Business Focus

Everything you need to start or grow your business all in one place. Get startup ideas, be inspired by success stories or read our help guides to help you become more successful.

Sarah Rugg - My VA BusinessSarah Rugg took the leap from successful corporate banking career to freelance VA after the birth of her second child, and admits to having made every mistake possible. More than a decade on she explains how to avoid the pitfalls of starting up your own freelance business.

There’s little doubt that stepping off the corporate career ladder is scary. As a mum, finding your feet as a freelancer may remind you of your own toddler, a few faltering steps followed by a stumble. But as any toddler learns, keep getting back on your feet and you will soon be unstoppable!

When I decided to stand on my own two feet as a freelancer, I stumbled more times than you can imagine, despite spending months preparing for my exit from the corporate world.

I was consumed with questions like: what’s the best business to get into; how much should I charge; what do I do to market my business and – more often than not – can I really do this? The trouble is that every question generated multiple possibilities, and the only way I could find out if it would work was to take the first step and be prepared to fall on my bum! And fall I did – so many times.

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Working Mum The flexibility, freedom and satisfaction of a home business are well known; with low overheads, no commute and less risk, it is a viable option for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

Whether you want to start baking up a storm from your kitchen, dream of dog walking, pet sitting, or becoming a freelance writer, there are many options for a home-based business.

However, there are many things to consider, including legal implications, permissions and insurances. Not to mention personal obligations to acknowledge before jumping head first into your new business venture.

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Working MotherIt has been suggested by the National Childbirth Trust, the UK’s leading charity for parents, that 47 per cent of all mothers are sceptical as to whether their job will be secure throughout the duration of their maternity leave.

As a result of this, 43 per cent of mothers are choosing to return to work earlier than anticipated. This jeopardises not only the relationship the mother has with their child, but also the relationship mothers have towards their employers in the modern workplace. There are however, ways to avoid the harsh reality which has been placed upon mothers in recent times: alternative work opportunities can be found whether you are on maternity leave, looking after the children during the summer holidays, or simply trying to earn more towards the household income.

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Working MumWhen you return to work after having kids you may decide to reduce the hours of your previous role, find a new part-time role or work for yourself; these can all be very successful routes but can also pose challenges if you don’t have a clear plan and set strict boundaries for yourself and/or your employer and clients.

Here are some tips and useful technologies that have helped me as well as friends and colleagues in my position to take control, reduce stress levels and achieve the success you deserve…

Set clear expectations with your employer, colleagues and clients

Whether you are working for yourself, employed or have your own clients, make sure from the very start that you are clear on your working hours so that everyone has realistic expectations of your availability. Failure to do this causes frustration on their part and guilt on yours if you have to start saying no to things out of hours.

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Lucy Stanyer Life CoachingWe caught up with Lucy, a life coach who was prompted to start her own coaching business after a health scare…

If you could first of all introduce yourself…
Hello! I’m a Lucy, a Life Coach who works with mums in business and mums who are mid career or returning from maternity leave to make a step change in their work and their life. So I offer career coaching and small business coaching combined with life coaching.

I’m based in the lovely historical town of Faversham, in Kent. I’m also a mum, a wife and an avid ukulele student!

How did you first come up with the idea of your business?
I actually made a career change myself. I used to work in PR and Communications for national charities. I’d been talking about making a change for some time, then following a health scare, I decided to realise my dream to start my own coaching business. I wanted to use my skills and experience to help business owners and professionals – especially working mums – to make a step change in their work while balancing family and personal life. And I love what I do. 🙂

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Business BloggingYour idol has been there and you’ll get there too.

Once your blog is up and you’ve already published a few posts, you’ll realize that setting up a blog isn’t the hardest part. In fact, it’s one of the easiest.

Getting traffic – especially for a new blog – is probably one of the hardest thing you’ll have to do.

You’ll go online and every article you read will insist on how content is king. There’s no denying that. But I’m guessing that, as a new blogger, you want to know what other methods you can use as you continue writing great content.

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Marketing DashboardA marketing dashboard is a great way to get the best return on investment on your marketing budget. At the end of the day, it comes down to results; leads and sales. You must be able to show value for money and get value for every dollar spent on marketing. The only way to get value for money is to ensure marketing dollars are being spent in the right way.

For example, on the marketing channels providing the best results.

But, how do you know what’s works and what doesn’t? How do you tell which elements of your campaign are the cash cows and which are the dogs? The best way to keep track of every element of your marketing strategy is with a marketing dashboard.

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Untitled design (10)Working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight at the office can create stress. You may be stuck putting in extra hours to cover for them. Even if you go home on time, you may feel resentful watching them text their friends and shop online while you’re toiling away.

Whether you’re a coworker or a manager, you can start a constructive conversation to discourage slacking. Consider these tips for holding onto your peace of mind while promoting greater efficiency and teamwork.

How to Deal with Slackers When You’re a Coworker

  1. Focus on productivity. Start out by putting your emotions aside and figuring out whether your colleague’s behavior really affects your ability to do your job. Otherwise, it’s probably not worthwhile to pursue the issue.

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Untitled design (7)Could your boss hire a robot to do your job? According to some experts, more than 20% of US companies have already replaced human workers with machines for certain positions. Those figures are expected to increase.

From driver-less cars to self-service checkouts, the trend is clear. Everyone from accountants to shipping clerks could be affected. If you want to enhance your job security, consider these ideas.

It’s a good idea to make yourself indispensable wherever you work. Cultivate the qualities that will give you an edge over machines.

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Untitled designIt’s imperative to stay focused at work if you wish to meet your deadlines and succeed in your career. However, such concentration isn’t always easy to achieve. Something always seems to sabotage even your best efforts. Someone calls a meeting, a client throws a monkey wrench in your plans for the day, or your child gets sick at school.

 How can you sail past these normal interruptions and keep your focus?

Implement these strategies into your work routines:

  1. Set priorities. Setting priorities is integral to planning your day. Schedule the most difficult tasks early in the day and the easier ones later. When prioritizing your day, make a list of your required tasks. This will keep you organized as you tackle each and every issue.

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