Why you should consider a part time job

Many mums want to return to work part time after having a baby, but until recently the employment options have been limited. Part time work has often been low paid and didn’t allowed highly skilled and experienced women to make full use of their talents.

Thankfully that’s changing now. During the 2009 recession, many companies encouraged staff to go part time rather than make redundancies. This meant that part-time working became more ‘normal’, although unfortunately this was sometimes not by choice.  Also, many highly experienced staff are now choosing to work part-time rather than fully retire. This means organisations can take advantage of that experience but without the cost of employing that person full-time.

With part-time working no longer necessarily meaning low-paid work, the opportunities are improving for mothers, too. It’s been clear for many years that traditional working patterns don’t sit easily with family life, but now there are trailblazers who are promoting more flexible ways of working including Juliet Turnbull, a former chartered surveyor who started a job site for mums who want to work two to three days a week. Some of the more traditional businesses such as consulting firms are offering part time job opportunities, for example Accenture offers part time working, job share and telecommuting.

How does this fit with running a business around a family? Well, some mums had little choice but to become self employed when their kids arrived – there simply were no other options. Having more employment choices is very welcome for those of us who’d rather be employed than self-employed.

But for those of us who do want to pursue our businesses, it can be a hard to care for a young family, start a business (including funding it) and make an income at the same time. A part time job that pays a decent wage gives you freedom to experiment with business ideas but without the pressure to make an income from your business from day one.

The part time job has been a life saver for many people – parents or not – who started businesses suddenly (say because they were made redundant or had a baby) but needed an income until the business was making enough profit to support them. But it’s not just about money. Starting a business from home can be isolating and gradually chip away at your confidence. A good part-time job that makes good use of your skills can keep your confidence levels up. If the job relates to your new business, you could even develop useful skills and contacts. Check your contract carefully to make sure your business activities are allowed and never try to ‘poach’ clients from your employer!

As you can see, you no longer need to be either 100% employed or 100% business owner. There are many options now that allow you to be a mixture of both as you transition from employed to self-employed or business owner. In fact, there are many benefits to taking this route including it being easier on your bank balance, work-life balance and stress levels!

Image: Bruce Mars

 

Ever thought of freelancing?

As a mum with a young family you need to earn an income but you need flexibility, too. Childcare is expensive, so if you can work hours that minimise your need for childcare you can save a lot of money (and can work fewer hours if you like). You also need to be able to drop your work and pick it up later if you have a sick child to take care of. And then there’s the flexibility we all want so we can go to school sports days and concerts. You also need work that doesn’t involve too much travel because you need to be back for when school or nursery closes for the evening.

Freelancing from home ticks all these boxes so it could be a great fit for you. True, there are challenges, including finding clients and needing to shift your mindset from employee to business owner. Here are some tips to get you started.

Choose the service you offer

First of all, what do you have to offer? Look at your skills and experience, for example do you have project management skills, are you a good writer do you know social media well? These don’t have to be skills you’ve developed at work, often you can make use of skills you’ve learned in your spare time or voluntary work. If you feel your skills need a bit of a polish or you could use a testimonial, reference or even some examples for your portfolio, you can consider working for family or friends or volunteering for a charity.

Make use of technology

Technology has made a huge difference to freelancing from home, both in obvious ways such as small businesses needing someone to handle their websites and social media, but also in less obvious ways such as tools like Asana and Slack being used to manage remote team working.

It’s also relatively cheap and easy to get started – both at home and on the move as you wait for your kids to finish their sports clubs! All you need is a laptop, internet connection (broadband or wifi) and cheap, often free, software.

‘Technology is inevitably shaping a lot of business practices.’ says technology expert Adrian Rubin.

Try networking to find clients

The big question for new freelancers is ‘how do I find clients’? There are many ways you could find clients, but one of the most effective and widely used is networking.

The great news for those of us who are working around a family is that you can do this online. Twitter and LinkedIn are very effective ways of finding people who need freelancers, as well as some Facebook groups for small business owners. But always aim to encourage people to know, like and trust you rather than diving straight in with a sales pitch.

Although it’s easy to network online, don’t be shy about going to local networking events as these can be very effective. If the more formal groups aren’t your style there are plenty of more relaxed groups you could try.

Freelancing is a great low-risk, low-cost way to start your own small business so why not give it a try?

