"Are we what we wear?"
This morning I attended a meeting with Shoo Rayner, a very talented drawer!! he showed the meeting how to draw a simple cat and then got us all to draw our own feline using our own creativity.
I started off drawing a sort of lion but as the meeting went on I added a tutu, well I would wouldn't I? My lion, a ferocious creature surely, when wearing a frilly tutu with a bow at the waistband became a kinder, happier, softer creature! Hence todays blog.
We all know first impressions count, we are all judged by how we look on a daily basis, both by people who don't know us and by those who are familiar with our appearance and who we are as people.
A big part of this is what we wear, whether as corporate beings we wear sharp suits or as more creative beings we wear stripey jumpers and purple jeans (for example, not me of course!! well sometimes!). Corporate beings can of course wear stripey jumpers but that would probably be frowned upon and possibly not do their business prospects any good and vice versa, creative beings could wear sharp suits but they're, well, not terribly creative are they?
I think a good word here is individuality and to achieve that, when limits apply, compromise. The corporate person can add a bit of their personality to their sharp suit with beautiful accessories and colour, I know a business woman who always wears a smart suit but look at her feet and she has fabulous, quirky shoes adorning them, these are her true personality I'm sure! The creative bod meanwhile, in everyday life presumably has no need to dress sharply but the time may come when he or she needs to dress more smartly for say a job interview or a meeting with the bank manager, in this instance how about wearing the purple jeans with a smart blouse and jacket?
Above all of the style choices we can make, the most important thing we can do to make sure we look good is to make sure our clothes fit properly. Well fitting clothes will always enhance, as far as I'm concerned a beautiful fitted stripey jumper beats a badly fitting sharp jacket every time.
Caroline Jones, Fashion Revived
Ask for referrals
We are all a bit shy when it comes to asking for referrals. The logic is undisputable. If a customer is really happy with your product or service it is only natural that he will want to share that happiness with other people.
Yet we don’t ask, do we? Most of the time we are just too shy. We don’t want to put the customer under pressure.
The funny thing is, when you put a relationship under a bit of strain it almost always comes out much stronger than before. The customer who recommends you will feel a much greater loyalty towards you. The one who said no will feel guilty later and will either change his mind, or try to do something to compensate.
In fact, when you ask for a referral from a satisfied customer you really can’t lose. The worst thing that can happen is that they want to give you more business. The best thing is that you get a new and profitable customer.
Go on – give it a try.
5 More Networking Benefits
1: Inspiration – Members feel inspired after meetings and claim some of their best ideas come directly after attending a networking club.
2: Contacts – Often we find the contacts we need through others. Networking provides an excellent platform for this.
3: Trust – Your club is full of members you know and trust, making your daily business decisions easier!
4: Good advice - Guest speakers who are experts in their fields offer professional advice.
5: Giving – networking isn’t all about receiving, it feels good to give!
What’s more important time or money?
It always amazes me how we as small business owners don’t seem to realise how precious our time is. We are in fact our businesses’ most valuable commodity but while we often keep a close eye on our cash flow and expenditure we rarely think about whether we are spending or investing our time wisely. Granted money is tangible; making it’s much easier to manage, where as we can’t see, feel or touch time making it’s much harder to know if time has been well spent or if it’s been squandered. But an important difference, and hence the reason time should be more valued, is that we can get more money; whether it’s making more, borrowing money, or taking out loans, but we can’t get more time. There are only and, unless you’re a time lord, only ever will be 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year.
Due to this lack of awareness many of us try to do everything ourselves. We carry out a vast array of tasks in order to retain control and save on costs because we can’t believe that paying someone to do the work that we ourselves can do will save us money. What we’ve failed to realise is that it’s just not economically viable or cost effective to use someone whose hourly rate and worth is far higher than the job requires. For example paying someone £50 an hour to do £20 an hour work just doesn’t make sense but this is what many of us are doing when we insist on doing the mundane, routine, non-profit making tasks ourselves. There are also some unforeseen costs involved as well. When these tasks are performed by someone who is more experienced or skilled than us they are able to work in a more efficiently and effectively way reducing the number of hours required to complete these tasks. But more critically if we, the business owners, are spending a disproportionately high amount of our time on the workings of our business we have very little time to focus on running and growing the business.
