Issue #5 - Sunshine after the rain 🌤

The Backbone is a newsletter for anyone involved in a business. The backbone of the UK economy. In this issue - grandma's chocolate recipe, Hebridean beer, horror film analogies, tunes, podcasts, etc.

🦾 G O

Where is the silver lining shining at the rainbow's end? 🌈

What will it be first? A haircut? A bit of retail therapy? A few bench presses? Or straight down the pub for a pint?

In case you hadn’t realised, Monday is April 12th.

What’s usually a fairly innocuous date in the calendar has become the biggest milestone so far in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. So big, it even has its own hashtag.

With ‘non-essential’ shops back open (remember, all businesses are essential), along with hairdressers, salons, gyms, most outdoor attractions, and outdoor hospitality, it’s beginning to feel like things really could be getting back to normal.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but the sun’s coming up and we can hear the cars on the nearby road. It looks like we may have given that hockey-masked maniac the slip too.

But enough of the bad horror film analogies, below is a quick reminder of some things you need to consider before you reopen. You can find out more at our business blueprint for getting out of lockdown.

Now, let’s get stuck in to Issue #5 of The Backbone - the fortnightly business bulletin from Bionic. Thanks for joining us. 

🔥  H A S H T A G 


If you’ve never heard of Goupie, you’re in for a treat (literally). Bionic recently caught up with Grace Simpson, who runs the scrumptiously sweet chocolatier business with her parents, selling her grandmother’s sacred Goupie recipe.

Bionic: How has technology changed business for Goupie?  

Grace Simpson: “Our social media and website is important, especially throughout lockdown we made a few changes so that people could order from our site whereas they couldn’t before. I think things like QuickBooks and accounting help can be game-changing too. It’s all about finding that balance.”  

B: Have you been using any new apps to better your business throughout lockdown?  

GS: “We’ve been adapting and every time we’ve opened, we’ve luckily been able to find our groove. We started using QR codes in the café, so customers could order from their tables. So that was something new.” 

B: How do you feel about technology in business in general? 

GS: “I think it's all about getting that balance between communicating though technology and communicating through real life. Before we had the chocolate shop and cafe, social media was our only way to speak to people, and it was useful. Now we have that unit though, it’s great to feel like part of the community.” 

B: Have you tried any new strategies over the past year? 

GS: “We’ve actually tried paid advertising for the first time this year, which is a big thing for us, it’s probably not a big thing for other businesses, but it’s something we’d never tried out before.” 

📤 S H A R E

Behold, Semmi! The Backbone! A business newsletter we have been denied for far too long.

📰 N E W S

Building a brewery from the ground up

There are many reasons people start their own business - to fulfill a lifetime ambition, to escape the nine-to-five rat race, to continue a family legacy, or simply because there’s no good beer to drink.

A dearth of decent ale was one of the big inspirations behind the Isle of Eigg Brewery - Scotland’s first co-operative brewery.

But for it’s co-founder, Stu McCarthy, it’s about more than canning the Carling and binning the Budweiser. It’s about creating a people-centred, values-based business.

“And we’ve got a serious track-record at this” says Stu “Eigg has, for the last twenty two years, been a leading-light in land reform and community ownership. It’s now time to explore community business ownership - from Eigg, but beyond its watery borders.”

Sat about 10 miles off Scotland’s west coast, Eigg has a 100-strong community determined to ensure the island is fully self-sufficient and sustainable. The sort of place you’d immediately head for if there was a zombie apocalypse on the mainland.

It already has two community-owned utilities companies…

  • Eigg Electric is a community-owned, managed and maintained company which provides electricity for all island residents from the renewable sources of water, sun, and wind.

  • Hebnet is an community internet service provider that provides fibre broadband to the remote Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides.

…and the Isle of Eigg Brewery has become the latest community asset, but this one will benefit both island-dwellers and beer-drinkers alike.

