1948 posts Posts by Jayne

Five Ways to Take Your Small Business to the Next Level

Five Ways to Take Your Small Business to the Next Level
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With the pandemic still having an effect on people’s incomes it’s no surprise to learn that many small businesses have popped up in the last couple of years. In fact having a side hustle is now pretty commonplace even for those who are working full time. From baking cakes to doing hair to nail art and much more besides women are starting small businesses in their droves and the results are looking fantastic. But what can you do to increase the likelihood that your small business will flourish?

Improve Your Sales Skills

Even if you are the absolute best at your craft or the services you offer that doesn’t necessarily mean they automatically know how to sell yourself signing up to a short course with Smart Sales Training Consultants can give you the skills that you need to not only create the services or product for your business but to help you to sell them more effectively.

Get Some Marketing Help

just like with sales marketing is an always second nature to every person who runs their own small business. Especially now that social media is such a huge aspect of marketing, it takes some serious expertise to keep costs down while getting your returns to a maximum. Many local small marketing businesses will offer consultations to teach you how to maximise your marketing and you may also find that their services are affordable enough that you can outsource it to an expert altogether.

Set Some Goals

With so many small businesses being born from a small idea of creative spark it’s easy to just go with the flow and see how things turn out. However once your business is established setting yourself some goals can help you to take your small business to the next level. The goals don’t have to be lofty, we’re not talking about £1 million worth of sales, but setting yourself some milestones such as 100 sales in a month or a level of turnover which means you’re making a decent enough profit that you can give up your day job can really help you to focus your efforts to where they will be more profitable.

Team Up With Other Business Owners

Take a look at the niche in which your business falls. If it’s the type of business whereThere are lots of other complimentary businesses within the same name it may be worth reaching out to some of your fellow business owners (as long as they’re not competitors) to see if there is a way that you can team up or collaborate. The advantage here is that you will get access to the other businesses existing customer base as they will with yours and a collaboration could lead to some very profitable business for you both.

Create A Loyalty Program

According to surveys it costs three times more to get a new customer than to sell something to an existing customer. Investing a small amount in a loyalty program can help you to retain existing customers and make them feel more valued in the long run which means they’ll keep coming back to you rather than turning to your competitors.

My Bucket List (The Lottery Win Edition)

My Bucket List (The Lottery Win Edition)
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Unless you’re already completely loaded, you’re probably like me and spend a fair amout of time thinking about what you’d do if you won the lottery. Aside from the obvious ones of buying a house and going on holiday, there are a few things that I’d love to do and so I thought it would be fun to share a few of them with you today:

A New Motorhome

Husband and I absolutely LOVE the idea of buying a new motorhome and spending time travelling around, seeing the UK and Europe. We’ve spent many an hour online looking at everything from top of the line Winnebagos to old converted school buses that people have made into the most incredible mobile homes and it’s something that would be really high on our list, should we win the lottery.

A Greener Car

I wrote a blog post a few years back about how “saving the world” seems to be reserved for the middle and upper classes, as they’re the ones who can afford to buy greener cars, install solar arrays etc. and I still feel that this is relevant now. We’re currently using my Dad’s car while we’re saving to buy our own, but it’s unlikely to be an eco-friendly electric model, so if we won some money I’d definitely be investing in an electric car.

A Treehouse

This one might sound absolutely bonkers, but I’ve always had a thing about houses in trees! I don’t know if I’d want to live in one full-time, but if we had a big house with a decent bit of land and some big trees, I’d definitely get someone to come in and build us a super treehouse for fun camp outs and even to have family over to stay in!

My Own Book

Bear with me here, again, I know this sounds strange! I’ve been in the process of writing a children’s book for a couple of years now and once I finish, I’m hoping to get it in front of the right people to get it published. However, if I had the money, I think I’d skip this step altogether and just self-publish and distribute it without a third party. It would be a lot easier and I wouldn’t have to deal with the inevitable rejections from editors!

An Education

I started my OU degree back when Sausage was a toddler but between life getting busier and tuition fees TRIPLING since I started, it’s been well and truly shoved onto the back burner. If I have the money, I’d start some sort of course just for the fun of learning. We all focus on education being a gateway to a career, but wouldn’t it be nice to just pick something you’re interested in and learn all about it?

What would you buy if money was no object after a lottery win? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your ideas.

