août 2019
Expert Author Susan Leigh
The first step in becoming self employed is in deciding what to do. Where do your interests lie and what particular skills and training have you had. Many people use this as an opportunity to re-train and do something completely different with their lives. Maybe even take up a niche or service based business.
Another factor is how much money is there available for investment in the start up, is there finance or support available and how long can you support yourself before you need to make a profit? A franchise can sometimes be a good opportunity at a time like this, as there is already a business plan and corporate strategy in place. The truth is that 80% of new start ups fail in the first two years. 80% of the 20% that make it are franchises, but it is important to take care to choose the right business for you. Some of the answers to these questions may well mean that you have to consider reigning in some of your initial enthusiasm, or perhaps they will mean that you have to really work on putting together a solid business plan to justify getting a business loan.
Choosing what to do and how to start, initially involves identifying a particular interest or skill that you have and then deciding how to market that skill. Sometimes listing those skills and then creating a brand for yourself can be an effective way of marketing yourself and your new business. Putting together good quality stationery, by way of flyers, leaflets, business cards, etc can help in promoting yourself as a professional business rather than as a small scale beginner. It can be a worthwhile investment and the process of putting it all together can also help you to clarify your goals and target market.
Be aware of potential scams. Never send off money to pay for a job and check out what you are looking to get involved in. Get advice. Trust your instinct.
Sometimes looking at small companies that may need part time expertise in your field can be a good way of getting into the market, gaining experience and making connections. They may not want or be able to afford full time staff, but a part time option may be an excellent answer to their problems, whilst getting your foot in some doors and introducing yourself to relevant people.
When you are starting to work from home it is important to create a positive environment for yourself. Take yourself seriously and invest in a proper work station. Several things have to be considered and taken into account. A comfortable office chair is an important investment - you will no doubt be spending a lot of time in it, at least at first. Portable office equipment is useful, as it can be stored away when not being used. A filing system is essential, especially if you are working in different companies or on different projects. Convenient telephone access is vital and a telephone extension socket for your computer.
Keeping motivated can be a challenge as working on your own or from home can be lonely at times. Structure each day. Have a routine where you get up, have a shower, get ready for work and then aim to start by a certain time. Proper breaks for coffee or lunch are important, and be sure to use these breaks to get some fresh air if possible, so that you get out of the office for a little while.
Use contacts from your business life to keep up-dated in what is going on in the wider business world. Think of making use of networking opportunities by joining some of the business clubs and associations, looking out for conferences and using the internet social media connections to let potential clients know about you and what you have to offer.
Self esteem can sometimes be hard to maintain, especially if you were in a high powered job and are now starting out again from scratch. Appreciate that it can take time to define your new role and the boundaries at first may feel a little unsure or uneasy. Working from home as well as running a home can sometimes become hard to separate and it may be important to get help at first to allow you to concentrate on getting the new venture off the ground. Sometimes a supportive partner is available to help. Other times it may be worth paying someone to help with the domestic chores so that you can really focus on what you need to be doing with your time.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Small businesses and sole traders occupy an important place in the UK business economy. Whilst many people are aware of the high-profile brand names associated with big business and conglomerates, independent traders are able to provide an invaluable service to their customers.
They are often able to fill a niche that big businesses are unwilling or unable to sustain. And because independent traders often live and work in the area, rely on personal recommendations and care about maintaining their reputation the quality of their goods and services is often exceptional.
So, whilst big business is important in providing recognisable brand names, guarantees of quality, economies of scale, we also need to reflect on the important role of independent traders.
Local Knowledge.
Small local businesses are good at identifying a niche, an area that they can make a living from, that works well on a small-scale and is valued and relevant to its customers and clients. Some goods and services are especially sought after in certain locations but not in others; farriers, thatchers, wrought ironmongers for example may do a thriving business in some areas but receive virtually no interest in others. Supply and demand can be tailored by independent traders to suit what is sustainable.
Unique Products.
Independent traders bring a unique flavour to an area. Farmers markets support their local community by selling locally produced foods. Local farmers join together to establish a market where they can trade their separate wares and make a living. They may sell meats, sausages, hams, locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables, home-made pies, cheeses, preserves, all produced and sold fresh within their community.
Some farmers markets may sell plants, pottery, jewellery, items made by local craftsmen. The farmers are able to sell their produce regularly without having to compromise their standards or travel miles and the local people are happy because they have access to fresh, locally produced foods and goods, all available at an economical price and very different from mass-produced fare.
