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Small business chat update – Stevie Maiden

Small business chat update – Stevie Maiden

It’s update time with Stevie Maiden from Maidens Fayre. When we first met Stevie in June 2013, she ran a small business Facebook group and was building up her jams, chutneys and pickles business. Updates in July 2014 , 2015 and 2016 she shared the ups and downs of life at fairs and shows while she tried to achieve that delicate work-life balance. In 2016, this was her plan for this year: “I hope to be selling into more retail outlets and doing less standing in fields in the rain,” but unfortunately life had something different in store.

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

Sadly not. I had a nasty fall after I completed last years answers. It’s meant I’ve had to cut back considerably.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still working, but I’ve lost heart in it. I’m considering putting the business up for sale. My deteriorating health has meant that I can’t work as hard as I did. It’s still my only source of income, so I have to stick at it

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

Well, I’ve learned that if you advertise your ideas on Facebook, your competitors WILL copy them.

What hints and tips do you have for people?

I’d say have a back-up plan. I loved this business so much and I never thought I would stop. Be prepared that it might happen to you.

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

I really hope I get my enthusiasm back and if not, I really hope to sell the business as a going concern

I’m so sorry that Stevie’s had a hard time this year and has lost enthusiasm as a result. I am grateful for her honesty in sharing this with us – it’s good to remember times can be hard and scary as well as easy and fun, and it is indeed important to have a back-up plan. I hope there’s no selling of the business and lots of selling of jam and chutney involved this year!

You can find Stevie online on the Maidens Fayre Facebook page and get in touch with her there.

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 July 15, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Dick Margulis

Small business chat update – Dick Margulis

It’s Small Business Update time with  Dick Margulis from Dick Margulis Creative Services – he makes books, in effect, providing a range of services for authors. We first chatted to Dick back in February 2012, and then again in March 2013, March 2014, May 2015 and most recently, June 2016.  This time last year, this was his plan: “Y’know, I’ve been talking about our cohousing project for so long, saying that this would be the year we finally moved in, that I’m thinking I’m going to give the project the code name Jerusalem. As in “next year in Jerusalem.” <sardonic_laugh />” Let’s see what’s going on in his work life at the moment …

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

No. At least not physically. Yet more bureaucratic hurdles have delayed the start of construction on our cohousing project. In a triumph of obstinacy over common sense, though, we persist.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still doing what I love, helping people realize their vision of a beautiful, well-made book with which to convey their ideas, their stories, their legacies. What is new is that I’ve developed a specialty—still just a small part of my practice—of recreating the look and feel of typesetting from bygone eras. By using modern digital fonts and standard software rather than the far costlier approach of reproducing old techniques with antique equipment in a museum-like environment, I can bring in these special projects within affordable budgets. Plus I have a lot of fun doing it.

You can read all about Dick’s new type project here – with images, so do pop through to have a look!

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

The things I’ve learned since the elevation of Donald Trump are all things I wish I’d never learned. Let’s leave it at that.

I’d say that was completely fair enough! Any more hints and tips for people?

The world did not spring into existence fully formed the day you were born. Your elders may actually know things you don’t know—useful things—and you should allow for that possibility before waving them away.

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

Every day brings a new outrage that I can’t have foreseen, so I’m not about to guess at what lies a year hence.

I love Dick’s new project with the bygone type – I hope you did click through to have a look as it’s fabulous work. I hope things improve regarding housing and politics, and stay just as inventive and creative in his work life!

You can find Dick Margulis here:

Dick Margulis Creative Services
284 West Elm Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06515
+ 1 (203)389-4413 office
+ 1 (203)464-3199 mobile
www.dmargulis.com (site)
www.ampersandvirgule.com (blog)

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 July 8, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Mel Carpenter

Small business chat update – Mel Carpenter

It’s a big hello to Mel Carpenter again today – Mel never stands still (literally) as she is an exercise and fitness guru who is always updating and pivoting and refining her business models – and good for her, as it’s easy to become complacent and stuck in a rut. You can find her at Cardio Central and The Mummy Trainer and she also runs a printing company with her husband, Fullfit. We first met Mel in February 2013 and then updated in February 2014, March 2015 and May 2016. Last year, she wanted to be here by now: “With a Teacher Training programme that’s up and running and providing me with an income! I’m still planning on opening that studio and I would love for it to be next year as I turn 40!” I guessed things would have changed in the meantime and I was correct: read on to find out more and pick up some good hints and tips!

