RSS

Category Archives: Small Business Chat

Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Small business chat update – Amelia Wilson

Hello again to the lovely Amelia Wilson of The Editing Shop who provides copyediting, translation review and localisation services. Amelia joined the interview series in November 2014,and had our first update in January 2016, January 2017 and February 2018. When I asked her then where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied “Personally, I’d like to invest in professional development in the areas that are taking my interest, and find ways to blend this into my business and my services and products. I love that deep learning about my own interests can be rewarding not only to me, in terms of growing my business, but also to my clients and the community I serve. It’s the biggest privilege of self-employment.” I loved this, and I was looking forward to finding out how Amelia has got on with this.

In a year’s time, hopefully I’ll have had the opportunity to dig deep, expand my knowledge, and find ways to reflect my growing skillset in my business.

Hello again, Amelia, and it’s lovely to have you back (the delay is entirely down to me!) Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no! It’s been a really interesting year for me, I’ve had lots of opportunities to work alongside some brilliant people in hugely different industries to mine. I joined a small group based in California and took on the role of remote content manager for a team focused on technical consulting. I got to travel lots, met some incredible people, attended some fascinating conferences, felt very out my depth at some of them (!) and learned a lot about an industry that was never on my radar before.

To answer your question, I’ve definitely developed my interests and learned a whole lot which was my goal last year, but not in the areas I necessarily planned to!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

It’s been a big change for me working as part of a group, and having colleagues again. I love the social aspect; freelancing can be a lonely business and I’ve met some lovely and very inspirational people that it was a privilege to work alongside. Some of my workload has diversified – I’ve taken on more of a managerial role, helping the team develop content, rather than just editing after the fact. My skills have grown as well as my confidence. What’s stayed the same is my own client work: I still provide editorial and localisation services to my regular clients, just from lots of different time zones!

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

That even when you’re busy, you have to plan for your business growth. It’s a much repeated lesson, but (for me anyway) wisdom has to come from experience, and from failing and planning to do better because of it. Giving attention to your business, marketing, products, plans, etc. can be really hard when you’re distracted with new opportunities, clients, projects, and work. On a busy schedule, it’s difficult to find the time to devote to that type of planning, and without the urgency of financial stress (ever the strong motivator!) I definitely let it slip.

I don’t regret where I spent my time and the amazing opportunities I am able to pursue, but I do feel like I’ve invested a lot in a different type of work this year, and that I’ve fallen behind a little in focusing on what I really love about my own business. I’m getting back to basics: figuring out how to blend together all the things I’ve learned and enjoy and to design the business services, products, and lifestyle I want. That’s what it’s all about!

Any more hints and tips for people?

I’ve learned that it’s a really fine balance between being open to opportunity and willing to adapt, and knowing yourself, your business and your goals and being firm in their pursuit. If you can get that perfect balance, the ability to dive headfirst into the unknown, while anchored in your own truth and business vision, I think you’re well on your way to achieving anything. And I’d like to hear how you managed it! I’m still getting there.

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

I love being part of a team, so I’m hoping to continue working with the colleagues and friends I’ve made this year. It accelerates my learning, which I really enjoy. I’m hoping to put some of the skills I’ve gained to use within my own business, in ways I can’t put my finger on just yet! As my confidence has grown, I’ve learned to almost enjoy networking, so I’d like to join some UK-based groups and attend more conferences and business events.

Contact details

My website doesn’t exist anymore (yet another overhaul, trying to figure out want I want to achieve with it, because clients don’t come from there for me so it needs a solid reason for existing), but I am on Twitter at @editingshop and LinkedIn.

The last one was a bit of a shock: I constantly get enquiries via my website and use it to keep my SEO up and position myself as an expert, so I’d like to learn more about why people decide not to have websites in a considered way. Better update my links page, too! I love how Amelia struck out in this whole new direction: very brave and inspiring as it’s easy to sink into the comfort of the known!

