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Free event – my tips for taking your writing to the next level #writingforaliving

FOR FEMAIL/FMLDo you write? Come and join me in Hastings next month, on the 3rd of November,  and find out how to move your writing on to the next level, whether you want to finish something short, get a publishing deal, or earn your living from writing. 

Antonia Chitty is a writer and author of 20 non fiction books including How to Earn a Living as a Business Writer and Making Money Online (both Hale Books) and Blogging: the Essential Guide. She combines writing for a living with studying for a MA in Critical and Creative Writing at the University of Sussex.

Antonia originally trained as an optometrist and says, “Back then, I never dreamt I could write a book, and didn’t know what I could write about. I don’t ever regret my initial training, though, because it has provided me with a unique niche and one of my income streams comes from writing features about business and optics, while another is from managing social media for an optical organisation.”

How to earn a living as a writerAntonia made the move from optics to PR to journalism after working on an eye health campaign with RNIB. She says, “It was then I discovered that I liked writing and research more than seeing patients every half an hour.” She wrote on health for Which? Magazine for a number of years, and worked for the BMA before having her children. She says, “I ran my own PR business for a number of years, alongside having children, which brought me into contact with women running family friendly and flexible businesses. That inspired one of my first books, Family Friendly Working. I started a blog as a spin off from the book, and www.familyfriendlyworking.co.uk has been running for around 7 years, showcasing parents who work flexibly, and sharing information and advice for those who need it.” Antonia has also run networking events and conferences for women in business, as well as an online training business. She is now focusing on developing the more creative side of her writing, as well as researching how experiences become stories.

 

Find the full event details on Facebook.

Why businesses are looking in the wrong places when it comes to problem solving + nine tips to help you look in the right places.

WB_332-300x212 If a business has a problem that needs solving, whatever it is, there tends to be a pattern as to where the business owner will look for a solution. Some will almost always look inward i.e. at the internal processes and systems, and other will almost always put their focus externally i.e. at the market and business environment.  While both have merits neither is sufficient on its own.

According to William Buist, CEO of Abelard and Founder of xTEN Club, successful businesses can see a problem from both the customer’s perspective (external) and the perspective of the business owner (internal).

We seek to get customers to remember us for all sorts of things but in reality, in any business, customers only remember you for one of two things: the problems you solve – or the problems you create.

So how can you improve your problem solving? Here are William Buist’s nine tips to help you get clarity and put your focus in the right place:

  1.  Clarify your marketplace. In order to solve your customers’ most meaningful, relevant problems, you need to know what problems they are facing – and see them from their perspective. For example, what motivates your target customer? Are they concerned about high-quality products, spotless customer service, or finding the most budget-friendly solution?
  1. Clarify where your customers want to go. Understand where your customers currently are, followed by where they want to go. This gap is, in essence, your customer’s problem. Now you can tailor a solution that bridges the gap and solves their problem.
  1. Clarify with questions. For example, are they frustrated with ad-hoc account management versus automation? Do they need additional capabilities? Is the software simply too confusing or difficult to learn? Asking the right questions is the key to understanding the problem so you can better sell your customer on the right solution.
  2. Clarify customer problems and proactively prevent them. What are the five most common customer complaints that products or services like yours currently receive across the market place? What are your customers saying about your competitors and about you?Clarity around these concerns – e.g. high cost of service, diminishing returns, faulty or buggy products – allows your business to proactively prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
  1. Don’t make the problem bigger. Sometimes what you think is a customer’s problem is actually quite different from the reality. It is critical to understand the actual problem that your customer is facing – or you risk making the problem bigger. By asking questions and taking the time to get to know your customers, you can help prevent “assumptions” from dictating your problem solving response.
  2. Is Your Product Clear? What Do You Really Sell? Many entrepreneurs misunderstand the most fundamental question of what they do – what are you in business for? (Hint: it’s not “making money”). There are plenty of ways to cut out the middle man if all you want is to make money. Entrepreneurs create a product.
  3. Are you clear about how to deliver the right experience? Many owners design of the business is wrapped around activities that don’t add value, aren’t needed and which customers don’t want. Focussing on the key activities, the ones that matter, and becoming exceptional at them is what drives a great experience.
  1. What are you measuring? Are you measuring the things that matter to your staff, suppliers, customers, distributors, or measuring the things that matter to you? Find ways to measure what the customer wants rather than what you want. That’s how entrepreneurs in competitive markets get ahead.
  1. Everything has a shelf life. Do you know when you will replace your product, when you will next revisit the processes that deliver it, when you will need to make it fresh again? Why not (internally if you wish) have a refresh date in your business plan for that product.

