer to with confidence."

To find out more about Simon and his business - Click here


Business Focus - The Travel Snob

Each month we spotlight a BNI member's business and ask what makes it successful. This month we've been speaking to Nottingham Business Team member David Walker.

Having given up a senior role as Global HR Director where he traveled almost constantly, David Walker decided to start a business, which focused on the quality aspects of travel that he wanted when he was traveling himself.  The Travel Snob is a one-stop shop offering services that range from; a tailor made one off holiday of a lifetime, to regular package holidays as well as business travel packages.  He offers his customers advice and much more, including making restaurant reservations, organising sightseeing tours, flowers or champagne on arrival for those celebrating something special, to lounge passes and car parks.
David, a member of the BNI Business Team has visited 110 countries and is happy to share his experiences with all his customers, offering them a personal service almost 24/7.  He is a committed passionate traveler and encourages everyone to go and see the world and think outside of the box.  He spends time with his customers getting to know them, ensuring that all their requirements are met.
In the 18 months he has been trading, he has turned over almost £2million pound worth of sales going the extra mile for his customers, selecting seats on the plane, checking them in on-line, emailing hotels in advance of their arrival to ensure everything is ready for them, even trying to get upgrades for them where they are available.  70% of his business is based on repeat customers and those referring new customers to him.

His belief to making a successful travel business is passion and practicing what he preaches.

To find out more about David and his business - Click here


Stories of Success - Julia McGinn

Julia McGinn

“After setting up my business in January 2013, I was looking to take things to the next level early last year. I joined BNI Tennyson after visiting a couple of their meetings as I believed that it would be a great way to raise my profile in the area and to grow my business. My 3 year goal was to grow the business so I could move into an external office and take on a member of staff. Thanks mainly to the additional business we gained through BNI, we managed to reach this goal in just 6 months by tripling our revenue.

As a Virtual Assistant provider, we rely very heavily on repeat business and we now see almost half of our monthly income generated via BNI referrals and this continues to grow. This has been helped by me taking on the role of Membership Coordinator in October last year, as this shows off my skills perfectly meaning that the chapter members can easily refer me with confidence.”

See Julia's BNI profile - Click Here


Business Focus - Shamshad Walker Marketing

Shamshad Walker Marketing supports businesses to grow by offering practical hands on support with their marketing.  Shamshad explained that in her view the secret to her success has been teamwork.  We have a team that supports clients by delivering marketing support; we all pull together to make sure we are providing the best quality service we can. We also work as a team with key associates from BNI that provide services for our clients such as branding website design, commercial photography and printing.  By working together we are able to offer a seamless service for clients.  Plus, very importantly, we have fun doing what we do together as a team!

To find out more about Shamshad Walker Marketing, Click Here


Stories of Success - Simon Clark

BNI is now responsible for around 15% of his total business - but the benefits of the group are more than just financial...

"Although my "day job" is as a mortgage advisor, and is the seat I hold at BNI, I helped set up a company which operates as a gig promoter towards the end of 2014 and am pleased to see BNI members at most of our shows.


Earlier this year, we had a one man theatre show booked, in which the sound effects were absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, it wasn’t made clear to us until 4 days before the show that we needed to provide the sound technician! Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem as Nottingham has a strong centre of creative arts but our show coincided with one of the biggest events in the country taking place in Nottingham that Friday evening and there were no technicians available.

I put out a desperate appeal during our BNI meeting on the Wednesday morning and, before I’d left the venue a fellow member, Ramsey Pigott (who looks after my company IT requirements) mentioned that he would be happy to act as sound technician for us.

The power of BNI extended beyond either of our businesses and demonstrated the amazing teamwork which is available when you get to work closely with people on a weekly basis."

To find out more about Veracity Financial Planning, Click Here


Stories of Success - Jo Rimmer

Jo Rimmer told us that ‘the bottom line and customer retention is key to every successful business.’

Olympians member, Jo and her team have delivered outstanding results in these two areas for motor dealers across the UK for over 30 years.
‘We consistently deliver the complete peace of mind that most motor dealers only dream of – providing them with complete control of aftersales costs, increasing their customer satisfaction long term and all in a way that helps improve their cash flow.’

See Jo's BNI profile - Click Here