I believe in flexible working. There are a few exceptions to the rule but many jobs can be done from the comfort of our homes.
Before starting my own business I worked for Taylor Wimpey as Customer Relations Manager in the Eastern Region. Importantly, they understood that times and lifestyles change and so too does the impact of work on your health.
The chairman made it clear, as a business they had a responsibility to their employees.
Whilst I wasn’t entirely ‘flexible’ in my career with TW, I realised something about myself. I could never go back to not working with more flexibility.
Taking that one step further, I quit and started my own business in 2018.
A rude awakening
This year, a global pandemic rudely interrupted ‘business as usual’. Dragging those against working from home into the 21st century with a slap. In March 2020 the UK went full on lock down.
With fear and urgency, businesses began the ‘radical’ shift to working from home where possible. The impact of which is going to reach farther than we can currently anticipate.
O2’s recent survey The Flexible future of work, 45% of the workforce believe there’ll be a permanent increase in it. Whilst, a significant 33% expect to increase the amount of work from home by 3 days.
For me, flexible working was not simply about being a single parent and working around my child. Importantly for me, working from home allowed me to stay physically and mentally well as well as financially supporting us.
There are times when working from home or, working at different times is the best option.
Why I advocate for flexible working
I write often about my desire to captain my own ship. Read about that in my post about finding myself and work/life balance. I spent a long time frustrated. Surrounded by men with antiquated values that didn’t mirror the backdrop of digital connectivity that the wider world relished.
It’s true. The UK government are feeding us their plans and easing the lock down. Many employers have already begun to draw their employees back into their places of work. There is benefit to this face to face working but I can’t help but wonder.
What will the future of work look like post Covid-19?
My hope that businesses use this as an opportunity to improve their systems and processes. I hope that employees will experience the benefit of it with opportunities for flexible working. It’s time businesses supported their staff with a holistic approach to work life balance.
What do you think?
Catch you later,
(views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily express those of any businesses or government bodies mentioned)
I wanted to share with you 5 things that can easily help improve your business right now because it’s important to still do the things you can right?
It’s been a minute since all this pandemic stuff really started to hit home and there’s still so much noise about what to expect in these ‘unprecedented times’. Lots of should, clouds and woulds and it can be overwhelming.
I got you!
That’s right, the most important thing you can be doing for your business right now is actually the most important thing you could be doing for yourself on a personal level too. This is a great time to look after your physical and mental health in ways that you feel are too difficult when you’re running around all over the place. So make sure you are getting good sleep, good nutrition (with some treats in there too of course) and staying well hydrated.
If you can get away with not setting an alarm don’t
Linger in the bath or shower longer than normal
Switch off your electronics a good 30 minutes to an hour before bed to give your brain a chance to rest
Make sure you breathe. We actually only use a small amount of lung capacity when we breath and deep breathing (even just in for 4 out for 4, 4 or 5 times) will really make a difference. It’s good for anxiety, headaches, tension and energy
If your business is still functioning and you’ve not been furloughed then you will need this more than ever. Put YOU first and this will have a ripple effect and improve your business. It WILL thank you for it.
#2 Get Creative!
This is a great way to support yourself and your business right now. We all know consistency and visibility rely on content so change up your routine a bit and batch create a shed load of content in your preferred format. Today this blog post is one of at least 8-10 that I intend to write. I will also then check through for snippets I can use on instagram posts and my intention is to also record a version of this too so that I have an audio I can send to my email list. Not on the list? Then Subscribe!
When you do this you can take some of the pressure off you by not being on the content creation wheel every week, it enables you to find more time and it also means that the people who are interested in what you do can see you consistently showing up for free for them. Staying in the forefront of peoples minds will serve you well.
#3 Fill your mind with things for pleasure and it will Improve Your Business
Yes I advocate learning, training etc (see point 4!), but I also think it’s important to spend time taking in other interesting things. It’s so easy to unintentionally repeat the message of your mentors, peers and ‘competition’ when you’re creating your own content because all of us spend so much time watching what they’re doing. It’s great to learn and be inspired but sometimes it hampers our vision and that then gets spread in the messages we are sharing in our content.
So read fiction or books written that don’t delve into your business or business at all. Watch movies that make you laugh or think but aren’t about building a business and follow some people on social media that have zero to do with your business but have inspiring accounts.
You’ll find this awakens your imagination and helps boost your own business creativity.
