Review and Giveaway: Jessica’s Recipe Bag May 16th, 2013
I was very lucky to be able to try out a family recipe bag from Jessica’s Recipe Bag, a new service which aims to make life easier for time-starved mums. The service was started by Jessica Andersson, a working mum living in London with teenage kids. Jessica is also a fully qualified nutritional therapist and experienced cook.
Jessica and her team plan four delicious meals each week, source all the ingredients and put the recipes together in an easy to follow format. Your ingredients are delivered to your door by courier in just the right quantities to make some yummy and nutritious food for your family, so no more thinking, shopping and having to buy more than you need.
The bag that I tested was a Family Recipe bag – enough food for four people for four meals, which retails for £69 (first bag £45).
The bag was delivered on Monday evening by a smiling friendly courier. inside I had the ingredients for the following meals:
- Smoked trout with spinach, swedish potatoes and salad
- Lamb meatballs with flatbreads and mango salsa
- Chicken pad Thai with noodles and salad
- Goats cheeses and asparagus risotto
Looking at the list, I wasn’t sure that my children would go for any of them particularly -they are certainly more adventurous flavours than I would normally cook during the week. But we all agreed to try everything in the name of research – and to me this is the first advantage of the bag system in that you can try out things that are outside of your culinary comfort zone.
So on Tuesday night I made the lamb meatballs. I loved the fact that although the recipe called for celery they sent just one stick of celery. Nobody in our house eats raw celery so usually if I buy it for a recipe the remaining head is wasted. This was perfect. the children loved the meatballs for tea, and it was easy to save some of the ball mixture and reheat it when my husband came in late. Result – big smiles all round.
On Wednesday the children were busy – I decided to do the trout for me and my husband and to give them something else as I didn’t think they would eat it. We absolutely loved the trout and the swedish potatoes – and we had a second helping with the leftovers a few days later. I will certainly do this recipe again.
On Thursday I was really looking forward to the Pad Thai and so were the children. Unfortunately this recipe didn’t quite work for us – nobody particuarly enjoyed it as much as we thought we would. I will do something like it again but tweak the flavours slightly.
And so to the risotto on Friday. I can’t believe I have never cooked risotto before – somehow I had it in my head that is was difficult. But it was very straightforward and absolutely delicious – top marks all round.
Overall I would say that I would have Jessica’s bag again – especially as you can see what is coming up before you order so you can choose your weeks carefully. I might choose the Couples bag next time (three meals for two people for £42, first bag £29) as I’m not sure my children really got as much out of the whole week as we did. But I certainly learned some new recipes and techniques that I will use again and discovered some new ingredients too (like tamarind paste) that I will use elsewhere in the kitchen.
Now you can have the chance to try out Jessica’s Recipe bag service yourself. Two lucky winners will each get the chance to try two weeks of recipe bags.
Jessica’s bag currently delivers within greater London. Postcodes included are; W, WC, NW, N, E, EC, SE, SW, TW, KT and the following GU postcode areas (1 – 4, 11 -25, 46, 47, 51, 52), so please only enter if you want your bag to be delivered to an address in this area.
If you are in the right area then please fill in the Rafflecopter below:
Starting a Business from Home May 2nd, 2013
With today’s communication technologies more and more people are working from home, even large companies are encouraging home working, so there is no reason not to start your own business using your home as a base.
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My own organisation, Company Partners, started from home when I had the idea of an on-line matching site for people to find others to start a business with. It continues to grow now, matching up entrepreneurs with investors, from our office next to my house.
There are obvious advantages:
Fits in with other commitments
You can devote as much, or as little time as available
You are your own boss
Ability to scale up or down rapidly
Test out business ideas
Earn money and develop a business
A lot of companies advertise “home business” packages and you do have to be cautious with these. They can be expensive and many don’t give the income advertised.
The better ones may be bought as a franchise. They all will cost several thousands to buy the franchise. But they will give you a formula for running the business and then it’s down to your efforts to determine success.
I prefer to start my own company and not to give away money to someone else that I could spend on developing the business.
5 important stages of starting a business:
1. The Business idea:
It should be something that you have an interest in and enjoy, because when times are tough you will still need to be motivated by the work.