5 Inevitable Costs You Must Be Prepared For

Keeping your finances on the right track is always going to be a matter of making sure that you are preparing for the worst even when you are hoping for the best. Here are some inevitable costs that you probably won’t be able to escape in your life. 

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A Funeral

Though it might seem peculiar, we can start with the very last cost that you will need to think about that is completely unavoidable. What makes this cost special is that you won’t be paying the price. Instead, this will fall to your dependents. That’s why, believe it or not, a lot of people once they reach a certain age, will set up a funeral fund. This is designed to pay for all the costs of a funeral including the casket, tombstone, funeral photography and even plots of land. It might sound morbid, but it’s something that you might eventually want to think about. 

Children’s Education

You could also think about the cost of your child’s education. Now, it’s worth noting that you are under no obligation to pay for the costs of your child’s higher education. However, this is something that many parents will aim for to help their child avoid unnecessary levels of debt later in life. If you are worried about the cost, then it’s recommended that you do think about looking at the average cost that you will need to pay for your child’s college tuition. This will help ensure that you can set a saving goal. You should also look at savings accounts and investment opportunities that will ensure you can quickly grow these funds. 

Home Renovation

It’s also worth thinking about the cost of a home renovation. You might think that you can avoid this cost, but don’t be so sure. If you buy a home, then at some point, you will need to complete renovation work. Renovating your home will mean that you can deal with issues related to wear and tear that will limit the value of the property overtime. 

It can also ensure that your home continues to be a safe and comfortable place to live for you and your family. This means that you might also be able to avoid selling your house to move to another property. Instead, with the right renovations, your house could become a forever home. It might also be worth thinking about emergency renovations that you might need to complete. There are lots of examples including flooding damage that will need to be corrected without any delays. 

Retirement

Next, you should think about your retirement. It’s never too early to start thinking about saving for your retirement. In fact, experts agree that you should be putting money away for your retirement as early as your twenties. In doing so, you can guarantee that your retirement does not catch you by surprise. Don’t forget, once you retire, you won’t have a fixed income to fall  back on. As such, you will need to make sure to save enough money overtime to afford everything that you want during your retirement. This could include a trip around the world or something more practical such as care facilities when you begin to lose your independence. A financial planner will explain exactly how much you need to save for your retirement plan. 

Transport

Finally, if you have a family, then you likely will need to consider the cost of transport. Most people will want to buy a car at some point that is large enough for everyone in the household. This can be quite an expensive purchase and, similar to a home, a choice like this probably won’t fit squarely into your budget. Instead, you need to make sure that you look at other options. You can save up the money to buy a vehicle. Or, you can think about purchasing a vehicle on finance. If you purchase a vehicle on finance, then you can make it easier to afford over an extended period. If you live in a city you might want to skip the car purchase and instead rely on public transport. It’s a great way to keep things cost friendly. 

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You can also think about purchasing a car second-hand rather than brand new. This is another way to save and spend less overall. 

We hope this helps you understand some of the key costs that you do need to be prepared for in the future. By recognizing that these costs are somewhat inevitable, you will be able to make sure that they don’t catch you off guard.

The Benefits of Car Leasing

The Benefits of Car LeasingWhen it comes to being a motorist, there are a lot of expenses to consider. Aside from the initial purchase price of a car, there’s the tax, insurance, MOT costs, maintenance, fuel…it all adds up. There are, however, cheaper ways of running a car, such a leasing, so we’ve teamed up with Car Lease Supermarket to talk to you about all of the benefits of leasing a car instead of buying outright. Here are a few of them:

You’ll Get More for Your Money

When you lease a car, you usually find you’re driving a better vehicle than you would if you had bought one. This is because, with a car lease you only pay the car’s depreciation for the lease period, not the value of the car (because you don’t own it). As a result, your monthly payments are usually lower compared with other forms of finance, so you can lease a better make, trim or option.

You’ll Always Have a Newer Model

After the initial lease period ends, you will be able to exchange the car for a brand new vehicle. This means that you will be able to reap the advantages of having a new car on a regular basis, allowing you to get the maximum benefits of fuel economy, performance and safety. It also means that you will be able to avoid massive depreciation costs, as you do not own a vehicle that is likely to be rapidly losing value.

You’ll Reduce Your Monthly Outgoings

Apart from fuel and insurance, when you lease a car you know exactly what motoring is going to cost you because your expenses are rolled into one – monthly payments, Road Tax and breakdown cover. And if you include a maintenance package, your ability to budget becomes even stronger because you’ll know what’s going out of your account all in one go.

