How would you like to ‘feel’ in 2020?

This beautiful guest blog post, comes from Lesley Waldron, Wild Country Woman – focusing on how you want to feel in 2020.

 

New year’s resolutions are often about what we want to do or what we want to change.

 

Sometimes they come from a negative place….or because we just feel that we ‘should’.

 

But how about thinking about 2020 in a different way? About how you want to feel?

 

So, think about next year.

 

On December 31st 2020. How would you like to feel? 

 

Take a deep breath. Take a moment to bring yourself forward in time. Close your eyes if that helps.

 

Really and truly. What do you feel?

 

This could be how you feel emotionally.

 

How you feel in your body.

 

How you feel in your family.

 

How you feel in your community.

 

How you feel in your workplace or your business.

 

How you feel in your life at that moment.

 

It could be words and feelings that apply to all of those elements of your life.

 

Not what you are doing. Not what you have accomplished, but what you feel.

 

Got it?

 

Write it down if you can….I love a big piece of recycled paper and colourful felt tips. Don’t take too long, give yourself a little peace and quiet and just write from your gut, don’t let your busy mind take over too much with the realities of life.

 

Now. 

 

What could take you closer to that feeling today?

 

What could take you closer to that feeling next week?

 

What could take you closer to that feeling over the course of this year?

 

In order to feel that way, how are you acting in your everyday life?

 

In order to feel that way, what do you need to add into your life?

 

And what (or who) do you need to take out?

 

This could be behaviours, people, actions, habits, communities, obligations, values.

 

Keep writing. Keep colouring. Keep jotting. Don’t think too hard. Put on some tunes…and let it flow.

 

There is no right or wrong answer.

 

And from all of this.

 

Take one thing. 

 

Look at the words.

 

What jumps out? What makes your tummy flutter in a good way?

 

Can you take action on that. Today.

 

Not next year. Not waiting for the right time.

 

Today

 

If you’d like to explore this further, with a warm and welcoming group of women, come and join the next Wildly Well Woman retreat on 26th January 2020, for some New Year intention-setting as well as some relaxation and nourishment to get the year off to a great start.

 

 

 

The importance of working on the business rather than in it

It’s an exciting time at FM HQ, as we’ve finally announced Freelance Mum Micro Business Retreat 2020!

We know just how hard the juggling act can be and why it’s important to take a step back out of life and gain perspective again. We firmly believe there is no better place for it, than at Tractors & Cream and with The Freelance Mum Micro Business Retreat, there is something for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We take a look back over this brilliant blog from Rin Hamburgh as she looks at some of the best approaches, when it comes to working ON your business and how it can be of benefit all round.

The importance of working on the business rather than in it

If you had to break down your working week into hourly chunks, what proportion of them would be spent on working in the business versus working on the business. By that I mean, how much time do you spend doing the do – making your products, working with clients, sorting the admin – versus planning, strategising, clarifying your vision, setting goals.

Working on the business is vital but too often it gets pushed down the to do list as we frantically try to meet client deadlines and get orders shipped. All the while juggling the million and one other things we Freelance Mums have to do – the cooking, the washing, the cleaning, the ferrying of children to music and drama and football.

No wonder taking a break to plan where your business will be in five years feels like a luxury! But of course, it isn’t. In fact, without taking a step back and looking at the big picture, you’re likely to drift and either not achieve those goals you had back when you launched, or at the very least get there via a much longer and more complicated route than you need to.

 

How I learn to be more on and less in

Next month will be three years since I launched Rin Hamburgh & Co. Back when the first website went live in August 2016, I didn’t have a clue where it would all end up. I didn’t even call the business an agency, that’s how unsure I was of what I was doing!

The best thing that ever happened to me was chatting to the lovely Claire Stone, who I met at Freelance Mum, over a coffee one day and hearing all about the Entrepreneurial Spark programme. A business incubator with a focus on growing and developing the business leader not just the business itself. I applied that day.

It was the smartest business move I ever made. Previously I’d spent the majority of my time writing copy for my clients and editing the work of my small freelance team. Now suddenly I was being asked to explain my business model to my mentor. I was being challenged on whether I knew my numbers, not just now but for the future. I was pitching to a room full of strangers.

Why stepping back propels you forward

It was a huge challenge because it felt like a distraction when there was website copy to be written and blog posts to be proofread. But if I hadn’t stopped and looked at my numbers, for example, I wouldn’t have realised I could afford to bring on a part time assistant. If I hadn’t given some serious thought to my profit margins, I would still be underselling myself.

