How Are Small Businesses Staying Afloat Through COVID-19


How Are Small Businesses Staying Afloat Through COVID-19

Business owners are struggling right now. The lockdown left many companies with massive losses in terms of profits and revenue. Some even struggled to open their doors again once the lockdown ended. This is why it’s important to explore the key ways that businesses are staying afloat through the continuing health crisis.

Leaning On Loyalty

One of the first ways that businesses are keeping their doors open is by relying on the loyalty of the customers that they already have. Right now, you might want to consider doing more of this, rather than trying to win over new clients. Winning new clients is going to be more expensive and more time consuming than falling back on customers that you have already claimed. There are lots of ways to gain the interest of loyal customers to your business. For instance, you can use email marketing to provide value directly to them and remind them why they chose your business in the first place.

Credit Options

Next, you might want to explore different credit options for your business. If you are struggling to maintain revenue levels then it’s possible that credit is going to be the only way that you are able to keep the lights on. You might be wary of borrowing to keep your business going. However, it’s going to be a calculated risk. Under the right circumstances, payday loans and similar credit options can be the lifeline that you need. You just need to make sure that you are aware of the interest and when you will need to pay the money back.  The government also provide support for businesses you can view here the Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to businesses.

Downsizing

Other companies are surviving simply by reducing the size of their business. One of the ways that you can do this is by cutting down your team of staff. No business wants to reduce staff numbers, particularly when it’s nearing the end of the year. However, there’s no denying that this is ultimately going to end up saving you a lot of money. You might also want to consider operating from home with your business if you are not already exploring this option. It will immediately cut all the costs that your business office brings.

Reinvention

Finally, you might want to consider whether there are any ways that you can reinvent your business this year to ensure that it’s a better fit for the current climate. The obvious example of this would be home deliveries. A lot of stores on the high street are now putting a stronger focus on ensuring that they can deliver to the homes of their customers. While you might not have the team in place to do this, there are logistics solutions that can help. Approached correctly, you can increase your profits, even as you pay for the services of another company.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key ways that you can keep your small business afloat even during this tumultuous time for industries and different sectors. With the right strategies in place, you won’t be one of the next companies forced to close their doors.

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The retirement triple-threat facing women


The retirement triple-threat facing women

Why health, wealth and longevity are the three factors putting women
at a disadvantage in later life

Having been a working mother (my children have all flown the nest now), I know how strong our focus can be on the contributions that we need to make to our families. From ensuring they have the latest football kit to saving for our children’s university education – we often place our family’s needs before our own. Yet, there’s a very big reason we should be looking more closely at the contributions we need to make to ourselves to protect our long-term financial future. Women typically live longer than men and may have a smaller pension pot, therefore we need to plan accordingly to make our money last.

While longevity sounds like a blessing, we wouldn’t want to be unwell and struggling financially during our later-life years or become a burden on our children who we had prioritised earlier in our lives. But many of us run the risk that this will be our future. A 40-year-old woman has a one in four chance of living to age 96, and a one in ten chance of living to 1001. Better healthcare and positive lifestyle changes have helped to raise life expectancies across the board, but as women, we are still likely to live longer than men. And with several studies finding that more men than women have died from COVID-19, the life expectancy gap could widen further from here.

The gender pension gulf 

With this in mind, we not only need our pensions to last longer, we also generally have smaller pension pots which is a bad combination. We already know that women typically retire with one-fifth of the pension wealth of men2. New analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that, when life expectancy is taken into account, the gender pensions gap could be as much as £108,130 for single women, and £186,120 for women who are married or in a relationship3.

Because we tend to live longer, women are also more likely to end up in single-person households later in life. This could add further to our financial pressures because it can be much more expensive to run a household of one, covering all bills alone.

Will you be healthy enough to work longer? 

Adding to this, the State Pension age is rising, which means many people who will rely on this government payment will have to work longer before they can claim it. With this, there’s no guarantee your health will support you working into your later years.

