Information about Manage Those Things and how we can help you with ‘those things’ that keep you awake at night.

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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.

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5 tips for starting your own business

Starting your own business is an exciting step in your life. It can also be a challenge to ensure you get everything done that you need for ensuring it’s right for you, and is set up for sustainable growth, without you getting overwhelmed.

don't lose focus when starting your own businessTo help you get started, we’ve created a start up checklist for the nitty gritty of starting your own business. However, don’t get bogged down in the boring bits, when there’s lots of things to get stuck into when running your own business!

When we help start up businesses, these are the areas we get them to think about to make things a smooth transition into your new business. What would you add?

Tips for starting your own business

  1. Know your reason for starting your own business & keep that in mind. If you’ve created a new product, fantastic. Well done you 🙂 If you’re wanting more flexibility around your family, keep that in mind. Don’t get bogged down in working all hours in your business, when your whole idea was to spend more time with the family! (Believe me, it happens, which is why I mention this first!).
  2. How many hours are you working on your business each week. Be clear. If you’re working elsewhere whilst growing your business, you’ll need to be really strict with yourself. If you have other commitments, it’s good to think about what hours you’re working so you don’t get distracted.
  3. What name are you using for your business. If you’re a sole trader you can use your own name without risking contention with anyone else in business. You own your name. If you want to use a brand name or business name, check out existing trademarks to ensure you don’t get into trouble before you start.
  4. What’s your goal for the next 6 months. I’m sure you’re wanting to “make a million” next week with your business! Well, that’s unlikely to happen! So thinking about what you want to achieve in stages is helpful, even if you don’t achieve them, it’s likely that you’ll achieve something better. Often you’ll find that as you start your own business you’ll change things slightly to make them work better for you, so the goal posts will change over time as you get feedback. Having those initial 6 month, and 12 month goals will help you focus on a target that then moves with review.
  5. Who’s supporting you. Whilst you’re busy starting your own business, how are you being supported? You need to ensure your partner, family and friends are right behind you. Do you have a structure to your week that means you’ve got regular time off to do the fun things you love? Don’t stop doing them, as you can’t work in the business all the time. You need your breaks, and for your brain to switch off from the business regularly. Being strict with your time off is just as important as being strict with your time in the business.

When you’re running your own business, you are responsible for everything. That can be wonderful, but also a challenge. There’ll be some aspects you love, and others you put to one side and leave. Start out thinking about them all and working out how they’ll all get done, even if it’s not you doing some parts.

Free Checklist for running your own business

We’re here to help support you as you grow your own business. For starters, download the free Start Up Checklist, then ask for the help you need:

What other tips would you add for others starting their own business? Let them know in the comments below.

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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.

 

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Business is personal

Do you think business is personal? When you do business with others, for your family or your business, does it make a difference who/where you buy from?

I don’t just mean buying local, or focus on small business economy. I mean the person, (or the group of people), you buy from. The service they offer, not just the products, or the price.

So, whatever your personal preferences, think about what your customers think, and how they act. How can you make business personal for them?

Tips to make your business more personal

  1. Make sure your business shows the customer the people behind the business. Whether you trade solely online, or have a team, show them off. You’re proud of your team aren’t you? Get their photos (good quality), and put them on the website. Introduce them to your customers so they know who they’re dealing with.
  2. Use the name of the person dealing with that part of the process in communications. Whether it’s an email update, or on the despatch note. It makes it more personal experience. If it’s just you, then make sure the customer knows it’s you.
  3. Share your story. Not only do people buy from people, but they like to know your story. They will tell others your story. They may even share their story with you.
  4. Share testimonials. Showing you’re doing a great job for other customers is a perfect way to show that you’re doing a great job, and helps others put their trust in you.
  5. Tell some family stories. Whilst it’s important to keep your private life private, there may be stories you can share to make your world come to life for your customers. It’s surprising how sharing a photograph of a place you’ve visited can instigate a conversation with a potential customer!

If business is personal, are you doing all you can for your business?

business is personal people buy from peopleI say this as you may disagree that business is personal! Please do let me know by leaving a comment.

And if you do agree that business is personal, are you doing ALL you can to promote your business?

  • Are you being yourself?
  • Do you tell your friends about your business, even if they may not be ideal customers they may know someone who is?
  • Are you getting enough sleep so you start work in the right frame of mind each day?
  • Do you take enough breaks so that the quality of your product or service is high quality every time?
  • Does every customer get the same care and attention you want to give?

Whether you agree with the statement, “business is personal” or not, I’d love your thoughts and your tips on what you can do to create a personal experience for your customers to make them feel welcome. Please leave a comment below.

 

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Building a strong brand starts with you

I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Sashka Hanna-Rappl last week about branding your business. Sashka helps businesses create their soul brand, capturing your uniqueness, so that your ideal customers can find you through the strong brand you create together.