Cheaper Maintenence

Leasing provides much lower maintenance costs than other forms of buying. This is because the person leasing the car does not retain ownership, so general maintenance costs are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty period. If the car being leased requires servicing or repair, the costs will be covered; this usually includes tyre and exhaust replacement.

No MOTs to Remember

Generally speaking, lease car are less than a year or two old, and cars don’t need to be MOT’d until they’re three years old. This means that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about MOTs with a lease car because you’ll have upgraded to a newer model before it’s even due.

Bonus Tip

If you really don’t use a car that much but still need one to get around occasionally, why not think about using All Transportation Network to book reservations for chauffeured transportation? You’ll be travelling in serious style and saving yourself a whole lot of hassle.

Homeschooling and its Advantages

Some of you may know that since the pandemic started, we’ve been homeschooling both kids on a full-time basis. Sausage was realy unhappy at her school so it was an easy decision, and while BB is adamant that she’s going back to her school as soon as it’s safe to do so, for now, she’s attending Crammond College! Although homeschooling can be hard work (especially when Husband and I also both work from home) there have been a numbe rof advantages that we’ve noticed, so I thought I’d share some of them here, in case it’s something you’re considering:

Cheaper Holidays

Going on holiday isn’t something we’re ready for yet as we’re still pretty much living in lockdown conditions, but once we feel it’s safe, we’ll be able to take holidays during term time, which is SO MUCH cheaper! We’ve also said we’d love to buy a new motorhome when we can afford it, which means we’ll be able to pack all of us, including Maureen, up and go away whenever we feel like it, which sounds blissful to me.

Write Your Own Timetable

You don’t need to follow the national curriculum if you don’t want to. You definitely don’t need to follow a school day. This means you can be led by your child, which means more efficient learning. If your child is particularly interested in something after seeing a film or reading a book, you can learn about that, which will lead into lots of other things. If your child is more receptive from 3pm to 6pm, that’s when you can target lessons.

Individuality

If there’s one thing that can be said for my daughters its that they tend to plough their own furrow and avoid trends. BB has currently got one side of her head shaved and Sausage has had dip dyes in pink, blue and purple in recent years, none of which would be allowed at their respective schools. Wearing a uniform and following appearance rules doesn’t allow for individuality whereas they can look exactly how they want in homeschool.

Curriculum

While there are obvious parts of the curriculum which we will stick to, such as maths and science, there are certain parts of the National Curriculum which we feel are largely redundant (or severely lacking). The beauty of homeschooling is that we can pick our own curriculum, which means leaving out the parts we don’t find useful and including things that get left out at mainstream schools.

Emotional Wellbeing

Research into how homeschoolers turn out as adults was conducted by Dr. Ray in 2003. He found that 5,000 out of a group of 7,300 adults had been homeschooled for more than 7 years. They were much more active in community and social life than their public school counterparts. A much higher number also went on to higher education and they also scored higher on the happiness scale. In 1999, Stanford University accepted twice as many homeschoolers compared to publicly and privately educated students.

Things to Do in and Around Richmond, Yorkshire

Richmond CastleAs I’ve said before, while I’m not in any hurry to get out amongst the germy masses and expose the kids to COVID, I am looking forward to get out on some day trips and short breaks, once things are safe again. Before lockdown, my Mum and I were actually talking about getting us all away on holiday together and renting somewhere for us four, my Mum and Dad and my sister and her fiance.

One of the places I found while I was looking was The Green Door Holiday Cottage in Richmond, which is a luxury cottage in Yorkshire. Usually, we’d head for the south coast for family holidays to places like Cornwall and Devon, but the thought of taking our travels north actually really appeals to me. With this in mind, I started looking at some things to do, in and around Richmord, for when we eventually get to take our trip.

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle is an English Heritage site, right in the heart of Richmond and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Dales. Even better, if you’re an English Heritage member, you and anyone included in your membership will get in for free, so you’ll be able to enjoy a lovely educational day out for very little outlay.

Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve

According to TripAdvisor, “Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve covers 100 acres of moorland edge adjacent to Cambrai Lines at Catterick and has a remarkable mix of habitats and species. The reserve contains semi-natural woodland, heathland, flower-rich grassland, streams, ponds, a lake, willow and Alder carr, coniferous woodlands and wet meadows. The patchwork of habitats across Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve is home to more than 2440 species. At the heart of the reserve is a modern, purpose-designed Field Centre, a great place to start your visit and learn more about the wildlife of Foxglove Covert.” Sounds like a wonderful place for a walk and a picnic!

