Small Business Booming despite lockdown

“I was a bit concerned at first, that children might get bored and wander off mid Zoom lesson! But I haven’t experienced anything like that, I keep it very relaxed, happy and jokey – they are generally very good. I think they are very happy to chat and have the session”.

Vicky, Additions Tutoring

 

Coronavirus is the toughest problem many businesses have faced – but some are successfully forging ahead. Vicky from Additions Tutoring joins Faye Dicker and Laura Rawlings to share her story of adapting and thriving, when it comes to home tutoring.

Let them eat (lockdown) cake!

“I am now doing, what I have called ‘the lockdown cake’ , it’s basically the same story from each customer who has contacted me. They were meant to have been going to a birthday and that birthday party is no longer happening and they’ll be in say, New Zealand. So they’ll say to me, ‘could you take a cake over to my boyfriend, who I was supposed to be seeing tomorrow’. So they’ll pay me to make a cake, I’ll drive over to the boyfriends, knock on the door, stand 2 meters apart, they’ll open the door and it’s rather nice really, seeing people break into a massive smile”.

Ali Walsh, The Local Bakehouse

 

 

Good news!

A positive business story for you in these crazy times…. and even better that it involves cake. Ali Walsh from The Local Bakehouse joins FayeDicker & Laura Rawlings to share the story of the lockdown cake.

No more up the nose shots!

“The most important things are camera angle – have your camera at at least eyeball height and light. Photograhy is painting with light – video is equally as essential”

Kirsty Northover, Kirsty Northover Photography

Being in small business has never been more challenging! And with social media becoming more busy, it can be hard to cut through the noise.

In this podcast, Faye Dicker and Laura Rawlings talk to Photographer and Personal Branding Expert, Kirsty Northover on how to make your business brand look good online. With expert advice on video backgrounds & taking DIY photos for your marketing.

Home haircuts – lockdown locks!

With a cut, I don’t ever think it’s that desperate really, you can wear it up, with a fringe that’s grown out, you can change your parting slightly, pin it back, sweep it to the side, use accessories – you need to be a little bit creative.

Ella Hawkey, Atelier Clifton

Home haircuts – lockdown locks! Who’s had the chop? Whose true colour’s are coming through? Or who’s simply sticking a hat on it? Faye Dicker and Laura Rawlings pick up hair tips in the latest podcast, from top Bristol hairdresser and salon owner Ella Hawkey. Get to it. Chop chop.

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.

How working with a professional facilitator can help your event

Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker, goes behind the scenes with professional facilitator, Helene Jewell and finds out how working with a professional facilitator can help your event. With live footage from Tech For Good event and  interview with Helene Jewell on her route and training into faciliation.

How the school run can be good for your business

Voiceover Artist and Freelance Mum founder, Faye Dicker, on how the school run can be good for your business.

The chances are if you’re a ‘freelance parent’, the school run will fall to you. I know it does in my house. And although my husband is good at stepping in, as a ‘freelance mum’, the lion’s share falls to me.

Not that I begrudge it, I hasten to add – I want to make sure my girls are dropped off safe and sound. Once we have managed the almighty task, of actually leaving the house, I enjoy cycling them in.

Yet the reality is, when you’re doing the school run twice a day – it can bite a chunk into your day. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a window of time available from 9.15am – 3pm, to crack on with some work. More likely, it’s smaller.

And that can be hard. Especially when you’re trying to shoehorn work into every available working minute and maximize your productivity. It’s easy to feel resentful of the school bell ringing, meaning ‘pencils down’ for your business.

But doing the school run, can be good for your business – if you make it work for you.

 

Growing your network

We hear the term ‘networking’ all the time, I often think it gets overused and as a consequence forgotten it’s about your ‘network’ of people. It’s not just about ‘networking a room’. It’s unlikely (and probably not very appropriate) you’re going to start handing out your business cards, in the school playground.

But it doesn’t take much to get chatting to the mum you’re standing next to, find out a bit more about them and so on. Without even thinking about it, you’re naturally making connections, finding out a little about them and no doubt, you’ll start asking about you. With very little effort, you’re making connections and growing your network.

 

Wearing your brand

This one is a doddle. In fact, I see it more frequently in the playground all the time and think it looks ace – especially when little ones are proudly wearing a hoody with their parents business name on. I love how it’s very much a ‘family affair’ when it comes to branded hoodies at GemSec!

Children playing outside, wearing branded GemSec hoodies.

Even if your business doesn’t need a ‘uniform’, it’s very easy these days to have hoody or a T-shirt with your brand name on. The Freelance Mum bright pink T-shirts have become synonymous with Freelance Mum. On the days where I pick up the girls straight after Freelance Mum, wearing the bright pink FM top, I often get stopped and asked ‘are you the person who runs Freelance Mum’? Even if they don’t stop and ask, it’s your brand name they’re going to see and puts your business on their radar.