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 6, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Stevie Maiden

Small business chat update – Stevie Maiden

I’m playing catch-up now after having a sad lapse with these posts last year. I do get messages from people saying they enjoy them – do share or comment or comment on my social media shares if you like them! So it’s hello again to 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 2017 things weren’t looking great and I wasn’t sure she’d still be going by now, to be honest. But hooray! Back then, Stevie said of the upcoming year, “I really hope I get my enthusiasm back and if not, I really hope to sell the business as a going concern”.

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

I’m in a much better place now. My passion for my business reignited,

That’s great news! What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m working smarter instead of harder.

Now, I choose my events more carefully and don’t take everything that’s offered to me. It makes for more peace of mind.

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

That the government was going to change my pensionable age and I’d need to keep going for another 7 years!

I’ve learned that by changing my diet completely, I can manage the pain better

Any more hints and tips?

You’ll find you have new competition all the time. Don’t be frightened of it. If you’re good then people will remember and you’ll be invited back

Where do you see yourself in another year?

Talking to you?

In all honesty, I have no plans to change whats happening. See what comes first, death or retirement I’ll just keep plodding on, I expect. In all honesty, I have no big plans. I’ll just plod on until the end, I expect

To be honest, a lot of us can feel like that some of the time at least, can’t we – and I love when people are honest enough to talk about it! I’m glad Stevie’s still going and we’ll keep plodding through this series a bit longer!

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 29, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Hello again to Shelly Terry, who previously ran a hand-made card company, but now runs social media management and strategy and coaching company, Sheldon & Co. We first met Shelly back in in February 2013,  and updated with her in March 2014, February 2015, April 2016, May 2017. and May 2018. Then, Shelly’s plan for the coming year was this: “We are moving house, so I envisage I will be working out of a new office space that is far tidier and more organised than my current one. I also hope to have some larger clients on books, as my daughter will have 15 hours of pre-school so I will have a lot more time to invest in my exciting new business!” How’s she doing now? Let’s find out …

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

Yes! But far more has changed on top of that! The move went well, and my new office space is a bright and lovely spare room – the light makes making videos great, and the dedicated space is great. It is not as tidy as I’d like though! Pinterest worth it is not!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

So my social media business is well underway, and has grown far more than I had thought it could. I have some great clients I work with, and I also do website work and design work, which has been a wonderful addition to the business.

My greetings card business has been essentially archived, and the website was taken down over Christmas. I have a few clients that I honour orders for over Christmas, but other than that, Evelyn Mae has closed down.

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

I wish I would have realised that I should have addressed Evelyn Mae sooner. I either needed to have closed down sooner, or invested some money and bought better equipment. I hadn’t realised I had stagnated in that business for so long.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Pencil in reflective time monthly. We get so overwhelmed and consumed with ‘working’ , we forget that looking at the bigger picture is part of that work too, and we NEED to take that time.

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

So this time next year I will have expanded my social media agency and taken on a regular staff member to help with elements of the business. I will have extra time as my daughter starts school this September, so I plan to have more time to learn, to read, and to better my overall business, as well as taken on extra clients. I also will have launched a social media course online that will help those people who can’t afford, or don’t need a social media manager, which is a really exciting project I am working on at the moment!

Exciting times, and what a good idea to offer a course for people who don’t need Shelly’s central services, something that will broaden her appeal and bring her extra exposure as well as clients. Best of luck for the next year, Shelly!

WEB LINKS

www.sheldonandco.co.uk/linktree

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 22, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Sorry it’s coffee time with a slightly delayed update with Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing. Fellow-editor AND pony book fan Jane’s been with the interview series since November 2013 and we updated for the first time in December 2014, January 2016, February 2017, and February 2018 – the slight slippage this time has been down to me and the fact that we wanted to wait until a certain exciting book link was live. In 2018, this was Jane’s plan: I hope I’ll have managed to get Heroines on Horseback back out into the world, and the new website, too! It’s frustrating to be so close but have to rely on other people to achieve what I want. But balanced against that is the fact that the end result will be much better than anything I could have done on my own. I’m also hoping that I’ll have been able to focus on new writing. My plan for this year is to do less corporate and editing work for other people and carve out more time for me to write. It’s so very easy to do stuff for other people which pays within weeks rather than spend the time doing my own stuff, the payoff for which is months, if not years, down the line! So, I’m hoping that I will have an income stream from my books, have a sensible plan to develop it further, and have acquired a couple more clients.”

