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Author Archives: Liz Dexter

About Liz Dexter

Writer, proofreader, editor, transcriber. Also runner, gym-goer and BookCrosser! My married name is Liz Dexter but my maiden name and the name on my books is Liz Broomfield.

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Welcome to an update with Kathy Ennis, who changed her brand name to LittlePiggy last year. Kathy joined this interview series in May 2012 and we updated her story in July 2013, August 2014 and February 2016. and most recently in April 2017. At that point, this was Kathy’s plan for the year: I may be moving home in the next 12-months so, although I am planning, things may be disrupted because of that. However, my plan is to increase the amount of work with Enterprise Agencies, or other organisations that offer training and mentoring support for small and micro businesses.” Let’s see what happened next …

Hello again, Kathy! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Well, I haven’t moved home (yet!) but it’s still in the pipeline – probably later this year.

I did achieve my goal of working with more Enterprise Agencies and those that offer mentoring support and training to small and micro businesses. I now have contracts with three organisations. Along with the 1-2-1 clients I work with this creates a really great mix and I get to meet some truly inspirational business people.

I am also really fortunate to be part of the Facebook / Enterprise Nation #SheMeansBusiness initiative. I spent 2017, along with 7 others certified by Facebook, delivering training and inspirational activities to more than 12,000 women in the UK (our target was 10,000, so we smashed it!). In 2018 the scheme is getting bigger and better with more trainers being taken on and a higher target number.

I did get my book published – The Big Social Media Marketing Organiser (https://littlepiggy.ltd/books/) – and I am really proud of it. I think it’s not only a terrific resource for all small and micro businesses, I believe it sums me up and demonstrates my approach to things.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Gosh, there have been changes, but they have crept up on me I think. The big change I made was more than a year ago – changing the name of the company – and I think that has had the most effect. My new brand and brand message has had a really significant impact on how I am working with clients and the type of clients I am working with.

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

I’ve learned a helluva lot about Facebook! Being part of the #SheMeansBusiness team meant I had to take on a lot of knowledge about Facebook (and Instagram) really quickly.

I can honestly say that this year has been very steady. Nothing has cropped up that I was unprepared for. So there’s nothing I wish I had known a year ago.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Can I say buy my book? Ha, ha, ha!!

Seriously, if this year has taught me anything it is the need for businesses (especially small and micro businesses) to plan. I have lost count of the number of clients and trainees I have worked with who are having difficulties building their business successfully. When we dive deeper into what’s happening, it’s because things are being done piecemeal. There’s no broad understanding of what is actually happening in the business, let alone what they want to happen in the business. No wonder they are struggling.

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

Well, I hope to be living beside the sea by that time.

As far as the business is concerned, I just want things to tick along the way they are at the moment as it’s all so lovely at the moment.

It’s great to see Kathy going from strength to strength and really helping people with their planning, which is something a lot of people lack. I had to really plan my business in the early stages to see where I had to get to go full-time and I’ve always kept an eye on things and kept marketing even when I’ve been busy – it is worth it. Well done Kathy, and on the book, too!

Website: https://littlepiggy.ltd/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlePiggyUK/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathyennis

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyennis

Email: kathy@littlepiggy.ltd

You can find the website for Kathy’s book here, and order it from Amazon.

Phone: 07815951585

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 April 21, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Small business chat update – Sophie Playle

Welcome to an update with  Sophie Playle, editor and trainer of editors from Liminal Pages,  We first met Sophie in December 2013, at which point she’d only been going for eight months, Sophie updated us on how she was getting on in January 2015, March 2016, and most recently March 2017, where this was her plan: “This time around, I’m not going to make any grand statements or plans. I’m going to get my head down and continue doing what I’m doing – providing editorial services to authors and online training to editors – and see where it gets me. I share my most personal thoughts on being an editorial business owner in my Liminal Letters, which I send out roughly every fortnight, so if anyone wants to keep up with my journey, feel free to subscribe!” So, did things go to plan or did they change? Read on to find out …

Hello again, Sophie! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Pretty much! I’ve just kept on keeping on. My schedule has been filled solid with editing work, and I’ve continued to create and run courses for editors. I haven’t quite managed to create and refine as many courses as I’d hoped by now – I always seem to make big plans and run out of time!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

For the first time in a long time, pretty much everything has stayed the same. It’s a relief to feel some stability in my business, to be honest. At the same time, I don’t feel a though I’m stagnating. I’m continually tweaking and improving my work flow, brand, website, courses, skills, etc.

