One of my regular catch ups with the wonderful Laura from Cheltenham Rocks this week, as so often happens, led to some technical learning for little old CheltenhamMaman! Laura is one busy Maman and as well as running Cheltenham Rocks she also runs her own search engine optimisation agency and is an expert (though she would never call herself that) on all things google rankings!
We got to chatting about website speeds as I’ve been a bit worried that the quantity of data on my site might be negatively effecting mine and Laura explained that you can run your site through a free speed checker to get an idea of how it’s performing and low and behold – mine needs some work! Here’s the link to the checker in case you want to take a look at yours…
So a bit of research tells me that, though people will cope with slow web loading when they are reading, if you have a shop or want people to purchase online you really need to pay attention to your site speed as the internet is a fickle mistress and once someone has decided to make a purchase they will get rattled super quickly if the tech lets them down.
So if you find your site to be on a go slow these are some of Laura’s recommendations; a cache clearing Plugin and a plugin that will compact all of your images as soon as you import them. I’ve done a bit of digging and these ones seem highly recommended for wordpress sites.
For cache clearing….
WP Fastest Cache.
WP Super Cache
and for photo crushing….
WP. Smush It.
But be wary – my understanding of plugins is that to ensure the safety and security of your site you should only use them when really necessary and always make sure you run updates as soon as you are notified of them. Keep your password regularly updated and your site should remain safe from hackers.
Good Luck – let us know how you get on!
I talk to a lot of women who are struggling with their confidence for one reason or another. Maybe they’ve taken a break from work to have babies and are nervous about going back, sometimes it’s about answering that ‘what do you do?’ question, or it might be around learning a new skill and not feeling ‘good enough’ just yet. Here are some hints and tips around how you can build your confidence, whatever the situation.
- Practice. This is especially helpful if you’re learning a new skill. When our babies started to walk, they fell over A LOT to begin with, but they didn’t give up, they carried on trying, and falling, and trying again until they could run around and we couldn’t even catch up any more! Learning a new skill is like this, practice, practice, practice, until you not only feel confident that you are good at something, but you know it. Practice can also help if you lack confidence when you’re talking about a certain thing, let’s take the dreaded ‘so, what do you do?’ question. If you stumble over this one, try writing down what you want the answer to be, then practice saying it. Practice saying it all the time, in the mirror, to your children, to your husband or your friends. I even recommend recording yourself and watching it back so you can see what you look like and work on that. When you practice doing this, you take away the umming and ahhing, so you have confidence in what you are going to say, you also build confidence in how you are saying it over time. So, when it comes to actually answering that question ‘What do I do?’… the answer ‘What don’t I do Bozo?!’ …. (Or whatever your chosen answer is!), will roll off your tongue.
- Focus on yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop comparing yourself to your friends, your colleagues, anyone on facebook! It’s hard in this day and age where social media is rife and we’re constantly bombarded with pictures of other people’s lives, but I promise, forgetting about them and focussing on you will help to build your confidence. Looking at other people’s lives and wanting what they have is a recipe for disaster, its actually been proven that there is a link between looking at pictures on facebook and depression. So, stop it! Instead, think about what you do have, what you’re grateful for, what makes you unique, make a list and stick it up somewhere so that you can see it everyday and remind yourself that YOUR life is pretty amazing too.
- Review your progress. By reviewing what you’ve achieved you will start to acknowledge how far you’ve come. You can do this in lots of ways. I like to set annual goals and look over them at the end of the year to see what I’ve achieved, usually it’s a lot more than I thought it was going to be. You could also keep notes over a period of time of when you have received a compliment or done something that made you feel proud. When you’re having a crisis of confidence, these can help to remind you of all the strengths and skills you do have.
- Get out of your comfort zone. This relates to Senninger’s Learning Zone model. This is the theory that there are three learning zones, the Comfort Zone, where you are able to do all of the things you set yourself, the stretch zone, where there are activities that are new and make you feel a little bit uncomfortable and then the Panic Zone, which is where you have no idea what you’re doing and it’s likely to make you feel pretty stressed! Senninger suggests that we all spend a bit of time in our stretch zone, which is the ideal zone for personal development. Doing something new reminds us that we are capable of doing other things, it helps to develop new skills and builds our confidence in ourselves.
A Guest Post from Laura Duggal
Laura is an Independent Coach living in Cheltenham with her husband and 2 year old daughter. She works with women going through a period of change, to help them work out what they really want and supports them to go and achieve it. You can contact her for more information in the following ways:
Laura is also offering all MumBosses 50% off any coaching programmes booked in May.