#4 Get better at what you do
Hone your expertise, learn that little extra that will help you and your business out and really use it in your business. Build on your existing skills, learn that new one that will take something in your business to the next level and really double down on becoming an expert in it.
None of us know everything there is to know, so learn and improve your business!
#5 Improve Your Business by spending time with the people that have invested in you.
I wholeheartedly believe that if people give you their email address, their follow and their comments then they are having a transactional experience with you. These guys and your paying clients are already miles ahead in the ‘know, like and trust’ mentality and that deserves your time. So,
Talk to your email list, answer their questions, share tools and information that they will find useful
Like, comment and share posts of your followers that resonate with you – engage, engage, engage – get to know them!
Offer thoughtful insights to your existing clients and make sure you’re supporting them to the best of your ability. Make sure they feel valued.
This last point is one of my favourites, if you’ve been here for any length of time you’ll know that I encourage exceptional customer service and how it will improve your business. Exceptional service can take many forms. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it that you may find useful.
What I learned by leaving school at 14? I’ve shared about this before but today, I’m writing about how it helps business.
The background to why I left school at 14 (in 1997)
At 14 we moved 150 miles away from Haverhill to Cheltenham, it’s beautiful. My sister was 10 months old and my brother was in his first year of Uni.
I did not cope well.
Why I struggled
I missed my brother and was disconnected from my mum. My relationship with dad was always terrible and I was far away from friends and family.
Here’s the kicker. There were some major differences in the curriculum. This meant I had a whole year to catch up on in all my subjects new and old without any teacher guidance.
Exhaustion was overwhelming. It felt insurmountable.
At this time my anxiety went through the roof. Even leaving the house caused panic attacks.
I now understand that I had a breakdown. When I was in it, I just thought I was broken.
Symptoms: Insomnia, over thinking, withdrawing, crying. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and prescribed Prozac. At 14 I was on Prozac
How would I be able to follow my plan? Would I be able to go to Uni, study English and become a journalist? (Want to see what I did with my life? check out my about page.
After many discussions between the school, local authority and my parents I was de-registered with a view to doing the ‘resits’ course at our local 6th form college, this never transpired and just months later my parents decided to move back to the town we had originally left.
I was devastated.
Truth time; I was happy not having to go to school and I loved the town. But, I still wanted to become a journalist.
It was a pivotal moment in my life.
I discovered that sometimes, the world around you spins differently to your expectation and knocks you off your intended course. It’s had some real effects both positive and negative and I believe that it has been instrumental in where I find myself today.
The discoveries I talk about here can be applied to your freelance business, small business or pivot in your career. Here is what I learned.
What I learned was – Don’t limit yourself to just 1 type of education
It’s not necessary to follow the path traditionally laid out and well trodden by others all the time. You don’t have to stick to only knowing what you know or only learning what you’re innately talented at. Particularly now, the digital world has opened up a plethora of learning opportunities that mean you can diversify your knowledge and expand your joy at the click of a mouse.
Learning is available for everyone in everything, you can and should explore different things.
It’s good practice to self reflect, here’s what I learned
Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond your control.
It’s absolutely normal to get caught up in the frustrations of this. Whether it’s a ‘big deal’ like my situation or lots of small day to day ones like most of us experience. Set some time aside and really think about who you are and who you want to be and when you do reflect, you’ll find you know exactly what you need to let go of in order to do so. It’s a way to recharge AND re-calibrate.
Figure out what and who inspires you
When things are up and down like a wild wave it can be hard to see the safety of dry land. It’s this time when you most need to feel engaged and inspired. I hope that you all find things within yourself that inspire and motivate you and ignite your spark but undoubtedly there will be times when that’s too difficult. It’s important to have a medicine bag of things, places, people and activities that inspire you so that when you need it you have easy access to it.
Be open to unusual opportunities
When you have been pivoted of course in the way I was you really learn to open up to possibilities. It has been allowing myself to be open to doing something different that ultimately has led to some of the most amazing experiences of my life. So stay open, you never know what’s around the corner.
What I learned? When in doubt, action it out
I’ve written about having a bias for action before but this is key. When you are pivoted for reasons beyond your control it can feed into your self esteem and raise the ugly head of self doubt. I find that always, this is lessened by simply doing something. The act of doing is the medication for self doubt.
Have you ever been in the space where you just don’t know what to do with your work and your life and you’re finding it a super tough decision?
Boy do I feel you and I am so happy that you’re here today.