For example, some women may have taken their first job at 16. If you’re planning on working until your late 60s or early 70s, that’s a lot of years in the workforce – you might well be feeling burnt out or struggling with health issues. As early as your mid-40s or early 50s, you could be suffering from symptoms of the menopause, such as ‘brain fog’, which can make it tough for some women to continue working at the pace they once did.

You may want to drop to part-time hours or get a job with less responsibility to take some of the pressure off, even if it just for a few years. But will you be able to afford this flexibility?

Same-sex couples face triple whammy 

For women in same-sex relationships, you may think that your joint longevity will give you a long and happy retirement together. But in fact, you could actually face a triple whammy of challenges. For example, if you both take a period of maternity leave, this could impact your earning power and pension contributions. You may actually need to work longer and face the risk of health conditions spread over a longer length of time.

Luckily, there are things that we can all do to increase our chances of a financially secure life, however long you live. If you do nothing else, have a think about what you want your future to look like. Do an appraisal of all your long-term savings plans, rounding up any small savings pots you may have forgotten about over time. Sit down and have a chat with a financial adviser to see how things are actually looking for your retirement years. Taking into account the money you’ve already saved, and your capacity to save over the coming years – an adviser can model a likely outcome.

For more information or advice on planning retirement, please visit https://www.sjp.co.uk/products-and-services/retirement

1 ONS life expectancy calculator, accessed 7 September 2020
2 Securing the Financial Future of the Next Generation, Insuring Women’s Futures and Chartered Insurance Institute, 2018
3 Centre for Economics and Business Research, September 2020

About the author

The retirement triple-threat facing women

Sharon Bonfield, Commercial Research Specialist, St James’s Place Wealth Management (https://www.sjp.co.uk/)

 

Curating Your Professional Image In The Best Possible Light


Curating Your Professional Image In The Best Possible Light

To the extent that you can, it’s important to curate your personal brand in a manner that helps you feel enthusiastic about what you have to offer. Most of us feel this if it has been left unattended for too long, mostly when attending a job interview. Then all of our skills are laid bare – how well we sell ourselves, how smart we can dress for work, and how personable we may be.

Curating your professional image in the best possible light is a means in which to refine who you are, and how you present yourself in a professional setting. You don’t have to be perfect, of course. A little bit of style and substance is much more important than thinking you have to fit a particular mold. That being said, curating your professional image also means becoming more digestible and impressive to other people.

It’s not about status and blowing people away. We mean to say that a good handshake and confident eye contact is more important than pulling into the driveway in an expensive Mercedes.

Let’s consider what else is important in this setting:

Clothing & Accessories

To be seen as professional you must look professional. This often means that wearing smart clothing is important. From investing in good, well-fitting (this is the most important part) clothes that help you showcase yourself as someone who knows how to put an outfit together is worthwhile. No matter if purchasing shirts, trousers, skirts, ties, blazers, or smart-casual sports jackets and excellent glasses from eyeglasses.com, make sure your arrangement is tasteful, and denotes how you wish to be seen as a professional person.

Stature, Presence, Confidence

Of course, it’s not all about how you look to others through your clothing choices. It’s enough to stand up straight with your shoulders back and greet people forthrightly. Having some presence and confidence about you can seem like a nerve-wracking necessity at first, but this practice is actually quite enjoyable once you keep it up. Learn how to keep eye contact, hold a proper handshake (after Covid-protective norms cease), and to address people by the name you have done your utmost to remember. Little tidbits like this really do matter.

Correspondance & Portfolio

Of course, image is more than just clothes and how good your posture is. We may consider how our website looks to others, and what our portfolio shows. Curating a website with instances of your work, your testimonials, and maybe even a list of the people you wish to be known for residing next to can be a fantastic use of your time – and it may even push you forward professionally. Furthermore, curating your correspondence is a good idea, because it helps you come across more professionally to others. For instance, brevity, that is speaking with import but without using too many words, can be appreciated by those you have to talk to often.