It could be a hobby that is turned into an earning business, or simply an area of activity that you enjoy, because not every hobby would make a good business.
This leads me on to a warning, not every “good idea” is a commercially good idea. You need to consider whether customers will in reality pay you their hard earned cash for the product or service. Is it fulfilling a real need, or addressing a problem that a customer will pay you to fix.
Carry out market research. Don’t just ask friends and family; test your idea with individuals that represent your target market. Check out the competition. Don’t think that simply doing it cheaper will win you business; choose an idea where there is a sustainable profit.
2. Do your financial planning:
How much will it cost to make your goods, or provide your service?
Include any packaging and distribution costs.
How much from your market research can you charge for your activity?
When will bills need paying and when will you get paid (cashflow is very important).
Plan it out on a spreadsheet.
Many home businesses can start using very little money to get you up and running, if you do need more funds you could approach your bank for a loan but they will want a business plan and some security. There is a government backed scheme that will provide the security if you haven’t got it.
Alternatively if you want someone to invest in your start-up business, rather than taking out a loan, you could look at Angel investing.
3. Legals and Administration:
Choose how you want to run your business, as a limited company, or a Sole Trader. A Sole Trader is easier to start and less complicated, however a limited company has tax advantages and looks better if you are ambitious to grow.
Consider if you need insurance cover. If you employ anyone you will by law require Employers’ Liability insurance and if you have people visiting your house for business purposes you ought to have public liability insurance. If you sell, manufacture or supply products you should have product liability insurance.
Some types of home business – for example food preparation, may need a licence, so talk to your local council.
Ideally you would find a local Accountant to advise and help. Shop around, talk to several and find one that you can relate to. A very small business activity may not need an accountant, but if you register as a limited company and expect to rapidly grow, find one early on.
4. Getting customers and marketing
Right from the start establish your brand. What do you want your business to represent – fast and speedy? Handcrafted? Professional services? With any of them make excellent customer service and attention to detail a key part. If appropriate have a simple logo and choose carefully the colours that you will use for your business.
You could begin by selling your product or service to friends, getting recommendations and referrals. You should come up with ideas to encourage that such as a referral card which you can give to customers to pass on, perhaps with a discount for their friend.
I’ve written before on this subject: How to find customers . Lay out a marketing plan of how you will get your customers, some initiatives may cost money (such as adverts), but there is a lot of PR/marketing that you can do for free (such as talking to local radio, or newspapers).
Good ideas are a 10 a penny, it is the implementation of those ideas that counts. Plan your finances, line up suppliers, find and market to your customers. Be action orientated, make things happen.
Each month review your plan, what has worked and what hasn’t and keep on top of the finances, know your cashflow.
Starting a business should be fun and exciting. There will be difficult times but overall it will be a fulfilling and hopefully rewarding adventure.
The author, Lawrence Gilbert, teaches MBA courses in business planning and is the founder and Director of Company Partners, an on-line matching site where entrepreneurs can find fellow entrepreneurs to start-up a business and also find Business Angel Investors.
It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know.. May 1st, 2013
For anyone with family this is not breaking news:
Having children was the point at which my career and life in general had to change!
This was something I realised very soon after my eldest was born, I then spent quite a few years bumbling along trying to find a different direction to fit in with my new family life.
I took careers advice, I searched the internet for inspiration and looked for jobs, but nothing really grabbed me.
I had chosen my original career path at the great age of 11; it was all I wanted to do and I did enjoy my work. I may well have continued on that path, or that path may well have been naturally reaching an end.
There is no doubt that once children are part of your life your view of the future changes. Life changes and there are new challenges to overcome along the way. I had reached a point where I felt ready for a new direction career wise. (Not surprisingly my interests had changed since the age of 11!). I was feeling that there was potential within me waiting to grow and I could work a new career into family life.
However with more restrictions on my time, energy and finances, finding a suitable, exciting and rewarding career was not easy. If I could get a part time job, maybe I could fund a course, but without a clear direction I don’t have time or energy to waste!
I consider myself very lucky to have joined forces with a friend in a similar situation; we have started a new business venture. There were times at the beginning we were the blind leading the blind! Not sure which direction to take, we started doing admin work at home and this has very quickly highlighted our different strengths. Now we are defining a new career for both of us that fits perfectly into family life.
