How has your office changed since you started your career?

It’s thirty years since I first set foot in an office and it’s incredible how much has changed in that time. British Gas have created an infographic of the evolution of the office since 1700, and I’m sure a time traveller from 1700 wouldn’t even recognise our offices today. One interesting fact is that the typewriter was invented in 1867 – did you know they’d been around that long? I didn’t.

My first experience of an office was when I had two weeks of work experience as a 15-year-old in the late eighties. One of my GCSEs was in office technology – all of which would be laughably obsolete now! – so I spent two weeks as an administrator in the sales department of an engineering company. At that time staff could smoke at their desks, which would seem very strange today, not to mention it being illegal! The most obvious difference was the technology, though. There was no Internet or email, so a large part of the administrator’s role was typing up letters and memos, then circulating them.

The only electronic communication we had was a telex, used mainly for international messages. I had to type up my message on a computer, save it to a very large floppy disk, then walk down two floors to the only computer which was attached to the telex line. This was fairly cutting edge because until that time telexes had essentially been typewriters connected to a phone line. As far as I know there was no fax machine in the building.

By the time I was temping during my university holidays, around five years later, there was a PC on each admin person’s desk, running Windows, and we had a fax machine. As far as I can remember the PCs were used as little more than advanced typewriters. Files were printed on paper and kept in ring binders. I don’t remember any server where you could save files that could be accessed by other members of staff.

Working from home was unusual at that time, partly because it wasn’t part of the culture of most workplaces but also because the technology didn’t exist to make it feasible. If all the files you needed to do your job were on a shelf in the office, then you needed to be there too.

Fast forward to my first proper desk job in 1995 and we finally had email. But only one computer in the department was connected to the server, so you had to use that computer every time you wanted to send an email. Most internal communication was on paper and to contact someone outside the organisation we used the phone or post.  I had my first peek at the Internet in 1995. I thought it was interesting but I couldn’t really understand what I’d use it for other than as a kind of encyclopaedia. How things have changed!

As you can see from the infographic, the Internet has created a revolution in the way we work. The Internet exploded in the 1990s, going from 500,000 users in 1989 to 248 million in 1999.  But it’s not just the availability and the connectivity of the tech that’s made things possible, it’s the cost of the equipment.

By 1998 I’d changed jobs. I had a computer on my desk with email and internet access, which was a huge step forward. But I travelled a lot for work and the small business that employed me couldn’t justify a laptop for me as they were about £2000 each at the time. And that laptop would have been much less powerful than the smartphone an average teenager owns today! By 2001 I was a freelance software trainer and had to buy my own laptop, a mid-range one for £1000 which was still a lot of money at the time.

As the 21st century moved on, Internet speeds became faster, devices became cheaper and mobile technology progressed at a rapid pace. All of this has enabled me to work from home when I had two young children in a way that wouldn’t have been possible ten years before. For us self-employed mums our offices can be anywhere from the kitchen table once the kids are in bed to a soft-play centre in the school holidays. I feel incredibly lucky that that this era in home working and technology happened to fall at the time when I had a young family as it’s given me an ‘office’ and a business that I could only have dreamt of at the start of my career.

How has your office changed since you started your career?

I moved my mailing list to Aweber today

email move

Today, Friday 10th October, I exported my mailing list from MailChimp and imported it into Aweber.

So if you are on my mailing list and received an email saying you need to click a link if you still want to get emails from me, don’t worry I haven’t been hacked. 🙂

And please do click the link because I’d love to stay in touch!

I did send an email from my old MailChimp list yesterday, but it won’t have got through to everyone because of spam filters etc.

It was a little nerve-racking at first but it’s all gone smoothly.

And of course if you aren’t already on my mailing list for updates, news, discounts and free resources please just download my e-book at the top of the sidebar on your right and you’ll get on it.

I’ll explain why I moved to my subscribers once everyone had confirmed, so do click that confirmation link if you’re curious about it.

Have a good weekend!

I’m speaking at BritMums Live!

I’ve just been invited to speak at BritMums Live, the top UK parent blogging conference! I’ll be part of a panel in the session ‘Monetising: Innovative ideas for making money’ on Friday 21st June in London.

I’ll tell you more about it later, but I just wanted to introduce myself on the BritMums blog linky so here goes…

Name: Helen Lindop

Blog: Business Plus Baby and HelenLindop.com

Twitter ID: @HelenLindop and @BizPlusBaby

Height: about 5ft4 I think

Hair: Shoulder length, brown

Eyes: greenish

Is this your first blogging conference?