Today Rin Hamburgh & Co is a team of five with a six figure annual turn over. We’ve won a number of awards and been featured in Bristol 24-7 and the Bristol Post. We’ve worked with multinational clients and on five figure projects.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken time on a regular basis to stop, reflect on what we’ve been doing, look forward to where we’re going, adjust the vision, set goals, make plans and learn new skills to keep propelling us towards my dream business.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have to challenge myself pretty much daily to make space and time for working on rather than in the business. Thankfully we’re back on what is now called the NatWest Accelerator programme, so I’ve got a new mentor to be accountable to!

How to be more on and less in

As I’ve already mentioned, having a mentor or an accountability partner can be hugely beneficial. That might be a coach like our very own Karen Cook, it could be a fellow Freelance Mum who you meet up with regularly or someone else in your industry. There are also accountability or mastermind groups, where small groups of business owners come together to help and encourage each other on a regular basis.

Carving out ‘on the business’ time in your diary and guarding it ferociously is important too. I have two hours on a Friday that I call my reflection time, and I really notice the difference if I don’t do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also set aside a special day every now and then – perhaps once a quarter – where you can really focus on all of that big picture stuff. Because sometimes it takes a while before you can relax and get into the right headspace where you’re not worrying about what to cook the kids for dinner.

But don’t forget the value of working on your business with others, which can be incredibly encouraging and inspiring. And if you’re looking for an opportunity, check out the Freelance Mum Micro Retreat. What a perfect chance to reflect, learn, chat and have fun with a bunch of other mums in a similar position to you. Not to mention being surrounded by beautiful countryside like you will be at Tractors & Cream!

Whatever time you can squeeze out of your schedule to work on rather than in the business, you won’t regret it. Yes, you might not be earning money directly by working on your vision, your financial forecasts or your customer journeys. But you’ll be laying the foundation on which you can build a business that serves you and brings you exactly the kind of success you’re looking for.

Should you increase your rates over the Christmas period?

How should you prepare for the festive period when there is less work? And if a client does approach you, can you raise your rates?

The saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’ couldn’t be better suited for life as a freelancer. When the work is there, life feels abundant, but when it isn’t – it can feel pretty barren.

So, how is it possible to plan for the festive period, when it comes to work – and should you increase your rates?

I write as a voiceover artist and founder of Freelance Mum – the child-friendly networking group, designed to support fellow parents in business, so I know what a difficult time of year it can be, on many levels.

On one hand you feel like attaching a tap to your bank account and watching the money pour out for Christmas. On the other you watch the work dry up during the festive session. Combine the two and it can make for a challenging cash flow!

So should you increase your rates over Christmas and how can you prepare as a freelancer?

Like all things, there is no right or wrong answer, it’s more a case of finding the solution that works best for you. If you’re happy ‘shutting shop’ and taking the Christmas period off, then surely that’s the perk of being your own boss. But if some one approaches you to work during that time, should you increase your rates accordingly?

I recently pitched this question to The Mothership (the Facebook Group for Freelance Mum) and had some interesting answers, but the general vibe was ‘no, people already felt their rates were fair and if they couldn’t balance work & family around that time, then they shouldn’t have taken the job’.

I recently went to book tickets to take my girls to see Santa and was shocked to discover I had to pay more money, if they wanted to see him closer to Christmas. To me, that’s a bigger business, taking full advantage of children and surely the true spirit of Christmas?

However, there’s a caveats, 1) if you want the work 2) is it worth it for your portfolio etc. Then do they want it during your normal work hours or is it to be done in “extra time. ” If it’s extra / to be done in super quick / unreasonable timescales I’d add 20% + on top of the usual – but ONLY if you want to do it.

An abridged version of this post featured in IPSE – Modern Work Magazine, in Ask The Expert.

 

 

 

 

How to Balance Business and Babies

How to balance business and babies

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

No one can prepare you for the realities of being a parent, can they? No matter how much research you’ve done, no matter how many friends you’ve watched go through the sleepless nights and the teething terrors, it just doesn’t hit home properly until you get there for yourself. And when you’re trying to run a business at the same time, it’s even more intense.

I was a freelance journalist and copywriter when the twins were born and didn’t really take much in the way of maternity leave. In fact, I remember taking a call from a client while I was in hospital, and writing a feature for the Guardian while balancing my laptop on a Pampers box and expressing for the girls’ next feed!