Hello again, Mel! I hesitate to ask this one …Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Whenever you ask me that question, the answer is always no, lol!

Well – I am now a Personal Trainer, I’m also a Fitness Tutor and I do have my own Fitness Programme and it is launching very soon (I’m very excited)!

I don’t have my studio yet but I am still 40 for another 10 months so it could still happen in that time frame!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still teaching classes, although my timetable is more varied now and I have instructors that teach for me regularly.

I still run the printing company with my husband and I now have my own Clothing Label called ‘Beatz’!

I don’t blog much on The Health Carpenter anymore, that’s due to The Mummy Trainer picking up speed, which I am very happy about!

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

I’ve learned a lot about websites, I now do 95% of my own website updates (my husband is relieved) and I’m concentrating on learning more about analytics (totally not 2016 me!)!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Learn as much as you can! I’m always studying, whether it be a course or books that I’ve bought on a particular subject! Continuous education is key when you are self-employed!

Also, Network, Network, Network!

I’ve started going to local networking meetings and I’ve recently joined an online mastermind group called Atomic (run by a Content Marketing Duo called Andrew and Pete).

My next goal is to be a speaker at these events, here’s hoping I can confirm that next year!

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

Still studying, still working and still striving to be the best that I can be!

Those are good aims, aren’t they! The exercise industry is something that is constantly changing, unlike my world, where a new use of a word form can take years to catch on. But whatever industry we’re in, it’s always wise to keep up to date and keep learning from the people and events around us.

 

www.cardiocentral.co.uk
www.themummytrainer.co.uk

www.Fullfit.co.uk

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 July 1, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat – Sara from Sara’s Parlour

Small business chat – Sara from Sara’s Parlour

Welcome to a NEW small business chat – how exciting! Today we’re meeting Sara, a friend of a friend, who runs Sara’s Parlour Face Painting, which offers face painting and other art services in the West Midlands and beyond. Sara’s been running her business for a decade and you really should check out her website and Facebook page to see the amazing images she’s created. Let’s meet Sara and see how she’s got where she is today!

Hello, Sara, and it’s lovely to meet you. So, basics first: what’s your business called? When did you set it up?

Hello! My business is called Sara’s Parlour Face Painting, and I set up the business in 2007.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

It was a chance request for me to do some face painting from a previous client. I hadn’t done it before, but had a book on my shelf on face painting so decided to give it a shot!

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

After completing my art degree as a mature student, I was unsure which avenue to take next. I had tried out working in various areas post my degree – including theatre design, art workshops, and graphic design. I realised after giving face painting a go that It makes people happy, that I loved sharing my artwork with people, particularly that mirror moment!

Had you run your own business before?

Yes, I had designed clothing for boutiques in Birmingham and London back in the 90s.

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 worked part time alongside working for charitable organisations supporting the public, and there have definitely been skills learnt there that I’ve transferred to my work now.

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

I wouldn’t change my job for the world, it is long hours behind the scenes, which requires a broad range of skills, although the public just see the fun stuff, but even if I had been told that in advance, it wouldn’t have stopped me fulfilling my passion!

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

Believe in yourself fully.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Nothing at all 🙂

What are you glad you did?

Saying yes to every new positive experience.

What’s your top business tip?

I work in a co-working space which is brilliant, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself when in an organised office environment, and there is so much to learn from others – so my top tip is don’t become isolated – it can be counter-productive!

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

I’ve grown, moving into full time, subcontracting work out and working in teams, and getting bigger clients due to better marketing.

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

Full time, potentially with at least one paid worker in the office so I can work on being creative!

I love the passion my creative interviewees bring to their work – although you can obviously find passion in every sort of business. I was interested to hear that Sara works in a co-working space; that’s not something I can do in my line of work, not least because much of my work is confidential. But I totally agree about not becoming isolated, and have a good community of “my” people around me. You really should click on a link to see the marvellous work Sara does, and I’ll be looking forward to her follow-up interview next year!

Finally, where can we find you?

You can visit my website at www.sarasparlour.co.uk, find me on Facebook or just phone me on 07964 081 325.

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 June 17, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Anastasia Wilson (was Anastasia Bird)

Small business chat update – Anastasia Wilson (was Anastasia Bird)

Welcome to another Small Business Update – and today we’re saying hello again to the lady previously known as Anastasia Bird, who is now Anastasia Wilson . Anastasia runs Virtual Bird, although her business model has changed since we started chatting back in March 2013. We had updates in March 2014, April 2015  and May 2016. and in that last interview, when I asked her where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she said … “Well, on exactly this date in a years time I’ll be getting married!! So in the meantime I guess just keep growing as Virtual Bird has been growing so far!” (don’t worry, I didn’t actually interview her on her wedding day …). Let’s see how she’s getting on!