This is only the start, once you have your business idea up and running this is when the fun really starts! Time management is a must: keeping the existing work up to date and completed on time; ensuring customers are happy with good customer service; and still make time for important new business deals.
Unless you employ someone to do all your PR work, you will need to take care of it yourself. This is not always easy, we are not all fantastic sales people. Your work is may be excellent, but no one will know unless you sell it! Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions – either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites. But no matter how effective networking is it can still be a very daunting prospect!
A Few Simple Beginners Tips:
- Be prepared:
Know who you are and what you do, think elevator pitch, a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, profession, product, service, organisation or event and its value.
Make sure you have business cards to hand, but remember first impressions count in business so why settle for anything less than exceptional. Think carefully about how your cards represent you, online printers are a cost effective option.
- Follow up:
Meeting someone is just the first step in networking. In order to forge a lasting relationship (and make sure people don’t forget you), you need to follow up, every single time. As well as giving out your business cards make sure you collect cards too. If you say you will do something at a meeting, do it. Keep a pen with you to quickly scribble out what follow-up actions you have for that contact, and review your cards after the event.
- Conversation starters:
Nothing worse than an awkward silence! A couple of ideas: compliments can be an icebreaker, ask about travel to the venue or parking, or simply “Networking isn’t really my thing” if you see someone looking as uncomfortable as you!
- Go with someone else if it gives you more confidence.
Keep in mind that networking isn’t about short-term gain, but about learning, growing, and forming connections. Adopt good social habits, and you’ll see your skills and comfort improve, your opportunities increase, and your relationships grow—for the long haul.
by Stephanie Adams, Motivating Mum East Hertfordshire
I read this book in January (on the plane heading off on our holiday – children happily entertained with children’s TV!) and found it really helpful, useful and insightful. I put lots of sticky note tabs on the pages I wanted to look back at (much easier than losing a pen on the plane!)
So, knowing how little time we all have as mums, and how much we need to do with it, I really wanted to write a review of the book and include some of the tips and suggestions I found useful. Hope you find this useful too! (of course, it is also easy to buy this book on Amazon if you then decide you’d like to)
How the book is structured
The book is split into 10 chapters, covering relationships (children, partners, friends), working or not working, childcare, managing your home, and what about me?
It ends with useful references and appendices (which includes listings of direct selling companies and franchisers and lots of website addresses covering the topics in the book)
It is very easy to pick small sections of the book at a time and look at these, and included throughout the book are personal comments and suggestions from mums, really makes it feel relevant and personal.
Tips and information taken from some of the sections of the book
From chapter 2 – Children Behaving Badly
Make a sticker chart and when you catch your child being good bring out a reward bag (that you prepared earlier with small but fun items, if possible wrapped up like a lucky dip) and surprise them with a choice from the bag.
Chapter 5 – To work or not to work
There is not going to be a perfect solution. Simply by accepting there is no perfect answer, you will have made significant progress towards feeling happier about your situation.
There is a section on starting your own business, which includes: the idea, the market, how will you reach your market and business plan
Chapter 7 – Dirt doesn’t matter (Much)
NetMums top ten organisational tips
Tip 3 (which I personally really like) is: have a nice wicker basket in every single room in the house. Use it for chucking in any toys that are on the floor of that room. Every so often you can sort through it….it means there is always a place to do a quick tidy up at the end of the day (so you then don’t have to look at them in the evening!)
Managing tasks and duties in the home….
Divide these into three areas:
Essential, useful and life’s too short!
Laundry – one tip is to fold sheets to the size of half a pillowcase before you put them in the washing machine. They’ll come out hardly creased (I shall be trying this one!)
The school morning
A few of the tips include:
As something different once in a while, you could make a little checklist for the children to carry around – they love ticking things off as they do them.
Have fun too. Try to intercept a tricky day: could you make a game where they put all their white clothes on first, followed by grey?
Make things into a race…..’I bet I can tidy up the breakfast things before you’ve put your shoes on’
Keeping a packet of wipes, a hairbrush, toothbrushes and children’s toothpaste in the kitchen can save a last dash upstairs (I also have hair ties by the front door too!)