Most independent traders are involved in retail. These small independent shops are often highly prized because customers are able to find interesting and varied items, completely different from the ranges available in the main high street. Original new or vintage clothes, interesting handbags, unique individual jewellery are often sold by independent traders.
Independent craftsmen; joiners, electricians, carpenters, are able to turn their hands to one-off, individual pieces of work. For example, independent kitchen-fitters have greater opportunity to offer something unique and tailored to each individual client's specifications. They can liaise with other local traders selling complementary products, like tiling, flooring, white goods. This provides better service and ability to negotiate on design, price, timing as everyone tries to work together to co-ordinate what is needed.
Flexibility.
Independent traders often offer flexibility on their opening hours, they are able to provide a service relevant to their individual customers, being prepared to adjust and adapt wherever they can. Customer care is often at the forefront of their mind, being prepared to deliver items, going out of their way to source something that's needed, being mindful of something that would suit a particular customer, remembering to send greetings cards to support their personal relationships with customers and clients.
Some traders may operate within a franchise structure but are still able to personalise certain aspects of their business and retain an independent feel to what they do.
Operating on a smaller scale can afford certain economies, reduced overheads, the potential to maybe work from home or rent office space as and when required. If involved in retail, it may be viable to share premises with a similar complementary business in order to reduce costs and provide a wider range of goods or services. At times it may be appropriate to run events and launches together, share advertising, liaise over aspects of a job.
Small traders often have to fight for survival and work hard to establish a successful business. They are often keen to prove their competency and demonstrate the quality of their work. Professional associations like Business groups, The Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses are keen to support small independent traders and provide a seal of approval. By joining a trading association or professional body independent traders are able to provide proof of their competency, their professional insurances and their ongoing commitment to continuous professional development, if relevant.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Many of us appreciate the importance of being polite to others, of treating others as we would like to be treated but what about the ongoing implications of taking the time, making the effort to build good relationships. Let's look at how good relationships make good business sense.
Build good relationships in business. Networking, meeting and mixing with other people in business benefits us in many different ways. Firstly, from a purely practical point of view, meeting other business owners provides the opportunity for conversation and discussion, sharing information and advice, problem solving, providing mutual support. We may gain access to their contacts, both personal and professional, some of whom may be useful to us in any number of ways.
In addition we gain access to their knowledge, skills and expertise, which may help us develop personally and within our business. Access to other professions may provide help with business coaching, stress management, printing, graphic design, technical support, accountancy skills, insurance, all of which enable us to become more confident, strong and viable as a successful small business owner.
Meeting people in other businesses offers the opportunity to both utilise and recommend their services. Plus there's the possibility of establishing alliances where we can include our joint skills on the menu, extending our range of goods and/or services to provide a more comprehensive service to our combined clients.
With this in mind, it's important to nurture these relationships, follow each other on social media, meet up for coffee, keep in touch, treat each other well and get to know, like and trust each other. Remember discussions you've had and follow-up on them. Demonstrate genuine interest. Relationships and networking are not just about collecting stacks of business cards and then relentlessly bombarding each other with sales information. Maybe send out regular newsletters with interesting facts and articles that will be of help in their daily life. Be generous in recommending others, even if there's no apparent immediate payback to yourself.
Build good relationships with family and friends. Devoting time to your important personal relationships demonstrates to them and to you that they matter, that you care enough about them to commit time to doing things together. Being respectful of those relationships ensures that you have a strong, loving, supportive network in your life. These are the people who will try to understand and make allowances for you if at times you are under pressure at work, are stressed or have less time available for them on occasion.
These are also the people who can bring balance into your life, maybe at times tell you if you're wrong, over-doing things, damaging your health. They may not always fully appreciate your priorities or the demands that are placed on you, but family are for many people, a significant part of the reason why they are motivated to work as hard as they do.
Open and honest communications are an important part of personal relationships, of building a happy and secure home and personal life. Learn to say how you feel, share bad news as well as good, listen and be interested in others too. Relationships are a two-way exchange. It's equally important to do things you want to do, not just accommodate others and their wishes. Enjoy your relationships with family and friends and let them support you in your business.
Build a good relationship with yourself. So often we consider ourselves last, regard personal time and interests as something we may fit in after everything else on the list has been ticked. But personal time is great for de-stressing, for feeling valuable, for supporting your own self-esteem. Enjoying the things you really want to do makes the hours spent at work slaving over your computer, an order or a piece of work worthwhile. It's your personal reward for all the effort.
Some people even suggest that you should book yourself regular time in the diary and honour that time just as you would an appointment with an important client. Allowing an hour to read a book, have a leisurely bath, book a massage, go for a walk can make all the difference to your mindset and feeling of wellbeing.
