How and why did you start your business? For many, it was a lucky accident: they fell into it by being made redundant, being asked to help a friend, or invented something to solve their own problem. For Priya Tourkow, her special interest in relationship counselling came about because most of the people coming to her psychotherapy sessions had problems in their relationships with partners or family members. Sarah Montgomery’s leap into promoting and selling Forever Living aloe vera products started from a desire to do something part-time from home that was more interesting, reliable and lucrative than her work as a musician and aromatherapist.
Our very first SBN Bright Sparks Meetup took place on Tuesday 24 March 2015.
I’m delighted to report that it was a fantastic success! This was largely down to business coach Rebecca Fishman’s skill and expertise in facilitating it. Read the rest of this entry →
‘Where are you on the marketing continuum?’ asked Karen Knott of Prime Time Business, whose talk on The Myth and Magic of Marketing informed and entertained networkers at this month’s Small Business Network meeting. Are you a ‘1’, hating the very idea of marketing, a 10, feeling confident and enthusiastic or a 5, understanding the concept and making tentative efforts to market your small business, but not really feeling comfortable with it?
Karen took us through the process of how to change your thinking around marketing so that it becomes something you love doing, rather than something you avoid like the plague. It’s all about seeing marketing simply as a way of connecting with your ideal clients or customers – people who are looking for exactly the service you provide and will be so happy to have found it. If you don’ tell them about it, how can they find it in the first place?
Most small business owners at the SBN meeting, held on 17 November 2014 at Sable D’Or in Muswell Hill, fell somewhere in the middle – but hopefully, after Karen’s advice and very useful tips, they went away a lot more confident about how to market their products and services.
The regular business talk is only one really useful aspect of Small Business Network’s monthly meetings: meeting other small business owners, itself a form of marketing, can bring new customers and allow members to find the products and services they need, from accountancy to business coaching, alternative therapies to natural chocolates. Karen herself asked if anyone could suggest an entrepreneurial business woman that she can speak to for her monthly inspirational interview.
Four new participants joined the November meeting, including keynote speaker and entertainer Tom MacKay, who bills himself as a mentalist. No small business owner is likely to forget Tom’s amazing display of mental powers, in which he correctly guessed the number Karen was thinking about.
Other new networkers included Lee Dein, who has just launched Magic Link Handwriting Programme, a video tutorial teaching people of all ages how to physically write legible letters, school reports and so on; Heather Holden, whose Coco Business provides a personal assistant service for any business owner needing help with secretarial tasks, marketing, or utilising technology and social media; and Meb Vidic, The Career Blog, who offers business and personal coaching and careers advice.
Ben Chapman, a financial adviser, and Bella Beraki, whose FeelSoFab.com is an online gift shop for women, were second-time visitors to the Small Business Network meeting. Ben has just become an SBN member.
But regular attendees revealed new projects, too. Johanna Green has added ballroom dancing for fitness to her keep fit repertoire; Marcia MacLeod announced she has more time to help small business owners write their web and print blogs, leaflets and brochures, now that she has closed her magazine, Your Allotment; and Nathalie Roth, who runs Nurse Your Tree alternative therapy service, is running a course right after Christmas to help people to relax after the stress of the holidays;
If you want to try out some of Nathalie’s alternative therapies – or Peggy Guglielmino‘s hypnotherapy service – visit the Highgate Holistic Clinic‘s open day on 6 December, where taster sessions will be on offer.
So that’s the marketing and mental tutoring covered; where does Movember fit in? Well, commercial solicitor Philip Deja, who specialises in helping small businesses, sported a moustache for the first time as part of the Movember fund-raising project. He promises it will be gone by the next meeting; if it isn’t, he might need legal help himself as his wife has threatened to divorce him!
Don’t forget the next Small Business Network meeting, to be held on Monday, 8 December, will not have a talk but will offer small business owners a chance to showcase and sell their products. The first meeting of the new year, on 19 January, will include a talk on Creating Healthy Boundaries on the Yo-Yo Journey of An Entrepreneur, by Mark Leruste
by Marcia MacLeod
Do you remember the first time you thought about starting your own business? The excitement of doing something you love, with no boss looking over your shoulder; the fear of failure; the worry about finances; the sleepless nights wondering if you’re doing the right thing? They are all feelings most Small Business Network members have experienced. Maybe you haven’t got there yet. Maybe you’re only just beginning to consider your future options and have all those emotions to look forward to.
Whichever it is, the problem is that emotions can take over: it’s all too easy to let your heart rule your head. For starting a new, small business – any small business – is not for the faint-hearted. Read the rest of this entry →
If you don’t network – whether on or off line – no-one gets to hear about your product or service, and of course no-one gets to buy from you.
So networking is as natural as breathing – we do it every time we tell someone what we do for a living.
Business networking events are a logical extension of this – they provide a focused way for lots of small business owners to communicate to each other what they do, and thereby get more customers.
This is of course very valuable in itself. However, it is easy to forget the other benefits of networking for small businesses:
by Marcia MacLeod
At Christmas time, here at Small Business Network, it is now traditional for us to have a little christmas fair at the meeting. This December we had five tables of gift items.
There was Lubica Art, selling the most stunning hand-painted silk scarves, with a special offer to all Small Business Network members of £40 in honour of Christmas, and the fact that this was the first time Slovakian mum and daughter – both named Lubica – had attended the networking meeting. And on the other side of the room, another kind of artist, Natasha Barton, also a Small Business Network debutante, displayed beautiful screenprints of London views. For those who couldn’t afford a piece of original art, however impressive, she also had greeting cards and postcards of some of her work.
A couple of tables down, established networker Amanda Eatwell had Christmas cards and general greetings cards featuring her photography, as well as photographic prints: I’ve long had my eye on the deck chairs. Another regular at the Small Business Network meetings, Vicky Williams, showed off her Jewels of Distinction – hand-made earrings, necklaces and other items, all at the sort of prices that make them ideal presents.
Jo Tocher, of Your Healthy Heart, rounded up the Christmas gift tables, selling organic toiletries and scented candles.
by Marcia MacLeod
We all do it – often without even realising it. But mention ‘networking’ to some small business owners and they think it’s something luvvies do, or involves formal dinners and presentations, or costs too much. In fact, networking can be a simple as meeting someone at a friend’s house and discussing your hobbies – or even telling a friend about a new small business idea. It can be as basic as accepting a LinkedIn invitation to be someone’s contact or a Facebook ‘friend’ request.
Practitioner Jo Tocher, who specialises in helping people with ME, arrived with a noticeable glow and aura of wellness – apparently this was due to having just had a Chi Reflexology session with Louise Exeter!
During the One Minute Go Round, cake maker Debby Sass asked for feedback on her new paper decorative stars, whilst feng shui expert Chrissie Parker gave her tip of the month: to keep electromagnetic devices like mobiles and clock radios to an absolute minimum in the bedroom: time and again she has seen their removal solve long term sleep problems.