"Pushing the boundaries
I've come to the realisation that I enjoy pushing my boundaries,
I have recently taken on two commissions that are lust a bit outside my comfort zone. Both involve difficult fabrics, each difficult for a different reason.
The first is a lace bolero to be worn over a strapless wedding dress and needed at two weeks notice. It's taken a week to get the required lace and it is beautiful but very delicate in parts and heavily embroidered in others. This is what makes it difficult to work with, the heavier parts stretch the delicate parts, the heavier border is wanted along the hemline of the garment so need shaping and the buttons need to be where the lace is more delicate, so no buttonholes can be made. All in all a challenge.
The second fabric is a tartan, to be made into childrens dresses and a boned ladies top. The challenge with tartan is matching the pattern, not too much of a problem with dresses as they are simple shapes, the boned top is another matter, lots of seams, mostly curved. Again a fair challenge.
The funny thing is I'm enjoying the challenges I face and the challenge makes me even more determined to do a fantastic job for my customers.
So push your boundaries, enter the discomfort zone and possibly do your best work!!"
Broadband Grant Scheme for Wales
The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has set up a scheme offering up to £1000 to communities, residents, third sector organisations and businesses for fast broadband connections. The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, has said that WAG wants improved connectivity .
The grant is intended for properties and premises where constant connection download speed is below 2Mbps. The scheme is set to launch on 1st October. However, some exchanges are set to be upgraded so potential applicants should first check www.superfast-cymru.com and use the postcode check to check if the exchange that serves their property or premises is one of the ones that is being upgraded.
Be confident in your price
Here in the UK most of us now are what we call “sophisticated buyers”. That is to say, we recognise that, by and large, we get what we pay for.
So when you are tempted to offer a really low price in order to drum up some more business, you could in fact be damaging your prospects.
A friend told me once about his cousin who opened a gym in New York. In the US almost everyone has a personal trainer, and so offering this service is vital if you want people to come to your gym. This cousin wanted to get a big client base quickly and so he targeted the customers at the nearby gyms with a really low price for his personal trainers - half the rate of the competitors.
After a month he still had very few customers, and so he started ringing the people who had shown initial interest to find out why they hadn’t joined his gym. The overwhelming answer was that they believed the trainers couldn’t be any good as they were so cheap.
Once he put up his prices business began to take off.
Your pricing says more to a prospect about your company than any sales literature ever can, so be confident, and the customers will be drawn to you.
Why you need a Purple Cow in your business
Do you read business books? Some of them are deadly dull, but occasionally one leaps out at me and catches my attention.
Seth Godin’s ‘Purple Cow: Transform your Business By Being Remarkable’ has been one such book. A little Americanised in its business examples and ideas, it has however set a whole load of lightbulbs flashing in my brain..and it might just do the same for you. I bought my copy second hand online for less than £2…it has been worth every penny and more.
One of the most powerful messages in the book talks about the need for our business marketing approaches to move with the times.
Lets face it, as customers we have all got enough stuff in our homes and businesses…we don’t really need to buy any more. We can access nearly every product that we need already – we know where to go and buy it, or at any rate we know where to go and find out where to buy it.
We are all bombarded continually with different marketing messages all through our day…with the result that we stop watching, listening and taking in the messages.
So how do we make sure that our business stands out? How do we get the attention of our customers and show them the wonderful products and services we have on offer? How do we break through the cacophony of messages that our customers are already zoning out from, to capture their imagination and show them new possibilities? Seth Godin argues that if we keep doing the same old marketing thing we will not succeed. Instead, he advocates, we all need to develop a Purple Cow.
The Purple Cow is remarkable. Imagine that you drove past a field of cows, and one of them was purple. You would notice it…you would turn round in your driving seat and take another look to make sure. You would probably remark on it to your passengers…and may well tell other people about what you have seen.
What would it take for your customers to notice the Purple Cow in your business. What makes you/your product/your service/your business remarkable?
Fitting in and being the same won’t cut the mustard if you want success in your business. Being purple may mean taking risks, being talked about, doing something that no-one in your sector has thought of doing before. It might not work, but if you don’t try you won’t know.
Go on – think what a Purple Cow might look like in your business!
“Switching Telecoms Provider
Have you ever considered switching your telecoms provider by shied away from it because of the challenges?
According to Ed Richards, CE of Ofcom, at a meeting which was hosted by Ofcom and the Communications Consumer Panel, the UK has one of the world’s most competitive communications markets but individuals, companies etc. have found it challenging to take advantage of the offers that are available due to the difficulties that can arise when switching. Therefore, Ofcom and the Communications Companies have been encouraged to co-operate when a customer swaps companies and to make it easier.
He is quoted as saying “transforming switching, to remove the inconvenience, delays and uncertainty that currently can bedevil consumers when trying to change their provider” He also said that providers should enable consumers to take advantage of the increasing competition and innovation that is available.
