, , ,

Thoughts about Planning

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

fail to prepareI’m sure you’ve heard this quote before, but I didn’t know who it was attributed to, did you?

I know I’ve been guilty in the past of not spending enough time in the planning phase. Sometimes that’s been as simple as not getting enough food for the weekend picnics we need for all day athletic events. At other times, in my business, it’s been not getting everything ready I’ve needed before launching something. Thinking that if I launch something, I’ll respond to customers needs when they ask. All that has done has put extra pressure on me, I’ve been vague with clients, and I’ve not always given the best service possible. And it was something I could have avoided!

Sometimes in business, especially in the early stages, we’re so keen to be ‘doing’ things all the time, we don’t spend enough time planning, or setting systems and structures up. There may be things which others could help with (partners, children, parents, friends), if only you’d ask them to help you. I know I’ve sometimes felt that if I’m not “out there” trying to “get the money in”, I’m not doing my job properly. But then, looking back, if I’d only put those systems in place, I’d have sold more, or helped that customer in a much better way than I did by rushing.

This was brought into sharp focus last week with a client who has an amazing mission. She was trying to do things by herself, and hadn’t even thought about asking for help. When I asked if someone else could “do that”, she thought about it and said, “yes, but they’d have to be the right person”. So she thought some more and came up with the idea that her Dad may be able to help out with a particular aspect of this project. I got a text from her over the weekend, saying Dad had said yes. She was relieved that she’d got help, and whilst she’ll still have to have an overview on the tasks Dad is carrying out for her, she doesn’t need to find time to actually do “that job”.

It’s a simple thing to ask for help, but many of us think we have to do everything ourselves. Just because it’s your business, doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Yes you’re responsible for everything in your business, but if you got a bit of help, what would that allow you to do more of? Rest, spend time with the family, create new products, see more clients? Think about it.

Two things which are linked for you to think about this week – planning and who can help you? I’d love to hear what ideas this has sparked for you. Let me know.

I had a wonderful conversation about “Conversations that Flow” last week with Matthew Newnham (it’s about 45 minutes). It was fascinating how his simple ideas for how we can think about conversations, can help us make the most of our time with people. If we think of a conversation as a two-way process, talking about something both parties are interested in, the end result is that both parties will feel better at the end than at the start. Does that make sense to you? I need to listen to it again and pull out the excellent tips he gave us to make use of every opportunity we’re given to share our business with others.

You can book a free 20 minute Explore Call with Tracey-Jane if you’d like help with your business planning.

If you’d like Monday Thoughts, and our weekly business tips delivered direct to your inbox, you can sign up here:

,

Change is good for business

I’ve had a few conversations these past two weeks with business owners who are struggling to grow their business. When they talked about where they felt stuck and confused in their business, we identified that it was caused by an unwillingness to change something in their business which was holding them back.

With one business owner, the business structure had changed, and she was wanting to move the business in a new direction. Yet she was still holding onto the past and the “old way”. Literally with stock she was holding, which wasn’t selling, yet she couldn’t buy the new stock she wanted, without getting the cash in for this.

For another, they needed more time in their business to grow it, and had found a way of creating this by shifting their schedule around. Yet they were still stuck no change.

Why?

Change is good for you

change is good for you and your businessWe all know that if we change our state we can shift ourselves out of a state of mind, or re-energise ourselves. Simply going to get a glass of water changes our state and helps us clear our heads. We know change is good for us, yet we often sit at our desks for hours on end with no break, getting more and more worked up. Most people like wearing new clothes and new shoes.

Why?

I’m no pyschotherapist, but I know that my monkey mind has a lot to do with it for me! The monkeys say, “just get this done, then you’ll be happy”. Oh how I wish they’d keep quiet. When I talk back to them and say, “no, I’m taking a break as I’ll do this better & be even happier when I come back to it”, life is great. Are you the same?

The saying, “A change is as good as a break” is so common, that we probably don’t hear it any more. But when we do get 5 minutes fresh air, even hanging the washing out if you’re working from home, we feel more energised when we come back to that thing we were struggling with previously.