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

In a slightly different place! My own book, “Heroines on Horseback – the Pony Book in Children’s Literature” is now (at last) on pre-order, and I’ve started up a new business re-publishing pony books. The idea behind this has been the same as producing my own book: having a separate income stream to editing and proofreading.

The plan to develop publishing further wasn’t one I’d initially thought of taking. This has been a massive learning curve. I can proofread, so that’s a huge help, but I’ve also had to negotiate contracts, design covers, and do marketing.

That is helped by the fact my new pony books website is finally out there, and I’m slowly migrating all the information on the old site over to it. It’s mobile-friendly and vastly more up to date, and has also managed to take my new publishing venture in its stride. The website has had a difficult birth, but was certainly worth it once it arrived.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still working for my existing clients, and have another regular one I really enjoy working with. I now feel I have a rather better work balance, which is good business sense as if one element goes bung, I do still have the others. I compartmentalise so that when I’m proofreading or editing I’m proofreading or editing, and I have dedicated publishing time.

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

I have learned how to publish. There is a lot of help out there: the trick is in finding, amongst all the noise, the things that are helpful to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask. I have found that the things that have been really useful have come about because I approached someone with a question on something quite different.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to leap in another direction, but do your research before you do, and be realistic. If you don’t have expertise in a particular area, either get yourself trained or buy in expertise. Talk to people who do know what they’re doing. I know I lack PR and marketing expertise, so this was one thing I made sure I budgeted to buy in. Rhiannon of Garnet PR got all sorts of coverage I’d never have been able to, and she also helped me out a lot with my social media and improving that.

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

I’m hoping that I will have (finally) upgraded my membership of the Society of Editors and Proofreaders, having done the necessary training. I’m also planning to have got a solid base of books out there available as both eBooks and paperback books. I’m only just starting the paperback process, and that’s another learning curve. I’d like to have found myself some time for writing, which has been a casualty of all this!

Or if not writing, having some free time. Doing nothing very much.

I’ve been ridiculously excited about the pony book republishing project and as soon as I’ve got some space in my reading schedule and TBR shelf I’m going to be snapping up some of those paperbacks and sharing about them over on my personal blog. This is such an exciting move for Jane. I thought I was being brave, branching out into transcription about seven years ago!!

website: www.janebadgerbooks.co.uk
eBooks page: https://janebadgerbooks.co.uk/ebooks-from-jane-badger-books/
pre-order for Heroines on Horseback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07S2ZSKNN
professional: www.janebadger.com

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

My old friend Paul is, amazingly enough, Professor Elemental. and I think of him whenever I go to Moorgate Overground as we used to get the train together to work, him writing lyrics on an A4 pad, me reading, I presume. Now he’s got a brand, records, comics, a tea brand, a novel and more. I persuaded him to join this series in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015, March 2016, March 2017, and March 2018 (it’s completely my fault that this one has scooted through the year!) – and his interviews have been some of the most entertaining I’ve done so do have a click through the past ones if you have the time! When I asked the Prof where he wanted to be by now back in March last year, he replied, “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 … “ So, let’s find out those answers, 365 plus a few days later!

Hello Paul, and I’m adding your bonus paragraphs in here first because you are always entertaining!

Hmmmmm. Well. I mean, I’m not sure I learned that much in the last year. Although my aim was largely to see if I could do less work for the same results, which hasn’t worked out at all. Just by virtue of saying an enthusiastic YES to talented people who have offered to work with me, I’m doing more than ever. But it’s pretty fun stuff, so I am not complaining.