Under the current system the “losing” provider has responsibility for leading the transfer, however, under a new system announced by Ofcom in August it will be the “gaining” provider which will be responsible for the transfer.
Hopefully this will remove some of the challenges that have existed when attempting to change providers”
Why you need a wedding photographer.
So often these days I hear people say “Our friend/ uncle/ butcher/baker or candlestick maker is taking our wedding photos”
This is really not a good idea.
Yes, you may save quite a lot of money, but think about what you will lose. You will not have a quality, lasting memory of your special day.
I’m hearing the “friend” line all the time at wedding fairs. Then I see the couple happily spending hundreds of pounds on other things, some of which you will hardly notice on the day, or will be gone by the end of the day.
I’m not saying don’t buy the best cake you can afford, or the most beautiful flowers. I’m just saying, make sure you have the best photographic record of all those little details that you spent so much time planning. Book an experienced wedding photographer.
Oh, to be inspired!
Being creative means to be receptive to inspiration in one way or another, and this asks the following of the artist: to determine the techniques and/or media to use in order to express the inspiration, and to be open to outside influences, such as colour, texture, sound, the spoken and written word, nature and the elements, human movement to name a few. Or is it the other way around?
Once the channels for inspiration are opened, there is no end to the possibilities. One example I would like to give is that of a range of jewellery I started creating in 2011, after a holiday in Tenerife. I had been to this island many times before, and so knew the landscape and colours, the climate and even a small amount of the language. I had also started to learn to dance Salsa a couple of years before. Through those experiences I had become very relaxed about the environment, and so could let things flow, regarding designing new jewellery. The basic ideas were already there, I just added movement and colour to the design in mind.
In nature there is no end to the shapes, colours and textures to explore. Many jewellers create pieces inspired by the seaside, water, pebbles. Trees and flowers can be used in an incredible variety of forms, abstract or representational. Next time you go out in the garden, or the woods, take some time to discover the myriad of designs there are to be found.
Don't under estimate the power of customer testimonials
Testimonials are simply another form of word of mouth – except in written form and can be used in a variety of ways, for example – on websites, quotes to customers, on fliers.
What your existing customers say about you will shout much louder than what you say about yourself.
How do we receive them? – Simple, just ask! 99% of customers will say yes
When you complete a job ask your customer to write you a testimonial. Have a pen and paper handy, email them requesting one or whatever suits best. Tell them you would really appreciate it and it will help your business.
This is a win/win situation – your customer will feel good about themselves because they have helped someone, you will gain kudos for your business and you will have made it easier for potential clients to check you out.
Keep testimonials up to date....you can never have too many!
Remember – Testimonials cost nothing, and can mean the difference between getting the job/contract or not.
Practice your introduction
Studies of people going for job interviews have shown that 80 per cent of interviewers make their mind up about the person in the first four minutes of the interview.
Whilst the sales scenario is a little different, those first four minutes are still vitally important. It is in this time that you either will bond with the prospect, or you won’t. If you don’t bond with them, then they are going to be incredibly hard to sell to.
In which case it makes sense to do whatever you can to ensure those first four minutes go as well as possible, doesn’t it? You can’t predict how the prospect will react when you first meet them. Some people will be warm and welcoming, some will be initially resistant, and some will deliberately try to wrong foot you.
Therefore, you should practice your introduction very carefully, so that you can deliver it perfectly every time, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in.
Don’t be one of those people who prefer to be “spontaneous” when they first meet a prospect. None of the world’s top salespeople are.
WHO CARES! – AM I BOVVERED – CAN WE FIX IT
YES WE CAN!!!
Do you know that there are around 20,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and in need of care? This is a problem that employers cannot ignore. Indeed the government is calling for employers to make allowances for employees who have care responsibilities, whilst trying to hold down a job at the same time.
I know that many businesses, especially small to medium ones, groan when they get a request in for “flexible working” – as this can put a massive strain on their resources. Sadly though, with our aging population in the UK, this is something which is likely to affect many employees who will possibly not be in a position to be able to afford private care for their loved ones.
Simple tasks that most of us take for granted, like getting dressed in the mornings can turn into a tricky task for someone suffering with dementia. For their carers, this in itself is a stressful and situation, couple this with worrying about asking for time off from work and/or juggling with other family responsibilities – when you look at them all, you could well be facing your employee suffering with and taking time off for stress.
However, there are many ways that employers can help. It could be something as simple as allowing your employee to come in to work an hour later, making up that time at the end of the day – changing the contract of employment to allow for a different work pattern; etc.
The end result of employers being more flexible; caring and understanding can be most beneficial for everyone involved. You get a more productive and appreciative employee, and they can manage their working life better.
The most satisfaction I get in my working life as a professional HR Consultant, is helping employers and employees to achieve a Win-Win in any given situation where possible – and this one seems like a no-brainer to me!
HR Dept (Herefordshire)
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