Once we’ve realised that to effectively get more from our time we need to let others help us we can begin to identify tasks that can be delegated. We profit not only from a more balanced workload but from the knowledge that these tasks will be done whether we are present or not and, because we are no longer stressed or weighed down worrying about what needs to be done but not having the time to do it, we are able to focus all our energy on developing opportunities and generating income. Suddenly, somehow we are able to achieve more by doing less! And all because we’ve realised that “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend” Theophrastus
Broadband for East Country Trains
East Midlands Trains have already announced its plans for increasing broadband the availability of this at the stations that it runs. The company is launching a £10m scheme to fit free wi-fi hotspots at 40 main line stations and that this work should be completed by the end of the year. The Customer Services and Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains, Neil Micklewaite, explained that the intention is to complement the on-board wi-fi that was installed on the London bound trains three years ago. He commented “This will further enhance the travel experience of our passengers giving them more options for entertainment or work when travelling with us”.
East Midlands Trains has already named the first 11 stations – Alfreton, Boston, Chesterfield, Derby, Hinckley, Long Eaton, Melton Mowbray, Narborough, Sheffield, Skegness and Sleaford which serve approximately 15 million passengers. The remaining 29 stations should be added to the service this autumn.
The aim for East Midlands Trains is to offer free connectivity to all its customers both at stations and on its trains along the entirety of its mainline route.
Vince Russell, Managing Director, of The Cloud, East Midlands Trains’ partner in this venture has said “Our service provides passengers with fast, free internet access allied with unique engaging content”.
Staying in the eastern part of the country East Coast Trains has also announced a £2.2m upgrade of the on-board service on 44 of its trains. East Coast Trains has stated that the aim is to achieve “a more reliable internet connection for every user, every time” by investing in the replacement of new access points by installing industry leading hardware and on-line servers.
10 years ago East Coast Trains became the first UK train company to offer wi-fi on moving trains but admits that customers’ expectations as to the quality of service has changed.
Peter Williams, East Coast Trains’, Commercial and Customer Service Director has said “It’s vital that our system keeps up with rapidly rising demand from passengers, starting with a more reliable connection into the system from the moment their journey with us begins”. He also said that wi-fi availability was one of the “key reasons” that people travelled on the East Coast Trains’ rather than flying or driving.
The upgrades will begin next year thereby making East Coast Trains’ customers amongst the first to benefit from Network Rail’s impending rollout of high speed mobile broadband.
What is interesting is that East Coast Trains is at the forefront of this bearing in mind that the company is currently state owned.
On a final note the Department of Transport announced at the beginning of the month that approximately 70% of train passengers should be able to access faster internet connections by 2019. That’s another five years away.
Is Sitting the New Smoking!?
By Melissa Folly Shires Chiropractic Clinic.
We all do it and probably more that we realise. Catching up on work, get into a good book, TV programme, searching the web or taking a long drive... Sitting, sitting, SITTING!?
Even if you are active about your health and exercise regularly it seem that active people sit just as much as their couch potato peers .
A study from the International Journal of Behavioural Nutritional and Physical Activity 2012 reported that on average we spend 64 hours a week sitting despite any activity outside this that's around 9 hours a day!
Your body is designed to MOVE! Sitting for long time periods causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level and slows your circulation, therefore you use less blood sugar and burn less fat, leading to an increase in risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Five Reasons WHY to avoid the chair when you can.
1. Prolonged sitting reduces circulation to the brain, affecting creativity and mood.
2. Poor posture at your desk weakens your back muscles and tightens your chest.
3. Sedentary behaviour has been linked to various illnesses; cancer, heart disease, diabetes.
4. Slouching increases the laxity in your spinal ligaments and it can take 30 minutes for them to regain stability to effectively support the spine when walking.
5. When your sitting your hip flexors tighten up reducing your hip and lower back range of movement and can lead to injury.
Five ways to get on your FEET!
1. SET REMINDERS – on your computer or phone, every 20 minutes prompting you to get up, move and re set your posture!
2. WALK and TALK – catching up with friends or colleges, instead of sitting in a coffee shop or conference room, get out the thermos flask and walk!