Businesses with clarity make profits when others struggle, they grow whilst others stagnate and they outperform the market consistently.

Clarity gives us certainty and with it it brings success not confusion, and enjoyment not frustration. Successful entrepreneurs know that, and that’s why they stop from time to time to take a hard look at their model, the products, activities, and markets.

William Buist is owner of Abelard Collaborative Consultancy, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club– an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners. xTEN helps accelerate growth, harness opportunity, build your business and develop ideas. William is also author of two books: ‘At your fingertips’ and ‘The little book of mentoring’. See: http://Abelard-uk.com  / http://Williambuist.com  / http://Societal-Web.com

 

Are Your Employees Believers Of Your Brand?

When it comes to your business, it is great to having everyone fully on board. Every employee is an important cog in the organisation, whether they are an intern or a senior manager. The sad reality is that small problems can manifest into bigger ones, which could potentially be damaging for your company’s reputation. That is why keeping your workforce at one with each other, and the company itself, it highly important for your current and future success.

So if you want to ensure that your employees are true believers, followers, and endorsers of your brand, here is what you can do:

Offer discounts and deals

If you sell a service or product to customers, could you offer the same things to your staff for a reduced price? It is common for supermarkets and shops to give their employees cards for 15 per cent discount, or even more during sale periods; you could use the same idea for the place you work. Whether it is insurance products or plumbing services, your staff will surely find your discounts helpful at one point or another.

Run team building workshops

A good way to get everyone reading from the same hymn sheet is to organise a brilliant team building workshop. There are so many places where you could all go to step outside of your comfort zone. There are high ropes courses that will encourage employees to support each other, and there are boot camp days that will get teams working together to become the champions of the company. The idea of these days is that everyone lets their hair down a bit, whilst still being inspired to perform better as a team.

Give them access to social media accounts

Are there certain employees who have brilliant insights into the work you do? Perhaps you could reward them by giving them access to social media accounts. It could be their responsibility to keep these accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) up to date with snippets of information about your business and what you are working on at the moment. Not only will your staff feel more involved, but you will be putting out a message of ‘togetherness’ to the rest of the world.

Hold special awards and recognitions

Deploying a brand engagement strategy for your employees can end up being quite rewarding for all involved, especially when hardworking team members get rewarded for their efforts. It could be a really nice gesture to hold an awards ceremony every quarter to highlight the employees who have made a really difference over the previous months. This should help people to work harder day-to-day, and will also make people feel like stars when they are picked for an award. However it is important to spread recognition across the whole team, rather than senior managers and this can often breed discontent. Ask key stakeholders in the business to keep an eye out for people who are going the extra mile to get things done, and then ask their team members why that person is invaluable to the company.

Guest Post in association with Cirrus Connect

London Calling: Should You Move To The Capital For Your Career?

There are a lot of important decisions to make in life, and your career is a big one. Your initial choice can end up affecting what you do in five, 10 or even 30 years down the line. That is why plenty of thinking and planning can be essential; that way you can avoid making the wrong choice.

One major consideration to take into account is where you actually want your career to be based. It is possible to get certain jobs in small towns, but others will find bigger and better opportunities in the major cities. That is why London is so popular for jobseekers, and it could prove to be an ideal choice for you too. So what makes London worth thinking about?

