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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 – Annabelle Beckwith

Small business chat update – Annabelle Beckwith

Here’s a lovely update with my friend Annabelle Beckwith of the consultancy, learning and development organisation, Yara Journeys. I’ve known Anna since our very first day at university, and now here we are, both running our own businesses, me working on my own and interacting with almost all of my clients remotely, Anna out there interacting, training, facilitating and helping people to grow. I first interviewed Anna in 2012 and again in May 2013, September 2014 and February 2016. Her goal has always been to keep growing personally and in her business, and she’s also been working on side projects such as books and online materials. Let’s see how she’s doing now …

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

Yes and no: I’m still writing and delivering training programmes and travelling the world, but I’m now focused on productising my knowledge. I’m writing a book and setting up a branch of my website to sell training products and business games and scenarios

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’ve grown a LOT in the last year in a personal development sense. I’ve realised that there’s more I can do if I just push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve also realised that I don’t want to grow a huge company which I them have to ‘manage’ – I enjoy working with a range of colleagues and associates from project to project, so I’m going to carry on doing that, rather than succumb to the pressure of being an employer.

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

I’ve learned a lot about mindset and about finding one’s purpose and following that, rather than trying to plan life to the nth degree (and it never plays out that way anyway) In some respects I wish I’d figured this out years ago – on the other hand, if I’d come across the people and information and learning that have come my way this year, I’d have missed them because I wouldn’t have been ready to learn, if that makes sense!

Any more hints and tips for people?

INVEST in your own personal development. And do it properly – not just a few piecemeal workshops here and there or freebies from the local business enterprise agency. Invest in YOU because that’s who’s driving your freelance business!

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

I’ll still be writing and delivering programmes and travelling – but I’d like to be speaking at more events…and of course my book will be finished and my online business will be up and running

It’s always a difficult decision when you get good and well-known and then you need to choose how to grow. I’m like Annabelle, I don’t want to become an employer, and I don’t even contract work out or work in partnerships and collaborations myself – although, to be fair, that’s easier to manage when you’re in the training and development field than editing and transcription. I’m sure Anna’s chosen the right path, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops her new materials.

The Yara Journeys website can be found at www.yara-journeys.com . Anna can be contacted via email.

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 October 14, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Susannah Davda #smallbusiness

Small business chat update – Susannah Davda #smallbusiness

Welcome to the second update from shoe guru Susannah Davda from The Shoe Consultant. What does being a Shoe Consultant mean? Susannah explains: “I help people to start shoe brands in a strategic way. I also work on research, development and range planning projects for established footwear brands and retailers”. She joined in June 2015, and I interviewed her again in August 2016, this was where she wanted to be by now: “I’d like to take on more consultancy clients, grow my other services, and be taking a salary”. Lee’s see how she’s doing now!

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

Yes, pretty much. I’ve gained additional consultancy clients and taken on some exciting new projects. The B2B side of The Shoe Consultant is really the focus of most of my time at the moment. Regarding salary, I’m in a position to pay myself but have adopted the strategy of investing profits back into the business first. In a few months’ time, I’ll put myself on the payroll.

Sounds good. What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m busier than ever. Since my son started nursery in January, my workload has expanded to fill the available time and then some! I still have the same focused approach. I only work with shoe-related things, and always keep the company mission in mind: shoes should be comfortable and beautiful.

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

That persistence pays off when it come to late payments from clients. If somebody is late paying according to the due date on the invoice, don’t let it go. Just calmly explain to them that as detailed on the gov.uk website, you’ll be charging daily interest on the money owed. I had no idea I could even charge interest until an accountant friend of mine told me.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Take time away from your desk to think. Some of my best business planning is done away from my desk. Running or going for a walk is good for gaining a little perspective.

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

I would like to be in a position to be more selective about the projects I choose to work on.

I can certainly back up the idea that going for a run is good for business – it clears the head and things you’ve been mulling over can suddenly work themselves out – a bit like sleeping on a problem. It’s also good for us desk-bound people, too!

You can find The Shoe Consultant online here: www.shoeconsultant.co.uk and on Twitter and email. You can buy her new Shoe Shopping Kit on Amazon here.

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 October 7, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Mink or minke?

This Troublesome Pair was suggested to me by my friend Julia quite a while ago – thank you! I’m always open to suggestions! Oh, and do you like the new picture for these posts – now I have managed to capture all my new editions in all their glory?

So, two animal words (and I feel some more coming on, now I’ve thought of these).

A mink is a semi-aquatic carnivore which is a bit like a stoat, and is unfortunately bred for its fur. It has Eurasian and North American variants, and the word is used to describe the fur, too. I’m sad now, thinking about poor fur-farmed animals. Moving on, no arguing about the plural, because it can be mink OR minks! Shocking!