Certainly it's important to look after your health too. Take time to eat healthily, have regular breaks, aim to finish your work and domestic chores at a reasonable time, commit to quality sleep. But fun is also an important part of building a good relationship with yourself, of feeling worthy, that you're worth it, entitled to consideration. Enjoy occasional rewards and treats as well as committing regular time for the things you enjoy, that add value to your life.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
If you run a small business what is the first impression that you create for your customers? What is their initial experience of your business, how professional do you appear? A first impression may not even include any personal interaction with you.
For example, what is your out-of-hours customer experience like? Potential customers may not know your opening hours, may call in person or on your landline and expect to find details of your website, your mobile phone number, be able to leave a voice mail. Is the first impression your business gives positive and professional or does it turn people away?
Practice being your own customer, put the boot on the other foot and check out your own first impression of your business. What first impression does your business give?
I work from home, see my clients there and regularly stop outside upon my return home to double-check how the front of my house looks, the first impression I get as I pull up outside. I want to reaffirm that it's still okay to invite customers there, that the neighbourhood is smart, tidy and looks acceptable to the type of customers I want to attract. Does the garden look tidy and welcoming, are the windows clean; all important, subtle things that clients will pick up on, often without realising.
When I walk through the front door I'll usually pause to take in the first impression the room presents, how it looks, smells, feels. These things are all important, especially to a first time customer or client. Do clients or their companions have somewhere to sit and wait if necessary and is that place comfortable?
I recently called at the advertised shop premises of a driveway laying business. I was considering spending quite a lot of money on a new driveway and wanted to see examples of their work, the different options available for colours and styles, but every time I called their shop was closed. I tried at different times, all within the usual office hours. Daytime, Saturday afternoon; the business was styled as a shop but had no receptionist or staff present and no information explaining why. It was an exasperating experience which conveyed a rather indifferent attitude towards potential new business.
They could argue that they're saving on overheads, are able to offer a more economical service as a consequence but when a new customer is trying to make contact it's important that they're able to do so. Why have a shop in the middle of a row of shops if it's unmanned? What first impression does that create?
Competition is fierce in the world of business and as a small business or sole trader it's important to offer that special something extra to customers and clients. Yes, pricing is always going to be an important consideration but it's by no means the only one.
Quality customer service, professionalism and reliability are often almost more important than the price and can certainly put you ahead of the competition. Creating a good first impression helps you to get your foot through the door and reinforces potential customers belief in your ability to deliver well on your promises.
A good first impression helps you to look professional, conveys the message that you take a pride in your work and in your reputation and that your business is important to you.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
For some people the idea of personal training seems synonymous with self-indulgence and excess but the reality is often very different. There are many reasons for choosing to use a personal trainer. Let's consider some of those here.
- If a person has not exercised for some time using a personal trainer is often the most effective way to reintroduce an appropriate exercise regime. A trainer will tailor a programme to suit each individual client, their levels of fitness, their needs and abilities.
- Embarrassment often deters people from using a gym or exercise class. Many people have concerns about their body shape, their levels of fitness, even what they will wear. They imagine gyms as places full of super-fit people, all in matching lycra with perfect bodies, working out whilst looking good. This is enough to put anyone off going. The reality is often nothing like that but a personal trainer is a way of improving confidence levels whilst building up fitness and getting toned in a more private way.
- Convenience is often a serious consideration for someone looking to commit to regular exercise. They may want sessions early in the morning, before work or at weekends, outside their business hours. A personal trainer is often able to oblige and provide a flexible service with hours to suit.
- A comprehensive service is offered by some personal trainers which may include nutritional advice or massage. They are often qualified in different areas of fitness and training, keen to support their clients in reaching their goals.
- If a client has a specific goal like a wedding, a marathon, a charity bike ride, using a personal trainer can schedule the best way to achieve that goal. They plan training days, rest days, diet, massage to sensibly improve whilst staying on target.
- A trainer will coax and cajole or push and demand, whatever is needed, often getting more from the client than they would do training on their own. Many people find that they work harder with their trainer, partly because they're paying for their sessions but often, more importantly, because they want to please. There's nowhere to hide when you're training with your personal trainer.
- A trainer can be a valuable part of rehabilitation or recovery from health problems. Being able to exercise again, perhaps slowly at first, can help a person feel more positive about themselves, happier about their progress to better health and fitness.