Many industries

The biggest draw of London is the number of different industries that choose to operate from the capital, or at the very least have a local presence. There is everything from finance to retail, so there really is something for everyone. You only need to look on retailchoice.com to see opportunities from retail recruitment agencies in London; there are so many choices even within one sector! It is a common sight on these websites to see most of the opportunities listed as taking place in London, so by moving there you could have a better chance of getting the type of job you want. This time next year you could be working in one of the amazing skyscrapers that makes the skyline so unique in the capital.

Continued education

Once you have got settled into a job in the capital, you can still make use of the city for the benefit of your career. That is because London often plays host to certain exhibitions, conferences and seminars, which are all excellent places to attend to learn more about the changes in your field. You will become accustomed to visiting Earls Court and Olympia, and you will likely end up making some helpful business connections on your days out of the office.

Lifestyle

Career aside, some people just want to head to London for the lifestyle, and the job is simply a bonus. It all comes down to personality and wanting to seek a different experience to the one they had growing up, so you may fall into this category. Teenagers in a small town may find they are bored most of the time, but a city can provide activities and entertainment seven days a week. There are more local fitness activities, theatres, bars and restaurants – which of course can seem a bit more appealing than a chippy down at the precinct.

Of course, with all of the opportunities there is something else to think about: the cost. You may find that jobs pay higher salaries in the capital, but living expenses will also be higher. Yet if this is something you are passionate about doing, you will find a way to make your finances work, but just be prepared to do a lot of planning before you take the plunge.

Guest post in association with Retailchoice

Eyecare news: Optometrist Creates Another First for Kingston-upon-Thames

Judy Dench and Stephen King are both affected by Macular Degeneration. Now John Rose of John Rose Eye Care Centre, Kingston Upon Thames, has taken another step forward in preventing sight loss from the condition in the local area with the acquisition of a MAIA visual fields machine. This machine can help detect eye disease at an early stage and ensure that you get treatment if you need.

Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of sight loss in the UK. If left untreated it can lead to central sight loss. The good news is that, if picked up early, some types of Macular Degeneration can be treated and your sight can be saved, but early detection is critical. See rnibspotthesigns.org.uk for more information on the current national RNIB campaign to help people detect signs of macular degeneration.

MAIA is simple to use, patients can be tested in less than 3 minutes per eye. John Rose explains, “By comparing macular indexes in patients with and without retinal pathologies, MAIA is very effective at measuring functional changes due to disease and to treatment. It can also help monitor the course of retinal diseases and the efficacy of treatment.”

John Rose adds: “We are also involved in referrals to London Eye for the exciting new laser developed by John Marshall for early treatment of dry AMD, which means that  Kingston residents can get access to both ground breaking assessment and treatment.”

The John Rose Eye Care Centre has invested heavily in pioneering technology and is only one of four Eye Care Centres on UK High Streets to have such advanced technology.

To book an eye examination and make the most of the equipment which is unique to John Rose Eye Care Centre call 0208 546 9292 or visit www.johnroseeyecare.co.uk.

#END#

For further press information, please contact:

Antonia Chitty on 07900 580 668, 01424 810 272,   or email at mail@antoniachitty.co.uk

 

-Ends-

Notes to editors:

About John Rose:

John studied at Aston University from 1981 to 1984. He graduated in 1984 with Honours Degree in Optometry and Visual Sciences. After graduating he spent his pre-registration year split between private practice and the contact lens department of Moorfields Eye Hospital gaining a wide range of experience in all aspects of optometry. After successfully completing his professional exams he was first registered as an optometrist in 1986.  He set up the John Rose Eye Care Centre in 1997.  During his time at Aston University he developed an interest in dyslexia and a special interest in glaucoma. Hence, his practice has specialised in these areas of interest.

