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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Introducing my new business titles: Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase and Your Guide to Starting and Building your Business

Liz with her new books

Liz with her new books

It’s time to tell the world: I have two new books out, and I’m pleased to share the news with my readers and subscribers.

Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase: Who are you Calling Mature?” is a look at what happens next. Following on from “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment: Going it Alone at 40“, it shares what I’ve learned about optimising your customer base (including saying no to prospective new business), optimising your income, keeping that vital work-life balance, and blogging and the use of social media to build awareness and grow your business. It’s had some good feedback both personally and on its Amazon review page and I’m really pleased to be able to help people further along their journey through the wonderful world of self-employment and running a small business.

You can buy the print or e-book version from Amazon – you can go straight to Amazon UK, or see the book’s web page for links to the other international Amazons, and buy in different formats including pdf and for Kobo at Smashwords.

I decided to put “Your Guide to Starting and Building your Business” together to offer a low-cost option for people who want to read both books. It’s on e-book only at the moment, and is an omnibus made up for “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment” and “Running a Successful Business after the Start-up Phase” which takes you right through from how to decide whether to go self-employed, taking the first steps, perhaps while working in a day job, setting up your business, getting your first customers, working out which customers to continue working with, using blogging and social media platforms and getting your life back while running a successful business. I really do write this blog and these books to help people, so I’m really pleased to be able to put this package together at a decent price, and it’s so great when I hear how I have helped people!

You can buy the e-book only omnibus from Amazon UK and other versions of Amazon (see list of links), and for all e-book formats, from Smashwords.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me in my writing efforts – I’m so glad when I hear how I’ve helped people, and hope that I can continue to do so for many years to come. Watch this space for my new venture – an editors’ version of the two books and a workbook to go with both sets of books, based on the mentoring I’ve been doing with some industry colleagues this year.

If you’re interested in how I got to this point, do pop over to my Adventures in Reading, Writing and Working From Home blog, where I talk more personally about writing the books and choosing (and tweaking) their titles.

And you can find info on all of my books on the Liz Broomfield Books website!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Business, Ebooks, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Developing your Business: Moving Into Office Space – How, When and Why?

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookAs part of my series on growing your business., we’re taking a look today at the expert’s view on moving into office space. You can read about other people’s personal experience of moving out of the home office here, and today I’m delighted to welcome Sam Barnes from Easy Offices, who is going to run through things to think about when upgrading from your home office from an expert’s perspective.

Many people choose to start their businesses from home. It’s cheap, convenient and comfortable. For some businesses, that’s all that’s required and they never feel the need to break out of the home office. For the majority of businesses though, office space becomes an essential as revenues grow. We’ve helped all manner of businesses find office space, from single person start-ups to massive corporations. However, there’s no doubt that with the advice you’re about to read, the process of selecting and moving into your brand new office, will be made substantially easier.

Why does my business need office space?

Your office space is the centre of your business.

Without offices, you’re running the risk of not being taken seriously by other businesses or consumers. Imagine if the next time you wanted to go the bank you ended up at a home, not an office. Commercial premises are a necessity of business.

The practical side of getting your own office space is extremely important too. You’ll have your own phone systems, postal address and meeting space. All of these things will be vital as you grow your business, providing the infrastructure that will drive you forward.

When should my small business move into offices?

This is a slightly more difficult question to answer. There are lots of reasons that you might need to look into choosing office space:

•    You’re outgrowing your existing office space.
•    You’re taking on more staff.
•    You need a meeting room for clients.
•    There are too many distractions at home.
•    You’re unsatisfied with your current office space.
•    You need better facilities, i.e. better internet, private rooms, reception area etc.

There could be hundreds more reasons on this list, but the vast majority of office moves are instigated by a lack of physical space, specifically when taking on more staff.

If you find yourself thinking, on more than one occasion a day, that a bigger office would make your work more effective or allow your business to grow more easily, then I would say it’s time to take the plunge!

As your revenue grows, you’ll find that justifying the cost of an office becomes easier and easier. Having the cash to be able to fund an office move is an absolute necessity.