With this advice, you’ll no doubt curate your professional image in the best possible light.

This is How Goals Get You to Where You Want to be in Life


This is How Goals Get You to Where You Want to be in Life

If you have ever set goals but somehow not managed to achieve them, you are not alone. What tends to happen is people don’t bother to set goals again as they stopped believing it can help. However, once you learn how to set goals correctly, you will discover that actually, they are a vital step for helping you to get where you want to be in life.

A Road Map

Think of goals as a road map, if you are going somewhere you’ve never been before, you would either get a map or in the modern world use sat nav. Now, there is no such thing as a sat nav for life, no little automated voice telling you where to go next, it’s all on you. But you can certainly make a paper map by setting goals and learn how to use your goals to achieve and reach your destination. The mistake people make is to make generalised sweeping statements such as ‘I want to buy a house by the end of next year’, ‘my business needs to grow three-fold in six months’. While these are perfect end goals what often gets missed are the steps you will need to take to actually get there.

SMART Goals

It might be an old acronym, and some people roll their eyes when they see it, but SMART goal setting does work because it reminds us not to skip steps and helps with keeping a focus.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Realistic

T: Timely

So, going back to the example of purchasing a house within a year, if that is as far as you take your goal, it can be quite disheartening and remain out of reach. The months tick by and before you know it, you’ve reached your deadline and still don’t own a property. Using the SMART method, you would define your goal and then break it down into measurable, achievable and realistic steps that all come with a time limit. So, maybe you will need to get advice about a mortgage, work out where your deposit is coming from, look at clearing down any long-term debt that may affect the amount you can borrow, and various other steps. Standing at the foot of a mountain looking up may leave you feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Adding smart goals is equivalent to carving steps into the side of the mountain that make it much easier to climb. Ensuring each step is something you can achieve and manageable means you will be more likely to hit your target rather than pushing it to one side because it seems totally overwhelming.

Goals Are Important

In the current global climate, goals are even more important than ever, and they are teaching us that we have to think outside the box when we hit a roadblock. No one saw the pandemic coming, and no one is prepared to deal with it, but gradually we are finding ways to work around and still make progress in our lives. So, if you’ve ever failed with goals, why not try again using the smart methodology?

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Parents in Business Magazine Issue 10


Parents in Business Magazine Issue 10

Welcome to the Parents in Business magazine

Where has the year gone? It’s that time of year again, and it’s come round quicker than ever. This is the last issue for 2020. And it’s packed full of guidance from industry experts and inspirational stories from real-life parent business owners.

Joanne Dewberry explores why networking is still key for small businesses. Consumer PR expert Fiona Minett gives practical, actionable steps on how to get your business seen this Christmas.

This issues special feature focuses on social media and why it’s so important parents share with us their top social media tips.

We are shining the small business spotlight on Donna Anderton  Donna Herts Social.

We have inspirational interviews with Sunita Harley, a mother of 2 who is a Coach and Professional Development Consultant, Lucky Things®.  John Hudson, CEO of Hudson Procurement Group and Tommy Balaam, Founder of Captain Fantastic, who speaks about how his business was affected by COVID and how he has had to change his business model to adjust.

Whether you are thinking of starting a business or own a business, the Parents in Business Magazine offers the best advice to support you on your business journey.

SHONA CHAMBERS

MARKETING CONSULTANT

Shona Chambers is a Marketing Consultant and owner of Shona Chambers Marketing, a Marketing Agency based in Nunhead near Peckham. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.