- A personal trainer has flexibility with their choice of workout. One session may be indoors, another outdoors; one may be using weights, the other more cardio-vascular based. Classes in a gym run to a timetable and consist of a variety of options, but at a set time; there may be body conditioning, circuit training, step aerobics, dance, boxercise. Customers can only choose from what's available at a particular time.
- Also, many people who attend a gym tend to follow a familiar routine each time they go. Using a personal trainer means that each session is planned and their body benefits from a different workout each time they exercise.
A personal trainer is committed to work usually on a one to one basis. Whilst many people enjoy the opportunity to build relationships, friendships and camaraderie at a gym, a personal trainer can be an important part of a fitness regime and some people choose to use both; a trainer for specific training as well as the gym for maintenance. After all, that way they maximise the benefits of their exercise regime.
Susan Leigh is a long established counsellor and hypnotherapist who works with clients to help with relationship conflict, stress, assertiveness and confidence issues. She works with individual, clients, couples and in corporate situations.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
When a friend needs a breast scan it is often a time when a lot of sensitivity is required. Different people react in different ways but it is still a time when the world effectively stands still and living a normal life is suspended for the duration of the process.
Time is often the biggest stress, the time from finding the lump in her breast to the appointment for the scan can sometimes be a fortnight, a very long two weeks. And then after that comes the wait for the results. All this is very stressful time spent waiting and worrying.
It can be difficult for even the most well-intentioned friends to know how to approach this situation. Female friends are often tempted to reflect on other people they know who have also had a breast scan. This can provide reassurance, but only if your friend is wanting to discuss the procedure in this much detail.
Some people prefer to allude briefly to the fact that they have found a lump, need a breast scan and then change the subject. The most sensitive approach to is allow yourself to be guided by her. Let her raise the subject when she needs to. Some days she may want to talk about it and other days she may be too stressed and appear to be bad-tempered or irritable.
Depending on how much support she has at home, ask her if she needs anything. Does she need a lift to the hospital, has she got someone to accompany her when she goes for the appointment. If she has no one, then maybe you can offer to go with her or suggest someone who would be appropriate company for her.
Offer telephone support. She can call you anytime, whenever she needs to. But be wary of phoning her more than you normally would. Even a friendly animated call can be stressful if she feels that it is being done out of sympathy.
Try to find other ways of asking 'how are you?' It is hard to know whether to say nothing at all and risk being thought uncaring, or to find lighter phrases like 'you okay?' or even just a meaningful nod and a smile.
I tend to suggest honesty at these times. Tell her that you do not know how to proceed and want her to guide you as to the best approach for her. Tell her that you will telephone her and will be chatty and animated, but if it is too much jocularity or she wants to talk seriously about her health or any other matters then she can direct the conversation. Tell her that everything you are doing is out of love, concern and a desire to be as supportive as possible. However she reacts at the time, she knows that you are being a very good, loyal friend.
Expert Author Rosemarie Sumalinog Gonzales
Your intense desire to succeed cause you to change the status quo. It helps you start and motivates you to endure in the face of obstacles. it's what permits one to beat overwhelming odds. Once you create that burning obsession, you'll do whatever it takes to realize that goal. You'll invest all of your time, energy and self into attaining what you want.
The number one reason why people are stuck and unable to progress is due to fear for failure and not wishing one thing badly enough. Once you wish to succeed as unhealthy as you wish to breathe, then you'll achieve success. Knowing the explanation behind your desire is that the key to understanding however way you'll go.
You heard people achieving bigger success after going through a lot of odds. These people walked aloof from their trials and tribulations understanding what they truly desired because they knew their purpose.
When the going gets rough, the sole factor that keeps you going is your will to succeed. Sometimes people end up quitting the instant they encounter resistance. Conversely, you'll be ready to overcome any obstacle if your desire is strong enough to beat all odds.
When it involves being eminent, success mostly comes right down to fixing time and energy in order that once a chance arises, you are able to give your best. Having the will to organize is as vital as the will to win.If you wish to seek out success, target developing the need for preparation. simply do not let preparation overtake you.
In fact, there's no such issue as failure, there is solely feedback and the feedback we get ultimately verify however prosperous we'll be. When we fail we've got 3 options: opt to quit, that is that the solely real failure; opt to ignore the feedback and check out once more; or we will learn from our failure, adapt our approach, and check out once more.
Every major success is built on a solid bedrock of previous failures. You utilize failure as a stepping stone. Shut the door on the past. It doesn't mean that you attempt to forget the mistakes, however, it means that you do not linger over it. You do not let it drain your energy, or weaken your resolve.