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

I don’t think there’s anything that’s made me think Darn, if only I’d know that … We can’t learn everything all at once. Sometimes the time isn’t right for the lessons we need. Often, we learn through trial and error – because there’s no one-size-fits-all way to run a business.

Any more hints and tips for people?

There’s no such thing as a ‘finished’ or ‘completed’ business. You have to keep chipping away at things, refining and developing. At times, it can feel frustrating that the work is never done, but try to enjoy the process, celebrate the small wins along the way, and be kind to yourself.

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

Where I am now, but better.

I actually loved it when things stabilised for me, a few years of full-time self-employment in, when you know what to expect and when you’ll be busy. Like Sophie, things have still changed for me, but in more minimal ways, for example starting to pick up more work for a) ghostwriters and b) university academics doing large projects, which is an extension of my transcription work and tends to come through recommendation. I love that Sophie is still finding time to help her fellow editors along the way, too, and sharing her experiences in her usual honest way.

Visit Sophie at her Liminal Pages website: http://liminalpages.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook!
Facebook:

Sophie’s website is at liminalpages.com and that novel-writing course can be found here: Conquer Your Novel

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. 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 April 14, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Plain English – what are the business benefits?

My colleague Laura Ripper is an expert in Plain English. In this excellent article, she explains the benefits of plain language. A must-read for all businesses, and if you’re looking for Plain English editing and proofreading, head her way!

Laura Ripper | Proofreading and copy-editing

A picture of a piggybank

If you run a business, you probably know that customers appreciate clear communication. They want to be able to find important information quickly – for example, about products and services, how to find you or how to return an item they’ve bought. Direct, concise and jargon-free text saves them time, frustration and effort. It gives your customers a better experience of working with you.

But what are the benefits for you – and your company? How can writing in plain English help you achieve your business goals, such as making a profit or building your brand? Is communicating clearly anything more than ‘doing the right thing’?

Using plain English can help your business in three main ways:

  1. It saves money
  2. It saves time
  3. It builds your reputation

It saves money

– and it makes money, too.

If your marketing materials, letters and newsletters present information clearly, your customers are more…

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Posted by on April 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Welcome to an update with chap hop star, writer and one of the most entertaining people I know,  Paul Alborough, or as you will know him better, Professor Elemental. When I met him back in the 1990s, he was rapping like a pro but hadn’t quite achieved worldwide fame. Flash forward and here he is with comics, a tea brand, a novel and more. I was lucky enough to persuade him to join this series in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015, March 2016 and March 2017, and here he is again – I definitely recommend popping back through those links and reading his earlier interviews, too! When I asked the Prof where he wanted to be by now back in March last year, he replied ” I have a really big project that I want to complete this year. I want to use a new album as a springboard into making a creative hub where people can share ideas and tips (much as you are doing now I guess). Plus I have a plan to use some of that to fund charities. It’s very ambitious, but achievable with the help of friends and collaborators. We’ll see how I managed it next year.” So, is that what he’s been getting up to? Read on to find out!

Hello again, Prof! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Nope. Not in the slightest. I mean, in terms of the overall picture, it’s going really well, but the specific and ambitious project I had in mind last year hasn’t really taken off. On the plus side, I’ve got so many smaller projects that there should be more than enough to compensate. At the moment there are four books, three albums, two videos, Patreon, a lengthy tour and some new merch – that should do nicely. Small is beautiful, as they say and lots of smaller manageable projects are a lot easier for me to deal with than one large one I think. Stops me getting bored, too.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I think I’ve grown more at ease with my status, as well as the idea of maintaining and diversifying without the business necessarily growing larger. I’ve got a decent office space of my own now which allows for much more writing and actual creativity (rather than just admin) and I’ve worked out how many shows I need to do to maintain finances. I’ve also spent more time working on individual themes for shows – working on my best stand-up material rather than creating a whole new show for each event. That process has been a lot of fun. I’m still collaborating like crazy, travelling the world and spending a lot of time working my way through emails and chatting rubbish on social media though – it’s all very nice.