 

 

5 Event Ideas to Promote your Business

peopleEvents provide the perfect way to raise your business profile. You can meet your customer needs, generate some publicity and bring in money at the same time – what’s not to like? Here are 5 ideas to help you use events to meet your business goals:

  1. You could start by looking for speaking opportunities. This allows you to make the most of an event hosted and run by someone else. You can raise your profile and reach new people. Write a letter or email to event organisers outlining what you could speak about and how this will help their audience. Act well in advance of an event. Consider whether you need a fee, expenses, or are happy to speak simply for the publicity.
  2. Exhibitions and trade fairs are another good way to make the most of someone else’s event. If you offer business to business  services or products look for trade fairs, if you want to reach consumers search for relevant consumer exhibitions, fairs, festivals and fêtes  Highlight the event to your followers to support the event organiser’s publicity.
  3. Once you have taken part in other people’s events you may be inspired to run your own. Start with a seminar, workshop or other small group event. Consider what sort of training you could offer and who it could help. You’ll need to find a venue, consider catering if needed, plan your content, and get lots of publicity.
  4. Build up to running a conference. This can be a big task, and is best done with a team, but it is a great way to reach hundreds of people at once. Get more tips on making an event a success here.
  5. Whatever your event, make sure you plan promotion. An event is a great hook for a press release. Think several months in advance and work out which publications, programmes and sites might mention your event. Write a press release, and offer to do guest posts on you specialist topic, with a link to your event at the bottom.

Special Needs Child: Maintaining Your Relationship Review

Special Needs Child: Maintaining Your Relationship: A Couple’s Guide to Having a Relationship That Works
reviewed by www.oneplusone.org.uk

Becoming a parent can put new, unexpected strains on any relationship and those who have a child with special needs will face additional challenges depending on the severity of the disability. This practical book is packed with advice from parents who have children with a wide range of special needs, physical and behavioural/mental in nature, and gives valuable insight into how they have maintained their relationships. It is a book to be ‘dipped in to’ rather than read from cover to cover, as the range of special needs and the diversity of families means that not all of the material will be relevant to all families. Continue reading

What Leading Businesswoman Say about The Mumpreneur Guide

The Mumpreneur Guide has received rave reviews from some of the top businesswomen in the country and I wanted to share some of them with you.

“I refused to compromise between career and family – both are so important to me and I was determined neither should suffer just because I wanted ‘to have it all’. This guide is a great starting place for new mums who would like to try juggling. It is definitely not the easy option but if it works for you then the results are well worth the effort.” Laura Tenison MBE, Founder & MD of JoJo Maman Bébé and mum to Toby & Ben

The “must-have” read for anyone considering setting up a business whilst combining the responsibility of raising a family. Don’t do anything until you have read this book … it could change your life.” Emma Wimhurst, Business Mentor and author of BOOM! 7 Disciplines to CONTROL, GROW and add IMPACT to your business

“We are seeing such an increase in the number of Mums starting and growing a business from home. It’s a way of working that keeps you on hand for the family whilst turning a skill/passion/hobby into a way of making a living. Becoming your own boss from the comfort of home is an experience that will fill your life with every day adventure – good on Antonia for publishing this Guide that will help Mums through the exciting times!” Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home

If you still haven’t ordered your copy of The Mumpreneur Guide then perhaps your answers to the following questions will make up your mind …?

  • Do you ever lie awake at night worrying about how to make ends meet?
  • Are you worried about leaving your child in day care?
  • Do nursery fees make a big dent in your budget – or is the cost of day care just out of the question?
  • Do you want to work but hate to miss out on your child growing up?
  • Do you see other mums starting their own business and envy the control they have over their lives?
  • Are you wary of signing up for so-called ‘business opportunities’ that demand up-front payment without being clear about how you will earn anything?
  • Do you want the financial success that you can see others achieving?

Order your copy now and start making a difference to your life and the lives of your children.

The Mumpreneur Guide is available to buy from Tuesday 1st September and if you buy a copy before 30th September you get over £500 of bonuses for free.
  1. BONUS 1 – Access to The Mumpreneur Guide’s Secret Blog (Value £300)
  2. BONUS 2 – More ‘me’ time (Value priceless)
  3. BONUS 3 – A 3-part marketing course (Value £150)
  4. BONUS 4 – The chance to win a place on a Mums in Biz course (Value £65)