It follows that change is good for your business too

Agree?

If you’ve got some stock that isn’t selling, and you need the cash to buy new stock which your customers want, what’s the sensible thing to do?

If you’ve got a burning desire to focus on a new customer type, as you know you’ll love working with them, why aren’t you doing what you love?

If you’ve found something you don’t like doing in your business, that’s stopping you from doing something you love, why can’t you hand that over to someone else to do?

What’s stopping you changing something in your business?

That question can be a hard one to answer if we’re not aware that we want to change something in the first place. For the business owners I’ve worked with these past few weeks, it’s been fear of letting go. You could say they were in their comfort zone. Yet, it wasn’t feeling comfortable any more because they knew they needed to change something. They just sometimes couldn’t see what it was clearly enough to do something about it.

When you spend time reviewing your business you’ll see what needs changing (and I’m talking tweaking really here mainly, rather than wholesale business structure or totally new products!). That means you need time in your business schedule to be doing something different from working IN your business. I often have my review time in a totally different place from where I usually work. Sometimes I’ll have a long walk first (I love walking and being outdoors), to change my state and be in a relaxed mood before I look at my business with, hopefully, clear eyes.

Do you need help with committing to change in your business?

Sometimes we need others to help us commit to change. You may have a great support team around you who will keep you on track for the changes you want to make. Fantastic. Use them. They want you to succeed, and if you need to make tweaks and changes, be confident to do what’s needed.

If you’re not sure, let us help. For the business owners I’ve mentioned here, all it took was 20 minutes to review, look at options and commit to action. Have you got 20 minutes to explore and review your business?

Book a free explore session (limited availability), and let’s help you make the changes you need to move your business forward.

 

 

 

, ,

Turning a juggling parent into a national business finalist

Who would have thought that all the heart ache and sleepless nights over the last 15 years of running my own business, whilst being a Mum would inspire others? I certainly didn’t.

Yet it seems that what I do so naturally in supporting other business owners grow their business, and helping parents to start their own flexible business, has been recognised in a national award. Wow! I’ve been shortlisted for the Cheerleading category of the MPower Business Awards.

In some ways the title of this post is wrong. I haven’t turned myself from a juggling parent to a national business award finalist. To me, all I’ve done is been myself and grown my businesses in the right way for me over the years. Yet another business owner, one who I’ve supported over the last 10 years in many different ways, spent some of her valuable time to nominate me for this award. Her nomination included:

T-J is such a great cheerleader for people in business. I have seen her grow and sell a business and set up Manage Those Things, a business support service and a free online networking group “Business Cheerleaders.”

I’ve nominated T-J because of her generosity to others – she tirelessly promotes other people and does her best to help when they are stuck in a business rut. She’s a great networker too who loves to connect others – not because she can get something for herself, but because its the right thing to do.”

Thank you 🙂

Keep on keeping on being a juggling parent

Tracey-Jane Hughes juggling parent and business award finalistIs one of the biggest tips I give to other business owners. Yes, juggling the commitment of being a parent and running your own business is hard. For example, “What’s the priority today?” Look after my poorly child, or follow up that potential customer I promised I’d call?

Yes, I’ve been there, with all those different balls flying around my head, with some dropped to the floor too. OK, let’s be honest, many dropped to the floor!

Learning to find the right balance for you and your family can take time, lots more juggling, and amazing support from those around you. Including your children! I remember having boxes of bras in my lounge and getting the boys to sort them into size order to help me out. They didn’t learn much about bra fitting, but they learnt that 32 was smaller than 34, and D came after C though!

Like so many business owners and working parents, I’ve suffered from anxiety, fear, worry, and sleepless nights.

Learn how to juggle your family and your business carefully

It took me many years to find the right balance of family and business life, and even more years to find that I needed me-time too. But I’d say that this is the most important aspect of growing your business successfully around your growing family.