In fact, I even took it one step further and had the Freelance Mum logo put on my cargo bike, which resulted in gaining a new member! Don’t be shy. It’s your brand, tell the world, be proud.

 

Treat it as an opportunity to learn

Most freelance mums are time poor and juggling an ever-increasing to-do list. It can be hard, when at best we are just working in our business and not working on our business, to carve out time to actually stop and learn. Using the school run can be a great window of opportunity to download some podcasts, or audio books and take that time to stop and listen. I know it’s the approach Lucie Gray of Paper Aeroplane Creative has taken, she decided that if she was going to walk to school and back every day, that was a great opportunity to take the time to actually listen to some podcasts. Make your ‘commute’ work for you!

 

Fitness

Sticking with the theme of maximizing your time, fitness is often something that can easily fall away. Yet we all know the physical AND mental benefits from exercising. You only have to speak to Lesely Waldron at Wild Country Woman, to hear about the benefits of exercising outdoors. I love the way my head always seems to work things out, after I’ve come back from a run.

The school run might not be quite the same as an hour of yoga, but it is getting you (and your kids) outdoors. And if you make a point of putting your trainers on, you can extend your school run, to an actual run, after you’ve dropped them off. You and your business will benefit, from that extra bit of fresh air and fitness.

 

Take a break

Whether you like it or not, the school run forces you to take a break. Although it can be frustrating having to stop, when you’re mid flow, it means you take a step back and take a break from things. Otherwise, time can run away with you and you don’t remember to stop! It’s far better to take a break from your work and come back fresh, than to keep going and grind to a halt.

 

Power Hour

I often look up at the clock and can’t believe how fast the day is going by. There are days, that despite the best intentions, you can feel as though nothing has been done. On those days, when there are more jobs than time, I give myself a ‘power hour’ between 2pm and 3pm, when I leave the house. One final hour to power through some jobs and work without stopping. It’s funny how a deadline, can actually make things happen!

 

Structure

It might not have been the structure you’d have chosen for yourself, but there’s nothing like the school run to enforce a bit of structure. I love the days when I step in, after drop off, make myself a hot drink and sit down to catch up with social media. It’s a window of time that’s for me and my business and gives real pleasure. With structure, it gives us something to work with, without it can be harder to be disciplined and create rules/ways of working.

The school run can be an interruption and it’s easy to think of it as a pain, but part of the joy of being a freelancer is actually being able to pick up your kids from school. The trick is, making the school run work for your business.

 

At Freelance Mum, we know how tricky it can be, juggling children around business – which is why we created child-friendly networking for mums in business. Why not try it for FREE and find out for yourself?

 

How to make the most of networking

From making sure you’re in the right group to working out your 60 second pitch, Rin Hamburgh looks at what she’s learned about making the most of networking since she first started doing it seven years ago.

Networking is something every business owner or self-employed person is likely to do at some point. And rightly so – it’s a great way to meet people, to get support and generate referrals and new business. But it can also take up a fair amount of time and money. So how do you make sure you’re getting the most value out of it?

 

Pick the right group

I started networking when I set up my first business in 2012. The first group I joined was a very supportive group of women who met monthly for lunch. This was exactly what I needed – non-threatening, encouraging, no suits and lots of self-employed people working as sole traders.

As I gained in confidence I started going to a fortnightly breakfast meeting where there were business owners – both men and women – with staff and budgets who were able to introduce me into bigger companies and help me grow.

When the twins arrived, these groups became either too expensive or difficult to get to. Freelance Mum was – and still is – an absolute godsend and I’ve now added BS5 Business, Babies and Booze to my networking mix because, well, doesn’t that just sound like the best idea?

The key is to choose groups that work for you in terms of cost, location, mix of people and so on. Ask yourself what you want to gain from it. Do you want to get support from other business owners like you? Or are you looking for introductions, in which case you need to check how well connected the other members are.

 

Bring the right marketing materials

A business card is an absolute must for networking (although I have to admit, I frequently forget mine!). This is especially important if you’ve got an unusual name that people might struggle to remember or might spell wrong and therefore not be able to look you up.

But you might also want to invest in flyers, brochures or other printed materials in order to give people you meet an instant insight into what you do. For a product based or visual business like photography, pictures really can be worth a thousand words.

And I love the 121 packs that my friends at Hullo Creative make; little folders containing a flyer, a logo sticker, one of their beautiful greetings cards, and a selection of business cards from other freelancers in their collective.

 

 

 

 

Prepare a pitch

Most networking groups will require you to do some sort of 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ where you tell people who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. Even at Freelance Mum, which has a much more relaxed format, there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself during the Business Exchange segment at the end.

There are lots of different ways to structure a pitch. I’m currently on the Natwest Accelerator Programme and regularly have to pitch during our workshop and other events. The structure we’ve been taught there is Hook, Problem, Solution, Traction, Ask – there’s more about that in our blog post, How to write a 60 second elevator pitch.