The Benefits of a Virtual Office

There are so many considerations to take into account when thinking about setting up a virtual office. First of all, a common concern that people have is that they will feel isolated outside of a team environment, particularly if they are used to speaking to people all day. One way of making sure that this doesn’t happen is to keep having regular communications on the telephone and even video conferencing with colleagues or clients.

Having the relevant software or apps to send quick messages to people will also help to keep you connected with others. Taking a break at the local coffee shop from time to time or going out for lunch can also be a good idea when you are not too busy.

Commuting

Maybe you are currently looking at a change of career and are considering freelance jobs. In this case, you will no doubt be keen to understand the benefits of virtual offices. The beauty of freelance work is that you can usually work from anywhere you choose. So whether that is a home office or a workshop to rent London, whichever solution suits your circumstances and budget.

So one of the biggest benefits is that you can reduce commute time, so if you are working from home or somewhere a short distance from your home you could be saving a lot of commute time and costs.

IT Costs

You also have the option to choose your preferred technology, with access to Google Drive, Trello and other great collaborative online tools that are free to use. IT costs for large businesses can spiral out of control with network set up, security and maintenance costs etc. but working from a virtual office you can avoid a lot of those costs.

Recruitment Costs/Salaries and Benefits

If you own a business that is growing then you will also have access to talent from across the world, rather than just the local market. There are many companies out there that take advantage of lower salaries paid in countries like the Philippines for different roles including a virtual assistant to help with general tasks. So businesses can save a great deal of money by operating from a virtual team format, perhaps calling on the services of freelancers that do a few hours work per week for them.

As well as being able to employ workers at lower salary rates, there are also the savings that can be made through not being responsible for holiday pay, pensions etc. and the office running costs.

Employee Engagement

People working from virtual offices enjoy the flexibility that it provides. Rather than taking a day of their holiday entitlement to have furniture delivered, for example, as working from home allows them to schedule their work around it. Childcare is another area that can be made much easier by having a virtual office, as it takes less time to get to the school/nursery.

Fewer Distractions = More Productivity

If you are somebody that easily gets distracted or even frustrated by other people in the office being noisy or other annoying behaviours then a virtual office will feel like your haven of productivity. No waiting for the printer, long walks to the toilet, overcrowded lifts or any of those other problems that eat into your time when working in large offices.

One thing that you should consider is how much less walking you might do if you are not commuting, as you might be surprised at how sedentary your days can become. So if you do not exercise regularly then try and go for a walk during your break/lunch to keep moving and prevent the problems associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Weigh The Costs And Concerns Of Company Finance Options

Do you have an idea for a new business? That’s fantastic, but don’t be fooled by the blogs online. You can’t start a business with nothing in your pocket, and you certainly won’t be able to make it successful. Instead, you need to make sure that you do have some money to spend on the set up of your company. There a few ways to fund a business set up, and we have discussed these before. However, now it’s time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This is the most practical way to know which financial plan is right for your business venture. We’ll start with a popular modern choice.

Is Crowdsourcing The Way Forward?

Image: Tumisu

There are plenty of different crowdfunding sites online these days to choose from. You might try Kickstarter, or you could even set up a go fund me page. It’s possible to look at sources aimed exclusively at businesses as well because not all of them are. We’ll get to that in a minute but first, let’s look at some of the best advantages of this option.

Pros

Well, first when you crowdsource, you immediately have access to a massive group of investors. You could literally raise millions for your business in a matter of days, and that’s not even the best part. The best part is that the money is completely spread out divided into multiple investors. This means that the risk is drastically limited. You won’t take on any risk because investors or funders are more than happy to receive an incentive such as a free first order.

Another benefit of crowdsourcing is that it can bring you a lot of media attention. If your business idea generates buzz online, you can get the support you need. This, in turn, will help you gain more money for your venture. It all sounds great, but it might be a little too good to be true.

Cons

There are a couple issues to contend with here. First of all, you’ll be vying for attention on a massive market and funders are often general consumers. They are eagerly tempted by things that seem bigger or more interesting than what you might be offering. In other words, the most sensible ideas might not win out. You might need to razzle-dazzle them.

Crowdsourcing will also only work if you can gain attention. This means that you really already need a large, stable following online, willing to support you as a new business entrepreneur. Finally, if you fail to make money you, need you won’t get any funding.