Making Time for Online Marketing as a MumBoss
Let’s face it, there are never enough hours in the day to do everything us MumBosses want to do. Running a business is hard work, and no matter how many hours of childcare you’ve sorted, the to-do list never stops growing! It’s no surprise then, that online marketing (bar chatter on your fave social network) often takes a back seat. Client projects, product shipping, meal planning, nit picking (literally) take priority, and before you know it, you ‘don’t have time’ to update your blog or work on an e-mail campaign.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make time in your life for marketing – without needing a time machine or real-life pause button (wouldn’t that be amazing?!). Here’s how to find time and tick off all your marketing tasks with ease:
The struggle to find time is real as a parent. Time for our children. Time for our partners. Time for ourselves. Time for our homes. Time for our businesses! We compartmentalise our lives to give everyone the attention they need – and it’s the natural mentality of us mums to worry that we’re failing in at least one area. The reality is, we can’t give all areas of our lives the same amount of attention at all times. We need to evaluate which aspects of our life are most important and allocate our time accordingly.
If marketing your business is important to you, it’s time to re-prioritise and let go of less pressing tasks:
Let the housework fall by the wayside, or get a cleaner.
Forget trying to get to every playgroup, and opt for home play with a side of brainstorming.
Switch Netflix marathons for late-night blogwriting.
Making time for marketing means saying ‘no’ to other commitments.
If rearranging your schedule isn’t enough, get ready to multitask – find ways you can market while you drive/bathe/sleep (yes, really). Listen to marketing podcasts in the car, risk having your phone out and write down blog ideas in your next bubble bath, or experiment with social media scheduling so your accounts will still be active even while you sleep.
Digital devices make it impossible to pretend multitasking isn’t an option. You just need to change your autopilot Facebook/Instagram scrolls for strategic marketing activities; creating and sharing content on the go has never been easier.
Lack of time can be confused with procrastination and fear. When we’re not sure what we’re doing, it’s easy to put off making a start and find other ‘more important’ things to do instead. Get clear on your online marketing objectives and break tasks down into small chunks which can be scheduled into your week. Eliminate overwhelm and finding time will be much easier.
Instead of setting yourself the challenge of writing a blog post. Split it up into:
Decide on blog post topic
Decide on blog title
Think up subheadings
Write the main body of blog
Here you have several more manageable micro tasks which won’t be as daunting and (with a smartphone on hand) can be squeezed into even the busiest day.
Ask for help
Whether you invest in a professional social media manager or content writer or simply get a friend onboard to come up with blog ideas, getting help is never a sign of laziness/weakness. Generating marketing ideas and having the motivation to get online and showcase your ideas comes more naturally to some than others. If making time to market your business is simply not happening, allow yourself the freedom to do other things (guilt free) and outsource online marketing once and for all.
Guest Post by Saskia Crawley, Share The Joy Media
How To Be More Time Efficient
A lot of the women I speak to are running around at 100 mph wearing a dozen different hats, desperately trying to have it ALL! I know how it feels, I’m one of them. I hear people saying ‘I’m thinking about work when I’m with the children, and thinking about the children when I’m at work and I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job of either’.
If this sounds like you, here are my top tips for slowing down, focussing on the task at hand and actually getting more done without having to deal with the overwhelming feeling of ‘Busyness’.
- Schedule your time. This is especially helpful if you’re working for yourself or if you work from home. Look at the week ahead and schedule your time by blocking out when you are going to be ‘Mum’ and time when you are going to be ‘MumBoss’. If you’re a visual person it can be useful to colour code the blocks. This can really help to define your working hours, looking at the week coming what would you say are your working hours? Can you stick to them? When you have assigned time to spend with your children, try not to give into the temptation to check your e-mails, and when you’re working make sure that you have childcare in place so that you won’t need to be disturbed.
- Monotask. Although it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day and you need to do everything NOW, research has shown that when we try to do two things at once, it actually takes us twice as long. So take one thing at a time and you might find that you get more done.
- To do lists. This might sound obvious but just by taking something out of your head and writing it down can help diminish that ‘busy’ feeling we all get. I keep a running list of things on my phone through the week and then when I come to a work day, I find that some of the things happened naturally or aren’t as important as I first thought, but I stopped thinking about them because I wrote them down.
- Eat the Frog. This is the concept of focussing on the important things and making sure that they get done. So, take the list you just made and ask yourself what is the most important thing that has to happen today? Get that one thing done, no matter what.
- Time for yourself. Looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re not well, none of the things on your list get done. Try to schedule in time for yourself every day. It could be as small as 5 minutes to meditate, 30 minutes to watch your favourite programme, a bath at the end of a long day when everyone’s in bed, but do try to do something for yourself to make it all worth it!
At the end of the day, we’re all busy Mum’s doing an amazing job in our own way.
