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10 things to amuse adults on rainy days

Sunny Blackpool

I have not blogged for a few weeks for two reasons I have been really busy – plus I was waiting for my website before carrying on with the routine. BUT

I have just been on Twitter and all I have heard all week are complaints about the weather, we are British for heaven’s sake, why does it still shock us that the heating is still on in June.

Coupled with that, it has been the school holidays and there is always that dilemma – how do you keep the kids entertained when it’s raining? Er the same as you would when it is sunny but with a coat!! I have given up drying my hair this week and let it go au naturel a la Monica in the humidity!

It seems to me it’s the adults that need some inspiration as to how to keep themselves amused so here goes…..

  1. You know when you complain you never have time to complete your to do list……. now would be that time
  2. Have you got 3 unread books by the side of your bed?   Read them
  3. Did you get around to your spring cleaning?  Have a tidy out, clean those cupboards
  4. Have you refused to embrace Twitter, Facebook or Linked In through lack of time…. set up your account, warning can become addictive and waste hours in the future
  5. Switch off the TV (it’s only sport for the next 3 months) and learn something new, everyone I speak to wants to try something different or learn a new skill but ‘never have the opportunity
  6. Start writing your book – most people I know have a story to tell
  7. Do your admin – there is always some admin to do or paperwork to shred
  8. Talk to your family – TV off have a good old fashioned heated debate – that is not about England’s chances in the Euros.  Suggested topics, UFOs, ghosts, politics, the Royal Family
  9. Book onto Alan’s photography workshops
  10. Make mid year’s resolutions

Who knows, when the book you wrote sells out or the debate you had with your kids inspired them to think differently or grow up a bit more, or when your brand takes off in 6 months because you understand Twitter – will you be so resentful of the Great British weather!!

As for me – what an opporutnity to finally write all my own Copy now I have done everyone elses!

Caroline

Introduction to Confidentiality Agreements

contract

Image courtesy of NobMouse 

If you are considering seeking advice on a business idea or going into a joint venture, you may need to protect sensitive information or intellectual property.  The easiest way to do this is to enter into a confidentiality agreement with the other party.

The 2 main names attributed to such an arrangement are:

  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Non-disclosure agreement

When to use a Confidentiality agreement

During business negotiations that mean you may have to reveal sensitive commercial information to another party such as:

  • Consultancy
  • Purchases, transfers and sales of intellectual property
  • Joint commercial ventures
  • Distribution agreements
  • Tenders
  • Buying or selling a business

To assist with some of these common business communications, there are proformas available online at Simply Docs.   However, it is strongly advisable to seek legal advice when drawing up an agreement.

The type of information that is deemed as sensitive are; client lists, suppliers, financial information.  intellectual property also falls into this category, details of designs, inventions, books etc.  If you have to discuss intellectual property then it would be advisable to issue a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to relevant personnel for them to read and sign prior to any meeting taking place.

If someone breaks the terms of the agreement an application could be made to a court for an injunction to prevent the other party disclosing the information.

This would be  a matter for the civil courts.  If you or your business suffers a loss as a result you could be eligible to seek compensation.

For further information, contact your local commercial legal representative

There are also guidelines on Law Donut on disputes over intellectual property

Caroline

Marketing Your Small Business

Marketing Your Small Business

DSC_0041

The next few columns will focus on marketing.  This is because it is so overlooked by small businesses and undervalued.  It is also a major topic with many different facets, too many to cover in a short article.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the way in which a business communicates with its existing and potential customers.  To concentrate all your efforts on just your existing customers, or just your potential ones is a mistake.  Existing customers should be looked after and their problems should be solved by your product or service.  New customers need to know, firstly that you exist and secondly, what you are offering and thirdly, what’s in it for them if they buy from you.

Here is a list of some common mistakes made by small businesses

  • Putting together a website that is not easy to read or navigate and with poor quality images
  • Poorly written copy on websites with spelling mistakes
  • Advertising only a mobile phone number on primary business stationery, such as business cards
  • Relying on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) only advertising and hoping that all potential customers will find the site and instantly become customers
  • Not having a realistic budget for promoting the business, or in some cases no budget
  • Using social media inappropriately
  • Carrying out no market research (this even applies to existing businesses)
  • Not recognising that much marketing and promotion has to be carried out before enquiries convert into regular paying customers
  • Preoccupation with what the business is selling and not what the customer is buying
  • Being too technical or using too much jargon in the copy
  • Using home produced marketing literature

Therefore if you are not using the right methods of communication, or are not communicating at all, or are using language that most people outside your industry do not understand, then straight away your message is not being heard.  The result will be, your business is not getting many customers, you get disheartened and eventually give up.

Marketing is simply reaching out to your customers in a language they can understand, through various channels, giving your business more time to build its brand. More importantly marketing has to be carried out regularly so your messages are consistent and hard to ignore!

The Road to Wembley

Nothing much is happening in the North West of England today.  A few horses are running at Aintree and a few blokes are travelling to London to kick a ball around.