When I realised that I no longer enjoyed running an online shop, as I preferred direct contact with customers, a weight fell from my shoulders and I was able to hand that successful business to someone who it suited. I was then able to grow another business which fitted around my boys different after school and taxi service requirements, which meant I wasn’t constantly chasing my tail.

Be your own biggest cheerleader

Whilst I love cheering others on, (my boys are both very good sportsmen, so I get lots of opportunity to cheer them), you need to focus on yourself and give yourself a pat on the back. Every day.

Yes, everyday. Do you realise what you’re doing? You’re running a business and being a juggling parent supporting your family to grow. You’re nurturing both to grow up and become mature. Don’t you think you deserve cheering on? I do. You’re doing a fabulous job, even if you don’t think you are.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Life is hard, you don’t need to add to that with your own thoughts!

Lancashire Business Cheerleading Drop Ins

MPower business awards shortlisted business ownerIn celebration of being a finalist for the MPower Business Awards, I’m offering three free business cheerleading drop ins across Lancashire, where I live.

I will be available at these drop in sessions to spend time talking about your business, (or business idea), juggling parenting and business, at these times across the county, before the awards final on 23rd June. Who knows who else will be there at the same time as you? It could be the start of some new business collaborations!

All I asks is that you make a donation to the volunteer led Lancashire Listening Services, One2One Listening in Preston and Lancaster is Listening, which I’ve helped to set up, and continue to support voluntarily. It costs about £150 to train one volunteer listener, so any donations will be used to support local people have somewhere to be listened to properly.

Join me at these informal venues where I’ll be grabbing a table for our conversation:

Saturday 16th June 9.30 – 11.30 Holiday Inn Foyer Lancaster M6

Tuesday 19th June 9.30 – 11.30 Central Methodist Church, Lune Street, Preston (Listening room)

Friday 22nd June 10-12 Café Ambio, Astley Park, Chorley

If your further afield, you can book a free 20 minute Explore Call, or check out the support for your business growth

If I can turn being a juggling business parent into a national award finalist, so can you 🙂 I look forward to hearing your story soon.

 

, ,

Mental health tips for business owners

There is a lot of focus about good mental health for employees at the moment, so I’d like to focus some attention on the mental health of business owners. As a business owner, you’re juggling many things, especially if you’re running your business by yourself and have to do everything in your business.

Staying fit and healthy is crucial to the success of your business – without you being well and able to carry out your weekly tasks, you will have no business. Doing exercise, drinking water and getting fresh air are the basics aren’t they, which we all know about. But what about your mental health? Whilst your walking are you trying to fix the problem “that customer” has? Or are you worrying about not having enough money to pay your supplier at the end of the month?

Can you see? Just because your taking exercise, doesn’t always mean your mental health is being improved, and can often mean you’re not in the mood for your business.

Business owners share their mental health tips

mental health tips by business owners for business ownersMany people set up their own business to share a passion they’ve discovered when they’ve been helped by something. My very own Business Cheerleading Club was set up in response to needing a supportive place to be understood as a business owner and share the ups and downs we have each week with other business owners who know what it’s like. The support for each other, and your business, within the club is amazing, and fills me with joy to be helping others find the right place for them to grow their business. Knowing you have the right support helps you be in the right frame of mind to run your own business and support your mental health.

So I asked some business owners to share their mental health tips, not only from their own experience, but also from what they do in their business:

 

elaine clark

 

 

 

Elaine Clark

SafeguardingKidz

As a counsellor and therapist working with children, young people and adults,
many with bereavement, loss, post abuse, trauma and mental health issues, I fully understand that staying mentally strong yourself as a business owner is important.
It’s draining for me, so whilst I teach relaxation, meditation and visualisation methods to my clients, so that they can use these mental health tips and tools in their daily lives, I have to ensure I do this for myself.I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country, overlooking a river, which is calming for me.My mental health tips for business owners are:
Knowing. how to love yourself, keeping time and space for yourself each week is paramount to keeping yourself healthy on every level.
karen peddie

Karen Peddie

Karen Peddie Holistics

I’m a Reiki Master Teacher and EFT (Tapping) practitioner and both are excellent for helping people to become calm and balanced.