I went to Cybermummy ’11

Are you attending both days?

I’m speaking on Friday and hope to get there on Saturday too.

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2013?

Speaking at such a huge and high profile event. I’ve been a trainer for a long time but this will be my biggest event ever.

What are you wearing?

So far I have no idea! That’s what I’m working on next.

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2013?

There are so many great workshops and presentations, I just want to be there to take it all in. And to meet those people that I feel I already know but have never seen face-to-face.

Tell us one thing about you that not everyone knows

I’ve been blogging here for nearly 4 years, so it feels like there’s not a lot left that people don’t know! Erm…well I’m a bit of a closet geek. I read New Scientist for fun. But don’t tell anyone, that will you? 🙂

See you there!

(Note: This post is over a month old but I’ve pinned it to the front of my blog so anyone passing by who will be at BritMums live this weekend (21&22 June) knows a bit about me 🙂 )

My advice to myself on my baby’s 5th birthday

Last week my baby (well, my first baby!) had her fifth birthday! So if I could go back to when I decided to not return to work full-time, what would I say to myself? And what’s my advice to you if you’re trying to balance business and baby?

Let me tell you in this video…

If you’d like to follow me on YouTube, you can find me here: www.youtube.com/user/businessplusbaby. I promise to follow you back 🙂

Whatever happened to my new blog, WomanPlusBusiness.com?

Just a few weeks ago I launched my new blog, WomanPlusBusiness.com. And I’ve decided to close it down already!

Why on earth would I do that? Let me explain….

Back last year I realised that I was blogging about subjects here at Business Plus Baby that would be useful for any woman with a small business, but that by having ‘baby’ in the title that I may be turning some readers away. Also, I know that many mums of small kids are just starting out with their businesses and need beginner-level info, whereas some of my readers who have been with a me a few years are ready for posts with a bit more depth to them.

So Woman Plus Business was me broadening out and opening up to more readers.

My intention just after the Woman Plus Business launch was to get as much feedback from new readers as I could. I wanted to make sure I posted articles and videos that were incredibly useful and just what my readers wanted.  So immediately  after readers signed up for my mailing list I asked them (in a video) what their number one business challenge was. I also talked to women micro-business owners face-to-face at networking events.

This was a great strategy and I felt I got a good idea of what this group really wanted. It turns out that they desperately wanted help with online marketing. The good news was that I could absolutely help with this and was excited about doing so.

So it made total sense for me to focus on online marketing instead of the wider range of topics I’d been planning.

The not-so-good news was that after just a few weeks I had a blog that was focused on the wrong subject.  I worked out a way of twisting Woman Plus Business into an online marketing blog  but it didn’t feel right. I kept procrastinating over promoting Woman Plus Business. For me that was a sure sign that something was wrong because I’m not normally a big procrastinator. So I went with my gut and decided it was time to move on.

Rather than come up with a new brand for another new blog I decided to keep things simple and just show up using my own name. So from now on I’ll be blogging about online marketing over at HelenLindop.com, as well as continuing as usual here at Business Plus Baby.

Even though Woman Plus Business wasn’t working for me, I’ve written some posts there that I’m really proud of, so I’ll be republishing them on either HelenLindop.com or here at Business Plus Baby depending on where they fit best.

If you’re wondering what I’ve learned from all this, then here it is…

1) I spent months trying to get Woman Plus Business ‘right’ before I launched in January.  I should have launched earlier and got feedback sooner because I would have saved myself some time.

2) You never know if something is going to work unless you put it out there for other people to see. The great thing about web-based products and businesses now is that you can keep trying out new stuff without wasting tons of time or money. Experiment and don’t be afraid of failure because failure is an integral part of the process. If you’re going to fail then you need to do it fast so you can learn and move on.

3) Always, always listen to your audience. They will tell you if you’re on the right track in a way that going around in circles inside your own mind never will.

4) If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t right. I had bad vibes about Woman Plus Business on the run up to launch, but I told myself it was pre-launch nerves. I need to learn to listen to my gut more.

So what’s next for me? I’ll be blogging about online marketing and social media over at Helenlindop.com, so I’d love it if you fancy popping over to say hello. My next project is a Twitter marketing online course, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready!

And huge thanks to you for your support as I launched Woman Plus Business, too. 🙂 I really do appreciate it.

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net