If you found this helpful and would like to speak with me about other ways to make your life easier, I’m currently running a 50% discount on my coaching programme’s for any Mum Boss members who start the programme during April of May 2017. For more details call or text me at 07793122191 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Guest MumBoss Article from Laura Duggal
Laura is an Independent Coach living in Cheltenham with her husband and 2 year old daughter. She works with women going through a period of change, to help them work out what they really want and supports them to go and achieve it.
Dressing Like a MumBoss
When it comes to “workwear” dressing, there are a multitude of possible options — and an equal number of ways to go wide of the mark. Professional attire matters because like it or not, the impression we make on others, is shaped by our appearance.
Clothing selections that flatter you, your shape and your personality will all make a difference in the impression you make. If you feel good about how you look…you will walk into a room with your head held high and an unspoken confidence…ready to make the best impression possible.
However, a wardrobe fail may not only be a distraction but may also bring your professionalism into question.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to what’s appropriate for the workplace. What is acceptable varies by industry and corporate culture but here is my guide to looking polished and professional wherever you are:
Suited and booted
If a suit is required, make sure it fits well and is in a good neutral colour for you so you can easily wear it with other colours. Personal touches can be added with a printed shirt or statement piece of jewelry.
There are several interpretations of this concept. Your safest bet is to opt for a skirt and neat jumper or shirt, or dress. Remember to make sure your shoes are linking with your outfit and are playing their part.
In creative environments such as ad agencies, the dress code is pretty relaxed…but you will still want to inspire confidence in your clients/ boss/ colleagues so rein in the flip flops and opt for clean, simple lines that you know work for your body shape such as a jumpsuit or cropped trousers and a shirt.
Always dress one step above your client.
Your client may always opt for the dressed down look, but if you are their accountant, your dress code needs to be smarter as your ultimate goal is to project an appearance that will give your client confidence regarding your skills.
In good nick.
Make sure you check your clothes for any stains, holes, tears, or missing items that will detract from your appearance. Shoes should be in good shape, scuff-free and polished.
Stay under cover.
Whether it’s cleavage, midriffs or legs, it’s never advisable to bare too much skin at the office, regardless of the season as you never know what other people can see of you when you are bending down/reaching up/sitting in a certain position.
The final details.
Make sure you have makeup on that flatters your colouring and your hair is where you want it to be…the icing is firmly “on the cake”!
This week’s MumBoss article comes from our fashion and style expert Kate Evans.
Coping with competition
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ― George Bernard Shaw
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got your own business or, at the very least, are thinking of setting one up.
Can I just ask where you got your idea from? Did it come to you in a flash of inspiration? Or maybe it evolved out of talking to a friend over coffee and gradually grew until you could no longer ignore it.
Or did you adapt one? I mean, totally original ideas are hard to come by and so finding one that is pretty good already and tweaking it isn’t a bad way of getting a business going. After all, every airline flies aeroplanes but British Airways does it differently to RyanAir. Accountancy companies aren’t reinventing the abacus but each one has taken the idea and added their own USP. You could do that too. Take one idea, add your own elbow grease and USP, et voilà! A company is born.
It’s a fine line though, between adapting an idea and giving it a new twist, and blatantly just stealing one. It feels horrible to have your idea plagiarised. Really a bit like being burgled and knowing that the thieves spent hours in your house looking through your underwear drawers for jewellery. It feels like a total violation of all that you hold dear.
When we came up with the idea for Babel Babies in early 2011 it grew organically from a need that we were experiencing as new mothers. Our sons were very small (about 5 months old) when Ruth, a friend from university, and I were chatting about how we would introduce the boys to languages, and how we could transmit to them our passion for learning lots of languages. We love being able to say a few key phrases on all of our holidays and seeing how it opens up whole new worlds and experiences. Also, we were pretty bored on maternity leave (once we’d more or less got to grips with how to keep the small people alive!) and we wanted to do something new to keep ourselves amused. So Babel Babies was launched on a tiny scale to our mummy tribe and a few lovely locals who didn’t mind us feeding the babies half way through songs, or singing in our pyjamas two weeks after the second child was born.
Fast forward a couple of years to the summer of 2013 and we’d long outgrown the sitting room floor and had regular weekly sessions in public venues (mostly without wearing pyjamas). Word was spreading about us and a lovely lady came from far away to our class in Cheltenham for one term. We couldn’t have been more excited about our little language revolution: at this point we’d set up our Limited Company and our new co-director was planning which venues to use in Bristol for her autumn 2013 launch. The lovely lady asked if we were expanding and we said YES! Come to our Bristol sessions. Ooh, it’s a bit far she said. Maybe if we ran sessions nearer to her she’d be able to keep coming. We didn’t think any more of it.