How do I go about choosing office space?

There are three main kinds of office space available to small businesses in the current market:

1.    Co-Working Office Space

Co-working spaces can be a great fit for some businesses. They’re the cheapest of the three main options available. Essentially you’ll rent a couple of desks in a room or part of a larger office. This gives you the ability to separate your work and home lives while keeping costs low while your businesses is in the early stage of development.

You’ll never know who you might be sharing with and you can make some amazing new businesses contacts while sharing office space. We’ve heard lots of fantastic success stories about relationships formed in shared environments. Equally you’ll want to know before you choose a certain office, what kinds of businesses you’ll be working alongside. If you need a really quiet environment, make sure those around you feel the same.

You’ll also have access to shared mail, printing and catering facilities.

If you’ve only got a couple of staff and you work as one well-oiled machine, a co-working space would be ideal.

2.    Serviced Office Space

Serviced office space is more expensive than co-working office space, but not quite as expensive as a full-blown office lease.

It’s the perfect choice for companies with a few staff who need room to grow. You’ll have a dedicated space for your business (no co-working here). You’ll have all the kitchen, printing and mail facilities that I mentioned before, plus some added features. These normally include security, some kind of reception area, cleaning services and usually the ability to rent extra infrastructure such as improved internet connections.

You’ll get to put your own stamp on things too! The simple branding of your office through posters, mugs and pens can turn the feeling in your office from start-up to established business.

A fantastic choice for businesses growing quickly who know they’re going to need space to meet clients and further expand their operations.

3.    Office Lease

The only option for larger businesses, an office lease lets you rent an entire office. This is necessary when your business has outgrown your existing solutions or needs to centralise.
As this post relates to small businesses, I won’t go into too much detail here. What I will say is that you’ll need to be making substantial revenues before choosing a fully leased office. The costs involved are substantially higher than serviced or shared offices.

Some Top Tips for Choosing Office Space

Here are a few questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before making your choice to move offices:

•    Price – Can you afford it?
•    Space – Does the office you’re looking at give you enough room for meeting clients and working as a team?
•    Infrastructure – Do you need a dedicated phone line and Internet? Does the office you’re interested in office this as a service or do you have to organise it yourself?
•    Facilities – Can you and your staff park here if they drive? Are the kitchens clean?

They might sound like simple, fairly obvious questions, but if you fail to take one of these things into account you’ll be paying for it for months to come.

The best advice I can give you when attempting to choose an office space, is do your research.

Start out with a list of criteria that you need from your office. If any one of the office spaces you go to look at doesn’t meet even one of them, keep looking. There’s a space out there for everyone!

sam barnesSam Barnes is from Easy Offices.

The company works tirelessly to help businesses of all shapes and sizes find the perfect office space for their needs. He is interested in everything small business related with a particular interest in marketing. He works in the digital marketing sphere.

Outside work, he’s an avid football fan, with Arsenal being his lifelong obsession. He also has a passion for music and film. He’s currently rattling through the IMDB top 100 as a personal challenge.

You can also find Easy Offices on Twitter.

This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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Do I need editing or proofreading?

Do I need editing or proofreading - pens and inkNew authors who come to me for editing or proofreading services are often confused about the difference between the two. This is probably because what we in the business call ‘editing’ is called ‘proofreading’ in the outside world. But they are two different things, and this article aims to help you to choose which service you need.

Do you need line / copy editing, substantive editing or proofreading services? Read on to find out the difference and work out whether you need to ask your editor (whether that’s me or somebody else) for proofreading or editing?

What is editing?

Editing is all about the words and content of your book – not its layout and presentation.

Editing is usually done in Word, using the Track Changes feature so that your editor can mark up suggested deletions, additions and changes, as well as making comments about various aspects of the text, and you can see exactly what they’re suggesting and choose whether you accept or reject the changes.

What is line editing / copy-editing / editing?

Line editing, or straight editing (which most people think of as ‘proofreading’ is done, as I said, in a Word document version of your book.