A minke is a type of whale – a rorqual whale in fact. It’s grey on top and white underneath, and apparently the name only originates from the 1930s. A rorqual whale is a baleen whale which has pleated skin on its underneath, and the group includes fin, blue and humpback whales. A baleen whale is one of the ones with the whalebone sieve in its mouth to filter food. I’m going to stop there …

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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Desk bikes – the Tour de Your House

Desk bikes – the Tour de Your House

My friend and colleague Laura Ripper talks about her desk bike in this interesting article.

Laura Ripper | Proofreading and copy-editing

Last Wednesday was National Fitness Day in the UK.

Keeping fit’s a doddle if you work from home, isn’t it? You start the day with yoga. Go swimming at lunchtime. On sunny days you put down your pen (or keyboard) and head to the hills for a long walk – because you’re your own boss and you can do what you want.

Hmm.

It’s not always easy to find time to exercise when you’ve got a business to run.

You might rather keep working on something you’re really enjoying. There’s only you to get the work done, so sometimes you need to keep going to meet all your deadlines. And there isn’t always enough time to go to the gym and be there to sort out [insert home repair job of your choice]. Today, for example, the plumber’s here in the morning and the electrician’s coming in the afternoon. (Stop…

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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Small business chat – Laura Rennie

Small business chat – Laura Rennie

Welcome to another new interviewee today – Laura Rennie from Arena HR. Laura told me that she found this series, read one interview and couldn’t stop reading them, which is great to hear, and I’m excited to include her insights. Like many people, Laura went self-employed in a business area she already knew – in fact, as we’ll learn, she’d been providing free advice for some time before she realised it was time to go solo. Laura’s got an event happening this week – do pop over to have a look.

Hello Laura, and welcome to Libro Towers. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My business is called Arena HR. I have worked for charities, private and public sector organisations but what I was finding was that I was providing advice to friends, people who knew my friends and family that needed help personally or within their business and showing them how to create a positive working environment. Now I do this through the movement of #doingHRright – our first Scottish Conference for DisruptHR takes place next week. People are keen to find the right way to get the best for their staff and do the best for them. I finally Incorporated in February 2016.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

After experiencing HR done wrong, I realised that it was more common than I thought. Businesses out there need to be supported and understand how to do HR right.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

20+ years of HR experience AND lots of successes behind me, I realised I could offer a service that people needed, not just in the corporate environment.

Had you run your own business before?

Nope, hence the reason why I provided the service for so long without charging anyone.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I came up with the concept in January 2016, by the end of the month I had my first client so incorporated the following month. Six months later I was handing in my notice and becoming a full-time business owner.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

Don’t feel you have to work every single day and night. Learn when you work best and take breaks with family and friends without feeling guilty.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Move into digital practices quicker. They might be scary but they will save you so much time later on!!

What do you wish you’d done differently?

This is tricky because every failure has been a great learning experience. Our first employee lasted two weeks and then we had to dismiss them. Not a great advert for an HR company but it just wasn’t the right fit. My gut knew. I should have listened better.

What are you glad you did?

I made a few rules that I stick by every day, no matter what.

What’s your top business tip?

Go with your gut. That’s your experience and knowledge all coming together shouting at your brain and heart. Listen.

How has it gone since you started?

It’s grown so quickly. In one specific month our turnover increased by 300% – now we are recruiting our next team members and up for a major award.

Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

We’ve grown and diversified – and we have created and produced an interactive App which will be available in app stores soon.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Opening our next office to service our London clients!!

I completely agree with Laura’s tip about not working constantly, and I also like that she has learned from her mistakes. A gut reaction is indeed a mixture of experience and knowledge and very well worth listening to, too. Good luck with the event, Laura, and we’ll look forward to hearing how the office and new App are going next time!

You can find Arena HR and Laura Rennie at www.arenahr.co.uk

You can email Laura using this link, and the Scotland event can be found here.

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 September 30, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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More Control Key keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-J and more

hands typing I have previously written about the wonders of Control-F and how this keyboard shortcut  finds text in almost everything (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, web pages, WordPress back-end, etc., etc., etc). Then I discussed other Control- or Ctrl+ keyboard shortcuts that you can use to copy and paste, embolden, italicise and underline, find, goto and replace, undo, redo and open, new, print and save. But I’ve recently had some questions about the remaining Control Key commands, so let’s round up what they do.

Why do we use keyboard shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts are used to save wear and tear on the wrists, to interact with a computer in other ways than just using two hands and a mouse, to save time, and, maybe, to show off your amazing computer skills.

What are the rest of the keyboard shortcuts using the Control key, then?