Hello, Anastasia! Congratulations on your wedding! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no, I got married a few days ago so that’s VERY different! Business wise, yep, everything is on the right track and it’s growing at the expected pace.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

My working hours have changed, I now do a more “normal” working pattern as I was getting close to burning out. Stayed the same is my passion for helping other small businesses grow, it’s still the driving force behind what I do.

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

I’ve learned that I’m not superwoman and sometimes you have to take a step back and re-evaluate. I knew this as I coach my clients about it, but it takes a personal experience to really put it into perspective.

Any more hints and tips for people?
Ooh, always keep your inbox organised – a chaotic inbox can have an impact on your productivity function!

What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?

What’s the hardest part about running a business?

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

Well, I’m going to hope that the business is roughly at the same pace because we’re renovating the house and if it grows anymore then I won’t be able to cope 😉

Work-life balance and “normal” hours are very hard things to achieve, so well done to Anastasia for doing so well with that. I know very few people who’ve managed to build that in from the start, and many who had a risk of burn-out or even became unwell before they made the necessary changes.

Anastasia’s new website for Virtual Bird is at www.virtualbird.co.uk and you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can find the link to her e-book at the bottom of her web page.

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 June 10, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Simon Forder

Small business chat update – Simon Forder

Welcome to an update with Simon Forder, who has a busy life dealing with his Telemarketing company, RingHello, his castles project, The Castle Guy, and being a dad. Simon is one of my few original 2011 interviewees left now (others have drifted away from the series, rather than going out of business, I hasten to add), catch-ups in October 2012, November 2013, February 2015. and April 2016. Last year his comment on his plans for the upcoming 12 months was, “I’ll be in a more secure place with regular historical commission work providing a greater proportion of income, we will have the software available with a reasonable number of subscribers (50 at least) starting to provide us with a regular ambient income, and maintaining a regular income stream from telemarketing as well. Maybe baby Olaf will have regularised his sleep patterns by then as well, so fewer black bags under the eyes would be nice!”  Let’s see how he’s getting on!

Hello Simon! So, how are things going?

I am going to have to make this as brief as I can for reasons which should become clear as I type. Not least, at any moment it’s always possible that our little boy could wake up!

Trying to juggle the amount of time that both the Castle Guy project and Ringhello needed with my health issues has proven to be a bit of a challenge, and adding a baby to the mix definitely increased that challenge somewhat.

At the start of the financial year just ended, Janine and I chose to incorporate in order to allow us the opportunity of growing our business through the use of other trusted freelancers.

We now have a pool of about a dozen people we can call upon to carry out these campaigns, and although there have been hiccups along the way, overall the plan is coming together nicely. The principal challenge has been to do with the drop in profitability due to the use of third parties – an awkward jump for anyone used to being self-employed – and a complete lack of support for the fledgling limited company from the banking industry. It’s now starting to be the case that we need to find more good quality people to work with us and our clients!

We are now at the stage where we are investigating ways of promoting our software, which is designed to fit the gap between Excel spreadsheets and a full-blown CRM, helping small and micro-businesses manage their cold calling effectively. We’re offering it free just now if any reader is interested to ensure suitable feedback from outside users to show investors and potential partners. Just call me if you’d like to know more, readers…!

The Castle Guy project had to take a back seat for a while, and I certainly haven’t been out and about as much as I had hoped, but I did manage to get the second volume in the series published a couple of months ago. (http://thecastleguy.co.uk/books/fortress-scotland-volume-2/) I couldn’t dedicate any resources to publicising it beyond my own social media efforts, but I’ve still managed to sell about 50 copies, which is really heartening given the hike in the price I’ve had forced upon me! I’m hoping to have a second Castle Guide out there soon as well – Stirling Castle. At present it’s an absolute whopper at over 20,000 words, I’m having to put together some hand-drawn sketches which is proving time-consuming.

Health-wise things are on the up. I’ve learned to identify the signs my body is giving me when it isn’t happy with what I’ve eaten. But with a still not-very-sleepy 15 month old (he still hasn’t slept “through” once), sleep deprivation is definitely taking its toll. The CFS isn’t rearing its head (thank goodness) but I do find that I am nowhere near as capable as I was at – for example – doing the gardening. And the shoulder still hasn’t healed.

