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Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Welcome to an update with Kathy Ennis of LittlePiggy, formerly Kathy Ennis: Your Brand is You. Kathy joined this interview series in n May 2012 and updated her story in July 2013 and August 2014. We last chatted in February 2016, and at that point, when asked where she wanted to be in a year’s time, Kathy said, “You reminded me, Liz, that in 2014 I said “Bigger, better, bolder!” and to be honest I don’t believe I can think of anything better so I am going to stick with it through 2016.” So, is she bigger, better and bolder this time round? Read on to find out.

Hello again, Kathy, and welcome back. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not really. During 2015/16 I realised that my business had moved in a slightly different direction. Although I was still working with business owners on their brand / personal branding, I was also being asked to help with their engagement marketing and general business systems and processes. Also, increasingly, I was delivering training in these areas for both organisations and enterprise agencies.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The upshot of these changes was, in the summer of 2016, I decided to rename my business to reflect these changes. I also carried out a complete overhaul of the brand and key messaging. The upshot is my new business: LittlePiggy.

I am still working 1-2-1 with clients, but I now work closely with a few Enterprise Agencies on the delivery of their mentoring and training programmes. This is the side of the business that I want to grow.

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

I don’t think I learned anything in 2015/16 that I didn’t know – because what I did is what I work through with my clients – but it has given me more practical advice and experience that I can impart to my clients.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Plan any changes fully. Because I sat down and worked out precisely what I wanted / needed to happen; the timescale; researched people / organisations to outsource to (web design etc.) it all went really smoothly. It only took two weeks for it all to happen once the planning was complete.

Biggest tip: When planning, have many, many post-it notes, and be prepared to use them all

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

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.

I admire people who can pivot like this and make brave and bold decisions – and I also admire people who plan first! Kathy did both of these things, and as you can see, it paid off for her. She has a great logo now, 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

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 29, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Venal or venial?

Venal or venial?

Another troublesome pair from near the end of the alphabet – and while we’re talking about alphabets, I’ll admit now (and sadly it will probably be true for any future readers, too; you’ll be amazed how many people search for these pairs years after I posted them) that I’m a bit behind with updating the index. However, if you use the Search feature (under menu on a mobile or in the right-hand column on a desktop) you will be able to find all of them.

OK, venal vs. venial.

If you are venal, it means you are susceptible to bribery, for example a corrupt politician or town planner.

Venial is quite different: it is used in a Christian context to describe a sin which is not seen as removing divine grace from the soul. It has therefore also come to mean, by extension, slight or pardonable, although I can’t personally recall seeing it used in this way in a non-religious context (or without any reference to religion) and I would advise using slight or pardonable instead if you want to use it in a secular context unless you’re very sure your audience will understand it.

Additional point: venial sins are contrasted with mortal sins, which are terrible, grave sins which do deprive the soul of divine grace.

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

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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Small business chat update – Daniel Sodkiewicz

Small business chat update – Daniel Sodkiewicz

Welcome to an update with Dan Sodkiewicz from Royal Deer Design in New York and also now from GeekSeller. We first met Daniel in January 2015  and had an update chat in April 2016. Daniel formed his company a year before I set up Libro, it’s always interesting to me to see the different kinds of paths that businesses of the same age have taken. Back in April 2016, this was Dan’s plan for the year: “I would like to see 80% of our income source to be from our newly developed SAAS products (mainly GeekSeller.com), and 20% from web design business. That would be the ideal scenario for my business”. Did he achieve that? Read on to find out …

Hello again, Dan, and good to talk to you over the ocean. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

We are actually a way ahead of where I thought we would be. Our new company (GeekSeller) has grown much faster than I expected.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

As planned, we closed our web design business and are now focusing on GeekSeller.com (an ecommerce multichannel platform). We do not do web design anymore, but are running our SAAS business, now with more than 15 people on the team and we’re still expanding.

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

You shouldn’t hold off too long on hiring people. This is a common struggle for founders, who try to do everything themselves. Building a large, successful company can only be achieved as a team. I am very happy with where we are with GeekSeller, but I suspect we could have grown even faster if we had started hiring more aggressively early on.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Focus on your users. This was and is the main factor in GeekSeller’s success.

BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

How do you deal with stress and overwork? Is there such a thing as work/life balance when you run a startup?

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

We would like to double our company’s size and have GeekSeller become the go-to company for ecommerce multichannel solutions, supporting all major platforms on the market.

I think Daniel’s point on hiring is very interesting – it’s a big leap to take, and not one I personally chose to do, but it’s very hard to get the timing right. I’ve seen people who’ve hired too soon and not had the work or finances to sustain it, and people who’ve hired later and wish they’d done it sooner. I’m not sure what the solution is! With regard to his question on work/life balance, the people I’ve seen who’ve achieved this are the ones who’ve planned back-up and holiday time from before they even started operating, and I feel this must be the key. I’m doing OK now, but it took a few years to even out and still gets tricky sometimes – I think that’s how it goes, though; it’s never going to be perfect and I still think you get more out of being self-employed or running your own business than you lose. Good luck to Daniel and GeekSeller for the next year – I’m sure all will go swimmingly!

Royal Deer Design, LLC
New York
Email
Web: www.royaldeerdesign.com  www.geekseller.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. 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 22, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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How to start a new line, paragraph or page or indent a paragraph in Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016

How to start a new line, paragraph or page or indent a paragraph in Word 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016

This is a quick reference round-up how to and how not to covering how to stat a new line, how to start a new paragraph, how to start a new page and how to indent a paragraph in Word for Windows.

I have covered all of these in detail in various longer articles which I’ll link to as we go along.

Why all the fuss? Why can’t I do it my way?

If you are formatting a document to be used by someone else, edited and changed or, especially, printed, it’s vital that you use the standard ways to lay out your document to prevent it getting into a mess or someone else having to reformat it (which could be expensive if you’re paying them). In addition, certain methods, especially using Enter to start a new line, can make your document messy as soon as you enter extra text before that line break (see the relevant article for details and examples).

How to start a new line in Word

Don’t use the space bar to move the cursor along until it finally gets to the next line

Do use a soft line return or a hard paragraph return:

  • Pressing the shift key and enter key at the same time at the end of your line will move the cursor to the next line without any paragraph breaks, spaces between the lines, etc. (this is very useful if you’re creating two-line captions)
  • Pressing the enter key at the end of your line will move the cursor to the start of the new line (this will give you a space between the two lines if you have your paragraphs set up like that

How to start a new paragraph in Word

Don’t use the space bar to move the cursor to a new line, then create a new line of spaces

Do use a hard paragraph return: hit the Enter key on your keyboard

How to put a space between paragraphs in Word

Don’t use the Enter key to add a line of white space

Do use the Line Space icon in your Home tab or the Paragraph menu to add a space after each paragraph

How to indent a paragraph in Word

Really don’t use the space key to line up the paragraphs

Don’t use the Tab key to indent the paragraph

Do either highlight the whole text and set the rulers at the top of the page OR set the Normal style to have an indent at the start of a paragraph

How to start a new page in Word

Don’t use the Enter key to move the cursor down to the next page

Do use the Enter and Control keys at the same time to force a page break


This article has summarised how to start a new line, paragraph and page and indent a paragraph correctly in Word.

Related articles in this blog

Line space icon

Paragraph menu

Indenting paragraphs

Page breaks

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Errors, Word, Writing

 

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Swathe or swath?

Swathe or swath?

I had always assumed that there was just one word for a row of grass or other cereal crop as it falls as it’s mown, or a broad area of land, also used by extension for a broad area of anything (swathes of the English-speaking population use swathe and not swath), but then swath started cropping up in both the newspaper and the current affairs magazine I read regularly (which do not share a publisher, although some journalists write for both).

To me, personally, “swath” sounds wrong when I read it (this is where I find out not everyone hears the words in their head, like when I found out that not everyone gets earworms (uninvited music playing in your head). I’ve always pronounced the word to rhyme with “bathe”, with the “a” that’s in “cave”, presumably because I first saw it written as “swathe” and applied the rule that an “e” at the end of a word lengthens the vowel. “Swath” reads to me with a harder “the” and the “shortened”, so like the beginning part of “gather” (this is hard without using linguistic pronunciations symbols!) although I suppose you could read it with the same vowel as “bath” or even “swatch”.