Ctrl-D – open the Font dialogue box using Control Key + D

Ctrl-E – centres the text in which the cursor is situated (this acts a toggle, so will un-centre centred text)

Ctrl-J – makes the text in which the cursor is situated become fully justified (again, this is a toggle, so the text will return to left justification (in a left-to-right alphabet document) if it’s already fully justified)

Ctrl-K – opens the Hyperlink dialogue box – make sure you have the text that you want to create a link for highlighted before pressing Control + k

Ctrl-L – makes the text in which the cursor in situated become left-justified (a toggle, so if it’s already only left-justified, pressing this will return the text to its full justification)

Ctrl-M – increases the indent on the left (much like the Tab key)

Ctrl-Q – removes indenting, so if you haven’t got any, it will seem this doesn’t do anything

Ctrl-R – makes the text in which the cursor is located become right-justified (a toggle, so pressing this in text that is already right-justified will change it to left-justified)

Ctrl-T – moves just the bottom indent slider across one tab at a time to create a hanging indent

Ctrl-W – closes the document, giving you the option to save

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Did you know ALL of these shortcuts? They’ll save you some mouse clicks and some are a lot quicker and more useful than the other methods you can use to get the same results. Which are your favourites?

Related posts on this blog:

How to find text almost anywhere

Changing from lower case to upper case

Using the Control key shortcuts (the ones that aren’t here)

Find all of the short cuts here

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Small business chat update – Stephen Tiano

Small business chat update – Stephen Tiano

It’s Small Business Update time, so settle down with a cuppa and let’s chat to Stephen Tiano from Tiano Book Design who is here for the sixth time! In his first interviews in 2012 and 2013 we heard about his life working in the civil service and doing book design in the rest of his time, by April 2014 he was planning a move and in May 2015 he was planning to retire from his day job and work on book designing full time. When we caught up with Stephen in June 2016 he HAD retired and his plans to achieve by now were: “Well, I’d be okay to be as busy as I am now, with as much work waiting in the wings. I’d be happy to have more. I think for the first time I expect to be busier, to have grown and expanded. Here’s hoping!”. How exciting to be planning expansion after two and a half decades in the business. Let’s see how he’s getting on …

Hello, Steve, good to talk to you again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Definitely not. On the downside is that new jobs had not been coming in as quickly this year as I’d expected after how busy I was last year. On the other hand, I’m shocked at having a rather big, consuming, project, a book of (for want of a better word), philosophical, questions asked by the author, and answers provided by people he’s asked. And each of these chapters or sections of questions is illustrated by five pages of photos my author has taken. He’s a professional photographer. It’s not the first book of photoessays my client’s published, tho, to my eye, it’s the first time he’s had a designer who’s been able to pull out all the stops along with a lot of involvement from my client) to make this book stand out. On my part, this project has been a way for me to expand my image-editing skills in Photoshop. I’ve famously (well, perhaps that’s a bit grandiose of a way to word it) said that not only am I not an illustrator, I essentially CAN’T draw a straight line. So my Photoshop work has been limited to photo editing. But for this book the photo editing has involved working with backgrounds and color in ways I had never approached before.

On the other hand, things started picking up as summer began; and this is contrary to way things have been most of my years freelancing. That seems to be purely because self publishers now fill just about all my workload. And they don’t seem bound to the kind of seasonal schedule as traditional and academic publishers.

Then, too, I’ve gotten involved with another author’s adventure in taking self-publishing and spinning out a publishing company from it. I should backtrack. I have, indeed, employed a new, lower price structure, in certain instances, to help me keep my earnings within the social security limit I mentioned last year, so that there will be no giveback beyond the regular taxes on my income. I’m electing to go that route with certain clients who otherwise would not be able to AFFORD my services, but with whom I want to work, both just to insure that their voices are heard, but also because they have books in them that I really want to see get the best possible treatment and, ergo, have the best chance of finding an audience and succeeding in measured sales.

To be sure, this doesn’t mean taking part in the “reverse leapfrog mambo,” where freelancers bid competitively to see who will work cheapest for projects they find on the “meat rack” jobs boards.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well, continuing on the track I started down in the first question, I continue to devote some time nearly every day to root around and find interesting, new, paying book projects. But I definitely discuss each potential project with an open mind about what I’ll charge. In preparing my proposals, with books I’ve already made a commitment to in my heart and mind, I work out a price the usual way and then try to get some detail about the potential client’s circumstances, so I can come up with the correct discounted price, sometimes as little as one-QUARTER to one-third of what I’d normally charge.

So what’s that mean in concrete terms? Well, the second project I mentioned above, the author spinning out a whole publishing company idea, for instance. I did that once before for a self-publishing author who formed a company, Pascha Press, that, for a couple of reasons, one being her fighting a serious illness, hasn’t succeeded quite the way we’d hoped, though she’s trying to reinvigorate the business and continue with the few books she’s had planned from the start. This new one began with my answering a posting seeking help getting a book to press from my client’s father, as the client is a young woman about to start high school. She’d already self-published three or four books, but with little fanfare and no real professional design and layout help. Her parents, however, have supported her every inch along the way, editing and advising her.