And then one day we got an email saying how much a customer loved our classes and wondered if we had any more sessions running nearby. We were horrified. We didn’t have any classes in her town! So we googled, as you do, and found that the very same lovely lady who’d attended for a term was running multilingual music sessions where parents and children learn languages together and using songs she’d learned in our class! And mimicking our marketing almost verbatim! It was awful. Just like the time I came home from a wonderful weekend away to find our house had been ransacked and all our precious privacy overturned.
The emotions surrounding having our precious ideas and songs we’d worked hard to translate copied were similar to those you experience after any emotional trauma:
Stage 1 – Denial
NOOOOO! This can’t be happening? How *could* she do this to us?! We MET her! She was so lovely!
Stage 2 – Anger
OMG what a cow! Who would do this? She clearly has no morals! (It is normal to drink wine during this stage and wail at your other half!)
Stage 3 – Bargaining
If only we’d interviewed every single person attending and asked for their intentions! Why didn’t we get them all to sign a waiver? We will just sing into paper bags in dark alleys in future.
Stage 4 – Depression
This is pointless. Everyone is going to copy us now and then all our hard work will have been wasted. We may as well give up and just think about nappies after all.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
Oh hang on, if our idea is worth copying then maybe it is rather brilliant after all! And if it works in another part of the country then maybe we should look into expanding and TAKE OVER THE WORLD!
And I’d like to add that, after consuming much wine and wailing and speaking to lawyers and coming up with several unrepeatable nicknames for the lovely lady (hint: the nicknames don’t contain the word ‘lovely’), we analysed her website and social media in more detail and realised we have nothing to fear. We were a) better qualified, b) more experienced, c) ahead of the game, d) had an amazing support network around us. So having competition doesn’t scare us now. We just remember that if an idea is worth copying, it must be a good one. And we did it first, so that can go on all of our marketing. By the way, she’s just copied the colours of our logo on her new flyers, but after a little grizzle we reacted by making our flyers even better. So there. It just keeps us on our toes.
If someone copies your amazing idea, you can’t do much about it other than take it on the chin. Ideas are there for the taking and there’s no legal leg to stand on to sue someone for nicking your idea, no matter how original you think it is. HOWEVER, you can write a manual with every detail of your business and the way you operate (an Operations Manual) and if someone who has had access to this copies your idea, then perhaps you’ll have a leg to stand on in court. Plus you can put clauses in contracts for employees not to set up in competition within a year of leaving your employment, or solicit your other employees, and get people to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements before they enter your recruitment process. These things help but ultimately, it’s tricky to pursue a copycat unless they copy your marketing word for word (not paraphrasing) or copy your logo and try to trade using it.
Trademarking is useful and actually not that baffling once you get into it, plus it’s the only solid way we’ve discovered of really protecting your brand (at least in the UK – it seems harder to enforce internationally without lots of dosh!). Check on the Intellectual Property Office that your potential brand name doesn’t already exist and operate in your planned categories here: https://www.ipo.gov.uk/tmtext.
htm There’s no point getting excited about your future brand name if it’s already protected by someone planning to do the same thing (and slightly ahead of you). You can google potential website addresses, but that’s not 100% conclusive.
- Finally, we think that COLLABORATION is more powerful than COMPETITION and try to live this with our company ethos. Don’t copy us: work with us! So if your perfect company already exists and you can’t possibly do any better, maybe write to them and see if they’d like to expand to your area. It’s how we’ve found our first two franchise pilots, and if, as an established business, you get a genuine email soliciting collaboration, it might be worth considering the benefits of keeping potential competitors close to you.
Guest Post by Cate Hamilton of Babel Babies
Building a Brand
This week we give you MumBosses a few quick pointers to work on to get your brand booming.
- Define your audience – these peeps are really all that matter. There is no point creating content that appeals to the whole world – your customers are all that matter so blinker yourself to everyone else.
- Create a mission statement – what’s your business’ reason for existing – what problem do you solve?
- Research other brands in your niche – BUT DON’T COPY THEM – list all the things they seem to be doing well and find a way of incorporating that into your own unique style. If you think they’re missing something important make sure you fill that gap.
- Shout about what makes you unique, find your voice and be proud of it. Give your recently defined target audience a reason to love your brand more than the brand next door. It can be really hard to brag about all of the amazing things you can offer and for some of us this will feel like showing off – but do it… you don’t see Nike or Apple doing anything but stating how great their products are.
- Logo is so important. They can be expensive but will be plastered over all of your promotional material and content so spend time and money getting it right.
- Make sure you bring your brand into every element of your business. If you are working on something that doesn’t connect to your mission statement and your target audience you will confuse your customers and they will switch off. Stay focused.