That’s the great thing about us freelance mums – we’re pretty hard core. But there’s no doubt that balancing business and babies (of any age) is a real challenge. So are there any tips and tricks that can make the process easier? Definitely. Here’s what I’ve learned in my freelance mum journey.

Set realistic expectations

Both with your clients and with yourself. It’s no good promising the earth and then stressing yourself out or doing a poor job because you’ve overestimated how much you can actually achieve. It could be that you need to take on fewer clients or give longer lead time for when the work will be delivered. Remember to build in time for disasters and emergencies – trips to A&E or unexpected vomiting bugs will happen and will definitely disrupt your schedule.

Call in the troops

If you’re going to successfully balance motherhood and maintaining your business – even at a lower intensity than before the kids came along – you’ll need help. There are plenty of different paid childcare option from au pairs to nannies, nurseries and childminders. I got a nanny in for just four hours a week to start with, when the girls were 3-months-old. I felt comfortable knowing they were just in the other room if they needed me, but I could still crack on with work.

And then of course there’s family and friends. Why not try doing a swap with another mum in business, with you looking after all the kids one day and her taking over on another day? Or look at a combined childcare and co-working space like Caboodle. You may find that a combination of all of these works best for you. My two are almost three now and we do two full days at nursery and one full day with a nanny, which suits us all really well.

Delegate what you can

No one can do everything, it’s just not possible. And when you have little people to look after then it’s even more of a challenge. Think about the things you find most difficult, stressful or time consuming. Work out how much your time is worth and then see if it might be cheaper to get someone else to do one or two tasks.

This could be getting a cleaner so you can crack on with your admin instead of scrubbing floors, or outsourcing your admin to a VA so you can get more client hours in. Do the maths before you automatically dismiss the idea as too expensive. Just because you do something yourself, doesn’t mean it’s free. Time is money!

Find support and solidarity

Ok, so this is possibly a bit biased but honestly, the support you can find at something like Freelance Mum will be invaluable as you try and balance parenthood and business. Just knowing that you’re not alone will lift a huge weight from your shoulders and you’ll find a fresh sense of motivation and passion as you listen to other mums sharing the ups and downs of their journey. You’ll also get plenty of tips, referrals and even actual work from the other members, which will all help to boost your wellbeing as well as your business.

Do what works for you

When the twins were tiny, my mum was always berating me for not napping when they did. But for me, the process of getting a bit of work done was actually more of a draw for me. It gave me a sense of control over my life that was otherwise sorely lacking and was, I honestly believe, one of the things that kept me sane during those first few difficult months. It also boosted my self esteem no end.

That said, if napping is what will make you feel good – or cleaning, or binge-watching Netflix – then do it! Especially in the early stages, keeping sane should be your primary goal, for yourself, your children and your business (in that order).

Do you have any tips you’d add? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch on social – we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And why not come along to one of our Bristol meetings?

With huge thanks to Super Funky Penguin for the photo.

Nail your small business marketing with our experts’ top tips

The Freelance Mum family is full of amazingly talented ladies and this month we’ve asked some of our marketing experts to share their top tips for building your business. Enjoy!

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

MARKETING

Karen Norman, Sensible Marketing

1) The answer is in the data. We all have questions about how we should move our businesses forward. The answers are in the data and advances in digital marketing mean that it is more accessible than ever. Use it, analyse it, find the answers and they will take you in the right direction.

 

2) The fundamentals of marketing are still the same. The digital world moves fast and throws up new opportunities but the fundamentals of marketing strategy and planning haven’t changed for decades, only the technology that we use.

 

3) Keep your website updated. Sounds simple? But many businesses build their site then leave it for months, sometimes years. It is important to keep it up-to-date, both technically so it is secure and performing well, and by adding new content and functionality that helps you to grow your business.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kirsty Northover, Kirsty Northover Photography

1) If your clients work with you because they know, like and trust YOU – i.e. you are your brand – step out of the shadows. Don’t hide behind a logo. Use yourself as the face of your brand.

 

2) Brand recognition in a crowded marketplace is hard. Have one killer headshot that epitomises you, your brand and will resonate with your target clients. Use it for everything! Website, social media profiles, byline for publications, media pack, business cards (so helpful for people to remember you from networking events), flyers… you get the drift!