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

Hmm. Not much. I mean, I’ve had lots of adventures, but they are quite specific cautionary tales and their mishaps are usually only applicable to me. I have definitely learned to worry less and follow a more stoic approach to business. It might be a dangerous thing for a creative person to say, but I am pretty content.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Here are five tips vital tips for anyone considering making their living rapping as a Victorian steampunk explorer:

  • The people of Cambodia who come out to see large-scale pop concerts do not want to be introduced to chap hop, particularly after the main act has already been on. In fact, if you try it they will run away screaming and crying. Literally. It’s a really bad idea.
  • If you’re going to let your children introduce a band of pirates in front of a thousand people, it helps to learn the band’s name before going out, or you run the risk of scarring the children for life as they stand there staring into the abyss without anything to say.
  • It is possible to wear silver leggings that cross the boundary from ‘fun’ to ‘obscene’.
  • Never, ever go on to the after-party. And particularly a party that goes on after the after party.
  • Corporate gigs are usually a bad idea. But corporate gigs where the business writes your script are the worst idea of all.

I always love your hints and tips! And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Is it possible to maintain a small business without expanding and ruining what made it good or shrinking so it becomes untenable? Can a creative business remain contented without losing its spark? Why didn’t I spend the previous 5 years taking the train to shows instead of the car? Find out the answers to these questions and probably less in exactly 365 days’ time …

As usual with the Prof, a fab mix of important learning points and laughs – great stuff! I think it is possible to maintain your small business but it’s hard. I was chatting to someone the other day who’d reached the point with her food business where it had taken over her life and she didn’t know where to go to next, so she stopped! It’s hard after those first few years to decide what to do – and although Paul and I have VERY different businesses and business models, they’re both based around ourselves and the services we provide, so it’s hard to know how to move forward sometimes (I’ve done it by diversifying but also specialising, Paul’s done the same and collaborated, and my good editing friend, Laura Ripper, has recently started a collaboration project, so that’s a way you can go in our business, too). I can’t wait to read the next update from Professor Elemental, whatever he gets up to in this coming year!

Here’s Paul’s Professor Elemental Patreon page, and do pop and have a look at his website, www.professorelemental.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, of course.

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. 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 March 24, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Instant or instantaneous?

What’s the difference between instant and instantaneous? Is there in fact a difference?

There are lots of pairs of words that mean the same thing, but one has a precise meaning and the other has a range of meanings. Now, if there are two words with subtly different meanings, I’m all for keeping both of them and retaining the richness of our wonderful language, etc. But when one just covers a subset of the other’s meanings, I’m not, to be honest, quite sure. At least here there seems to be a technical term lurking around which will keep the smaller (yet longer!) word going.

So, instantaneous, to cover the smaller meaning first, means being done or happening instantly. It does have a specific meaning in physics around being measured or existing at a particular time.

Instant means occurring immediately, as you would expect, as well as a precise moment in time or a very short time. It also means something that’s processed to allow it to be prepared quickly, in the case of food, mainly, Also, and I dimly remember this from when I learned to type in the Dark Ages, it means “of the current month” (your letter of the 16th instant) although surely no one uses that now?

Both of them come from the same original source, from Latin for “be at hand” (instare), but instantaneous came through medieval Latin, which added -aneus to the original instant (thank you, Oxford English Dictionary for that information). I would advise using instant unless you’re a physicist, just to save complication and make it easier to read.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 
 

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Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Welcome again to Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. I first interviewed Matt in April 2016, when he’d just set up his business. We then chatted in April 2017 – and you’ll see why I’ve got his interview in a bit early this year when you read on! Matt did really well in his first year, and when I asked him how he intended to progress the company, he replied ” I’d hope that employee number one would be on board and the business will have seen some growth, both in terms of clients and revenue.” Let’s see how he’s getting on!

Hello again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and No. There have been lots of changes in my personal life over the last 12 months. What with marriage, moving house and a baby on the way in April, it’s been a (fun?) challenge managing all of those life events as well as the business. Some people have said I’m crazy that I’ve done arguably the 3 most stressful things in life, all within 12 months. I’d be inclined to agree!

The business has seen steady growth (10-15%), but I haven’t got employee number one as yet.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

It’s still just me in the business and business is continuing to steadily grow.

In particular, my recurring revenue has grown 25% (some of my software follows a subscription model, so having a (95%) guaranteed level of income by just keeping clients happy is useful)

The need for what I provide to small businesses (quotation systems) is still relevant and I’m getting plenty of enquiries.

I’m offering new services to existing clients. I have a ‘QuoteWerks MOT’, where I’ll go onsite for half a day to review a client’s usage of the system and recommend tweaks and efficiency savings. This gets me in front of the client once more, I provide some value and get paid.