We are holding a MumBoss Club event on the 23rd March on the topic of Building a Brand with expert Steph Douglas of Don’t Buy Her Flowers– you can buy your tickets here.
5 Simple Steps To Define Your Target Audience For More Effective Marketing
Understanding your audience or defining your target audience is the key to creating an effective and successful marketing campaign and will also help you to develop your brand.
If your marketing is to have any kind of return on investment you must know exactly who you are targeting, and why. A common mistake is to try and please everyone, if you try to blanket everyone with one marketing message you’ll lose half of your audience simply because it doesn’t apply to them, which is a huge waste of time and money.
For example, if you were selling beauty products, the common misconception would be to target all women, but all women are not a target audience, you have to think smaller, more segmented.
At first this may feel limiting, but it’s far from it; a clear, defined target audience will give your content and marketing more clarity and focus making it much more effective.
1. How to define your target audience for effective marketing.
Using beauty products as our example, let’s think about who might use your products, young women, teenagers, or middle aged ladies. Knowing the answer to this simple question will start to outline your marketing strategy and give your brand more definition.
Let’s say your product is going to be more appealing to teenagers, with that focus you can start to drill down even deeper into that market and begin to understand their habits, what motivates them to purchase certain products and the price range you need to fall into.
Knowing that you’re marketing to a female teenage audience will also affect your branding, your tone of voice and the mediums you use in your marketing campaign.
2. Using research for a deeper understanding of your audience
Ok, now we can start to get a deeper understanding of our fictional female teenage audience, and to do that you can ask more questions and you’ll also need to do a bit of research.
Example questions could be:
1. What purpose or problem is your product serving? Will it prevent spot breakouts, create the best smokey eyes, or be long lasting for max coverage at a club.
2. What influences teenage girls to buy certain beauty products?
Social media, celebrities, packaging, quality
3. How much are you likely to spend new beauty products?
Between £5 – £10 once a month for everyday use or £15 – £20 once month, as a special treat.
The answers to these questions will start to map out a need your product can fulfill, how often it’s likely to be purchased and where you need to market it.
A beauty product that will prevent spot breakouts, and give you flawless skin, to be advertised on social media, specifically image based social media like Instagram and Snapchat and will be purchased once a month for everyday use for around £5 to £10.
3. How to gather your data
There are few different ways you can gather this information, and I’d recommend a mix of all of them:
- Talk to your target audience and ask them how often they buy beauty products and what motivates them to buy a certain brand.
- Listening in on social media, what skin problems are teenage girls facing, what comments are being left on blog posts and social media posts about skin related issues.
- Follow your competition, where are they putting their ads and what kind of content seems to be the most popular, what makes them unique.
4. Create Personas
Your defined target audience should now be falling into place, giving you a clear picture of your ideal customer.
From here I would recommend that you create sample “personas”, which are fictional customers, from all the data you’ve put together. Putting names and photos to the audience segments you’ve discovered, even though they’re fictional will help you on your path to understanding them better and creating the best message that reaches out to them.
5. Refine your marketing with your target audience in mind.
Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, you now have a strategy that is focused on the right audience that will pay dividends.
Armed with specific information, you can make smarter decisions about where to advertise e.g where all the teenage girls hang out, and how to speak to them using language that will resonate with them.
Your tailored marketing strategies will delight and excite your customer, not just any customer and they will love you and your products for it.
Guest post by: Georgina Thorne, She Is Digital
If you want to find out more about how to define your target audience and make the most of social media to generate business come along to the Mumboss Club Event in March – Book your Ticket Here.
Introducing Accountability Partners – or Business Buddies!
Why we all need a Business Buddy
Being self employed is hard…. not only do you have to self motivate and self organise you also need to self market, self network and self brand.
When I started The Cheltenham Cakery 5 years ago I was full of excitement and enthusiasm, I was 110% prepared for the hard work and multiple plate spinning that comes with self employment. What I wasn’t prepared for was the isolation. Of course there were friends and family to bolster me on but there was noone i could talk to about actual business and by this i mean someone i could discuss the ins and outs, marketing, PR, the direction i wanted the business to go. Why? Well it turns out that when you’re in the same business as someone else in a highly competitive market they don’t tend to want to discuss this with you. I remember once attending a wedding networking event early on, I got chatting with one Wedding Cake maker about herself and her business (i am always fascinated how people come to start there own company) i was very curtly told ‘you need to make your own mistakes’.
Knocking my confidence I shied away from this lucrative market and not knowing any better I signed up for a few Pamper Nights (they were all the rage back then!) and on one of these I meet Racheal. Racheal was local (we are both in Cheltenham) and she started her business around the same time as me so we where both newbies together, warm and friendly i took to her immediately. After meeting at a few ‘events’ we started chatting about our businesses, it turns out Racheal was way more savvy with her marketing and how she was branching into bigger fayres and foodie events – something i hadn’t even considered. She gave me the confidence to think big!