*Photo credit Portrayed Photography

www.spaceat61.com

 

 JOANNE DEWBERRY

AUTHOR, SAGE BUSINESS EXPERT

 Joanne, Author, Sage Business Expert and multi-award-winning, 30 something coffee lover lives in rural Dorset with her long-suffering partner and three children. When she isn’t writing or networking, she is partial to a bag of crisps and a crime drama.

 www.joannedewberry.co.uk

 

KIMBERLEY MASON

DIRECTOR OF INCREDIBLY COOL EVENTS AND THE KIDS FESTIVAL

Kimberley Mason mother, wife, and chocoholic. Kim is an event specialist, businessperson, compere, and presenter. Born in North Yorkshire and now living in Staffordshire, she’s passionate about empowering people through events. After the COVID-19 pandemic also delayed the initial launch of The Kids’ Festival, Kimberley is committed to delivering it even bigger and better in 2021.

www.incrediblycoolevents.co.uk

 

FIONA MINETT

CONSUMER PR EXPERT

Fiona Minett is a Consumer PR Expert and long-time supporter of small business.  She spent six years running Peachy PR, an agency specialising in working with small businesses and start-ups and helped her clients make their mark through canny PR.  Now, she wants to help you do the same.

www.bossyourpr.com

 

JACQUIE LAWES

BRANDING EXPERT & DESIGNER AT BAILEY & ROO

Jacquie Lawes is a branding expert and designer with over 15 years expertise in product branding, from visual merchandising and creative content production to branding identity and packaging design. Jacquie works with other creative females entrepreneurs and product based businesses to take you from feeling like a hobbyist to having a successful business doing what you love and attracting the right clients with a luxury brand experience.

www.baileyandroo.com

READ ISSUE 10 HERE

3 Reasons Why Branding Is Important For Your Business


3 Reasons Why Branding Is Important For Your Business

As a business, you have to think about branding in the most important way. Branding can literally be everything to a company, which is why if you don’t get it right, you may notice that you start to fall behind.

To try and convince you of the importance of branding, we thought we would take a look at three ways that branding is, without question, one of the most important elements of your business.

  1. Branding = Recognition

Branding is absolutely vital for your business because it is how you generate recognition for your company. You want your consumers to identify your brand based on an image or a logo, something which is quick and easy to remember. This logo becomes the face of the company, so it’s really important to have one.

Think about the logo for Apple devices. It is recognisable, it’s simple, and it has become synonymous with iPhones and iPads all across the world. That is an example of branding at its best, providing the company with an instantly recognisable trademark.

  1. Branding = Business Value

Branding is a very helpful tool to have available when it comes to generating future business. The business value of your company will increase if you have a recognisable and very strongly established logo or brand.

The brand of your business will help to increase your value and make sure that you have a stronger presence within your industry. This, in turn, opens up the business to potential investment opportunities and makes sure that customers will pick your company over a rival.

  1. Branding = Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is definitely one of the most important things that you need to be thinking about as the employer. Your company has to perform well, even in the most challenging situations, and if you are a branded company, with a logo that is recognisable and quite well-known, this does have an effect on employees.

An employee will definitely be motivated to do better work, try harder, and to take more pride in the fact that they are working for a prestigious brand. Think about the creators of Apple devices, for example. These are people who are working for one of the most influential technology brands on the planet, and that’s going to have an impact on their overall efficiency and workplace satisfaction.

In conclusion, it’s not difficult to see that branding is one of the most important things for your business. Branding provides you with massive benefits if you properly implement it into your everyday routine, but this is where people fall down just a little. Unfortunately, what a lot of people fail to do is provide the type of branding that will ultimately set them apart from rivals in the industry. It is your job to create a brand, stand by it and heavily promote it, so whenever people pick up one of the products that you sell, they instantly know that it’s yours and that it is well designed, built for a purpose, and highly effective. That’s the dream that you want to aim for.

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Revolutionise Your Home Business With This Advice


Revolutionise Your Home Business With This Advice

It all starts with an idea. Something that consumes you and spirals out of control in your mind. A business that you think you can bring forward and work towards to make it great. You start, and you can see that this is the right move for you. But working from home and starting a new business has its challenges. After all, you are just one person with a dream. So what can you do? Here are some of the ways that you can revolutionise your home business.

