When you’re running a small business, no two days are the same. We caught up with Joanne Dewberry, business owner and Sage Small Business Expert, to see what the varied life of a self-employed person looks like.
- 7 tips to manage stress for small business owners
- 8 fitness tips for the self-employed
- Facebook for small businesses
- What type of business insurance do I need?
Joanne’s also given us some top tips on networking, social media, and juggling family life to boot…
Being freelance means you never quite know what each day holds for you. Sometimes this is exciting and other times it’s just plain exhausting!
When I started my small business, Charlie Moo’s, I had two small babies and I kept thinking how much easier things would be once they started school.
Fast-forward almost a decade, and all three children are at school and I still don’t have enough time in the day.
No two days are the same, but everyday is full of learning opportunities.
I’d love to say that my mornings are calm - setting me up for a productive day’s work. But sadly, trying to get three children ready for school every morning is chaos.
Today, though, I’m heading to meet with a monthly networking group. We’re talking about email marketing - something I’m pretty ad hoc about.
I co-host a networking event, specifically for parents in business. We meet at a soft play centre, meaning parents running a business from home with young children are actually able to get out and network.
Most networking events are scheduled as breakfasts or evenings, which can be a struggle when you add a couple of children into the mix.
Working from home can also be an incredibly lonely experience. Having a networking support group gives you with people to talk to, glean advice from, and talk through ideas with.
My tips for networking like a pro
Be recognisable: These days most networking groups will have some kind of online presence. Whether it’s a forum or a Facebook group, pop in and say ‘hi’ - that way your first face-to-face is a lot less daunting. Have a headshot as your online avatar so people recognise you on the day, or take a long a name badge if the event doesn’t provide them for you.
Body language: Smile, it shows confidence and makes others feel comfortable. You should also try and keep eye contact, and be responsive so people know you’re engaged. Try to be approachable, confident, and chatty.
Ask open-ended questions: This will stop those ‘yes, no’ answers and can help encourage further conversation.
Don’t hard sell: Unless the group has a specific five-minute pitch/introduction session, leave the sales patter at home.
Build relationships: Networking is about building relationships - don’t try and sell. People need to know, like, and trust you before they do business with you. As I previously mentioned, networking is about support. The support I receive from my networking circle outweighs the sales I might receive.
Once I got home from the event, I had an hour (literally!) to grab a coffee and prepare for a Twitter chat with Sage UK.
I’ve been a Sage Small Business Expert for about five years now. I love working with them on a variety of projects including #SageAdvice. The topic for discussion today is one of my favourites - ‘juggling children and a small business’. Given the school holidays, it’s quite timely!
Never ran or taken part in a Twitter Chat? Keep these in mind…
My tips for running a Twitter Chat
- Prepare questions and answers in advance.
- Ensure your answers hit the 140 character limit
- Use bit.ly to shorten URLs
- Have both your Twitter notifications open and a page following the hashtag
- Once the chat has finished go back through and make sure you answered all the questions.
Although the chat lasted 30 minutes, Twitter is so fast-paced that the time flies, and I’m still checking bits and pieces for a good while after.
Before I collect the children from school for after school clubs - it’s gymnastics and swimming today - I’ve got time to sort through my emails.
When it comes to tackling my inbox, I’ve adopted the ‘Four D’ approach - ‘do it, delete it, defer it, delegate it’.
As a small business owner, I don’t have many opportunities to delegate, but I certainly do the rest. I find if I diarise time to take on specific tasks, they don’t languish in my inbox or float around my to-do list.
Keeping my inbox organised is one of the many little things that helps me run my business smoothly and still be a hands-on parent.
I know tomorrow has to start with my parent hat firmly in place, as it’s my daughter’s school play.
Creating my own business has always been driven by a desire to create something that is flexible enough to work around my family.
I might not always get everything right (I often end up working once the children are in bed), but I know there are very few school events or holidays where I’m not there.
So here are my top tips for making time for your family while running a business…
My five top tips for juggling a family and a small business
Scheduling is your friend: Schedule everything - from blog posts to social media. Especially over the school holidays.
Email Organisation: Employ the aforementioned ‘Four D’ approach. You’ll thank me later.
Plan and organise activities: During the holidays, I have a calendar in full view of the family so everyone knows the plan each day. It also means I can divide my business activities into manageable chunks. You’ll find the children far more amenable if they know that after an hour’s work we’re all off to the zoo!
Network: Why not meet with people in the same situation? This way it’s a win win - the children get to play, and you get to talk about your business, and make a new connection.
Tunnel Vision: Social media is a great tool for showing the world what you and your business are up to. However, as a parent in business you can sometimes see what everyone else is doing and start to worry about your own contributions. But you never know the circumstances - they might have more childcare help than you, for example. Celebrate others’ successes, don’t let them bring your confidence and motivation down.
Win a copy of Joanne’s book
We’re giving away five free copies of Joanne’s book Crafting a Successful Small Business: Making, marketing and merchandising.
Wondering what the book is about? ‘Jam-packed with top hints and tips from real-life crafty small business owners in the know, this book is essential reading for anyone looking to craft their way to success!’
So there you have it. All you have to do to be in with a shout of winning is log in below (either with Facebook or your email address) then use the links to follow us and Joanne on Twitter. Good luck!
Joanne is a 30-something coffee lover living in rural Dorset with her long-suffering partner and three children.
Joanne is owner, designer and creator at Charlie Moo’s, specialising in handmade fabric party bags. She’s also a Sage Business Expert and author of Crafting a Successful Small Business. In 2010, Joanne was named Dorset Business Mother of the Year and has numerous accolades and awards to her name. In her spare time she likes to eat and watch crime dramas. Sometimes at the same time!
How do you manage your time as a small business owner? Give us your tips below.
Looking for self-employed insurance?
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