As the dictionaries I consult for this series (primarily Oxford and Merriam-Webster) both say you can use either swathe or swath, I’m guessing that which you use depends on which you first saw and read and thus the way you pronounce it. I’d love to know which you use and how you pronounce it!

Oh, and if you like this kind of stuff, I can highly recommend Kory Stamper’s new book “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries”. I’ve not finished it yet, but, oh, it’s just marvellous. There’s a photo on my book review blog here and a review will appear on the blog in due course.

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

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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How do I assign a shortcut key in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016?

In this article we will learn about assigning shortcut keys or keyboard shortcuts or short-cuts in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016 for PC. Please note that these instructions are for these versions of Word and might not work in the same way on a Mac or in an older version of Word.

What is a keyboard shortcut or shortcut key?

A keyboard shortcut allows you to use the keys on your keyboard to do tasks that you might normally need to use your mouse for, or which are buried deep in layers of menus. Click a couple of buttons and you have done what you wanted to do.

What is the purpose of assigning shortcut keys?

The clue is in the word “shortcut”. Assigning a keystroke or two to carry out common tasks will save time and is also used by people who need to use the mouse less, for example if they suffer from or are prone to RSI.

Are some actions in Word covered by shortcut keys anyway?

Yes, some actions in Word are already doable by using keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can copy text by pressing Control and C at the same time, or paste it somewhere using Control and V. You can also look for text pretty well anywhere there’s text by using Control and F together.

What we’re talking about here is assigning a new shortcut key to an activity that doesn’t already have one – or assigning a new key to a different shortcut.

How do I assign or change keyboard shortcuts?

To assign or change keyboard shortcuts or shortcut keys, you need to access the Customize Ribbon menu.

In brief, you can use one of these two paths:

  • File – Word Options – Customize Ribbon
  • Right-click on the tabs in the Ribbon – select Customize Ribbon

See this article for screenshots and more detail.

Once you’ve followed the trail to the Customize Ribbon dialogue box, you should be here:

customize ribbon and short cut keys

Now click on Keyboard shortcuts: Customize.

The Customize Keyboard menu

This looks a bit weird at first. Basically, in the left-hand box you will find all of the tabs (and a few more) that you see in your Word ribbon. In the right-hand box, you will find all of the commands or actions associated with that tab. So when you first go into this menu, you’ll see the File Tab and a load of things you probably don’t normally do:

customize keyboard

However, if you move to the Home Tab (by clicking on it) you will see some more familiar items – and note that they’re in alphabetical order.

Here you can see under Current keys that Bold has the shortcut keys Ctrl+B and Ctrl+Shift+B, which means that you can hold down Control and the b key at the same time, or Control and Shift and the b at the same time to make the text that’s highlighted or the next text you type bold. You might have known how to do that already: here is where that shortcut can be set, removed or changed.

customize key strokes

If you scroll down the list of tabs, headed Categories, you will find one called Commands Not in the Ribbon which is a useful list.

Let’s say I wanted to change the shortcut for AllCaps (i.e. to change the highlighted text or next text I type to be ALL IN CAPITALS).

I click on the AllCaps Command and then press the new shortcut key I want to assign to that – in this case I’ve chosen Ctrl+C – so I hit those keys and Ctrl+C gets added into the box under Press new shortcut key:

assign a new keystroke

What if the shortcut key I want to use has already been assigned?

Here we can see that Ctrl+C is already assigned to EditCopy. If I assign Ctrl+C to AllCaps, it will then move over from EditCopy to AllCaps and will no longer be available for EditCopy.

keystroke already assigned

Of course, this might not matter, if the other command is one you don’t use anyway. If you want to assign this shortcut, go ahead and press Assign. The shortcut will move into the Current keys section.

How do I remove or cancel a keyboard shortcut?