Keep it running even when you are not around

One of the big things that people come up against when it comes to having a home business is not knowing whether they can be present at their business 100% of the time. The main thing to remember is that you are one person, and there will be times when you are sleeping or away from it, but yet your business still needs to function or be seen. This is when using things like chatbots, or live chat options can help. You can get further information online, but it can enable things like frequently asked questions to be responded to in real-time. You could also look at improving SEO on your website to ensure that it is seen in search engine results all of the time.

Have a dedicated area to work

When working from home, it is hard to distinguish between working and home life, and this is when it can get difficult, so creating a dedicated area to work can be the answer. You may want to have an area of your home where your computer and paperwork can live, or even turn a room into an office if you have the space. This allows you to step away from work and keep a bit more control between working life and home life.

Productive time management

Time management is key when you have a business from home. You may think that you have all the time in the world, but in actual fact, you can be counterproductive, especially when there are distractions. Understanding when you work more productively is key. This might be in the mornings, at night, or when children are at school, for example. The more you manage yourself with time and use it more effectively, the more you will feel you get done.

Value your own time 

Finally, make sure that you place a value on your time. You are one person, after all, and often cannot do everything, especially as your business progresses and expands. This is when outsourcing can prove valuable. You can look at using an outsourced person or freelancer for anything from social media management to website development. Focus on the areas where you can make the most difference. You might also want to look at employing someone in the future to handle aspects of the business that need focus and attention, such as accounts.

Let’s hope that these tips help you to revolutionise your home business.

Habits to Improve Productivity


Habits to Improve Productivity

While running a business and perhaps working from home are goals many of us aspire to, it also means that there is a much bigger pressure to motivate, time manage, and keep our productivity going. If you do have a home office, there are many distractions which can easily take your attention, and even if you go to work in a different location being the boss means it is easy to make excuses and perhaps not be as productive as we should be. Don’t worry, you’re not alone it happens to most people at some time, but we can develop some new habits that will help to improve productivity so read on.

Remove Temptation

Let’s start with the obvious one, most of us have our social media accounts signed into our phone, our computers, and this can be a serious distraction. It is important that we are disciplined enough to put away our personal communication tools and focus on our business instead. By all means, check your social media and catch up at coffee time or lunchtime, but otherwise, you need to be strict and leave them alone. There are apps available, for example, self-control which can block various programmes like Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube that may be proving distracting during office hours.

Move Your Day Earlier, or Later

Most people are either early birds or night owls, musically and learning which one you are can help you add hours of productivity to your day in just a few minutes. Functioning in the morning is not my favourite task, so I reserved this time for exercise and meditation. The payoff for that is working into the evening but psychologically rather than seeing this as a chore I have just restructured my day to better suit my own working style. If you are an early bird, see if you can get up a bit earlier and get your chores and other bits done, so you’re at your desk ready to go.

Plan Your Day

Rather than seeing what happens, it makes more sense to try and plan your day, or even your week. Again, there is plenty of software available from full-blown project management like Trello to something simpler like Todoist, which enable you to track your tasks and prioritise them. Being organised apps with productivity and also offers you a sense of satisfaction as you take items off the list when they are complete.

Don’t Skip Breaks

This can be really tempting when you are mega busy, but it’s also a really bad idea. In order for the brain to work well, it needs fuel, and this means you have to eat throughout the day. It is also better if these can be healthy meals with fruit and vegetables rather than something pre-prepared, commercially produced and grabbed on the go as you race down the High Street to catch the post office. High carb lunches can also create a slump a couple of hours later where you really feel like you just want to go to sleep. So, have a lighter, more protein-based lunch, and you should find yourself more awake. Remember to drink plenty of water, as although caffeine may offer a short term boost it is actually dehydrating, which is not good for the brain.

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Purchasing A New Car? Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of


Purchasing A New Car? Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

It’s very possible to be taken advantage of in any form of sale or purchase, but the effects of this are perhaps much worse when it involves a vehicle we have bought. After all, most people rely on their cars as a vital means of transportation and often transport their families with them.