3. Keep Hydrated – increasing the amount of trips to the kitchen to fill up with fluid will also increase the amount of trips to the WC :)
4. TALK on your FEET – take phone calls standing up, and if you have room pace around too.
5. GOALS – try getting in 5'000 steps a day, you can download aps to track your daily activity .
So stand up now, take a few steps and breath deeply - Its good for your body and your mind! The increase in oxygen that you get by breathing in a full inhalation helps to feed the brain increasing concentration and efficiency … Helping to affect your health and the health of your business!
Focus on problems
We have talked before about the need to ask plenty of questions in order to establish what your customers are looking for. In the early stages of the call you need to ask about the customer’s situation, so you are getting simple factual information. Once you have that you need to find the needs that your product or service can satisfy. To do that you should have a list of pre-prepared questions that are designed to uncover the problems that your customer is facing – problems of course that you can solve.
The best questions you can ask focus on how the customer feels about those problems. Remember that people buy for emotional reasons. The more your questions can remind them of how badly the problems affect them personally, the more likely the customer is to buy a solution from you.
"This is a difficult blog to write, it's about secrets, but it's a blog!!!
I have a couple of biggish dressmaking jobs on the go at the minute, both are for Christmas and both recipients use the internet and specifically facebook so much as I'd like to describe in detail the work I'm doing I can't? Both of these secret dressmaking projects would be brilliant for my marketing as each is interesting in it's own way and may be of interest to my readers and followers who might suddenly realise "I didn't think she could that sort of sewing, but she can so maybe I'll talk to her about a commission".
But I can't tell you, my customers have asked me to keep these jobs a secret and as I like to do my utmost for my customers keeping the jobs a secret is what I will do. For now!
My point is that my customers wishes are paramount, even to the detriment of my marketing abilities in the short term. I like to look after my customers and hope that they will help me in return by giving me more work themselves and by telling all their acquaintances about my work so that I get work from them as well.
Of course in the long term, specifically for these two 'secret' jobs, look out in the New Year as then there will be pictures online and I will be showing the new outfits off to the world and with any luck I'll have brilliant testimonials form both the customers involved. Then we may see some orders roll in perhaps?"
Stop striving & start achieving, NOW!
I work with a lot of business people who are striving for something.
A job promotion, more sales, more customers, more confidence, more time, a better career, better relationships at work, more profit, more fun….the list goes on.
We all seem to want more…and yet many of us are working harder to stay still. What’s going on? As a word, striving doesn’t have a real ‘ring of success’ to it, does it? Why do we ‘strive’ when instead we could ‘achieve’? And how can we change our own behaviours to emulate that of life’s great achievers?
So here are my top 5 tips for achieving what you want, NOW!:
1. Clarify exactly what it is that you want. Describe it to yourself and others in exact terms. You might have to quantify it in terms of its size, volume, quality, quantity, location, timescale etc etc. Woolly won’t do! Your brain needs absolute clarity at this point.
2. Work with your goal in several formats. Try mind-mapping it to expand it on paper…then try refining it to one sentence to condense it. Get some magazines and pictures and create a visual collage of it, then create a written list of the key features of the goal. Describe your goal to someone else – find the words to define it. Using these different formats will stimulate different parts of your brain, all the while increasing your chances of achieving the goal.
3. Define the date by which the goal needs to be achieved. Put it in the diary and now work backwards to count how many weeks or months you have between then and now. Check – is the timescale realistic – have you accounted for hiccups and unforeseen time ‘thieves’?
4. Now work out key milestones on your journey between now and the goal achievement date. What needs to be achieved by when? Diarize these activities and actions. Do it now – don’t wait!
5. Share your progress and achievement with a trusted colleague to whom you can be accountable. Let them give you a little prod from time to time and encourage them to tell you if you are finding excuses for your lack of progress.
Encourage them to let you do the same for them – you will thank each other in the long run!
Lots of small achievements amount to bucket loads of success. So swap your ‘striving’ for ‘achieving’, and see the difference it makes.
Have objectives for every call
When we are selling to our customers, or converting prospects to customers, we normally have multiple points of contact. That may mean lots of phone calls, several visits, or a mix of both. In these situations it is very easy to get into a bit of a rut, and find ourselves making little or no progress.
To avoid this happening, make sure you have an objective for every point of contact with your customers. Each contact should take you one step further towards your ultimate goal.
By ensuring you have planned a goal before calling or visiting them, and by reviewing that goal afterward, you will ensure that you constantly move forward.
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