We then coordinated events and swapped notes – who had done who’s website, best tools for marketing literature, events and fayres as well as the nitty gritty things of Environmental Health visits, insurances, legal requirements that come with the sale of a food product. Helping each other set up stalls at the same events (it really is no fun putting up a gazebo on your own in the wind and rain!), requesting to be situated next to each knowing that for a quick toilet break we each had someone we trusted to watch our beloved products. The beauty of this arrangement was that we were both in food but completely different markets – myself cakes and Rachael was chutneys. This meant we shared the same concerns and pitfalls but weren’t in direct competition with each other.
Why am i telling you all this? I want you to learn from my mistakes and start out strong – find yourself a Business Buddy. That person you can turn to for anything. In those early days Rachael was mine.
This bring me on to Accountability. Accountability when your self employed is hard – after all it’s just you. Having a Business Buddy means that someone will be checking that you’ve signed up to that big event you’d mentioned last week, that you’ve looked at an idea that you had last week, that client you said you were going to call you have. Whilst you have the support when times are tough it also means that you have someone to share the triumphs with too – landing that big order, baking for Royalty, celebrating a month of not being in the red. However small these milestones are they give you the positivity you need to grab the next opportunity, constantly propelling you forward. What better way to have this than with a Business Buddy?
As our businesses grew and evolved Rachael has moved into the wholesale arena and myself into the Wedding and Corporate markets, but i shall always remember our early days and without that support from my Business Buddy wouldn’t be where I am today.
Rachael now supplies predominately wholesale, you can find more about her and her chutneys here: www.relishthetaste.com
If you’d like to know more about me, have any questions you’d like to ask you can find me here: www.thecheltenhamcakery.co.uk
Remember: Business and Self-Employment is only as lonely as you make it. If your reading this then you’re a #MumBoss and savvy enough to be part of CheltenhamMamans Secret MumBoss Club. We’re all in this together, the good, the bad and the ugly, lets support and help each other.
Sophie Liggatt (MumBoss)
(Note from editor…. Our Accountability Matchmaking service is all set up and ready to go! To register to become a Partner take a look at our swanky new page!)
MumBoss Post – Top 5 Apps for Business
A great friend, Georgie from Cotswold Create recently passed on a few recommendations of apps that have made her business life easier and I realised that anything that can help us MumBosses to work smarter and avoid outsourcing things we need done is worth sharing so here are a few ideas for apps that might save you time and money.
Trello – Trello (as recommended by Georgie) is an app that helps you to organise your workload into boards – so you might put together a board for each project you are working on, or a board for big picture strategy planning and a board for lower level work to do this week. You can colour code, add sticky notes, prioritise and sort and if like me you start to feel anxious and overwhelmed when you are not in control of your workload, it’s a great tool for getting everything out of your head and into a plan.
Wordswag – again as recommended by Georgie. This is a great one for creating graphics or editing pictures and collages to get your message across on social media or on websites. It’s also really easy to use. I’ve used a lot of these apps and I really felt this one was worth the £3.99 download fee.
iScanner Pro – need to create PDFs regularly and not always at your desktop? This handy little app (also priced at £3.99) can help. Just snap a pic of your document and iScanner will turn it into a PDF for you to attach to an email.
Letterspace – attend lots of networking events or take a lot of notes in meetings? Letterspace is an app that lets you take notes about anything but that integrates hashtags so you can easily find notes that you took that relate to a particular topic. So if your business is exercise and you want to immediately place your finger on any notes you might have made that relate to core strength… just search your #core hashtag and you’ll be right there. This one is also £3.99.
Quility – and when it all gets a but much, you’re feeling guilty that you’re juggling so many roles and not doing any of them very well… this should be your go to app. It focuses on mindfulness for busy mums and you only need to dip in and out of it for a few moments to feel immediate benefits. Best of all it’s free!
Hope these helps Mamans! Be sure to let me know of any of your favourites and I can add them to the list!
MumBoss Post – Insurance – when and why you might need it and how to get it.
When you start a business it seems like there are hundreds of things that are nice to have or that a business consultant might call ‘best practice’ but when you’re operating on a shoestring and working so hard to turn a profit it’s important to only spend money on things that are critical to your business. Yes.. you need to speculate to accumulate but taking out comprehensive insurance policies based on the advice of someone who just might have an interest in selling them to you is not in your new business’s interest.
But what do you really need?