I suffered with anxiety, stress and depression for many years and I can honestly say I am calmer now than I have been for over 20 years. I now help others to feel better about themselves and my clients tell me they feel very relaxed after a treatment.

One lady told me she had not had a migraine since their  treatment last week, when previously, they were getting them every day. That’s how wonderful Reiki is!

My mental health tips for business owners are:

Find what works for you to stay relaxed, then practice it, and make sure it’s the first thing that goes in your diary

nick haines five institute

Nick Haines

Five Institute

My work at the Five Institute and beyond is based on the central premise that our inner and outer solutions for good mental health, wellbeing and everything else we do should be designed around each individuals nature, needs and worldview.

Although that is neither an original thought or anything but common sense, some of the tools we have such as The Vitality Test are an original and unique way to achieve that end.

I’ve suffered myself with both anxiety and depression. In my teenage years, the lack of understanding as to who I am as a person resulted in the treatments and suggestions doing more harm than good.

Later it became obvious to me what went wrong, but at the time it was a mystery to the professionals concerned, and highly distressing to me.

My mental health tips for business owners are:

Learn and understand what’s right for you. If something doesn’t feel or seem right, try something else. We’re all unique and it may take time, but stick with your desire to be mentally and physically healthy

emma launchbury bras4mums and bra lady cambridge

Emma Launchbury

bras4mums & Cambridge Bra Lady

My business is bras4mums/BraLady Cambridge and I help women feel more confident by fitting them in supportive and comfortable bras, specifically maternity & nursing bras through bras4mums.

Having struggled through two pregnancies and breastfeeding wearing the wrong sized bras, I trained as a bra fitter. My third pregnancy and subsequent breastfeeding with my youngest was transformed by wearing properly fitting bras.

“I’ve always struggled finding nice nursing bras in my size (H) and found it all quite depressing! Looking at her website gave me hope. Emma came to my house to fit me which was so convenient with two kids in tow. She brought a large selection for me to try and was so friendly. I found the perfect bra and it has transformed how I look and feel. Breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to wear horrible bras. I recommend using Emma’s services to anyone wanting a comfy stylish bra.”

New mums have a lot to deal with in the early days/weeks after giving birth but having properly fitted bras can make such a difference to them. It is one less thing for them to worry about and often enables them to feel more confident about breastfeeding because they are comfortable and well supported by their bras.

My mental health tips for business owners are:

Make regular time for yourself. If you don’t look after yourself, then your business will ultimately suffer as you eventually burn out.

What are you doing to maintain a good mental health whilst running your business?

There are so many ways of improving and maintaining a good level of mental health, as our business owners here have shared. I believe that you need to find what works for you. It can take time, especially if you’ve allowed your business to take over your life.

When I’m working with a client, I always say, “small steps”, and we’ll look at what can easily be added into a daily and weekly routine to start getting the balance right again.

You won’t be alone if you’re struggling to find the right balance in your life, and feel anxious or concerned about your life and your business. Just re-read what the business owners have shared above! Sometimes it just takes us a little nudge or knock to take us “over the edge” to make us realise it’s time to make a change.

If you need some support to work out what’s right for you, feel free to contact me and let’s explore your options.

If you’d be happy to share what you do in the comments below so that others can benefit from your experience, that would be wonderful.

 

, , , , ,

Can your children teach you to believe in yourself

I believe children can teach you to believe in yourself. Here’s why:

Today my eldest son, age 16, started his GCSE exams. He walked out of the door having had a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast inside him, and having done his paper round and had some exercise and fresh air. He was calm, relaxed and confident, having packed his bag yesterday.

He totally believes in himself and his ability to do the best he can in his exams, which stretch over the next 5 weeks (one week off for holiday/revision in the middle). Yes, he could have done more revision, but as he reminded me, he made choices about how to manage this time.

It’s not just about  mindset. It reminded me that so often as a business owner you don’t always believe in yourself. But you should.