It covers identification and resolution of:

  • typos
  • spelling mistakes
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • sentence structure (repetitive structures, etc.)
  • wording (repetitive word use, etc.)
  • consistent spelling / hyphenation / capitalisation throughout the text
  • comments where wording is unclear and suggestions about changes

Ask for editing / line editing if … your book has been written by you and you’ve gone over it at least once yourself, and had your beta readers read the book for flow, characters, plot, etc. It’s the stage before preparing the book for publication and will make sure that everything’s correct and consistent as far as it can be.

Note that in English, many of these areas do not have a strict right or wrong, especially in terms of capitalisation and even some spellings, and things like use of -ise- and -ize- spellings. Your editor should create a style sheet for the project, which lists the editing system they use (e.g. Oxford, Chicago Manual of Style etc.) and any choices they made within the text.

What is substantive editing?

Substantive editing means your editor digs around in the very substance of the book, looking at aspects such as:

  • Characterisation
  • Plot
  • Flow
  • Timelines
  • Missing or repetitive sections

Your editor will typically go through and mark up with comments, they may also produce a report on the book as a whole with suggestions for changes – which may be major or minor

Ask for substantive editing if … this is your first novel, you haven’t had it beta-read yet, it’s a long and complicated work and/or you need a thorough going-through of the book. This will often be more expensive than line-editing, and it doesn’t include the items listed under line-editing – it’s hard for an editor to see the wood AND the trees at the same time, so if you have a substantive edit, you will probably need a line edit at some stage, too.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is generally done just before the book is published (in print or electronic form). It concentrates on the look and layout of the book more than its content (this is why you have an edit done first, then a proofread).

Proofreading is carried out on the final form of a book, often a pdf or maybe a printed version, and the mark-up will be done using pdf marking-up software or pencil marks in your print copy.

Proofreading covers identification and resolution of:

  • Book layout – does each chapter start on a right-hand page in the print version?
  • Page numbers and headers – do the page numbers run consecutively? Do running headers reference the appropriate chapter title? Are footers correct?
  • Contents pages and indexes – does the contents page include the correct page numbers for each chapter start?
  • Page layout – are there any odd gaps on the pages, is there a heading on one page and its paragraph on the next? Are any illustrations correctly placed and referenced? Are any footnotes correctly laid out?
  • Paragraph layout – are three any odd gaps or spaces between paragraphs? Have words that belong in the same paragraph got separated? Are all paragraphs in the appropriately sized font?
  • Consistency – a final check that numbers, dates, heading styles, hyphenation etc are consistent (using the style sheet that the editor created as a guide)

It would be extremely difficult to do a full edit at proofreading stage because, as with line and substantive editing, your editor/proofreader is looking for different things. It is also best to have a different person do your proofread than the person who edited your book – for the same reason that no one can really edit their own work: they will be too familiar with the text and are more likely to miss errors.

So do I need an editor or a proofreader?

This is the basic order in which the process goes:

  1. Write the book – author
  2. Edit the book – author
  3. Substantive edit – by an editor
  4. Edit the book based on the substantive edit – author
  5. Beta read – friends, family, other people in your industry / genre
  6. Edit the book based on the beta read – author
  7. Line edit / edit / copy-edit – by an editor
  8. Edit the book based on the line edit
  9. Prepare book for publication – author or book designer / formatter / both
  10. Proofread – by a proofreader
  11. Edit the book based on the proofread (may need to go back to designer / formatter)
  12. Publish

Other resources on this blog:

Copyediting and proofreading

Working with track changes

Proofreading as a career

If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please share it using the buttons below.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Copyediting, proofreading, Word, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Ingrid Abraham

mugs Settle down at your computer (or with your phone or tablet or laptop!) for a lovely update with Small Business Chat interviewee Ingrid Abraham of Candid Creativity. We first met Ingrid in May last year, and when I asked where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she had exciting plans: “I’ve had photographs published in national newspapers and magazines, but I want to be more established closer to home, exhibiting at local wedding fairs and to being the preferred photographer for a few local event promoters. I want to see my work regularly appearing on clients’ blogs, websites and social media. I’m also a qualified teacher, so I  want to set up regular photography workshops aimed at teenagers.” So, how have things gone since then? Read on to find out!