Only those who dare to fail greatly will reap success. If you are not ready to fail, you will ne'er come back up with something.Our greatest glory is, not in ne'er falling, but in rising anytime we tend to fall. A man should be sufficiently big to admit his mistakes, sensible enough to cash in on them, and powerful enough to correct them.
When you take risks, you learn that there'll be times after you succeed, and there'll be times after you fail, and each learning experience is equally vital. It's failure that offers you the correct perspective on success. It's fine to celebrate success however it's necessary to learn from failure. In fact, the most important risk isn't taking any risk. at all. As a matter of fact, the only factor that's bound to fail isn't taking risks.
The more you fail and recover and improve, the higher you become as an individual. The best mistake you'll be able to create in life is the fear you'll create one. Success is staggering from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. A part of being a person is learning to require responsibility for your successes and for your failures. Do not blame others or be jealous of others accomplishment. Seeing someone else's success as your failure could be a cancerous way to live.
Expert Author Susan Leigh
Many of us have to work for a living. We need money to cover our overheads and responsibilities, hopefully with some left over for a few treats and incidental expenses along the way. Earning enough in the best way we can may well be the main preoccupation in our minds.
So often we feel compelled to make compromises when it comes to our work; we may take on a role we don't especially like, feel obliged to humour a difficult boss, commute large distances, keep unsociable hours in order to retain our work position. For a time this may be a necessary negotiation, it's vital in order to keep the different areas of our life afloat.
Some days will be better than others, so what makes a good day at work?
- Someone smiling as we walk through the door can lift our spirits, particularly if, prior to arriving at work, our day has already been rather fraught. I'm reminded of one of my clients who managed a large call centre. Her mission at the start of each working day was to identify the most frazzled member of her team, then go and sit chatting with them until they started to smile. That simple action improved everyone's day.
- Planning the day ahead can be a good way to ensure that we start each day in the right frame of mind. Sometimes unexpected challenges or opportunities may arise, but having a to-do list can provide a structure for our efforts.
- When we achieve what we set out to do it's always a good day at work. That may be because we've done something we know we're good at. We can relax as we aim to do it exceptionally well. Yes, there's the stress to do a good job, especially if we're regarded as an expert in our field. There's the motivation to excel and not let ourselves down, but when we're comfortable with the skills required we can enjoy performing those tasks. Remember too to congratulate yourself on what you achieve.
- Feeling there's some flexibility to accommodate new demands, emergencies and opportunities can help us manage stress and have a good day. It's important that we're not working to full capacity all the time. Being able to adapt whenever an unexpected or attractive new request comes along can bring an enthusiastic, motivated feeling to the day.
- When we've been significantly challenged and come through, perhaps had to acquire new skills and dig deep, it can really improve our confidence and self-esteem. Doing something we're not sure about, maybe being new to a task, means that we may have to learn something in stages, undergo some training. Practising, challenging ourselves, making mistakes, moving out of our comfort zone can be uncomfortable at first but can ultimately lead to a good day at work. We can then start to feel better, more proficient, having achieved something unexpected.
- Ever put off doing something you dread or don't like? This can impact on your health and wellbeing as those tasks are unlikely to disappear by themselves. Once you start to tackle them it can bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Most of us have jobs that we're not too eager to tackle; admin and book-keeping certainly head-up my list. But doing a little each day or allocating a particular time each week to keep on top of those tasks can result in a good day at work. This helps you better manage stress, which supports your health and overall wellbeing
- Appreciation can be an important component in having a good day at work. Someone's perhaps listened to our suggestions and taken them on board or has noticed how hard we've worked and has given recognition and credit where it's due. None of us can fully appreciate the effort and sacrifices that someone may have made when undertaking a task for us. Gratitude and a simple acknowledgement demonstrates good manners and can make a significant difference to each other's day.
- Quality interactions with others are important too, especially for those who work from home, where they may sometimes go for days without seeing a friendly face. It's important to set aside time to meet others, perhaps through networking or scheduling a coffee or a short break to catch up and discuss challenges and experiences. Ensure you reinforce your relationships with friends and colleagues as well as at home, meeting with people who like you, are supportive and are interested in talking to you about you in a non-work-related way.
A good day at work can have many elements to it. Doing a good job, where you deliver what your client or customer is looking for, perhaps anticipating their needs and being recognised as skilled, maybe even an expert, is certainly one positive way. Also important is investing in your relationships both at work and at home, so establishing a good support network around you.
Don't forget to allow a little time away from work for yourself, time to enjoy your hobbies and interests, read a book or maybe just sit and enjoy a coffee doing nothing. That too contributes to your day at work being all the more fulfilling and positive an experience.