What About A Typical Business Loan

Image: Quince media

Similarly to crowdfunding, there are various sites online that can provide you with business loans. From banks to building societies and private lenders the market is wide open for this type of financial transaction.

Pros

First, the customer is king here. That means that you can get the exact loan that you want and make sure that it provides what you need. You also won’t need to rely on reaching a certain target as is the case with crowdfunding. That means that you have more control here.

On Top of that, you can get loans for a variety of different ventures. If you can dream it, you’ll be able to get the money you need to do it, and you’ll be trusting professionals. In other words, you won’t need to worry that the money won’t ultimately come through.

Cons

The only really issue to contend with is that interest rates can be high. You must make sure that you can afford to pay back whatever you borrow and ideally repaying should be easy. In other words, don’t borrow more than you can afford.

Borrowing From Someone You Know

Image: Alexas_photos

Alternatively, you might turn to friends or family members to help get your company off the ground. Is this the right option?

Pros

There is a possibility that you won’t face any interest rates and you’ll be getting into business with someone that you know.

Cons

It’s the same as the pros, you’ll be getting into business with someone you know. Paying back a loan to friends and family members isn’t fun, and it can be rather awkward. Particularly, if they constantly ask for that money back. It can strain your relationship and even cause friendships to end.

On top of this, while it might start as a friendly loan, you have to think about what could happen if their financial situation suddenly changes. You might find that they need the money back faster than you can provide it.

We hope you see now that there are advantages and disadvantages of each option and that you are able to make the right choice for you.

What Type of Marketing Strategy is Right for Your Business?

Running a business is hard. It’s draining, whether you’re a C-level executive at the top of a major corporation or a sole proprietor running a taco stand. Your livelihood and financial stability depends on getting more customers through your door and having more money leftover at the end of the month than you started with.

So this is why marketing is a big deal to you and everyone who works at your company. Marketing makes or breaks a business, so you need to know what kind of marketing strategy will work for you and bring in the best ROI.

The tough part is that there’s no single best answer that works for everyone. One type of marketing might be excellent for one company, yet it won’t do much for another company. So how will you know? Basically, you just have to get busy and try out several different strategies for yourself and measure the results. Just make sure that you don’t make too many changes at once, since this can make it impossible to know which tactics worked well and which ones didn’t.

Here are three types of marketing that you should try out for your business.

Digital Marketing for Website Traffic

First of all, internet marketing is a must. No other type of marketing offers as much bang for your buck. You can set up a company website for less than $100 and then scale it up from there. Social media is free too. So there’s no excuse not to start with marketing your business online.

Start a blog and some social channels and start putting out content every week. Track your stats and see which types of content get the best response. Inbound and channel marketing can take a while at first to get things rolling, but within a couple months you will start getting some traffic, and you can analyze your results from there.

Traditional Media Advertising Campaigns for Brand Awareness

Traditional marketing is still alive and well, so you’ll want to invest some effort there too. If you can afford big media, then regular spots on television and radio can work wonders for your brand. Think of how many brands have become household names over the years simply because their customer base watched their TV commercials throughout their lives. The same should be happening for your brand.

Companies with lower budgets can still take advantage of local radio spots, newspaper ads and even billboards and vehicle wraps. But the key here is that you need to go in for the long term. It takes time to build brand awareness, but the rewards are totally worth the time and expense.

Cheap Offline Marketing for Small Biz Startups

There are a host of other tactics that you can use besides electronic media and the internet. Old school guerilla marketing tactics still work really well today. For less than $1,000 you can have a thousand flyers printed up and distributed throughout your local service area. Include a coupon, and you should get a pretty decent response that is measurable and scalable.

You can also print up pens and other merchandise with your company logo and website printed on them and then just give them away to keep your brand top of mind. Popular choices include ballpoint pens, bumper stickers, notepads, T-shirts, and tote bags, but with a little creativity and research you can come up with hundreds of other ideas too.

Getting your brand name and logo in front of your customer base is crucial to the success of your business. Start with one of the above suggestions, stick with it for several months, track your results and then make adjustments as necessary to optimize your conversions. Then try it again with another type of marketing. Eventually, you’ll find the right mix of marketing strategies that will work for your company and your budget.

Image: Photomix-company