Just like my son, you’re ready for the next step:

  • you’ve done your preparation work & researched your market with the products and services you’re selling
  • you’ve got your systems and structures in place to take payment, and your ready to supply the customer with what they want
  • you’re fit and healthy, and making time for you within your weekly schedule to maintain your mental and physical health
  • you’ve got your daily routine to ensure that nothing is missed in your business
  • you’ve got your business and life goals in focus, and you’re working towards achieving them

3 tips to ensure you believe in yourself

  1. Ensure your personal core values are also within your business values. If they aren’t you’ll feel that your business isn’t totally a part of you. Yet it is. You are your business, so you must ensure your values are incorporated into your business. If you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect your customers to?
  2. Keep track of your business numbers and don’t let anyone distract you from your business. You know you and your business best. If you can’t afford something this month that you think will help your business in the long run simply be honest with yourself and put a bit of money aside towards it next month. Don’t be distracted by special offers, or experts saying you “have” to do something. You know what’s right for your business. Don’t jump in. Take time to think about it before making a decision
  3. Have the right support team cheering you on. Whether this is your understanding family, a group of friends or a focused business support group, or more likely a combination of support, when you’re struggling to believe in yourself, they’ll remind you how special and talented and focused you are. It’s easy to forget why you’ve set your business up, but your business cheerleading team will keep you on track, and boost you when you need it.

What else can our children teach us as business owners?

children help you believe in yourselfAs parents we teach our children lots of things, and we hope to inspire them with confidence, so they grow up to be sure of themselves, and believe in their abilities. So isn’t it fascinating that when they turn round to us and say, “you’re great at that Mum/Dad”, that it inspires us and confirms what we know deep inside? That we’re doing a good job as a parent, and a great job as a business owner. Those simple words remind you to believe in yourself.

I’m sure there’s lots of other things our children can teach us. I’m often blown away by what my boys teach me. It’s a collaboration isn’t it? Learning together so we benefit from each other. That’s why I love the Business Cheerleading Club so much I think – a collaboration of business owners, learning together, just like my family 🙂

I’d love to hear what your children are teaching you and how you’re using that within your business. Let me know by leaving a comment:

, , ,

How we think has an impact on our business

Did you know that how we think impacts on how we communicate with others? You know that each one of us is unique, so does it make sense that each of us thinks in our own unique way?

Each of us thinks in a different way, but how do others know how we think? Yes we communicate, but we generally communicate in the style to suit us, not our listener, so will what we say come across in the way we intend?

Thinking, learning and communication are linked so closely aren’t they? Yet, do we really understand how we think and use that to our advantage in our business and personal lives?

Understanding how we think

I had a wonderful conversation with Helyn Connerr who shared some insights into how we think differently from each other. She called it a “cognitive model” of thinking, learning and communicating. Her Mercury Model describes 12 different ways the mind thinks, we we all fit into.

The Mercury Model accurately describes how our minds tick. It’s all about individuality in thinking and learning. Helyn Connerr

how we think and communicate

 

You may have yourself experienced difficulties at school, where you didn’t ‘learn’ in the same way as your peers. We all know of stories where children are “tossed out” or “written off” because they come across as disruptive in the classroom, but later turn out to have an entrepreneurial streak and are seen as a “success” later in life (we want talk about what success is here. I’ll keep that for another day!).

If you’ve ever felt unfulfilled in a job you’ve done, or you’ve been misunderstood, even by those close to you, you’ll now what it feels like to want to shout out “that’s just who I am, I can’t help it if I think this way. Why don’t you understand me?”

What would you do differently in business if you understood your mind better?

This isn’t about auditory, kinesthetic and visual learning styles. What we’re talking about here, is something much deeper. I’ve learnt myself that the Mercury Model is a quick and easy way to assess yourself and others, and then be able to use that understanding of how your mind ticks, to communicate in the right way with the other person.