If you want to remove the keyboard shortcut you’ve just created, or one that you keep hitting by accident, highlight the one you want to remove and press the Remove button beneath it. Note: if you’ve reassigned a shortcut key and want to put it back to how it was, you will need to find its original command and add it back in there.

assign and remove shortcuts

How do I save my keyboard shortcuts?

When you’ve assigned your shortcuts, press the Close button on the Customize Keyboard menu and the OK button on the Customize Ribbon menu.

Note: you can save changes in a new template, if you want to keep your standard Word template as it is. Drop down the Save changes in: list to do that.


In this article I’ve explained how to assign and remove keyboard shortcuts or shortcut keys to give a short cut that will save your mouse hand. If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please share using the sharing buttons below, or comment if you’ve searched for it and used it and I’ve helped you. Thank you!

Related articles on this blog

How to customise the Quick Access Toolbar

How do I customise the Word Ribbon?

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Word

 

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Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Today I’m very happy to welcome Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. back to Libro Towers. I first interviewed Matt last year, when he’d just set up his business and, having done it very sensibly, was looking forward to growing the business and really pressing forward with it. When I asked him where he wanted to be in a year, he replied, “I’d really like to be in a position to consider taking on a 2nd person.” As predicted, he’s done really well, and he might even be looking at that goal – let’s ask him and see …

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

Broadly, yes, I am. Some things have gone better (revenue and world ranking, to name two) and some things I still need to address my mind to this year.

I’m certainly considering taking on my first employee, which is an exciting (daunting?!) step.

I’m currently reviewing the option of taking on an apprentice and looking at various council schemes that might make this decision an easier (financial) one.

In my first full year of trading I became the World’s Number 2 Solutions Partner. This means that I sold the 2nd greatest number of licences of QuoteWerks partners worldwide. This exceeded my expectations as I thought getting into the top 10 would be a great achievement.

I also won the individual award (QuoteWerks MVP).

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The number of clients I have has significantly grown, both in the UK and the US. This has meant I’ve had to get clever at how I keep in touch with them to ensure that they’re still happy with the software. This has included regular mail outs with surveys and new feature details. I often use YouTube to link to videos of new features so they can see them in action, as opposed to just reading about them.

The growth of US-based clients has meant needing to work occasionally into the evening to virtually ‘meet’ with them during their office hours.

In terms of staying the same, the needs of businesses that could use my solution are still the same. What has always proved difficult, and still does, is making businesses aware that software like mine exists and being able to make them aware of why they need it.

With my software being bought in US Dollars, the exchange rate changes has increased the price of my software by about 20%, most of which I’ve had to pass on to clients. This has created one or two slightly uncomfortable phone calls with existing clients.

There are several services I’ve implemented such as using Moneypenny to answer calls when I’m unavailable. This was recommended to me by a client, as they use the service as well. For £30 a month, any calls I can’t take don’t go through to voicemail but they get to speak to a real person that will advise my status (I can put comments such as, out of the office today, will return their call when I’m available at 1600). This gives a much more professional view of the company and people often comment “I’ve left a message with your colleague”.

All my finance/tax/payslip tasks are also outsourced using March Mutual, another recommendation from a client. This means that at the end of the month, having logged all my invoices/expenses and when payments have been received, I get a payslip telling me how much money I can take out from the business and what needs to be set aside for things like Vat and Corporation Tax.

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

Saying “no” is still something I’m quite bad at.

When I had a feeling that a client wasn’t right for the solution, or they wanted a scope to include X and Y for a price of A; there have been a couple of occasions where I, with hindsight, should have said no or stood my ground.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Outsource those jobs you don’t enjoy (or aren’t very good at!)

Services like Moneypenny, March Mutual and Fiverr are worth their weight in gold and free up time for me to spend on other areas of the business.

If you have a good client, and your solutions fit nicely, try and replicate that client. It might be a certain business type, for example. I would say about 60% of my clients are IT focused companies. Working with those businesses has increased my knowledge of that sector and I give a good impression to prospects in that sector, as I can ‘talk their language’.

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

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.

He’s done so well, hasn’t he! I am particularly impressed at Matt’s organisation of his life and business; phone calls are very important to a business like his and it’s great that he’s found a seamless solution to that and his financial arrangements. Well done to him!

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 April 8, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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