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

Not really. Everything takes more time with a baby to consider, but I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Much is the same. Living and working in Scotland, where we have had a general election, Scottish election, independence referendum, EU referendum, Brexit negotiations – and another general election coming up soon (not to mention a possible second independence referendum), the economy is suffering from a chronic case of indecision. Every time there’s an election people hold fire on investment – and there’s no clear end in sight yet. But people in business are starting to realise they can’t avoid making decisions indefinitely, and that has to be good.

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

I honestly can’t answer the first part of that question; the only thing I wish I’d known was that one of our suppliers was going to fold. It’s left us with a gap in promoting our business that to be honest we could have done with some notice to plug properly. Oh, and I would have approached exhibiting at a business expo in London differently. I’m not in the business of naming and shaming, but we’ve been left with a very bitter taste in our mouths by an utterly unscrupulous sales team. Sins of lying and omission, let’s put it that way.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t forget to give yourself time to breathe. And that goes to myself as well…

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

Hopefully in the position I said last year. At the very least I hope that everything has stabilised – but with the political situation as it is, I remain doubtful.

A bit of a complicated year, then, with lots of choices and changes and a lack of stability. I hope the political situation calms down a bit, too, as it’s worrying when you deal with lots of overseas clients like I do. I love Simon’s hint about giving yourself time to breathe. It only takes anything to do with your health to realise that you’re not a business machine but a person who needs to look after themselves!

You can find Simon online at ringhello.co.uk and thecastleguy.co.uk.

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 June 3, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Kath Kilburn

Small business chat update – Kath Kilburn

It’s Small Business Chat Update time again (a bit late today, sorry!) – so say hello to Kath Kilburn from wool shop Three Bags Full. We first met Kath in June 2014, and updated in May 2015, when her bricks-and-mortar shop came under threat (through no fault of her own), and she was still uncertain in May 2016, but she’s still going strong with her online presence and maintaining her role in the knitting community. This time last year, when I asked her where she saw herself in a year’s time, she replied “At the moment it’s really difficult to say. We’ll be doing some SEO work on the website to make it more visible and adjusting the lines we have on offer and see how it goes from there. Watch this space!” So, how’s she doing now?

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

We were in such a state of flux last year that I’m not sure I had much of an idea where I’d be but, since we closed our bricks and mortar shop, I’ve been adding more items to our website, have started selling completed garments on folksy (I did this especially in the run up to Christmas), have identified an extra regular craft market to frequent, have sold yarn once a month in the foyer of our old building in Halifax and have finished a new, short ebook about the shop closure – so I haven’t been sitting around! I’m also considering a pop-up shop later in the year if it’s feasible.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The major change was closing the shop; still the same is the running of the website, although we’ve re-jigged the stock to some extent. I’ve also continued to meet up with the lovely knitters from what was originally the shop’s knitgroup.

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

I wish I’d known everything would be (kind of) okay after such a major change and how much I’d appreciate being able to spend more time on writing, which is the other thing I enjoy.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I really wouldn’t advise anyone to take business advice from me!

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

I think we’ll still be doing the same stuff; I’m finding the mix of different things we’re doing now really enjoyable. I’m probably more suited to it than I am to doing the same thing in the same place all the time. Having said that, as a general thing, I think it’s sad that so many little specialist shops are closing – we need independents to make our high streets interesting and unique.

Bonus question – What would I like to ask other new small business owners?

I’d be interested in which parts of their jobs other business owners hive off. For me, I’m so unsuited to the technical side of things (setting up the website, etc) and the accountancy side (preparing the tax return) that I’m happy to pay someone to do those parts of the work for me. I sure there are some great people out there who’ll successfully tackle anything, but I’d sooner concentrate on the crafty and organisational bits of the job – the bits I know I can do reasonably well

I stopped asking the bonus question after a year as I wasn’t getting the feedback I was hoping for from other business owners, but I think this one is totally valid. I am OK at the organisational side of things because I was an administrator for years of my career before I started  my business, but for creative people this can be a real issue. I’m glad Kath’s doing OK, though!

You can find Kath’s website at www.threebagsfulluk.com *there’s a Folksy button on the web page where you can find seasonal items) and call her on 07941133155 or email her if you want to get in touch. You can also read her e-books, “So You’d Like to Open a Wool Shop…“ and “So, That Wool Shop We Opened ...”.

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 20, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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