Sashka helps you create a strong brandApart from having fun and sharing stories in our half hour together, Sashka shared some ideas for business owners as to how to create a strong brand, using your life purpose as the starting point. She calls it reverse marketing – starting with you, not your customer. It’s not the usual way of creating a strong brand, that you’ll find with many marketing agencies, or branding specialists.

However, it works.

Just think about it. If you can capture all your passion for your business, plus how your product or service helps your customer, then that’s it isn’t it? All in one go, you’ve created something that is identifiable to potential customers and they understand why buying from you is just right for them, and not your competitor.

How to create a strong brand

We all know, and can list strong brand names. We often know the stories behind how the brand grew, or started, or how it developed. Think of Apple and Steve Jobs. Whether you buy their products or not, can you feel the essence of the brand from the story you know? Simple, effective, giving the customer something beautiful and strong to communicate with others/listen to music easily.

Sashka’s advice about creating your brand, from reaching into your soul first, may sound a bit unusual. So think about that now too. If you could get your passion, your story, the why you run your business, and the benefits of what you do for customers into your brand, do you think you’ll sell more?

Yes, I think that’s right too.

People buy from people, and we all love stories, so why not think about our business in the same way. Why should our business, which is what we want to earn our living, and create a pension for us and our family, not benefit from all the things we love & attract us to buy the things we want in our lives?

Know your Life Purpose. Sashka said, “this isn’t your why”. Now to my mind, it’s the WHY that Simon Sinek talks about. It’s not, “I want to buy the extras so we can go on holiday”,or, “I’m creating a pension pot so I can travel when I retire”.

What are your Core Values? The things which are running through your body all the time. The things which without them you feel lost. In Sashka’s workbook, she says, “Your values are your Zone of Genius in Communication. This is where your inner strength and energy will often come from”.

Listen to Yourself. What others think isn’t important here. Not your partner, nor your customers. Starting with yourself can seem selfish, but if the words your using for describing your business aren’t coming from you, or are your words, they won’t sound genuine. Listening is so important to business owners.

Know that words can change. When you’re working on this reverse marketing to get really clear about who you are, and why your business is different, remember that you’re in charge. Your words can change, remember our conversation about words that sell? You are allowed to have some fluidity in the words you use, even though your core values will remain the same.

I’ve seen many business owners spend a lot of time, and money, on getting business cards & paper, and websites built around words that someone else created for them, which didn’t feel right. It was a clumsy way to start their business. Some pulled through and made it work. However others, it didn’t start with them, and the customers didn’t come as the business didn’t attract the right people.

Be You. Be Honest. Sometimes we don’t know exactly why we’re being drawn to a particular colour, or image, or word. Trust yourself. You’re a business owner, and totally in charge of yourself and your business. Give yourself some time to create your strong brand before sharing with others.

Are you ready to create your brand?

Let’s start with Sashka’s book, Soul’d Out, and/or a Find your Why session. I’ve used both of these methods, hand in hand to create the brand words I use in my business. They feel right to me, and hopefully you can see my passion for helping other business owners succeed come through. There’s still work to do. There’s always work to do.

Don’t be afraid of being you, and sharing your soul, to create your strong brand. Your business will thank you.

I’d love your thoughts on branding & how you’ve created your brand for your business.

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What happens to your business when you’re not in the mood?

We all have days, and weeks, when we’re “not in the mood” to work, to talk, to play, to network, to do business, to serve customers. Really, it’s true. Don’t hide.

There’s many reasons for this not being “in the mood”, some of which are:

  • hormones (males and females are both affected)
  • moon cycles (whether you like it or not, moon cycles exist and affect our daily lives)
  • energy (or lack of it, which in turn can be caused by a number of factors)
  • holiday (just back from one, or about to go on one)
  • emotional challenges (children, parents, partner, friends)
  • unwell

is your business always in the moodSo, what happens in your business when you’re not in the mood?

I’m asking rhetorically really. You don’t have to confess, unless that will be helpful for you. I guess I’m asking you to reflect and review your business, and all aspects of it, so that when you are having an “off day”, your customers won’t notice, and your systems will pick up the slack.