This means that vehicles that are in worse condition than described, or perhaps paying over the odds for a vehicle that isn’t worth such a pricepoint can feel so much more insidious. To counteract this, learning the most you can about the particular make and model, how to carefully inspect a vehicle when you come to purchase it, and learning how to spot a deceptive salesperson can be important.

But how can you practice these skills in the best possible context? To what degree will they work? And what do you do when in the presence of a suspected shoddy seller? With the following advice, we hope you can find out more easily.

Speak To Verified, Reliable Dealers

Speaking to reliable and verified vehicle dealers can help you avoid feeling nervous when walking into a dealership, and ultimately coming away with something anything less than perfect for your needs. This is why the best local Audi dealer will often ask you questions and help you feel comfortable browsing for a vehicle – they know this should be enjoyable, and fully informative. Finding the best-reviewed dealer in your local area can be a great start, as is speaking to those dealerships dedicated to preferred brands as we have already suggested.

Understand What Additions You Need

It’s a good idea to consider what additions you need as part of a potential vehicle going forward. This will help you avoid being upsold. It might be that you do have use of a carbon fibre addition, or differently textured seats, or more. However, if you’re not sure if you need or do not need these, it’s quite easy to be upsold and end up coming away with a more expensive vehicle than you may have wished for. If you understand just what your limits are, and what additions you may or may not need (through prior research), you can be more direct with your decision-making.

Consider Your Practical Uses

What will you use the vehicle for? It’s fine if you’re not 100% sure about what vehicle you most wish to drive, or what manufacturer you’re most fond of, but you likely know what kind of driving habits you’ll use it for. What prior driving experiences have you had? What models in the past have helped you make use of these driving habits in the best manner? Are you looking for a new experience, or to completely replicate the old? Are you moving to a more mountainous area? The questions specific to you can determine the vehicle you ultimately drive off with.

With this advice, we hope you can more easily purchase a new car, all while avoiding the chance of being taken advantage of.

Four Tips To Outsource Successfully For Your Business


Four Tips To Outsource Successfully For Your Business

Outsourcing the right way is important to make it a successful venture for your business. No matter where your business is, it can always benefit from using the resources that come from outsourcing, so here are four tips to outsource successfully for your business.

Think About What You’re After

Firstly, you want to consider what it is that needs outsourcing before you go looking for it. There’s pretty much anything and everything out there whether you’re looking for an individual to take on the work or a company. There are lots to consider, and one thing to factor in that will help you decide what needs outsourcing is what wastes the most time and resources in-house? There will certainly be a number of things that staff members are doing, and that might be taking up more of their time than is necessary. With that being said, that might be the perfect thing that can help you as a business to free up the time you didn’t have and find different areas of the business to re-focus it on. Look at what’s working for you and with your workforce and what is the best outsourcing to other companies or individuals in order to lighten the load somewhat. Check it out to see one example of a product that you could outsource.

Assign A Budget

A budget is an important aspect to cover for whatever element in business, and outsourcing is significantly cheaper than having to hire someone full-time or even part-time within the business. When you’re hiring internally, you’re making yourself more responsibilities, and financially, you might not want to be tied in, in that way at this point. Look at what you can offer as a budget for this outsourcing and that way, you can find the right options out there that are going to match what you’re after but with what you can afford.

Compare Companies/Individuals

The next important thing that’s worth doing is comparing companies and individuals when picking through your options. You don’t want to rush into finding someone but then to realise that you probably could have found someone more affordable or experienced than the one you have. As much as you can have more freedom and flexibility, every time you make the wrong decision in outsourcing, it means wastage in time and money.

Be Wary Of Needing To Change To Full-Time

Outsourcing is a great way of a company saving money in the short-term and long-term if it’s a job that doesn’t need that much attention. However, there are cases where an outsourcing task will build up to the point where it becomes more expensive than actually hiring someone full-time. Be wary of that happening so that you can make that transition sooner, rather than later. It means you won’t be wasting any more money than you have to when it comes to outsourcing.

Outsourcing is a great option for your business, so take advantage of it.

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