So apart from being able to answer the question of whether or not it’s possible to stay contented (Spoiler alert: it is), it’s quite possible that my answers will be less help than ever this year.

The big question then: Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not at all. I’d aimed to find a sweet spot between ‘successul creative business’ and ‘semi retired man’ and this has not panned out in the slightest. On the other hand, I am riding a wave of more exciting creative projects than I ever thought possible, so semi retirement will have to wait.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Still performing in more shows than you could shake a stick at, while juggling a plethora of Professor projects across every conceivable media. It’s all much the same sort of thing, except I’ve moved up a gear and I’m also trying to find ways for my work to do more good (via charity projects and the like)

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

Very little. If anything I think I might have unlearned some stuff. There’s every chance that I am regressing and by the time we do this in a decade I will just be uttering vowel sounds and grunting.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Writing books takes a lot longer than you think, boylesque can show you things you never wanted to see, overconfidence leads to a terrible live show, libraries are awesome (and so are the people who work in them), hackers and coders run the world, never drink with a German elf, Dutch fairies can be surprisingly strict, Portuguese Steampunks are as lovely as everywhere else, Patreon is a creative person’s best friend, Swansea has some really good tea shops, Hip Hop is still the best genre of any music and never underestimate the value of 8 hours’ sleep on your body and mind.

Love these, as always! And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

This year has been about starting work on so many things- so next year, I’d love to see some of those things come to fruition. From an animated cartoon, to several books, there are so many projects I cant wait to finish. And music too, I really should make some more of that.

I do always love the Prof’s hints and tips and I hope you’ve all taken careful note! What a wonderful career to follow, and of course doing good as he goes, too. I’m privileged to know this chap and be able to share his chap hop with a bit more of the world.

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. His School of Whimsy album is out now, and do search for him on YouTube, too, to get the flavour of his wonderful videos.

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 8, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business update – Yvonne Donald

Small business update – Yvonne Donald

I’m thrilled to say it’s hello again to Yvonne Donald from the rather marvellous cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014, January 2016, January 2017 and March 2018. Yvonne is still going strong, being careful in what she does and now carving out some essential free time for herself, something that small business owners find it very hard to do! When we last spoke, this was Yvonne’s plan for the year: “Bigger and better so that hopefully I can seriously make a move to work full-time in the business. This business is self-evolving – I plan but things never go to plan so I set myself small goals. Within the next year ideally I want or rather need a bigger space to work, so I think for this year I either need to think of extending or looking for a separate kitchen/workshop space, but I will continue to seek out opportunities and increase sales even more.” So, is that what panned out?

Hello, Yvonne, great to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

My first thought was what have I done in 2018 but when I look back it wasn’t too bad!
I think in all reality yes, I am where I thought I’d be. I decided that as much as it would be nice to work in my biz full time and have a store front, the level of uncertainty, especially with Brexit looming, makes me twitchy as well as a few cake makers deciding to cease their business, so I’m still doing my FT job but now I cap cake orders to make sure everything is manageable.In other words, I’m not being a busy fool because my pricing is right, so fewer cake orders but the same if not more income from the cakes I do, because I value my skills and time and so do my lovely customers My biz runs very well online, I’ve done a lot of SEO work on my website and so running the biz online is how it will stay for now.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Early 2018 I analysed my biz and looked at all aspects of the business, especially pricing. My prices have increased across the board due to price increases on food and non food products. It had to be done: I lost 1 or 2 customers but gained more than expected.

I’ve become even  stricter in my processes: I now have a dedicated day for admin and non-negotiable days off which is fab, also contact times so I now have even clearer boundaries in running my biz and having some downtime.

Some of my product lines have changed due to changes in trends and I’m getting more requests for gluten free and vegan which is a sign of the times and emerging trends. One of these is for fewer sugar paste cakes, more buttercream cakes (who knew!).

My brand is still growing and running itself (if that makes sense). I’ve got myself a little merchandise going on which increases my brand awareness, which is great after the rebrand.