Here’s how it’ll work…

After raising more than £195,000 from 605 investors into a Crowdfunder, construction has begun on a new brewery. This new site will be capable of producing much more beer than the hilltop shed that housed Laig Bay Brewery - Stu’s former island brewery, which was a toe-in-the-water to Isle of Eigg Brewery’s divebomb into the brewing barrel.

Once the brewery is up and running, employees and members will contribute to key decisions because they’ll own the business. 25% of its yearly net profit will create a capital pool for local small business start-ups and entrepreneurship to benefit its workers, members and the broader community.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the brewery, but in the meantime here’s more from Stu and the beautiful island of Eigg…

(please note, the Crowdfunder has now closed)

📩 J O I N

Get on, get on, get on, get on the groovy train… 🚂

🤞🏻 It feels like we’re almost done with lockdown, so we want to hear all about you and your business…

What was your motivation for starting your own business? 💡 What are the things you worry about most as a business owner? 😟 What’s your proudest achievement as a business owner? 🤩 What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting their own business? 🤔 Get involved 👇🏻

Leave a comment

🔥  H A S H T A G 


We had a quick chat with Martin Coles-Evans of Hargreaves of Buxton and Mark Hepworth of The Flat Cap Coffee Roasting Co. to get their thoughts on opening their doors to customers once more.

🔥 S O C I A L

Is Twitter buying Clubhouse?

Back at the start of February, Clubhouse was the biggest social network you’d never heard of. Five issues of The Backbone later, and Twitter is reportedly in discussions to buy the audio-based social network in a deal worth $4 billion. Four BILLION dollars.

Is it just coincidence that Clubhouse popped after being the lead story in Issue #1 of The Backbone? We reckon not and we want our cut.

Anyway, about this buy out…

Although Twitter is already building its own rival audio app, it’s also been in discussions to buy Clubhouse outright. Proof that no one screams “I want one of those” quite as loudly as social media companies when a rival introduces a new feature.

It’s unclear which of Twitter or Clubhouse approached the other first, but it seems the talks have stalled. Even so, Clubhouse is now looking to raise money at its new-found $4 billion valuation! 🤔

📺 W A T C H

Dude, decent…

Dude Perfect seem to have been around as long as YouTube itself - slam-dunking, bottle-flipping, and trick-shotting their way to online stardom over the last decade.

They’re over the top and way too excitable, but there’s still something joyous in seeing someone hitting a ping pong ball into a moving waste paper basket and bouncing off a sofa for a slam dunk. Or is it just us..?

🎧 L I S T E N

Listen up, what's the time? Said today, I'm gonna speak my mind.

Social Distancing Distortion is a playlist curated by US singer-songwriter Matt Berninger, frontman of The National. Updated weekly, it takes you from Nina Simone to The Velvet Underground to Dizzee Rascal to Stephen Malkmus to…well, you get the picture.

SmartLess is a podcast that connects and unites people from all walks of life (but mostly really famous ones). Hosted by Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth on Arrested Development and him off Ozark), Sean Hayes (Jack McFarland from Will & Grace), and Will Arnett (Gob Bluth off Arrested Development and the actual Lego Batman), guests include Paul McCartney, Megan Rapnioe, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bryan Cranston, Kamala Harris, and loads more.

🏡 H O U S E K E E P I N G

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Thanks again for getting involved, and please feel free to get your friends and colleagues on board, and send us any ideas for things you’d like to see us cover in The Backbone.

🚫 S T O P


Thanks for making it to the end of another Bionic business bulletin 🤝🏻

There’ll be no more from us here for another two weeks, but if you’d like to see us featuring some other stuff on our return - anything from inspirational stories to must-listen podcasts - just let us know by leaving a comment.

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Best of luck if you’re reopening your business in the coming days - we hope it’s every bit as exciting and as prosperous as it can be.

See you all in a fortnight, when it’ll be St George’s Day. On a Friday. With all the beer gardens open. What could possibly go wrong? 😬

📊 B U S I N E S S

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