WHAT?

Anyone who is close to Merseyside knows that sport is a religion.  You can’t help but want to get involved in the camaraderie, the atmosphere and the banter that preceeds a competetive event.

The momenutm is building.  Everton take on Liverpool in the FA Cup semi final, I personally hate it, but the Grand National will stop the Nation at 3pm.  In a few weeks we will be watching the European football tournament, with high hopes (probably that will be dashed within 14 days) closely followed by the Olympics.

Why is sport so revered?  What is it about us that dedicates such energy, passion and money to following these pursuits?

We are primitive beings at heart, we like to compete, or rather don’t want to take the risk of competing ourselves, so love to get behind those that do.

This is wonderful for the economy and the sports people concerned.  Rarely do we turn that passion to ourselves.  Do we work day in day out to perfect our game?  Do we strive to continually improve even when we are performing well?  Do we make sacrifices to be top of our game?  We don’t really, that is why we are inspired by those that do.

But for those of us in self employment, maybe we should adopt our own Olympia, build our own arena and always aim high.  It would be one way to improve our economy and take action in spite of what governments take away from us and enjoy that rare feeling, self belief.

I feel that there is something special about our region.  Most of the premiership teams are from the North West, many of our great musicians are from Liverpool and Manchester and we have produced fine sportsmen, artists and authors.  We are also very entrepreneurial.

Best of all, we never take ourselves too seriously

Enjoy today, whether you are going to Aintree or Wembley and be proud of your roots.

Caroline

Friday the 13th Unlucky for You?

If you are superstitious, today will see you paying extra attention to what you do for fear of attracting bad luck.

But what is luck?  Do you truly believe that luck happens to you, that you are in the right place at the right time by pure chance?  Maybe you believe in fate, that something ‘told’ you to act in a certain way and you call this luck.

This sort of philosophy is always very subjective.  For me it depends on your starting point.

If you were born into a priviledged lifestyle and were brought up with the finer things in life, money, love, support, then it takes more to please you.  Good things will happen to you and you won’t always appreciate them.  Something slightly negative happens and it could really upset you and you may call it bad luck.  The same negative thing could happen to someone else, who had not necessarily had experienced much good fortune and to them it could be seen as a positive, or not that much of a setback

So to understand how you perceive opportunities that present themselves to you depends on which perspective you are looking from.  When bad things happen to me, I never consider it bad luck, but something that was meant to teach me a lesson and I always, where possible try to pull a positive from it if I can.  Call it survival or an optimistic outlook.

Optimism and pessimism plays a part.  If you always see the negative side you will naturally feel unlucky, if you always look on the bright side, you will always feel lucky

I firmly believe you create your own luck.  Yes something may happen ‘to’ you which you deem fortunate, but you will have played a part somewhere.  You win the lottery – you had to buy a ticket.  You get headhunted for a fantastic job, you worked hard and got noticed.  You secure a business deal, you had to convince someone you were right for the job.

Undoubtedly we all know some people who seem to breeze through life, hardly trying and our perception is that things just fall into their lap, but these are the individuals who live on the edge, take risks and trust their instincts.  Something many of us are afraid to do

Similarly with bad luck, we also play a role, by not doing something, accepting the status quo and avoiding risk.

So next time you find yourself bemoaning your ‘bad luck’.  Think where you started from, is there something positive in the middle of it?  And – what part did you play in it?

Caroline

Lets Not Talk Business

Today’s Blog finds me in a philosophical mood

I have met many people this week and spent quite a lot of time with them at each meeting.  Getting to know people is what I enjoy the most about my working life.  Ordinary people, who have such interesting stories to tell.  I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t suffered in some way.  One client in particular left an impression on me, every day to her is an uphill battle, but she gets on with it and works tirelessly to help others.  I am sure she has days where she screams, cries, thinks “Why me?” But we don’t get to see that.

Yet as humans we have a tendency to be judgemental.  Three times this subject has come up today.  One was a saying on Facebook, the other two were stories from two women who reported similar experiences of being treated like dirt because they were being judged, both by the same government organisation, which over time had eroded their self worth and confidence.

Remember if someone you have encountered recently has been ‘off’ with you, or the next time you catch yourself making a snap judgement, we are all human, most of us are decent and hard working, supporting each other is much more beneficial for the soul than putting people down in your thoughts.  It is easy to look at someone who is homeless for example and believe that they are a bad person.  I was told several stories today about young people, in particular a young boy, who had been thrown onto the streets by his family and had to live rough for two years at the age of fourteen.  He had not done anything wrong, I won’t go into details but he has worked hard to get a job, get a flat and wears a suit.  Just because he had to endure the worst of circumstances does not make him worthy of derision.

As you get less hung up about everyone else, you get less insecure about yourself and the resulting sense of liberation means you can focus on living your life, enjoying the challenges, celebrating successes and learning from the mistakes.  That is what makes you interesting and gives you a story to tell, which makes you INSPIRING.

Caroline