My most exciting times were that I was asked to speak on BBC Radio West Midlands discussing black women in business with two other panellists, wrote two articles for Baker Magazine, and won another award from Jacqueline Gold, so regarding exposure it wasn’t a bad year!

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

I continue with my mantra of saying yes to things and figuring it out later. I was commissioned to bake 850 cupcakes for a cocktail bar launch in Brum. My kitchen isn’t the biggest but I sought out a kitchen to bake in and I managed to deliver – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Any more hints and tips for people?

* If you have a website, work on your SEO, as it helps so much in helping customers to find you [here’s an article I wrote on SEO that might help – Liz].

* Don’t think increasing prices necessarily means losing customers: those that value you will stay and are your customers, those that don’t are not.

* Seek out those opportunities, Twitter is great for this so always put yourself forward and challenge yourself.

* Get strict with your time: I’ve sacrificed so much but now with firm boundaries I feel more in control. After all, we all deserve some downtime.

* Understand your niche and follow your own path, don’t always feel you have to do what everyone else does. If certain products or services don’t work or you don’t like doing them don’t be afraid to let them go and switch focus.

* Ask for help. My sister and nephew have been great in helping with deliveries and admin and saved me so much time.

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

To keep the brand awareness strong .To keep offering fab cake, maintain a strong customer base, increase sales and maybe collaborate with similar small business and overall continue to enjoy and be happy in what I do.

I try to plan but nothing goes to plan so let’s just see where my destiny takes me!

I’m so impressed by Yvonne’s tenacity and ability to keep those boundaries and manage her time. It’s wonderful to see her cake brand going from strength to strength and watching her tread that line between following ALL the trends and keeping to what she excels at. Best of luck for the next year!

Twitter @Cupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604
 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

It’s small business chat update time and it’s always interesting featuring my friend Gill’s clever and enterprising son, Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. I first interviewed Matt in April 2016, when he’d just set up in business. We then updated things in April 2017 and March 2018 (he’d just had some good news then so I did it early) and here we are again, checking whether he is indeed where he hoped he’d be by now, which was … “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.”

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

I’m pleased to say that the business is still going and has maintained steady state from the previous 12 months. This means being able to support my family, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and allow Loraine (my wife) to take a full year off work.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well, running a small business can often lead to a fair amount of give and take. With my young boy now on the scene, managing client expectations prior to his arrival was something I felt was very important. I’m fortunate in that a lot of the business owners I work with already have children and totally understood my scenario and were very understanding indeed.

For 3 days a week, I’m working away from my home office. This has proven to increase my productivity and mean that, for those 3 days at least, I’m not tempted to work into the evening.

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

Being an owner of a small business (it’s still just me, and I don’t have plans/desires for that to change), managing client expectations is even more important than I thought.

By setting an appropriate out of office response, having a 3rd party call handler (I use Moneypenny) I had almost no issue with my limited availability post Jude’s birth.

I did have one client raise a bit of a fuss when I didn’t answer the phone the day after Jude’s arrival. I must confess in that I wasn’t too unhappy to see them decide to work with another company going forward. It certainly showed it was time to reassess that relationship.

Any more hints and tips for people? 

I’ve begun actively asking for testimonials/case studies post completion of a project. This gives me areas to think about for improvement and also, often, gives the opportunity to celebrate what you’ve brought to a client.

It’s interesting to get the perception of your work from a client’s point of view and can help guide any changes you may need to make.

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

As we continue to adjust to family life and new ways of working, my ‘target’ is to continue to maintain the level of business as the previous 12 months.

I’m so glad things have worked so well for Matt and it’s refreshing to read about a man’s work-life balance when a baby comes along, as it’s much more common for women to be asked about this. His plan for working outside the home office three days a week is a great one – even with “only” a house to run, I find myself interrupted by deliveries and laundry organising some days and would love to be spirited to another place! And asking for testimonials is a great idea, and something to use to attract new customers, as well. Are you a chap who runs a business from home and how did you cope with childcare arrangements?

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 25, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,