There are a lot of times in life when this issue comes up, in my experience it is incredibly common when you have small children though I know that I experienced it (and will continue to do so throughout my life).
Getting a bit morbid maybe, but when I get the collywobbles about being in business for myself I often think about what I will be looking back on at the end of my life.
I wonder whether I will regret going for it, giving it my best shot and I am of the deep seated belief that whilst it may not always look how I imagined, and yes I suspect that the path will have some bumps in it – I would almost certainly regret not trying more than giving it my all.
I can only speak as a woman and as someone who was a single mother for a long time but life has hurdles, for each and every one of us. Sometimes they can bite you in the arse so hard you feel it for decades but it doesn’t have to end there for you.
You don’t HAVE to stay stagnant. After I hit my mid 30s I realised that there are some circumstances and situations I can only change by making change.
It’s this part that’s hard though isn’t it.
The making change. For me it meant I was even poorer than I started at times (which was bloody poor I don’t mind telling you) but you see, ultimately. Changing my life simply became about making decisions.
Making the decision to move on, and it was the process of that decision that freed me and propelled me to a future that I have been stunned at.
As a mother my overriding mantra is ‘what will the impact of this decision have on my son’ and whilst that’s an awesome way to be, particularly as the sole carer, it also meant that where I might have tried and failed fast (or succeeded beyond measure) I was too scared to make a decision.
But the time passed anyway. 1 year of wondering turned into 10.
My sons life didn’t get any better, in fact sometimes it got worse, but the minute I chose to go for it things began to change.
I wont lie and tell you it’s all been plain sailing because it hasn’t, I had to make sacrifices and yes so did my son BUT the truth of the matter is that, that small sacrifice has allowed us to build a different kind of life together and it’s amazing and going from strength to strength.
Decision making followed by taking action is the way to free your shackles and boost your confidence.
The key is that if you fail you fail fast and learn from it. It might mean stopping or it might mean adjusting but lady, you can do it.
Honestly, what worries you about it?
The time it will take (the years will pass whether you’re doing the thing you want or not)
So here’s the thing, if you can imagine yourself in the future both ways, plodding on doing what you’re doing and then differently having achieved the this thing of yours, which one do you really want most?
It’s completely ok if it’s just a pleasant fantasy (like winning the lottery)
The truth is that what causes us the most unhappiness is simply indecision.
If you think it’s time to stop torturing yourself why not get yourself FREE access to my masterclasses, workshops, webinars and e-tutorials? Sign up below today!
I want to keep revisiting brainstorming and goal setting in the lead up to my FREE WORKSHOP partly because I gave myself the challenge of writing a new blog post every day and partly because I think it’s so freakin’ important to build in these foundations for your business.
My assumption here is that you have done your brain dump of every idea in your busy mind. Business ideas, new start up ideas, ideas to move your existing business forward – all those ideas should be on a page somewhere.
If you haven’t gotten around to prioritising or don’t really know how to then here’s a great tip I learned somewhere along the way.
So you’ve brain dumped every idea goal and hope you have onto the page. Now you need to cut.it.back…
That’s right you need to sift through and filter those ideas until you’re left with fewer but more significant ones. These are your priorities, but how do you filter it?
You need to ask and confirm 3 things for each and every idea – this is how you will filter the non priorities from the essentials.
What would the reward for making this idea happen be? How would it impact you when you achieve it? For example what would happen to/for you financially/mentally/for your family/for your business/your life
How will this idea coming to fruition help other people? Your family, your team, your clients, your community
What do you have to be/who do you have to become in order to turn this from a goal into real life ‘completed it mate’? Do you have to develop any skills or build in any new habits?
Filtering in this way doesn’t mean you wont pick up the other ideas at some point, it means that you can focus on the ideas that will reap the biggest rewards and stretch you to growth the most now. So be brutal, don’t feel guilty just put away the ones that are for another year or when you have nailed one of the ones you’ve chosen to focus on.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with 20 long term goals, remember where you’re currently at you may be able to focus on 3 (this is what I do – 1 business, 1 personal and 1 learning – and they often link up if I’m honest) but your circumstances are different to mine. When I was a single mum it was harder to find time, now I’m in an equal partnership and my son is older I can do more, so don’t beat yourself up if you have 1 goal and don’t put pressure on yourself to have 6, listen to yourself and trust that you know how far you can split your dedication.
I would love to hear from you, get in touch and share whether you’ve set any goals and what they are.
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