The Forbidden Corner

The Forbidden Corner was originally a private folly. However, after popular demand, the site has been opened up to the public with four acres of all-out weird! Discover a unique labyrinth of pathways, tunnels, chambers and galleries throughout the woods. They’ll present a barrage of tricky challenges, including the occasional spray of water! Just keep your eyes peeled for the secret brass circles which reveal hidden markings and direct you on your mission. There’s also a lovely picnic area for when you need a break from the fantasy.

Five Reasons to See a Private Doctor

Five Reasons to See a Private DoctorHere in the UK, we’re extremely lucky to have the NHS to help us to manage our health, However, the current pandemic means that our health service is under tremendous pressure at the moment and lots of non-urgent appointments are having to be postponed, due to a lack of resources. Many people have chosen to opt for private treatment, and lots of private ENT doctors have been busier than ever. Here are some reasons that you might want to opt for a private ENT consultation:

Faster Referrals

As mentioned above, the NHS is struggling right now and many referals can take up to a year. Once you’ve got a referal letter from your GP, finding an appointment with a private clinic, such as Harley Street ENT Clinic can be as simple as making a phone call and being seen within days. Knowing that you can get such prompt treatment can be a huge relief for some.

Choice

When you’re seen through the NHS, you don’t often get the choice of which doctor you see and although you’re still likely to see some of the best in their field through the NHS, seeing a private doctor does afford you the element of choice with the physician you see. Many private doctors have profiles online showing their exact education, experience and specialisms, allowing you to be very specific about who you choose.

Smaller Hospitals

Private hospitals and clinics are usually smaller and more intimate, and can feel a little nicer than visiting a huge general hospital. Waiting areas are smaller and parking is often easier to find. Many private hospitals also have facitilites in their waiting areas to allow you to have free hot drinks while you wait! It’s the little touches that make the difference.

Faster Testing

Many conditions will require a consultation, followed by testst such as blood tests, x-rays, MRIs or something else, and then another appointment to assess the results. This can be a really lengthy process through the NHS, but the timeframe can be reduced MASSIVELY with a private doctor. When I was trying to get a diagnosis of a trapped nerve in my neck a couple of hears back, the wait for an NHS was over three months, whereas our private cover helped me to get a diagnosis and treatment in a fortnight.

Newer Technology

Because of the funding available to private doctors through their patients fees, private hospitals are often equipped with newer technology and have doctors who are trained in the most up to date surgical procedures. That’s not to say that our National Health service isn’t one of the best in the world, but the private sector often attracts people with more advanced skills because they can earn more.

Tinnitus – Five Ways to Manage Your Condition

Ways to Cope with TinnitusAlmost everyone gets a bit of ringing in their ears from time to time, but chronic tinnitus can be incredibly difficult to cope with. There are medical treatments available for tinnitus and some excellent VIP Hearing Solutions which can help to make life with tinnitus more bearable, but there are also things that you can do on a day to day basis which will make your life easier. Here’s a few of them:

Avoid Stress

Sometimes worrying about tinnitus can make it more noticeable, so learning to relax can help provide relief. Slowing down the rate of breathing and relaxing your muscles are examples of simple relaxation exercises you can try. Yoga or pilates can also be a great help at getting your whole body to relax, as well as meditation and guided breating, which can all be done at home.

Avoid Silence

Believe it or not, tinnitus can often be worse when you’re in a completely silent space. Some people find that having the TV or radio on, providing some background noise, can help to tune out the ringing in their ears, and some people even invest in white noise generators so that they can have gentle noise like whale song or rainfall to help them to get to sleep.

Stay Generally Healthy

Obviously, being as healthy as possible is good for your general well being. If you find certain foods or drinks or activities seem to aggravate your tinnitus, consider reducing them. There are several therapies available now which have been shown to provide long-term and consistent relief from tinnitus. You should seek help from a tinnitus specialist who may be able to provide one of these therapies or help you choose a hearing device which can provide relief from tinnitus.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Many tinnitus sufferers find that their condition is worse when they haven’t had good sleep, so creating a good bedtime routine can be invaluable to dealing with it. Ensure you avoid caffeine for at least three hours before bed, avoid too much blue light from mobile phone or tablet screens, and try to actually get into bed to sleep in a darkened room at a certain time, rather than falling asleep on the couch while watching TV!