Welcome back, Ingrid! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes. In many ways I’m further ahead because some unexpected bonuses have occurred.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I have a business mentor who helps me with marketing and a photography mentor who helps me with the technical aspects of photography;

I have a monthly newsletter which is aimed specifically at commercial clients;

Since January 2014 I’ve been working on a personal project based around portraiture, which has been featured on the London Photo Festival Blog;

A local community radio station – East London Radio – have also featured me on their blog and I am their official photographer;

I won 3 awards for portraiture from the Guild of Photographers and this too was featured on the East London Radio blog;

I became a photography practitioner for the National Citizen Service – teaching photography to local teenagers during the summer break and getting them more involved in the community;

I was the official photographer for the International Women’s Day Event at Waltham Forest Assembly Hall, attended by well over 1,000 women from all over East London;

I secured my first international booking – a family from Chicago booked me to photograph them while they were on vacation in London.

I’m still photographing portraits, weddings and events and still evolving as both a photographer and a businesswoman.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Do what you love, which may differ slightly from the work you are usually paid and known for. However, these personal projects can open your work up to a wider audience, resulting in more bookings.

For example, I love photographing food but would never promote myself as a food photographer, which is a completely different niche to portrait photography. However, I offered to volunteer to take pictures for a local cookery school, and this way all of their patrons are now being introduced to my services as a portrait and wedding photographer (and I’m having fun while doing it!).

Any more hints and tips for people?

Start a blog – It’s great for SEO and gives people an insight into your thought processes. It shows the personality behind the business and educates people about what you really do, which is sometimes different to what they think or assume.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Qualified in portraiture with the Guild of Photographers, more personal projects, self-publish an e-book.

Wow – Ingrid’s certainly achieved her goals and then so more. I love that she’s got mentors set up – I have been enjoying mentoring a couple of colleagues in my line of business, and I’m excited about plans to put together a workbook to go with my business books to help people to mentor themselves through the processes – you can’t beat having advice from someone who’s been there and done it. I’m pretty sure that Ingrid will be exactly where she wants to be this time next year – and I’m looking forward to finding out what else she has achieved in that time!

You can email Ingrid if you’d like to get in touch with her directly, or visit her website at www.candidcreativity.com.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Am I automatically registered to submit my tax self-assessment online?

coins and watchIf you’ve registered as self-employed in the last year and a bit, you will have received a letter from HMRC telling you that you need to submit a self-assessment tax form. You can do this on paper by the end of next October, or online by the end of next January.

So it makes sense to do it online, right? YES.

Every year, I meet people who’ve just set up their new business and think that because they’ve registered as self-employed, or because they registered as self-employed online, they are automatically registered to submit their self assessment (tax return) online. They can just wait until the end of January and submit it online then, right?

NO.

If you want to file your taxes / submit your tax return / do your self-assessment online, and this is the first time you’re planning to do it online, you HAVE TO go through a separate registration process.

Don’t just take my word for it: here’s a bit of my latest letter from HMRC telling me I need to submit a tax return for the 2013-2014 tax year:

tax online

Got that? You need to go to the HMRC website – WELL BEFORE THE END OF JANUARY and register to submit your tax return online. Once you’ve registered, you will be sent a letter with an activation code. This can take over a week to arrive.

You do not want to leave it to the last minute, or make any assumptions.

If you want to submit your tax return online, you must register to do so as a separate process, and you need to do it in good time in order to get your letter and then activate the account and THEN complete the online tax return (that last bit doesn’t take very long).

If, as a good and normally sensible friend of mine did one year, you leave it until the end of January to even register to submit this information online, you will receive your letter after the end of January, go to fill in your tax return and find yourself confronted with a hefty fine.

The HMRC website with all information on submitting your tax return online, and registering to do so, is here.

If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, you will find plenty of careers resources on this website (click on that link or surf around the category cloud in the sidebar). Or why not take a look at my books, which have loads of information about starting and maintaining a freelance career.

