tips

With Banks not lending what alternative sources of funding are there?

This is the question that many SME’s are asking in ever increasing numbers. If the Banks will not lend to them who will? The answer is that there are many alternative sources of funding that many people are totally unaware of. There are even some products from main stream lenders that seem to be forgotten. Here are just a few examples, but remember these are ‘alternative’ sources and as such are more expensive than High Street lenders.

Don’t be afraid to ask

A while ago I was in Malta and it happened to be the weekend of the Malta Powerboat Grand Prix.

All very loud and exciting.

My husband is a brilliant photographer and is always keen to take pics of anything and everything. It was certainly a wonderful opportunity for some incredible images, especially if he could get a Press Pass to get in the pits.

That got me thinking – how could I get him in there? Who might be able to get him a Pass? Boat Magazines! They could potentially get coverage and images that they wouldn’t have been able to get and for free! I had a plan.

I know your Facebook password

This post is by Russell Parsloe of 4th level IT

OK – I don’t really have your password – but assuming I did, would it just been your Facebook account that would have been compromised, or do you use the same password for twitter, LinkedIn, your email account, your bank? How much damage to your reputation and your business could be wreaked by a few seemingly innocent characters?

I won’t go into the details of how I could get access to your password in the first place – there are many ways – malicious software on your PC, guessing your child/dog/hamster’s name or birthday when answering those security questions many systems have, or even asking you for it in exchange for a free pen (this actually happened at Waterloo Station – over 90% of people gave away their password for a cheap biro)!

The big 5 scary things

The Big 5 Scary Things Being self-employed has its pitfalls and in my two years of being self-employed I think I may have fallen into most of them. When talking to people who are considering leaving employment to work for themselves, these same 5 worries crop up in conversation. It seems these are the Big 5, the things that scare people the most and put them off being self-employed. Here are my experiences with the list of Scary Things…

1. Getting behind on the mortgage – at one stage I owed 4 months’ worth and it was getting to the really scary letter stage…I ignored the letters first. My philosophy was that if I rang them and told them that I still didn’t have the money it would push me over the edge completely. Stupid, eh? Anyhow, in the end I called, got it converted to interest only, made some horrible payments and am now paying off arrears monthly. I still have a roof over my head.

2. The Bank – I put my banking manager’s direct dial in my phone and always answered or called him back ASAP. I had a 2 month period where the company had NOTHING going through the account…so I spoke to the Man at the Bank and told him what steps I had put in place to cut costs, what I planned to do to sort out getting more money into the company and agreed to call back in 4 weeks. Guess what? I got in more money than I’d promised and called him within 2 weeks to tell him. They’ve gone quiet again. Quiet is good in the world of the banks.

3. Loneliness – being self-employed is the loneliest thing in the world at times. My advice is join a networking group such as www.4networking.biz. There you will find likeminded people (nutters) like yourselves who dreamed of being released of the shackles of employment and making it on their own. There you will find great new collaborative suppliers, customers, advice for free, go to motivational meetings that start your day off with a bang (and bangers…poor joke I know…sorry) and probably get a brand new shiny set of mates who get what you’re going through. Go join now.

I don’t need a Virtual Assistant!

How to make the most out of your Virtual Assistant

Have you ever thought about using a Virtual Assistant? Perhaps you use one already, but do you use them to their full potential?

A lot of people think that they don’t need a Virtual Assistant, that they can manage on their own. That’s fine, but is that the most effective and efficient use of your time?

Take a notepad and for one day write down every task you carry out, be honest with yourself.  At the end of the day review this list and ask yourself if that was really the best use of your time.  If someone else had carried out just some of those tasks for you would that have made you more effective, if you hadn’t been carrying out those tasks could you have generated more income?

Are you a busy fool?

Do you run around here there and everywhere, mobile phone in one hand, documents in the other? Do you hear yourself telling everyone you are ‘too busy’ to do something or that you ‘haven’t got enough hours in the day’? Are you working from morning til night, and even on weekends?

If this all sounds like you, I don’t think you are alone. I’m not sure if its down to the economy and people being desperate to survive, or if it is a competitive thing that has got out of control, but more and more I see people just like this, people who leave you feeling exhausted after just a few minutes in conversation with them.

If this is you, do you really feel, at the end of your 16 hour day, that you are achieving? My view is that people like this are busy fools, people who convince themselves they are really busy but in actual fact are just avoiding making time for the things they really should be doing.

I have known people who spend the week plodding along in the office, making regular cuppa’s, going for a stroll and then they moan that they have to work all weekend. It’s like a form of self flagellation. Instead of knuckling down and methodically working through their ‘to do’ list, they prefer to work all hours so that they can tell people how busy they are.

But surely it has the opposite effect? People wont think ‘wow you’re busy’ but are far more likely to think, ‘you haven’t got time for me’. In a business sense this can be very damaging as potential clients may perceive you are at capacity and then decide to go elsewhere.

At times we can all be busy fools, I know I have run around like a headless chicken convincing myself that I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I really needed to do next, it becomes a hamster wheel that is very difficult to get off. The most important thing is recognising this and addressing it before it damages your business and maybe even your personal life.

So how can you stop being a busy fool and become more productive? Here are a few ideas:

Present for your success

I love to learn new things and learn from different people. One of the things that I was taught by Clinton Swaine of Frontier Trainings is something I have carried with me and has become a bit of a mantra with me. This is the concept that “Stage Time = Wealth Time.”

As far as I can see, one of the main issues that business owners face is a lack of leverage. Public speaking or “Stage Time” is a great way to leverage your efforts – and the skills can be learned by anyone I can assure you.

A few short years ago I went to my first networking meeting. Prior to this I had been in pressure sales situations and I was either speaking to people over the phone or in 1 on 1 sales presentations. Maybe you can relate to this….

“Put down that knife and step away from the laptop”, When “bid rage” strikes

“Good afternoon”, says the Bid Portal. “Submitting your proposal is just a few clicks away!  With our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide, your 125 sections and sub-sections will be with us momentarily!”
Oh no, not only is this portal LYING to you, it’s also using bad grammar.  And you’ve only just started.
“Please follow these simple verification checks.  Enter your supplier code and password.  Thank you.  Now enter your submission code and password. Thank you. Now enter your bid code and password. Thank you.  There is no record of you on the supplier list. Goodbye.”
BID RAGE  !

“Can’t care, don’t care” – How to avoid the “Just send it” moment in your bids

This post is by Sharon Pink

No matter how important this bid is to your business….

No matter how high the value….

No matter how well you know you can deliver to that client…..

….. there comes a point in the development cycle when you just stop caring.

You’ve spent so much time on the research, the planning, the writing and the proofing, so many days staring at the same paragraphs, that you actually can’t see the words objectively any more.  The deadline is looming and, despite your rational mind knowing there are probably lots of things that need correcting and improving, you find yourself saying “Look, just send it”.