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

One good client is better than two bad ones. I’m now in a fortunate position to, a certain extent, be able to pick and choose my clients. When clients are evaluating me and my services, I’m also evaluating them.

Will they be a good fit for me? Are they willing to pay a fair price? Are their expectations realistic? Would working with them be profitable? Will I enjoy working with them?

These are all questions I, subconsciously(?), now ask myself.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to ‘sack’ a client. I’ve had to choose to no longer work with a few clients over the past 12 months. This wasn’t an easy decision as they helped me get to where I am today, but either their expectations no longer correlated with what I could offer or they were unwilling to (nearer to) my new rates.

In these cases, I was able to refer them to another company to aid their transition.

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

Hopefully maintaining steady state. With my first baby on the way, I’m not quite sure what to expect and how this will impact my business. With my Wife able to take a year in maternity leave and supportive grandparents, I’m hoping the business won’t be affected too much. A lot of my clients have been able to give advice and, due to my good relationship with them, will be very understanding if I can’t reply in the timeframes they’re accustomed to. I think a key is to set expectations from the outset.

It’s such an exciting time for Matt and I’m sure we all wish him the best of luck in this upcoming year! I agree with his comments about picking clients carefully, and it’s great that he has people he can refer them on to – this is something I do, and I’m much more comfortable saying “I can’t look after this project but you might want to try this person, who will be a better fit for you”.

Matt Rose’s website is at www.prestigequoting.com and you can email him or phone him on 07490 096232

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 March 17, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Why are my blog statistics so low? Who’s reading this thing anyway?

Why are my blog statistics so low? Who’s reading this thing anyway?

We all know by now that it takes time to build a blog audience and that you need to keep plugging away, writing interesting stuff and engaging with your readers.

But sometimes it just feels like no one is listening, like no one is looking at your carefully crafted posts. Why is this?

Why are my blog statistics lower than I would expect?

I use WordPress for my blogs, so I’m familiar with the statistics it offers (read more here), however, I know it doesn’t record all of the views of my posts, which can be very frustrating. This is how that happens.

People read your blog via email

Hopefully you’ve set things up so people can subscribe to your blog via email. Every blogging platform will have a plugin or menu item that will set this up for you so there’s a “Subscribe by email” button on your blog.

People who have subscribed to receive your articles via email will receive the text of the post in an email with a link to view the post on your website. They can open the email and read all of your article, but WordPress won’t know they have done that unless they click through to your website, at which point it will record the click. If they just read the article in the email and don’t click through to like, comment, etc., you won’t know that they’ve read your material.

People read your blog via a blog aggregator

People can also subscribe to the blog using a blog reader, either through WordPress itself, for example, or another service such as Feedly (which I use).

A blog reader uses what’s called an RSS feed to gather articles someone has said they want to read and display them all in one place (the RSS feed works in a similar way to the emails going out to people who’ve subscribed via email; instead of sending a person an email, it sends a blog reader the text to display in the reader). The text of the post will display in the person’s blog reader software with a link to view the post actually on your website.

Again, someone can read your post in their blog reader, but unless they click through to view it on your site, your blogging platform can’t know they’ve read it and won’t record that they have done so.

So what are my statistics showing, then?

Your blog statistics will record visits from …

  • People who subscribe to your blog via email and have clicked the link in their email to visit your blog
  • People who subscribe to your blog via a blog aggregator and have clicked the article in their aggregator to visit your blog
  • People who have seen your article shared on social media and have clicked through to read it on your blog
  • People who have done a search, found a link to your article in their search engine (Google, etc.) and clicked through to read it on your blog

In other words, there are fewer people recorded as having read your blog post than have actually read your blog post.

Note: If you want to experiment with only offering blog aggregator (Feedly, WordPress Reader, etc.) and email subscribers the first few lines of your blog post with a link to click through, hopefully encouraging them to visit your website to read the whole article, this article (third-party content recommended by a fellow blogger) explains how to do that.


I hope this has reassured you that those dismal stats are not as dismal as you thought they were! Please share and/or comment if this article has been useful for you.

Other related articles on this blog

Keep an eye on your stats

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them

Five ways to drive and increase engagement with your blog

How to keep people engaged with your blog

Six things you can do to increase your SEO

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2018 in Blogging, WordPress

 

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