Well if you employ anyone, temporarily, permanently, half heartedly, just at all you must get employer’s liability insurance. This kind of insurance protects you against a claim should your employee become injured (or die) at work. If you’re not covered and a successful claim of negligence is made against you you will be liable for compensation, even if your business has gone into liquidation. In addition if you employ people and are found not to be insured the Health and Safety Executive can fine you £2500 for each day you are uninsured. This one is just not worth falling foul of so get insured if you employ people and if you’re considering employing people bear this extra cost in mind.
What about insurance against my product or service doing harm to the person who buys it or a bystander?
Well something like that, if you’re working to really high standards, is really unlikely to happen but insurance is all about mitigating risk and this one might be worth you thinking about. You have a few options..
Public Liability Insurance -so this one will cover you in the event that you cause harm to any person (except an employee who should be covered by the policy we’ve already discussed) as a result of your negligence. So if I you came to a CheltenhamMaman event and were injured by a rogue helium balloon or some such hazard I would be covered by this policy.
Product Liability Insurance – if I sold you a CheltenhamMaman milkshake that made you seriously ill or a t-shirt covered in a manufacturing chemical that caused you a skin problem this policy would payout if I had to compensate you for your claim.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – what if I set up as a nutritionist and advised my client to eat a diet that actually aggravated a health problem they had… well this policy might come in handy.
One other really important one is buildings insurance and more importantly if you have a shop or your business holds stock of any description, contents insurance (so important.)
And of course like any product if you’re willing to buy it, someone will sell it to you and you won’t have to search too hard online to find people who will sell you life insurance, key person insurance, legal expenses insurance, business interruption insurance, goods in transit insurance, cyber insurance, terrorism insurance, the list goes on and on.
But how do I know if I need it? Hmmmm.. that’s kind of the point – you don’t and other than buildings, contents, employers liability and product or public liability it’s all about risk. The crystal ball would be a helpful tool here but none of us sadly have one of these. In the early days surely it is sensible to only insure those key areas employers, public or product, buildings and contents (if they apply to your business) and over time as you start to make profit and your business grows it may be sensible to visit a broker and get a tailor made package. They will be able to advise you best on what aspects of risk your business is most exposed to but remember that they will receive commission on any policy they sell you so take a step back to make the best business decision you can. The British Insurers Brokers’ Association is a good place to start to get impartial advice and to find a broker.
Good Luck Mamans!
MumBoss Post – Top Tips for Choosing an Accountant (from someone who is one!)
Choosing Your Accountant
1. A good relationship – money can be a bit of a nerve-wracking subject, so you need an accountant whom you feel comfortable with. You want to know that they’re on board with your business goals as they can be a terrific ally as you grow your business!
2. Size matters – my biggest source of new clients? High Street accountancy firms who are neglecting their small business owners. During the last economic downturn, we saw a fantastic boom in entrepreneurial spirit, and a lot of High Street accountancy firms targeted smaller businesses. Unfortunately, as their larger clients picked up again, these owner-managed businesses seemed to get delegated to junior members of staff, and I’ve lost track of the number of times new clients have cited “lack of communication” as a reason for moving on from their old accountant.
3. Tailored advice – the ways to set up a business can be baffling: partnership, limited company, sole trader? It’s so important to find the right business structure for you and your family situation.
4. Openness and honesty – many people put off finding an accountant for as long as possible because they’re afraid of the fees. It’s important to find someone who will be upfront and straightforward about their billing process so you don’t get a nasty shock come year-end.
5. Those, who can, teach! – so much of what an accountant does can be done by you, if you have the time and inclination. A good accountant will recognise this and coach you through the things that you can do. This will save you money while your business is growing – a win-win situation for you and your accountant.
6. The right qualifications are important, but they are nothing without experience – the rise in online courses means that just about anyone can claim to be qualified in bookkeeping these days, and I’ve had to clear up a lot of tangled messes in my time from work done by inexperienced bookkeepers! Certain reports need to be prepared and signed off by a chartered (ACA) or chartered certified (ACCA) accountant, but when it comes to bookkeeping, it’s all about the miles on the clock.
Becca Campbell – MumBoss. (See Becca on Instagram.)
MumBoss Post – Why every business needs a blog.
Of course many of you MumBosses already know. In fact for many of you, your blog is your business.
But what if your business involves you spending considerable amounts of time working to provide your service, whether it be fitness classes, crafting your product or manning your attraction. You’ll be the Mamans asking ‘how on earth can it be worth me spending my time writing a blog when I could be out there offering or creating my service and netting real money?’
Well there are no two ways to tell you ladies. You need to have a blog on your website. And you need to be posting regular content on to it. I know, for some of you this is the last thing you want to hear but I’m not just making this stuff up. Here’s why your website needs a blog.