What about Me?
More than lack of sleep, or any other of the more obvious stressors, lack of me-time wins the Enemy Number One slot.
Ten treats for me-time
1 Home pedicure
2 Phone a friend – someone you have not spoken to for ages
3 Get some exercise (exercising is also included later in the book and the tip on swimming says: A long slow swim can be meditative as well as good exercise – I really agree with this and love the fact you can’t take your mobile phone in with you!)
4 Plant something
5 Feel the music – dig out your old tapes or CDs and find something you haven’t listened to for ages
6 A relaxing bath
8 A new magazine – with your magazine, you really need a good coffee or favourite drink.
9 Personal grooming
10 Go out for a coffee…without any children. Take a magazine, newspaper etc
Chapter 10 – The stuff you can’t legislate for
Count your blessings
Try keeping a Happiness Diary. You can write in it at any time….just before bed might be best….
Tips of what to put in it include: good things you have in your life, things you would miss if you didn’t have them. Things to be thankful for about your health. People you are thankful to have in your life and why. Wonderful things about each of your children. Things to look forward to. Great times you have had as a family.
Useful web addresses are included at the end of the book
Such as Fly Lady www.flylady.net
(which offers tips, advice and humour on keeping your home neat and tidy)
by Kate Miranda
Not surprisingly 75% of businesses that collapse cite poor planning and failure to properly define their target market as the reason. Making the right decisions about your marketing will save you time and money. One of the most common mistakes people make is targeting the wrong people, which is a complete waste of your valuable time and hard earned money. Hopefully this exercise will help you define your target market.
A Mumpreneur is Born – Part 6 April 5th, 2013
This is the 6th (and final for now) part of my own ‘mumpreneur story’. To read the whole thing, begin at Part 1
Once more dear readers, I have left you dangling. It has taken me over two years to write my story down. Why? Because I’m too busy living it . And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I left you the last time, I had just discovered my first successful business. I ran a Cambridge Weight Plan consultancy in my home, which fit fantastically well with bringing up my two small children. During 2009 this business flourished and I never did start the Personal Training business, apart from giving the odd training tip to my weight loss clients.
I felt like I had finally found my true calling – helping people and making money. But, guess what, it wasn’t finished… Read the rest of this entry »
Would you like to use Twitter more effectively for business? Is blogging part of your marketing toolkit? Would you like to learn more about small business?
Mumpreneur Marketing is offering you the chance to win a social media or business marketing workshop of your choice worth £45 pounds. The three-hour training workshops are held regularly in Putney, South West London.
You can choose from workshops on Twitter, blogging for business or small business marketing which covers marketing planning, online marketing, content marketing, avoiding common marketing mistakes and a low cost marketing checklist.
“Great workshop. I feel I’m a big step forward towards getting my business running. The marketing course has motivated me. I have new goals to work towards. I would recommend this course to anyone running their own business.” Charlotta Pichon Read more workshop testimonials here >
To read more about the courses offered by Mumpreneur Marketing visit mumpreneurmarketing.com
Mumpreneur Marketing is a London-based marketing and PR consultancy offering affordable and professional marketing solutions for business mums.
To enter the competition, leave a comment below telling us what you find most challenging about marketing your business. Then fill inthe Rafflecopter below:
The Resolution Revolution April 2nd, 2013
And so ends the first quarter of 2013. Although it still feels like Christmas, in fact Easter has come and gone and it is officially springtime.
And….I hesitate to ask…..are any of you still on track with your New Year’s Resolutions?
Ways to Improve your Sleep March 23rd, 2013
Lack of sleep can lead to a lot of very unfortunate health conditions. Not getting enough sleep is probably one of the worst things you can do to your body. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to heart problems, depression, weight gain and even death, and at the very least it makes you grumpy, irritable and inefficient.
Where is Spring? March 21st, 2013
Do you have a spring in your step?