 

3) Have a selection of images that tell your brand story. You can use them alone to highlight one aspect or combine groups of them to tell the story. They should be different enough to be strong as a stand alone but also cohesive so that they look good together. This aids brand identity, recognition and will help you stand out online and cut through the competition.

 

COPYWRITING

Rin Hamburgh, Rin Hamburgh & Co

 

1) If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field you need to be sharing three types of content: original ‘how to’ posts, industry news and trends, and opinion and commentary. The best place to host the first of these is on a blog, where it will also boost your website’s SEO and both your organic and directed traffic.

 

2) Website copy need to stimulate both an emotional and a logical response. That’s why you need a combination of snappy, engaging headers, subheads, pull quotes etc as well as factual and valuable body copy.

 

3) Brand voice needs to take into account both who you are as a brand (your core offering, values and brand personality) and who you audience is (and therefore what they will most engage with). Once you understand the relationship between the two you can start building your messaging and getting specific about things like vocabulary, levels of formality and so on.

 

DESIGN

Emily Jones, Hullo Creative

In all design, less is more. Especially when it comes to things like flyers, which need to capture people’s attention quickly and not go on too much. Keep the number of words and images to a minimum and then direct people elsewhere for more information.

 

Don’t forget to update the design of your marketing materials as your brand evolves. Sometimes it’s ok to just update the dates of a workshop or swap out your old photos for new ones, but there will be times when you actually need a whole new look or things will start feeling a bit dated.

 

Give people enough blank space to digest what you’re saying. If you ram a design with content you risk overwhelming them, which means they’ll lose interest. White space might feel like a waste but it’s an essential element of good design.

5 reasons why being freelance is awesome

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brillaint blog Rin.

 

I can’t believe it’s been over eight years since I went freelance. It was a pretty massive step for me at the time, as it likely is for most people. But I was newly single, about to turn 30 and just decided to go for it and make the leap.

These days, of course, I am employed again – albeit by my own company – and working with a fab team. But I still remember the joy of coming out of formal employment into the world of freelancing.

As we approach IPSE’s National Freelancers Day (and the corresponding Freelance Mum event, which I am super excited about!) I thought it would be good to celebrate the choice of 2 million people in the UK who have been courageous enough to go independent. Here are five reasons why being freelance is awesome:

You can do the work you love

When you’re freelance, you’re the boss. That means you can choose what projects you want to work on and which ones you would rather avoid. Ditto clients. Ok, so you have to make sure you can pay the bills, but if a project or a client isn’t worth the hassle then you can ditch them and use the time to find someone new without having to worry about whether you can justify it to the boss.

 

You can avoid rush hour traffic

When the morning commute is a stroll of just a few meters from your bedroom to your study, you save yourself an awful lot of stress. In fact, there are studies that show that a commute of more than 30 minutes negatively affects both your productivity and health, so avoiding your car is definitely one of the advantages of being freelance. Even if you do have an office to go do, as a freelancer you can probably choose your hours so you don’t hit the rush hour.

 

 

You can develop your skillset

As a freelancer you don’t just do the job your clients pay you to do. You’re also the HR director, the finance director, the IT director, the marketing director. You learn so much, including how to juggle your time and how to sell yourself and how to make strategic decisions. These skills are useful in and of themselves, and if you ever decide to go back into employed work you’ll find they add a lot to your CV.

 

You can work in your PJs

I’ve lost track of the number of client calls I’ve had while still snuggled up in my pyjamas (or dressing gown or slouchy ‘not fit for public viewing’ clothes). Assuming you’re having a voice call rather than a video one, it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss business without being suited and booted. You’ll save a fortune on your work wardrobe!

 

You can choose your own hours

Speaking of which, having a flexible schedule is useful in so many ways besides saving you time on your commute. It also means that you can work to your natural rhythms. If you’re a morning person you can get up and crack on straight away, or if you have a slump in the middle of the afternoon you can have a little rest. You can decide to take a sunny day off and make up for it in the evening or on a rainy weekend. As a freelancer, it’s your choice!

If you’re freelance and feeling the stress – because there are challenges too, of course – then hopefully this will remind you of why you made the decision to leave a full-time position. And if you’re still trying to decide if it’s for you, come along to a Freelance Mum event in Bristol to meet some amazing women who have been there and done that. And don’t forget to check out IPSE, who are there to help all independent professionals and self-employed people in the UK.