How we think involves:

• The learning environment: including noise, temperature, familiarity, safety or colour.
• The nature of the information itself: like traditional/innovative, significant or abstract.
• The delivery: for instance repetition, fun, fast/slow pace, visuals or interaction.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Albert Einstein

What tools do you currently use to develop your team? Do you consider mental dynamics? It’s not something I thought about before I was introduced to Helyn’s work. An example Helyn shared in our conversation of a team she worked with who had four similar minds working together and they couldn’t generate new ideas as they always looked at information in the same way. She thought the idea was amazing, but those 4 similar minds couldn’t make it work.

To understand your own way of thinking, you will need to take a look at the books Helyn has written, as there’s too much to share in this space. I can assure you though, that understanding how we think will change your perspective in all areas of your life and business, so a little investment in money and time will reap rewards.

Fish can't climb trees tells us how we thinkHelyn suggested Fish Can’t Climb Trees for business owners. If you’re also a parent, you may also want to look at Learning without Tears (which was my first introduction to the Mercury Model). You can also work with Helyn one to one, or get her involved with your business or work team, if you’d like to understand how everyone thinks in a holistic way.

Helyn will be sharing further insights in a Business Cheerleading Club workshop later this year.

I’d love your thoughts on your understanding of how we think & how you currently manage this in your business. What have you learnt from my conversation with Helyn that you’d like to explore further?

, , ,

How do I get the right business mindset

“Mindset is the key to everything” Lottie Moore,

I’ve learnt a lot about mindset over my time in business. I think we can all learn from watching children as they learn how a business mindset can develop to support our business growth.

business mindsetChildren as they learn are honest with themselves and others. If they’re trying to do something they won’t stop until they do it. Think of them learning to walk. How many times will they fall over before they find their balance?

So why do business owners think that running a business is easy and they won’t fall over at the first hurdle?

I can’t answer that question, but I can help you create the right business mindset to make your business journey as smooth a ride as possible.

How do I create the right business mindset for me?

We are all different, so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. However, from my experience, and that shared by Mindset expert Lottie Moore during an interview, there are things you can do to help yourself create the right business mindset for you.

I am assuming you’re in the right business & you have a passion for what you do. That’s the starting point!

  1. Have your plan and EXPECT it to work
  2. Be prepared to knock on doors & go out and do it. TAKE ACTION.
  3. DO OR NOT DO. There is no try” maybe a mantra from Star Wars character Yoda, but it’s true.
  4. Choose to STAY POSITIVE in your business even if you get a little knock back, or things don’t go quite to plan
  5. Surround yourself with people who will AFFIRM you for who you are and your brilliant skills & SUPPORT you in the right way
  6. Celebrate every little success with your cheerleading team

If you’re having a bad day

And you will. It’s perfectly normal in business, as in life, to have bad days. Lottie suggested these tips to get your business mindset back to where you want it to be:

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst” Firewalker mantra

  1. Ask yourself, “have I got a reason, or have I got an excuse?”
  2. Adopt an entrepreneurial spirit – Don’t linger on the things that don’t work. Learn and move on
  3. Step up and go for it
  4. Replace “try”, with “I AM GOING TO”
  5. Replace “if”, with “WHEN”
  6. Put on some great music
  7. Take responsibility for your successes & when things go well
  8. Write down what you’re grateful for. Have a gratitude jar to remind yourself of a great day
  9. Be proactive in creating your own mood for the moment, the day, and your business
  10. What are you good & passionate about? That’s what you need to focus on & get support on the other parts.
  11. Invest in the best you can afford. Low cost monthly clubs, like the Business Cheerleading Club are great & you meet wonderful people.
  12. Mix with people who will support you and encourage you to grow your business
  13. Learn from the questions others ask in your support group. You learn what you didn’t know you did’t know!
  14. Think about the language you use. Change a word and see if it’s more positive for you
  15. It’s OK to say, “I haven’t got the money for that this month”, or “things aren’t great at the moment”, or “this is hard”
  16. Give yourself a break, you’re doing a great job 🙂

Celebrate what you want to replicate. Lottie Moore

lottie moore talks about business mindsetCreating your business mindset is one thing, and maintaining it can be something else. You’ll probably learn something else from the conversation I had with Lottie. It’s only half an hour long, so you can listen whilst you’re washing up!