It would be very difficult for me to choose my favourite season. It’s great to go out crunching leaves in autumn, wearing a cosy jumper, curling up on the settee with curtains drawn, watching T.V. in the evening. I like crisp frost of winter on the grass and the pinch I feel on my ears and cheeks when I come back into the warm. I like late evening sat in the summer sun, I like breakfast sat outside in the sunshine. I like a stolen moment enjoying a cup of tea sat outside with a magazine. Read the rest of this entry »
Ten ways to market your business on a shoestring March 1st, 2013
From a Motivating Mum East Hertfordshire networking with speaker event
First of all I am delighted to report that this event, on Thursday 7th February 2013 in Hertford, was able to take place, as the Hertford Theatre and cafe was flooded on the day itself (with a lot of firemen at work and the whole building closed to the public!)
A new venue close by was quickly sought, and those attending were re-directed to it when they arrived for the event. Thank you to everyone for being so supportive of the situation, especially in light of the fact that January’s event, on being motivated and focused for the new year, had to be deferred due to the snow. So this was now the first event of 2013!
With a lovely group of around 15 of us and babies and children, Rob Glover from www.thebestof/local/hertford gave a really useful talk on ten ways to market your business on a shoestring.
Rob is the owner of the Best of Hertford and the Best of Ware, a community and local business hub which includes business recommendations, offers, local events and discussions. He grew up in Hertford and has been running this business since 2010.
HERE IS A SUMMARY OF ROB’S TALK:
TEN WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS ON A SHOESTRING
- Acquisition versus retention – consider a balance of time spent on keeping existing clients, as well as continuing to market for new ones. Spending one hour a day or even one hour every few days specifically on proactive marketing activities, could really pay dividends on client loyalty
- Managing social media activity – recommended to try using hootsuite or tweetdeck, free online tools to enable you to plan and send out messages to suit the timings you need (you can schedule messages to go out up to a year in advance!)
- Customer Relationship Management – consider the use of these tools (usually need to pay, but a few are free) One example is In Touch, which costs £10 a month, and provides the ability to effectively email and mail out to your entire database and then be able to track and identify which texts and emails are actually being opened
- Self sabotage – be careful how you manage the messages for your business in what you do, so as not to unintentionally have a negative impact (for example, one external company is using ‘we have old fashioned values combined with modern technology’ as a strapline, this may not be sending out a positive message to customers)
- Call Management Service – may be worth considering paying for a service to answer your calls, who will then screen out sales enquiries and pass on messages to you immediately, so your office landline looks manned and someone is always there to answer personally (this can cost £1 a call)
- Basic artwork – you may be able to do some basic design work for flyers etc yourself, programmes like Gimp are available free of charge and enable you to do design work and save to a file type ready for a printing company to use
- Offer an incentive/guarantee – you could consider the option of offering a guarantee whereby if someone is not absolutely happy then there will receive a discount/extra service/additional time etc. Being mindful of course to control any offers, incentives etc so they are manageable with the time and resources you have available
- Following up – to realise an enquiry or possible interest into a real business possibility you may need to follow up more than 5 times, perhaps taking on a combination of approaches, with social media and more traditional marketing techniques
- Testimonials – these are very important to any business, and even if you get some negative feedback you may be able to change this into positive support by addressing the issue and more than resolving it, after which you may get a testimonial. Perhaps choosing to ask for testimonials from very supportive and regular customers/clients is a good way to approach it
- Referrals – another way to generate new business is to ask for referrals from existing clients / customers. Perhaps offer a gift or incentive if someone introduces their friend or contact to your business. Also consider if the person who has successfully referred may benefit from a special one-off offer too (perhaps a time-limited or seasonal offer)
Rob also spoke about entering local business awards, as completing an application form for a relevant local/regional/sector-specific award can be a very useful way of reviewing how your business is operating and your future plans. As well as excellent marketing and PR if you are shortlisted and/or win an award.
Thank you to Rob for so many top tips based on his experience, which generated lots of discussion and ideas! So much so that we ran out of time, but I am sure it is a topic to cover again in the future, so do watch this space.
NEXT EVENTS FOR THIS GROUP
Next up is the Motivating Mum East Hertfordshire pre-Mother’s Day gift selling / browsing and networking event, which also includes the opportunity to listen to a speaker about her experience of setting up two businesses alongside family life. This is taking place on the 6th March in Bishop’s Stortford, and it is already getting well booked up.