It reassures your customers that you are there, you are the expert in your field and that you are committed to them.
Also struggle with social media? Well having a regularly updated blog will give you content to share on your social media channels. You can just upload a picture from your blog, a little summary of what it’s about and a link and you’ve provided informative information to your clients that they can share with their friends.
A blog makes you stand out as a MumBoss and a fellow human. Lots of us struggle with whether to come out from behind our brand but most people who have will tell you it’s been a really positive move for their business. Customers connect with you on a deeper level and are far more likely to remember you and give a word of mouth recommendation if they can picture your face or recall the sound of your voice.
Finally, and this one is the most important…. ignore all of the complexities and technical articles you read about how to get your website to feature higher up in the google searches, yes that stuff has some relevance, but if like most of us you just want to take a few basic steps to improve your search engine visibility all that really matters is CONTENT. What does that mean? Well Google likes sites to be informative and current. If you created your website a year ago and have only popped back every few months to update your price list you do not have current content and this will affect your visibility. A regularly updated blog that covers issues that effect your industry and your clientele will help google to build a clear picture of what you offer and you will be rewarded with a higher place in the search engine. And who doesn’t need that?
But what if I’m crap at writing? Well I’m pretty sure a lot of us will be crap at accounting but that doesn’t mean we don’t go into business. Like accounts a blog should be an integral part of our business and if writing or spelling and grammar really aren’ your thing and it needs to be outsourced then so be it. But it’s actually not that difficult to start producing informative, brief articles on a regular basis. Type in a few key words to google and see what kinds of articles your competitors write. Giving a fresh point of view or opinion on a well used topic isn’t plagiarism, it’s content!
If you’ve not blogged before why not factor it in for a few months and see what kind of a difference it makes to your website hits and new business leads. Shout if we can help.
You’re doing incredible things Mamans… remember that as you write your Monday to do list.
MumBoss Post 21.11.2016: The Importance of Reflection
When you first set up as a MumBoss the road ahead can seem never ending. Littered with bumps and potholes, even toll booths that you have to throw a load of money into before you can cross a bridge or drive a more efficient pathway. There will inevitably be days when you feel like you just don’t have what it takes and succumb to a feeling of being overwhelmed.
But what great business, what famous building, what truly successful person did it all in a day, or a week, a year or even a decade? Building something great takes time and perseverance and allowing yourself not to be beaten by the magnitude of the task ahead is such an important skill to learn in business.
But how do we stop ourselves from becoming overwhelmed?
Well the obvious answer is to lower your expectations of yourself. A business plan can be a useful tool for setting yourself goals but they must be realistic and achievable in the timeframe you allow or the only purpose they will serve is to dent your confidence and self belief even further. If you do make a plan make sure you build in permission to be flexible, to adapt your goals around where the business sits most comfortably amongst your developing clientele.
If you’re doing all of this around the family, particularly if you run a nap time business, then building in time to switch off entirely and focus on something completely unrelated to your business is critically important. There can be no point in building a business which can only be successful if you work on it 18 hours per day, 6 days a week as it will so quickly become a burden to you and your family. One of your objectives on your business plan can and should be to enjoy at least one mindful activity with your children or family each day, be it going to the park without your phone or watching a film under a duvet at 3pm in the afternoon. Devoting time to these activities, though difficult when you see your to do list getting longer and longer, will actually make you more creative and efficient.
And speaking of creativity… you are in the creative industry as you are creating a business, a product, a service, a blog…. you are making something that did not exist before and that zaps huge amounts of energy. Nothing stifles creativity quite like burn out so when your ideas are not flowing or a campaign you have recently launched is not proving to be as popular as you had hoped taking some time out to recharge your creative cell (your brain) is always a great idea.
But perhaps the most important thing you can do to manage your own expectations of yourself is to make a backward sort of list. At the beginning of the week you might make a long list of jobs you want to achieve in the week ahead. A brain dump of things you don’t want to forget. More often than not you will be setting yourself up for disappointment straight away as you’ll almost certainly assign yourself more tasks than you have time for.
Now how many of you make a list of everything you have achieved in the week gone by? Perhaps when you pour yourself that Friday night medicinal gin a new way to unwind and give yourself permission to relax would be to take some time to list all of those emails sent off, social media posts made and potential new business leads explored? If you work as hard as so many of us you’ll probably surprise yourself when you start reeling them off.
And then, over time you’ll find you have a reflective journal and can look back with pride rather than looking ahead with trepidation? You can compare how you have developed as a business person and how the trajectory of your business has changed as you grow and engage with your customers and clients.
Just a few tips and tricks for making things feel more manageable. You’re doing incredible things Mamans… remember that as you write your Monday to do list.