Tips to ensure your business is always in the mood

  1. Support team. Having a support team around you is crucial. Whether it’s family, friends, or staff (on-site or remote), people who can pick up the slack, or the important tasks when you’re not around will help keep customers happy and the business running smoothly.
  2. Email auto-responder. Setting this up, as soon as you know you’re not “in the mood”, will ensure that you can get on with getting yourself back on track, and customers can be still be served efficiently. Do you have another team member you can encourage emailers to contact, using a click through link ideally – a general office email that you know will be checked?
  3. Answer machine message on your phone. This should be fairly easy for you to set up, and amend as your circumstances change. Again, referring callers to another number which will be answered, or giving a clear idea when you’ll get back to them, will help keep everyone informed and happy.
  4. Ordering supplies automatically. Whilst you want to control costs, there’s nothing worse than running out of milk, or toilet rolls is there? So, having some stock items for staff, or for your customers, on regular order that you check every couple of months in your stock review, will ensure nothing is missing, even if you are.
  5. Directory of contacts and contractors. When you’re not in the office, can your team contact your IT support, or plumber, or suppliers, to ensure that the business can function. Having a list of contacts and approved contractors, (even if they are your friends who help out), will ensure that if your partner has to take control whilst you’re unwell for a short time, they can do what they need to keep things running smoothly. Your contacts and contractors will also be more sympathetic as you’ll have built a relationship with them which always make things run more easily.
  6. Be honest….as honest as you can be. With yourself as well as those around you in your family and support team. If ‘life stuff’ is happening sometimes we don’t know what’s going on, so regular reviews of how best to run your business with the facts you have about your situation will serve you, your customers and your business in the best light. If you need to cut your hours, be honest. Cut them. You can only do your best, and be your best if you have the right energy and support to carry out your business tasks.

Every business is different, and each of us as business owners will react in a different way to the situations we face day to day. Whilst we are our businesses, our business can often function without us being involved 24 hours a day, or 7 days a week.

I often say to clients, “what happens when you go on holiday?”. If we can sort out the right support and structure for our business to run whilst we’re away on holiday, we can put systems and support in place for those times when we’re not in the mood, due to life’s little challenges.

Whilst being “in the mood” for business may sound flippant, we’re being honest. We’re just trying to get you to think about the wonderful customers you’ve got and how they’re going to be supported if you’re not around. The Business Cheerleading Club could be part of your support structure. A safe place for your support, and also ideas as to how you can get the right support whilst you’re away, or not on top form. You never know, you may even meet your ideal assistant, or collaboration partner there! That’s certainly been our experience so far.

What tips would you add to our list? What do you do to ensure your business is always in the mood?

 

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What is business support

What is business support in your business? Is it the support you get as a business owner, or is it the functions within your business to support the whole business to run efficiently?

I think business support is both these descriptions, but it will also be different for each business.

As a small business, you are naturally doing all things in your business – from product management, to customer service, to bookkeeping and marketing.

As your business grows, you may not actually do all these functions yourself, but you’ll have support for aspects of your business.

Business Support Services

what is business supportThis term is generally used for business admin, finance and legal functions. In more recent years, this term has been used when you outsource any aspect of your business to someone else who will take that task on for your business. Marketing, PR, IT support, social media, book keeping and general email administration are all services offered, and used by businesses.

As your business grows, you may find that you create business support services within your staff team, (or remote support staff). Think about it. You need each area of your business to run efficiently, and sometimes you need people to support all aspects of the business. For example, cleaners in your office or shop are supporting the business. They are part of your support team.

What is Business Support

For me, business support is your support structure for you to grow your business. This may well be the staff, (and contract) team around you.

  • It’s also your training, learning, development, and keeping pace with new technology and software.
  • It’s your business coach who helps you work out your next steps, and encourages you to put in place the actions you need to do to take those steps.
  • It’s your networking group, (online or offline), who will be your cheerleading team, and tell others what you do
  • It’s your family and friends who will be there for you as your business grows

Where, what and how do you get your business support?

Is it from one place – a support company who provide you with the business support you need? Or is it from a variety, a mix of all the above? Have you thought about your business support team recently? What’s working? What maybe needs reviewing?

It’s interesting that since I started Action Learning Sets, and the Business Cheerleading Club, I’ve been more conscious of my own business support structure. My family and friends and what I need from them. My coaches and mentors. My networks.

I’m really enjoying the journey, it’s fab – Karen, Karen Peddie Holistics

It’s beneficial to air a problem, and put it out there. It makes you think more deeply about it rather than it rolling around in your head. It’s lovely to have other people’s ideas & then work out what’s right for me. I recommend being part of an Action Learning Set, whatever stage of business you’re at.”, Jane, Created4U

I started Manage Those Things to help business owners, like you, manage those things you can’t, won’t or don’t want to do. That’s classic business support. But the business club and more focused coaching & action learning are directly supporting you as a business owner to give you what YOU need to support your business growth.

Let’s talk through YOUR business support and check it’s the right mix for the next year of your business development. NOTE: Business Cheerleading Club members get one to one support £20 a month cheaper than booking one off sessions.

What is business support to you?

 

 

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How to create flexible working business case

This week I’ve had the honour of accompanying two business owners to celebrate their flexible working businesses at the Mum and Working Awards. Both started, and run their businesses, around their young families. They both created a flexible working business case for them to work through with their husbands before taking the step of setting up by themselves.