The book that found it’s way to me was a book of ONE-PAGE, capsulized biographies of 100 impactful New Yorkers, called THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT NEW YORKERS. For this one, to move the process along, I got involved in sourcing photos of the subjects of my author’s biographies. And this has been both eye-opening and a project in and of itself. Although I’ve stated before that I’m leery of the use of stock photography, for a book of such bios, the more recognizable the subjects of the photos, the better. Additionally, a high school student’s budget is definitely limited—so I’m looking strictly at public domain and otherwise free-to-use photos. And my usual proviso about making the choice to self-publish being a choice to go into business as a publisher is not quite the hard-and-fast rule I’d come to regard it. I mean, she and her parents absolutely want to be successful in terms of sales, but they’re realistic about how they’ll need to break through a system that still doesn’t make it a walk in the park to commercial success for first-time authors, especially those who are self-publishing.

Stephen Tiano 100 most important new yorkers

So, then, about mid-way through my work, her dad—with whom I’d broached the subject of their starting a publishing company, as my intrepid young author, Agatha Edwards, was planning a whole series of “100 MOST IMPORTANT …” books—told me that he’d done the initial paperwork to start the formation of Brooklyn Bridge Books. Further, Agatha was already at work on the next book THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT AFRICAN AMERICANS. I immediately sourced a logo—again, a public domain image is perfect, as we want the image instantly connectable with the company name. Agatha is still writing and rewriting this one and her mom and dad are editing her.

Stephen Tiano Agatha

I’ve finished sourcing photos for this new book. I’m actually knee-deep laying out the first 50 bios. We’ve got a look and a plan to reuse the framework of the first cover, with subtle distinctions, for the whole series and I am again a publishing company’s Creative Director, with a stake in the business.

Here’s the front cover for the new book, THE 100 MOST IMPORTANT AFRICAN AMERICANS:

Stephen Tiano 100 most important african americans

 

All great stuff! What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Well, that changing circumstances—I was NOT immediately 100% happy with the idea that lowered prices were the way for me to go—opens up new avenues for work and making work a dream adventure. I’m trying to use the phrase “semi-retirement” as a mantra of sorts to get me to focus on looking ahead and not backward too much with wishes I’d done things differently. I’m finding there’s a tremendous amount of freedom and flexibility in embracing this idea that, more than ever, I work on exactly what I want whenever I want. At the same time, however, I’ve started to become a bit more vocal online about what I dubbed above the “reverse leapfrog mambo,” actually commenting a couple of times on one such jobs boards blog.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Keep your eyes open for new ways to promote. For instance, blog interviews like the one you and I have now made an annual occurrence. And then, too, there are other media. I was interviewed a few months back by an Internet radio station, Paperback Radio. Every effort has the potential for greater reach. It’s not the same old world and way of doing things with paper résumés sent out to prospective employers by snail mail. We’re in a gig economy where all the new media, including social, are part of a whole arsenal of ways to approach prospective clients. (Funny … this reminds me that I want to cold email every publisher listed in the current year’s Writer’s Digest to see if they might have projects for me. I used to do that annually and haven’t in two or three years, as self-publishers have so filled my dance card. But I would like to try get some work from traditional publishers again.)

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

Well, I certainly hope to be building on these new directions—busier than ever, of course. And another year closer to the point where I no longer have limits on how much I can earn without a penalty. I’d definitely like to continue to work with self-publishers, as it’s really exciting to be part of bringing new, undiscovered authors, who, in years past, would not have had an opportunity to make their voices heard.

At the same time, I’d like to get a foot back in the world of traditional publishing. I can’t say enough about how fortunate I am to have cultivated my “freelancing with a net” for so many years at the same time that I worked a full-time day job. The independence it gave me to pick and choose clients, to remain staunch about getting paid like a professional and not accepting pennnies-on-the-dollar and the same prices that only someone living in a third-world economy can live on was a gift. And now, in my semi-retirement, even more secure than when I was working, I love that I can accept new opportunities that don’t pay my full price and give some back to the publishing universe.

Lots of exciting stuff and also thoughtful reflections on the state of the publishing industry and its associated industries – I do love and appreciate the level of effort and detail Steve puts into his interviews. I love Agatha’s work and hope that project goes on to further success!

Stephen Tiano
Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist

tel. & fax: (631)284-3842 / cell: (631)764-2487
Skype: stephentianobookdesigner
FaceTime: Stephen Tiano
email  website: http://www.tianobookdesign.com
blog  Twitter  Facebook

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 September 23, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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