Other useful posts on this blog:

Setting up as a freelancer 1

10 things you can do before going self-employed

Why I do my tax return in April

Tax payment on account

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Business, Organisation

 

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This is why grammar is important

I just received a sheaf of election material through the letterbox. As regular readers of my blog will know, I don’t tend to share examples of bad grammar and spelling that are just ‘amusing’, as I work with many non-native speakers of English and people who need assistance with their English text production (such as people with dyslexia or those who use voice-recognition software, which can’t always tell the difference between homophones), and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for not producing ‘perfect’ textbook English sentences.

But I did want to share this example because it demonstrates that the correct or incorrect use of grammar can make a huge difference. Here we go:

when incorrect grammar gives a meaning you didn't mean

Grammatically, the underlined section expresses this: “she was working for her own redundancy and that of every other UK MEP. As now, she will fight for your redundancy and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. OK, there would be a comma before “and Britain’s”, but people don’t always insert sufficient commas …

I’m pretty sure that they meant to express this: “… she will fight for your interests in Brussels and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. If you’re not sure of which form of a noun pronoun to use, making the sentence repetitive in this way will often help, or just removing the other word – “she will fight for your interests in Brussels” (this is how to remember when to use “x and I” and when to use “x and me”, by the way).

All that went wrong was a simple “s”. What this leaflet should have said was: “she was working for her own redundancy and that of every other UK MEP. As now, she will fight for your and Britain’s interests in Brussels”. Oh, and let’s not get into the “As now”, before you say anything …

If you need help with pairs of words or word use, you might like to take a look at my Troublesome Pairs and Be Careful! posts. You might also find this post on the value of proofreading interesting. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Be careful, Errors, Why bother, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Chrissie Metcalfe

mugs It’s time for another update on one of our regular small business chat interviewees! Chrissie Metcalfe from Chrissie Metcalfe Recruitment has had a difficult year, in which she’s learned a valuable lesson, but she seems to have bounced back and is looking forward to the future. We first met Chrissie back in February 2012, and she updated us on her progress in April 2013. At that point, her plan for the year was this: “In a year, I will have two more members of staff, making in total a senior recruiter, a general recruiter and a marketing and admin person, allowing me to network more. It’s all very exciting!”

So, what happened next?

Hello, Chrissie. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

No, I thought I would be further on, but due to an issue with a staff member, I have been set back 3 months. However, what happened it has allowed me to look at any mistakes I made, and my business is now stronger than ever.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I have changed a lot. Sadly, my trust has been knocked due to the staffing issue. I am still grounded, and even though I have won two more awards this year and been a finalist for another, I am still working many hours and live and breathe my business.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned a lot, That people who work for you shouldn’t be given too much free rein, not to blur the management/staff line too much, to keep your staff in the office doing the work you need to pass on and to do the networking and face-to-face marketing of your own business yourself. I have also learned that although you can pick yourself up business-wise, on a personal note it can take a little longer to get over.  It has taken a few months, but my new member of staff starts next week and I have another member of staff ready to join me in August.

Any more hints and tips for people?

If you don’t love what you do, you will never get through the knocks in business. You come across many knocks, but the ones where you personally thought you could trust people hurt the most, Dust yourself off and get back on your feet, as at the end of the day, if they will do it to you they will do it to others. I love everything about my business and am very excited about my new staff members joining me.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

This time next year, I will have two solid members of staff in the office.  I will have my Audi A3 convertible and I will be able to take a week’s holiday. Also who knows, many be some more awards.. that’s would be lovely!

It is tricky when you expand your business taking on new employees and knowing where to draw the line. I’m writing a series of articles about business expansion, but I have personally chosen not to go down the employment route. In Chrissie’s line of work, she does have to do this, however. I admire the way she’s learned from her mistakes and is picking herself up and starting afresh. Holidays are much more difficult than you think they’re going to be when you set up as self-employed – I have worked to find people I can trust who can cover my customers (but not poach them!) while I’m away, but I am in the fifth year of business now! See how Chrissie was doing in 2015 here.

You can find Chrissie online at www.chrissiemetcalferecruitment.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

f you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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