The awards were and inspiring couple of hours, with many of the judges sharing their own flexible working decisions with us. It wasn’t all about business owners either. Julie Baker, Head of Financial Inclusion and Enterprise at Nat West, shared her story of how she created not only a flexible working business case for herself and family when she wanted to carry on working and developing her career. She also came up with an idea for a friend of hers who was working nights, whilst her husband worked days so they could manage looking after their own child. Julie created the flexible working business case for this lady to become a child minder, look after her own child as well as Julies, and create a more family friendly home life for her family.

We heard from more than one woman who’d been working in businesses which wouldn’t, (or couldn’t?) consider flexible working. So they set up their own businesses, to find the right flexible working environment for themselves and their families. It felt very much, “I can’t get what I’m wanting here, so I’m going to create it myself”.

Inspiring.

As I write this, on International Women’s Day, with the slogan, PRESS FOR PROGRESS, it feels like we shouldn’t have to write a flexible working business case, but it should be a core value in our society. Every business, large and small, should understand that working flexibly ensures skills and talents remain in the business and economy as a whole. Even though some jobs or roles may be difficult to organise flexibly, there’s no reason not to believe that flexible working is important to our economy.

Your business may also need more flexibility to respond to fluctuations in customer demand. So looking at your flexible working plans, and how things can work best for your business, using a flexible work force, should be part of your business review process.

Creating a flexible working business case

Whether it is for yourself, or your business, creating a business case for flexible working will help you see the opportunities and challenges.

Things to consider in the business case:

  • What do you mean by flexible working
  • How many hours are the minimum required for the job to be done well
  • Where does the work need to be done
  • How can each team member remain part of a team whilst working flexibly around each individuals needs
  • What are the core functions and hours of the business and how will they be staffed
  • Can technology help flexible working in the business
  • Is training needed for team around how flexible working will benefit them and work in practice
  • How will communication need to change for flexible working to be effective

It’s not necessarily about reduced hours, or working at different times of the day. It’s an opportunity to look at your business processes and identify what has to happen, and then work out the how & who will make it happen.

For yourself, if you’re creating a business case for your employer, or partner, think about the end result you want. Is it about continuing to do fulfilling work, but reducing your hours. Or is it about putting children, or caring responsibilities first?

Flexible working businessBoth Emma, from bras4mums, and Zoe from Bournemouth Bra Lady created a flexible working business case for themselves, and have created their businesses around their families. They were both finalists of Self Employed Parent of the Year, showing just how much that planning has helped them create the flexible business they want.

If that’s what you want, you can do it to. If you need help seeing all the options, personally, or for your business, book a call with Tracey-Jane & let’s explore together.

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Healthier you means healthier business

Do you believe that if you’re in a fit and healthy state mentally and physically you’ll have a healthier business? What are you doing to ensure you’re fit and healthy?

We do.

From personal experience, we’ve had healthier businesses, and happier customers when we’ve personally been happier and healthier ourselves.

If you’re ill and can’t go into work, open the shop, or create product, or follow up prospects, then your business literally starts to grind to a halt. When you’re on holiday you make plans for cover don’t you? But when you’re poorly there’s not always the same opportunity to get the right cover in place to fulfill the tasks you do. (We’ll talk about crisis management & continuity in your business another time).

Now we all know there’s a fine line between mental health and physical health sometimes, and they’re linked together inextricably. Personally, if I don’t have a walk, or some physical exercise each day, I feel low, and can’t think straight. It took me a long time to acknowledge the link though!

Why does my good health create a healthier business?

healthier you means healthier businessOK, think about it for just a second. If you’re feeling happy, that rubs off on those around you, and you will help them feel happier too, right?

It’s the same for your health. You are your business, or certainly leading it if you have a team who works with you.

If you’re under the weather, you don’t fire on all cylinders do you? You may make decisions differently than when you’re fully well. If you’re suffering from stress, or depression, this will certainly affect your decision making in your business, and your focus is likely to be distracted from your overall business goals.

Do you ever get fed up, close your computer and go for a walk? (or run, or bike ride, or yoga – whatever it is you do for relaxation and exercise) What happens?

It’s more than likely you’ll be more relaxed, and the issue that was frustrating you has either become insignificant, or not important; or, you’ll have worked out the answer to move things forward.

Does that sound familiar?

All that is, is you keeping yourself – brain and body – healthy, so you can make the right choices in your business.

How will you create a healthier business this year?

There’s many factors which go into creating and running a business. With many areas to manage as well. Managing them all well will help you create a healthier business this year, but what about you?

Have you got time off and holidays scheduled in your diary?

Do you take regular breaks during the day?

What’s your daily personal schedule to keep you healthy?

If you need some support to get you and your business more healthy, book a call with Tracey-Jane, or use the Business Cheerleading Club support and coaching to help you improve this aspect of your business.

How do you keep yourself fit and healthy, to ensure you manage your business as well as you can?