What do you do to create the right business mindset for yourself? Let me know in the comments below.

 

If you’re a coach and want extra support, Lottie’s Coaching Success Academy we talk about is another option for your own support and business development.

, , ,

Do you review your business regularly?

Whatever your starting point today, you are where you are. It doesn’t matter what’s gone before. It doesn’t matter that that promotion worked, but the one that cost you loads in time and effort flopped. What’s important is that you learn from reviewing your business regularly.

review your business regularlyThe aim of your business review…

…is to look at everything through the clear eyes. I know you love everything about your business. And you spent months on ‘that’ particular part of your business. But really, as you review, have an open mind and open heart to look, see and listen.

How to review your business

So, “what do I review?”, I have clients saying. OK, it’s not flippant, but you do need to review everything in your business. Not every week, or month, but regularly.

  1. Review your business financials – are they what you were expecting at this time? Have you had more income in one area of your business that was unexpected, over the budget or plan you’d written?
  2. Review your customer service – whether you’re a one wo/man band, or have a staff team, what are the customer service issues that have come up. Is it a process issue that needs fixing, or a communication one? Is there something that’s not working quite right?
  3. Review your products and services – are they meeting your customer requirements? Are they profitable (or will be profitable once you hit x sales)? Are they what your customers are asking for? Is there something you’re being asked for that you could provide?
  4. Review your website – is your website working correctly? Do you have any errors showing on your webmaster console? Are you going to fix them, or do you have a web support person who does this for you? When was the last time you added content to your website? Are all your products and services up to date & still available? Are there any old products still listed which need removing?
  5. Review your staff / team – is everyone doing what you want them to do? To the standard you require? Are they value for money & adding value to your business? When was the last time you spent time with each team member to review your business goals and where they fit into that in your strategy?
  6. Review your business targets – targets are there to be aimed at, but things happen. New products come on the market; customer tastes alter; you change focus of what your business is about

 

How often should you review your business

Well that’s very much down to you and your business. We know you’ve got enough on your plate with ensuring all areas of the business are running smoothly. However, reviewing should be part of your business cycle that’s a standard part of at least your monthly schedule.

Some areas will only need a quarterly or half yearly review, but others you’ll want to spend more time on. For example, if you’re spending money on online advertising or social media support, you’ll want to know that this is bringing you the return you want.

All our businesses are different, so we’ll all have different priorities for review. We’ll all have different systems, but that’s fine. It has to work for us and our business.

Have we missed any areas for reviewing in your business? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you need help with your own business review, let us help you get clear. Book some time with Tracey-Jane & let’s get reviewing.

, , , , ,

Common sense GDPR for your business

Data protection and GDPR is a business process that you should be integral to your business. There are no exemptions for small and micro businesses. However, GDPR shouldn’t be scaring you, as it’s a business process for you to use and store your customers information, safely and securely.

GDPR – it’s a process for using and storing information

Annabel Kaye, KoffeeKlatch

NOTE: Replace DATA with the word INFORMATION and the process will make more sense for your business

common sense gdpr with annabel kayeI recently interviewed Annabel Kaye from KoffeeKlatch who as a employment law expert has been helping small businesses work through contracts and legal compliance since 1989. Since last summer, Annabel and her team have been sharing a common sense GDPR approach with small and micro businesses.

We like common sense & believe we share a common sense approach to business & our business support to you.

We’ve seen, and heard, many scaremongers about GDPR which has turned businesses off, rather than supporting them to go through the review process of how you manage and store information in your business. So, here’s our common sense GDPR suggestions for you to get to grips with what you need to do in YOUR business.