This will be followed by a workshop from HMRC and Wenta on record keeping, HMRC deadlines and business planning, on the 21st March in Ware.
Both of these events need pre-booking and I look forward to welcoming those who are able to attend.
In the meantime, I hope the half term break / juggle has gone well!
What To Do in the Event of a Burglary February 13th, 2013
Who to call and how to find the right insurance and support during such an emergency
Arriving home to discover that your house has been burgled is a home owner’s worst nightmare, and an experience which can shake you to the core. However much it can feel discomfiting and violating to know that an intruder has been in your home, it’s important to act quickly and take appropriate steps to right the damage.
We’ll look at two scenarios: what to do if you return home and find the intruder in your house; and secondly, what to do if you return home to find that you have already been burgled. Tantamount is safety, and precaution. Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk) provides you with the following advice in the event of a burglary:
What to do if the intruder is present when you return home
Chubb Security, makers of locks and alarms, has some excellent tips on what to do in this scenario. If a burglar is present in your house when you return home, leave the premises immediately if you can. Do not stay to make an emergency phone call from your house.
In the event that the burglar has not noticed your presence, going to a neighbours home or business to call can increase the chances of the burglar being detained at the scene. In the very least, if you stay away from the scene, it makes it easier for the police to find fingerprints and identify the intruder when they arrive.
What to do after you have been burgled
As above, the police or security company should be the first into your property after the incident occurs and they have determined that the intruder has left and they can carry out a basic survey of the property.
As the security company and police search your office or home they can usually also determine the point of entry. Note these area(s) so that you can begin to think about how to enhance your security installation.
It is advantageous for you as a home-owner to be present as they survey these areas and provide any support that might be useful. You’ll also notice any changes that need to be made – pruning trees or overhanging plants, installing alarm systems or extra locks on garage doors or less secure outhouse/backdoors, oiling windows and any apertures that are usually left open.
The police will then need a detailed summary of the items missing: if you made an inventory on entering the house, or in purchasing your home insurance policy, then use that information as a basis.
Nominate your Ideal School Governor and win a Kindle Fire February 8th, 2013
Who is your Ultimate School Governor?
From Lord Sugar to Barack Obama, whoever your ultimate school governor is we want to know!
Education charity ‘SGOSS – Governors for Schools’ has launched a new campaign which highlights the personal benefits of volunteering in a quest to help fill 30,000 school governor vacancies across England.
School governors are the largest group of volunteers in education. They support and challenge the Head Teacher, set the strategic direction for the school and monitor and evaluate progress. As members of the school’s governing body, governors have the opportunity to significantly develop their skills and competencies.
A report carried out by The City of London showed that 67% of school governor volunteers had improved influencing and negotiation skills compared with 43% of the total sample. 71% of school governors reported a skills gain in team working in comparison to 43% of the total sample. Volunteers also reported that taking on the role of school governor was extremely useful for developing hard business skills, such as an increased business awareness and financial skills like planning and budgets.
SGOSS have also launched a new short film this week, “We’re the people…” which follows four volunteers in their workplace and shows how they use their skills to support children, education and schools.
SGOSS CEO Liz McSheehy says: “There is a common misconception that school governors are just parents of children at a school. We wanted to showcase that this volunteer opportunity is all-inclusive and a vital part of school improvement. Becoming a school governor allows a broad range of people to enact real change in education as well as enabling people to develop practical business skills.”
To find out more information about the campaign or to volunteer as a schools governor visit
You could win a Kindle Fire
All we would like you to do is leave a comment below saying who would be your ultimate school governor and why. then log into the Rafflecopter widget below and follow instructions for further entries.
