How to cope when you miss your child’s event (and why sometimes it’s a good thing)

I have a fab post for you today by working mums’ coach Elinor Wilde. One of the big reasons that mums start up in business is to give us the flexibility to go to events like school sports days. But what happens if, despite your best efforts, you still can’t go? Over to you, Elinor…

Running a business when you have children can mean some pretty tough choices. At the end of recent call, a client of mine dropped into the conversation that she had been really looking forward to going to a friend’s 40th birthday party. It had been in the calendar for months but she wasn’t going because her daughter had just been invited to perform at a dance concert. Now this mum has seen her daughter perform at many concerts, this wasn’t the first and it wasn’t a competition, but she wouldn’t allow herself to miss it even though she admitted she was gutted to be missing the 40th.

When you decide to run your own business you hope you will have more flexibility to be with your children and attend their events more easily than if you were working 9-5, but you will still have conflicting choices to make whether they are to do with business or social arrangements. Obviously you want to attend your kids’ events to support them and share in their pleasure, but here’s the thing – you don’t have to be there EVERY time and feeling guilty about it can be a sign of the perfectionist trap we mums can fall into. Here’s how to cope:

If, like my client, you feel consumed by guilt at the thought of missing a child’s event, consider why.

• Are you worried what other mums will think? Remember you’ve got nothing to prove to them. This is your life and your family.

• Are you mind-reading and making assumptions? Are you scared your child will be upset if you are not there? This is really down to how you handle things. Be factual, don’t over explain or over-dramatise and above all don’t ask for permission! Explain that you already have something organised and can’t go, describe whose mother will be there instead and that you are really looking forward to hearing how much they enjoy themselves. Don’t get drawn into a long conversation about it or over-explain. It’s this that can make your child anxious.

Are you worried what other mums will think? Remember you’ve got nothing to prove to them. This is your life and your family.

Continue reading “How to cope when you miss your child’s event (and why sometimes it’s a good thing)”

How to overcome information overload: Dealing with too much info as a mumpreneur

Business books, audio books, eBooks, blogs, websites, ezines, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, downloads, infographics.

The list is endless.

As a mumpreneur trying to learn as much as she can while staying on top of her game and building her business, the amount of information that is available to us in this electronic age is indeed, vast and often, overwhelming.

How does one make the time to read it all and absorb it all?

Actually, one doesn’t.

Here are simple steps to deal with information overload in the digital world:

1. Know what you want

Begin by jotting down or at least, identifying what you want to learn, know more about or do. Have the goals in mind before you begin signing up for newsletters and webinars. For instance, if building an email list for your business is your goal, it is best if you look for someone who offers just that via their eCourse, eBook or podcast instead of signing up for a general business newsletter and hoping that they’ll talk about email list building sometime.

2. Organise your information

Say, you have multiple learning goals for this quarter or year, create folders in your email or on your computer to store the information you receive according to the need it will fulfil. This will help you find what you need when you need it. There is little point signing up for an eCourse and then, not using that information or worse, finding it when you want it.

3. Use only what’s most valuable

Even when you’ve identified your goals, you still have to filter the fluff from the real deal. Yes, unfortunately, in the digital world you’ll often come across information products that aren’t really all they’re cut out to be.

Filtering your information will help you unsubscribe from anything that doesn’t add value to your business goals or actually teach you something new.

4. Have a technology turn off time

Finally, the best way to deal with information overload is to turn off technology and just switch off. Do this every weekend or at least on a Sunday so that your mind gets some rest and can recharge itself for the busy week ahead. Try it!

How do you deal with information overload as a busy mumpreneur?

About the Author: Melissa Vandermeer is the founder of Zayth, an online women-centric marketplace for digital products and services. Zayth will help you deal with information overload by bringing everything you need as a mumpreneur under one virtual roof. Sign up for the Zayth newsletter or join us on Facebook and Twitter to simplify how you find and sell digital information.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is a pop up shop?

What is a pop up shop? It’s a temporary shop that can be used to test demand for a more permanent shop, or to bring attention back to a shop building that has been empty for some time, or to showcase a product. You can get a good feel for pop up shops in this article from the Independent.

My home town Bedford now has quite a few empty shops – most towns do these days. A combination of the recession, online shopping and the growth of out-of town retail parks have hit our town centres all at the same time, closing down many shops. The community group We Are Bedford have been using pop up shops as a way of bringing empty shops to life.