Common sense GDPR tips for your business

  1. Schedule a couple of hours a week to work on your own common sense GDPR processes for your business
  2. Download and use the simple plain english checklist from KoffeeKlatch
  3. List all your business software, then check their approach to storing information e.g. If you use an online or cloud based system, you need to know where & how they store their information. Most support services are being very clear about GDPR so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding what they’re doing in response to GDPR, like Mailchimp
  4. Think about your business. What information do you NEED to enable you to run your business efficiently? For example, if you have an online shop, it’s likely you need customer name and an email address, and possibly a phone number for any order queries.
  5. Thinking about your business, how long do you need to retain customer information? You will need to retain accounting records (and evidence of VAT sales) for the required time, so don’t be ditching customer records each year!
  6. If a customer signs up to a newsletter about your local service, that means, “a newsletter about your local service”.
  7. Those people on your current lists, are you happy that you can explain how they got on your list even if you’ve not got the hard copy of the original sign up form?
  8. Think about your own personal information. How do you want your own information to be stored and used by other businesses, doctors, charities, employers? Do you want it to be respected? Now think about how you can respect the information of your customers within your business, and keep it safe, without it costing you the earth in time or money (and it shouldn’t be doing either).

I’m creating diagrams of each part of my business so I can see what information I get from potential customers, existing clients, and past customers. I’m writing down all the different systems I use. I like to see things in front of me, but that may not work for you.

During the interview with Annabel, we talk through marketing CONSENT, with an example from one of our members, which is the biggest question we’re getting in the Business Cheerleading Club, where we talk through & support individual business situations.

What common sense GDPR tips would you add?

Confused, or are you all sorted with your information processes? Taking a common sense GDPR view is the best way to move forward, wherever you’re starting from at this point in time. 

Common sense business support and encouragement is available in the Business Cheerleading Club, open to any business owner looking to grow your business. For detailed support, please use the KoffeeKlatch GDPR support.

, , , ,

Do you have problems staying focused?

It’s interesting that on the day I’ve been talking about staying focused, I’ve had distractions which have taken me away from what I’d wanted to achieve! 😉

We all have distractions. We’re busy people. We have lives which are full of things we enjoy doing. We have friends and family we want to spend time with. We need to eat and exercise and sleep (not that these should ever be distractions!).

But the one thing that I hear from the business owners, in all sorts of different ways, is they struggle staying focused, and it worries them. Does it worry you too?

Staying focused

cathy presland - staying focusedI had a wonderful conversation with Cathy Presland today, (click the link or image to watch the 20 minute conversation), who in her own inimitable way, suggested that focus in itself can be a distraction to what we’re wanting to create and achieve. So anyone who came to the conversation live would probably have been disappointed not to have learnt any #tipsforbusiness about staying focused.

OK, so if staying focused is a distraction, and our to do list is a distraction, what can we do? Are we in one big vicious circle of getting nothing done?

No of course not!

Staying focused on the current activity will bring that to an end quicker. That’s an obvious statement I know, but one we often forget to carry out.

What about, as I talked about in our conversation, when you’re trying to get something done, and the children need feeding, and you remember you should be somewhere else. What then? How do you stay focused then?

Cathy suggested that you know the answer. I agree. Even though you want a checklist to work through each time this happens, a question to ask about “what is my focus?”, and that will tick all the boxes and get you back in focus, will that solve the issue?

The children will still need feeding at the same time as you should be somewhere else, whilst you’re trying to finish a piece of work. That hasn’t changed. So where should your focus be? Only you can know the answer to that. Are the children starving? How important is that other thing you should be doing?

How are you staying focused?

The scenarios we talked about may not be the focus issues you’re having. You may feel that by asking the question, “What do I know to do in this moment?” we’re not helping you get the focus you want.

What if you try it? What if you asked yourself, “What do I know to do?” and see what the answer is. Those to do lists and things you think you “should” do may take on a different perspective.

It’s interesting. A lot of the conversations we’re having in the Business Cheerleading Club are about these types of issues. If you want more help with focusing on your business, or an aspect in your business, get in touch.

Share your thoughts on staying focused in the comments below & let’s see what we come up with together.