Feb Fast: Giving up Alcohol for Charity February 1st, 2013
Six years ago on the other side of the world a group of Australians in their thirties were at a BBQ opening another bottle of wine with their friends when they decided the Christmas festivities had taken their toll. They decided to give up alcohol for the month of February and donate the money they would have spent to charity. This idea has grown into a national event. ‘Feb Fast’ has become a very successful national charity raising money for alcohol support services and charities. Read the rest of this entry »
Efficiency Tips For Mums Working From Home January 30th, 2013
Running a small business is a great deal of work in and of itself, but for mums doing it from home, there is a whole range of additional challenges. Of course, there are certain advantages to working from home: no transportation, more comfort than most offices, and if necessary you can keep an eye on kids, pets, etc. But some of these same comforts can be fairly distracting, which means that it’s important to find inventive ways to keep your focus on your work, even in the midst of your home environment. Here are a few tips on how to do so. Read the rest of this entry »
All Great Goals Need A Cunning Plan January 22nd, 2013
We all have different business aspirations for this year. Maybe you’d like to launch a new product; expand your customer base; or get your social media campaign ramped up a gear? We also will have a few things in our personal life we’d like to aim for, maybe home improvements; moving house; getting fitter; dressing better; or trying to save money.
I’m very good at thinking of all the things I’d like to be better at, have more time for or just plain want! What I’m not so good at is achieving those things. However this quote struck a chord:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
French writer (1900 – 1944)
If you think about the goals you have achieved in life so far, they normally had a plan behind them to achieve it. For example a successful family holiday is not achieved through just turning up at the airport and hoping you can get on a flight to somewhere nice for a good price! In our house a holiday is months in the planning: where to go; has it got all the facilities we need; how to get there for the best price; what to pack; who looks after the animals whilst we’re away; where to park the car; how to get to the airport; etc. Every eventuality is planned for. Another good example is a wedding – just one day of your life but everything is planned in minute detail: from your underwear to the seating plan!
Why can’t this be extended to other plans in life – business or personal? Take one of the aspirations for your business mentioned above, improving your social media campaign. Try planning this down to the finest detail (as you would a holiday or your wedding) – from deciding what your aim is with your campaign, to how exactly this is going to be timetabled into your daily schedule. Breaking big ideas down to small steps makes them more achievable. Planning each step into your life will mean that your goal is achieved.
The same goes for your personal goals. For example, trying to save money: how exactly are you going to achieve this? Think about every area of your life where savings could be made: switching energy providers; using voucher codes when shopping online; having a meal planner based around special offers at supermarkets; shopping for presents in the sales, etc. Plan exactly when you’re going to switch energy providers, which purchases you need to make online to benefit from the codes and when the sales are so that you can plan a Christmas shopping trip. That way the dates are in your diary, the plan is made – and your goal of saving money will be achieved!
Equally planning would help you achieve your aspiration of ‘dressing better’. Think how you would like to dress in an ideal world – plan your outfits, can they be achieved on your budget? Create a mood board for all your outfit ideas. Could you invest in a few key pieces to improve your overall look without breaking the bank? If so, which key pieces are you going to buy? How will they fit in with your existing wardrobe? Plan down to the finest detail – some people even take photos of themselves in every conceivable outfit in their wardrobe so they can see at a glance what they’d like to wear that day.
Planning costs nothing, could save you money, and will certainly help you achieve your objectives.
Goals with a plan are wishes that will come true…
New Year Marketing Planning…but it’s Easter already!! January 14th, 2013
The Christmas decorations had only just been shelved and the last mince pie had only just been digested when I ventured out to restock. It began ordinarily enough – just my trolley and me - but imagine my surprise when I was faced with an entire aisle of Easter eggs. Wall to wall chocolate. Surely not! Easter is two-and-a-half months away!
Then it struck me. The supermarket timetable is an incredibly useful guide to marketing planning. Some of your marketing plans should be in sync with the supermarket shelves. Read the rest of this entry »
5 Ways to Get Organised in the New Year December 18th, 2012
I don’t know about you but I am finding myself rushing about like a headless chicken this month. Business tasks have to be done and completed before I shut up for the holidays. Then I have to make sure that the children are sent to school with all that they need for each different thing that they are doing, and ferried to the right activities, parties and concerts after school. Of course I also have to make sure that our family Christmas is planned and sorted behind the scenes, so that nobody is even aware that anything has happened until Santa visits on Christmas Eve.
I’m sure I’m not the only small business mum feeling a bit overwhelmed at this time of year. I have very nearly dropped a few balls already, and I am cursing myself (as usual) for not being a bit more organised, in my home life and in my work schedule and routines.