But essentially you want to make sure that you summarise not only what you do but what that actually means for your customers or clients. For example, I don’t just say that we do copywriting. Instead I say that we “harness the power of words to drive significant business results.”

Spend time really honing your pitch and get comfortable with delivering it – make your other half listen to you or practice in the mirror. Because, whether you’re at a networking group or not, you never know when someone important is going to ask what you do. The right words might open the door to your next big thing.

 

Remember to ‘sell through the room’

Once you arrive at your chosen networking group, it might be tempting to try and sell your products and services to as many people as possible. But let’s face it, no one likes a pushy salesperson, do they?

Remember that networking is a long game – it’s about building relationships, letting people get to know you and starting to understand what their challenges and needs are too. It may be that your product or service is right for them but let that emerge naturally.

In fact, if you just sold to people within your group you really wouldn’t be making the most of your network. The trick is to ’sell through the room, not to the room’ – in other words, build those networking contacts into advocates who can speak about you to their networks and thereby widen your reach.

As an example, the lovely Zoe Whitman of But The Books, who I met at Freelance Mum, passed my details to her husband, who works at a big marketing agency. We ended up doing huge amounts of work with them, opening up a whole new market for us.

 

Remember to follow up

The majority of the value you’ll get from networking won’t actually happen in the meeting itself but afterwards. That’s why it’s important to follow up. If you’ve taken business cards, connect with those people on LinkedIn, follow their account on Instagram or like their business page on Facebook.

You may have identified people who you think will be a good fit for you, perhaps because you have complimentary businesses with the same target audience. For me as a copywriter this may be a graphic designer, web designer, even photographer. In this case, arrange a 121 so you can get to know each other better.

A lot of networking groups have online groups too, for example Freelance Mum’s Facebook group, The Mothership. Being active on these channels is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, especially if your group only meets monthly or if you struggle to make every meeting.

If you’re going to spend time and money on networking then make sure you get as much out of it as you can. That might take a little bit more time or money – for example to write that pitch or get flyers printed – but the return on your investment will make it well worth the effort.

If you want to brush up on your networking skills in a warm, family friendly environment, why not come along to Freelance Mum? Your first meeting is free! Find out when the next event is here.

What to look for in a workshop venue

Rin Hamburgh looks at the importance of finding the right setting when it comes to booking a workshop venue and some of the considerations for getting it right.

What to look for in a workshop venue

Where do you usually work? As a freelance mum, the chances are the your “office” is a dining room table, a patch of kitchen work surface, a lap tray on the sofa or even the front passenger seat of your car (just me??!).

Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated study or even rent some space in a studio or co-working location so your desk doesn’t get cluttered with utility bills and Year 8 homework. But if your job involves running workshops then it’s unlikely you’ve got enough space. Which means you’re on the look out for the perfect venue.

So what makes the ideal workshop venue? Obviously we’re all going to have different requirements to suit our personal style and the type of event we’re running. But these are some of the factors you should be thinking about.

 Size

How many people are you expecting at your workshop? You want to make sure there’s plenty of room for all the activities you’re planning, especially if you’re going to have lots of resources or need people to break out into separate groups. But too big is no good either – you want to get a balance so that the room feels cosy and intimate and encourages good group dynamics.

Location

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to location. You might want a city centre venue that’s easy to reach by public transport or a beautiful countryside space that helps people feel like they’re escaping the rat race for a few hours. Think about what your attendees will be looking for. Is there parking available on site or nearby? Is the venue easy to find or will you need to provide detailed instructions?

 Amenities

The basics of good heating, lighting and bathroom facilities should come as standard but what else might you need? A data projector and blank wall or whiteboard are often useful, or even an interactive whiteboard. If you’re going to be relying heavily on internet-based resources then it’s worth checking that there’s strong, reliable wifi. Depending on the length of your workshop you’ll want to provide refreshments – even if it is just tea and biscuits – so are there facilities for making these?

Cost

Everyone wants a freebie, right? Well, possibly. If you can secure your ideal venue with no cost attached then brilliant. But don’t be tempted to scrimp on the quality of a venue in order to save a few pounds. No one is going to recommend your workshop if they spend the morning freezing in a badly heated venue or couldn’t concentrate because of the bad smell drifting in from the fish shop next door!

Atmosphere

This one is a bit harder to define and almost impossible to judge without a site visit. No matter how good a venue looks on paper, it’s only when you visit that you get a sense of the people running the place, of whether the quality matches the photos you’ve seen and so on. The right atmosphere is only partly made by you and your attendees – the venue has a part to play too.

Getting the venue right can be the difference between your workshop running smoothly and being a mess of intermittent internet, bad coffee and cramped conditions. Put in the time to do your research now and you won’t regret it when you’re getting glowing feedback from all your happy attendees.