Avoid Loud Environments

Just as total silence can make tinnitus worse, so can extremely loud noises. Try to avoid very loud places like nightclubs and concerts, or if you simply cannot miss out, try to use earplugs or sound-blocking ear defenders to protect your ears. This also goes for very loud work environments like factories or building sites.

Protecting the Health of Your Ears

Protecting Your Ear HealthPhoto by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

For many people, ear health is not something they think about on a regular basis.  But if you want to maintain good levels of hearing into your old age and avoid the risk of needing to use hearing aids, there are a few proactive things that you can do to protect your ears. Here are five ways that you can get proactive about your ear health:

Avoid Cotton Buds

Cotton buds may be sold as a way to clean your ears but ENT surgeons strongly advise against using them to clean your inner ear. Aside from the fact that they can actually push wa further into your ear canal and cause blockages, jabbing at your eardrum is never a good idea. Opting for earwax removal through microsuction is a much healthier way to keep your ears clean and will protect the life of your hearing.

Watch Your Volumes

Spending time in very loud environments is one of the worst things that you can do your ears, but sometimes its unavoidable. Obviously, no-one epects you to wear ear-defenders to a nightclub or live gig, but if you also work in a loud envorinment then investing in some good sound blockers will go a long way to protecting your ears.

Limit Headphone Use

Listening to loud music through earphones and headphones is one of the biggest dangers to your hearing. To help avoid damaging your hearing, use noise-cancelling earphones or headphones – do not just turn the volume up to cover up outside noise and turn the volume up just enough so you can hear your music comfortably, but no higher. You should also try to never listen to music at more than 60% of the maximum volume – some devices have settings you can use to limit the volume automatically.

Get your Hearing Tested

Get a hearing test as soon as possible if you’re worried you might be losing your hearing. The earlier hearing loss is picked up, the earlier something can be done about it. You might also want to consider having regular hearing checks (once a year, say) if you’re at a higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss, for example, if you’re a musician or work in noisy environments.

Give Your Ears Time to Recover

If you are exposed to loud noises for a prolonged period of time, like at a concert or a bar, your ears need time to recover. If you can, step outside for five minutes every so often in order to let them rest. Research shows that your ears need an average of 16 hours of quiet to recover from one loud night out! Seems like a good excuse to stay in bed for the day!

Five Ways to Feel Safer in Your Home

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of us have spent more time at home than ever before and for many people, this has turned their thoughts to safety and security. During a recent survey, 70% of respondents admitted to implementing smart technology to bolster their homes’ security capabilities, which proves that we’re all looking for ways to feel safer. Here are five tips for increasing your home security:

Doors and Windows

If you have older doors and windows, they may not be providing you with the best security available. Changing your units for high security doors and windows can give your home an added layer of protection which will allow you to sleep safely in the knowledge that you’re locked in tight.

Alarms

If you’re looking to make an investment then installing an alarm system could be a great idea. The downsides are the cost, however, and if your budget doesn’t stretch this far then research shows that even a dummy alarm could be an effective deterrent! In one survey, 82 offenders were canvassed in Southern England. They found that 84 per cent rated the presence of an alarm outside a property as a deterrent.

Security Lights

Installing security lights around your property is a cheaper alternative to alarms, but can still be a really effective deterrent. While some types of lighting could increase your risk of being burgled (lights which are on 24 hours a day will actually help criminals to see their way and avoid noisy obstacles), motion sensor lighting which only comes on if a human walks past are a really effective way to put potential burglars off.

CCTV

A CCTV system is an extremely effective way to deter burglars. It doesn’t matter how many lights are left on, how many people are home, or how close your neighbours are. You’ll capture everything with a CCTV system – and the thieves knows that too. Modern security cameras are easy to install and will often store footage in the cloud. Some can even alert you on your mobile if sensors are tripped!

Get a Dog!

Having a dog can be a great early detection system for people coming too near your home. When Sausage was very small, Husband worked shifts which included overnights and Chuck was the best, most reassuring security system I could have had. Someone only had to burp too loudly near the house and he’d be up at the windows letting me know. It gave me a tremendous sense of security, knowing that he was keeping his eyes and ears open for us and it got us all through that time knowing he was there.