So when I do get a minute to sit down, you will find me at this time of year, making a start on my New Years Resolutions, reading up on some ways that other business owners get organised, so that I can hopefully pick up a few tips. Here are some of my favourites:
- How to Organize and Simplify Your Business Lifestyle – Under30CEO ….. set up some filters that automatically organize and send messages like bank statements, bills, and other regular emails to designated folders that you create. Businesses will always be more productive this way.
- DivineCaroline – Organize Your Business – And Your Life – DivineCaroline … Organize your hard copies. Organize your contacts. Most computers today come with software (such as Microsoft Outlook) that makes it easy to organize your contacts. It’s Monday morning and you’re reviewing your calendar.
- Organize Your Workspace for Maximum Productivity – Gina Trapani – Harvard Business Review http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/trapani/2009/06/organize-your-workspace-for-ma.html …As you pilot your way through the business day, your workspace is your cockpit. If you can’t see the gauges or reach the controls quickly and efficiently, you’re in trouble.
- Organise Now …Step #1: Toss out most of your mail Business people tend to get a lot of unsolicited mail (electronically and hard …
- How to Organize Your Small Business Records – For Dummies Dealing with the paperwork is a large part of running a small business. The following table suggests essential file drawers to label in an actual file cabinet or two …
Would you describe yourself as organised? What do you do to hold yourself together? Or what are you planning to do better in 2013?
How to Stay Focused and Motivated while Working from Home November 26th, 2012
by Alison Rothwell
Working from home is an ideal choice for many people, not least the army of Work at Home Mums [WAHMs]. Owning your own business and being able to work from home offers gives you lots of freedom and many more conveniences than having a traditional 9-5 office job. However, working from home also offers many challenges; and the biggest challenge for many WAHMs is staying motivated and focused. Here are top tips for staying focused and motivated while working from home. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cost Of Life Insurance For Women Is Set To Increase November 16th, 2012
The European Directive which was agreed in March 2011 is due to come into practice on 21st December 2012 and will make it unlawful for any insurance provider to differentiate policies or costs on the basis of sex.
This means that previous reductions in premiums based on gender will no longer be acceptable and the price of specific insurance policies could dramatically increase.
Increases In Premium Costs For Women
In general, women are healthier and live longer than their male counterparts. They have fewer accidents when they drive and do not suffer from serious illnesses as often. This means that the premium costs for life insurance, critical illness and car insurance has always been lower for women, but this is all set to change with the new EU Gender Directive.
As there is no real possibility of insurance companies reducing the prices for the male policy holders, the only viable way to bill men and women and take out this differentiation, is to increase the premium charges for women across the board, without offering any further benefits at all.
Though this change has been made with a view to make the sexes more equal, in actual fact it’s going to have a huge impact on working mums and those that run their own businesses.
Any business that has a female key person will see the costs of insuring that individual increase by up to 20%-%30 for life insurance cover and further rises will also be experienced in critical illness cover for females across the board. Such rises could make cover almost unaffordable for many small businesses and sole traders, yet these are products that are essential to the smooth and continued running of any business, no matter what the size.
Increases in Premium Costs for Men
In the same way that life related insurance premiums are not going to fall for men, premiums that men have been previously enjoying at a discounted rate are now also expected to rise.
This includes annuities and income protection premiums and could result in a double whammy for many husband and wife partnerships that are going to be hit from both sides.
Planning For The Future
The sad fact is that if such increases come into force as expected there will be no real way of avoiding the increase in costs.
Having no critical illness cover in a small business or stopping life insurance payments is simply not a chance that many financial astute business women are willing to take. But there are ways to try and limit the impact that this new directive may have.
As gender differentiation is removed, insurance companies will be looking for other ways to provide more accurate premium prices.
When the time for policy renewal arrives, don’t simply sign file the form and accept the hike in premiums, look around for special offers and alternative policies that may be more competitive.
By taking active control of insurance costs and seeking the best advice, it is possible to limit the costs of these hikes but unfortunately this is yet another case of Europe creating a headline without really considering the cost of their decision on the hard working mums living in the real world.
To compare life and critical illness insurance quotes visit www.criticalillnessinsurance.org.uk who are an independent online life & protection insurance brokerage. They can compare quotes from all of the UK’s largest and most well known providers to help find you the most suitable policy at the best price.