I love the whole concept of pop up shops for three reasons. Number one, it’s obvious that we need to reinvent our town centres – things are never going to return to the way they were pre-credit crunch because too much has changed. Second, it’s great that small businesses and communities are taking the lead in this reinvention because we are so often dominated by big brands. And third, it gives small businesses exposure that they haven’t had before.

This third reason is why I’m writing this post. Because I know lots of little home-based business owners who don’t stand a chance of renting a high street shop, but that could get together and try a pop up shop.

I keep hearing about the idea of pop up shops and I thought I’d share some articles and resources just in case you want to give one a go. Please do feel free to leave a comment and share what you know.

If you have any other examples of pop up shops or resources to help people thinking of setting one up, please do leave a comment below..

Hmm, that looks familiar…3 things you can do when you’re being copied

They say that imitation is the the sincerest form of flattery but it’s not much fun when someone is blatantly copying your business ideas. I hear frequently of mum-run businesses being copied, sometimes it’s a matter of someone being a little too inspired by another business but it can also be full-on plagiarism.

So what should you do when you find you’re being copied? Here are my tips:

1. Rise above it

I know, that’s easier said than done. But sometimes there’s not much else you can do. The great thing about starting a small business these days is that there are lots of low-cost, low risk business options available. The not-so-good thing is that in removing the barriers to entry, it’s been made easier for anyone to start a business. And that means it’s easier for you to be copied.

But just because someone copies you, it doesn’t mean that they are in any way as good as you. Or that your customers will be fooled by them, either. The chances are they’ll be a poor imitation at best, because the best person to implement your ideas is YOU. Plus you’ve got a head start on them!

2. Protect yourself

If you you have intellectual property that you’re considering protecting, you can find out more about copyright, patents and trademarks at the Intellectual Property office.

You can sometimes protect yourself in ways that don’t involve the law, too.  Most of us are nice people and want to support others, so if someone asks you all about your business and how you got started, you might be happy to give them quite a bit of detail. It can come as a shock if they then use all that information to set themselves up in competition to you. Now I’m not suggesting that you should be suspicious of everyone, that’s not a pleasant way to live your life, but be careful about giving too much away about your business.

Update, 8/5/13: Having experienced a few of my own copycats recently, I’m changing my approach at helenlindop.com compared to the one I’ve used here at Business Plus Baby:

  • I’m giving away less information openly on my blog and instead creating ‘meatier’ free training that you need to sign up to access such at twitterforbusiness.net. Some of it will still be free and the persistent copier will still be able to access it, but at least my work isn’t quite as open to all as it is at Business Plus Baby. By the way, this approach isn’t just to deter copycats, my main reason for doing it is that there’s more value in a goodtraining course than in a series of short blog posts.
  • I’m using formats that are harder to copy, for example audio and video. Yes, you can copy a video, but it’s harder to change a few words and pass it off as your own work with video than it is with an article.
  • I’m removing blatant copcats from my mailing lists. True, it’s not a bulletproof strategy, but at least I’m not emailing the copycat each time I create something new. 🙂

These examples are mostly going to apply to you if you’re selling training or information products, but I think it could also work for craft businesses. I know that the cake making business is swarming with copycats, some whom copy photos of cake designs and pass them off as their own. Why not put just a few photos openly on your website to show your expertise, then only make your full catalogue available to people who make contact with you? This could be an ordinary page of your website, just don’t link to it from your main site. You can make the url tricky to guess e.g. your site.com/bqthdgsgssuuj rather than yoursite.com/designs. Again, it’s not rock solid security, but at least you’re not handing your work to them on a plate. (Excuse the pun there!)

Some people are blatant copiers, others are just being cheeky or ignorant about intellectual property and what they can do with it. To deter those cheeky or ignorant types, it can pay to put watermarks on any photos of your products that you publish online. This makes it harder for them to re-publish photos of your products without the proper credit. This won’t stop the determined copier, unfortunately.

3. Strengthen your brand

One significant weapon you have against the copycats is a strong brand. You brand is much more than just a logo or colour scheme, it’s the personality of your business and how you communicate it. One of the great things about being a sole trader is that you can have a very unique and personal brand that nobody else can copy. That’s because your brand comes from YOU – and you’re an individual.

So when you’re faced with an imitator, think about what’s different and unique about your business. Then think about how you can express that more strongly in your graphics, copy, website, leaflets, customer service and even how you communicate on social media. Then get to work and spread that message far and wide so you stay ahead of your copycat.

You’re already better than them – widen the gap so they stay far behind you.

And if you’re not sure where inspiration stops and imitation begins, try this article The importance of being you in blogging, business and everything else by Prerna Malik.

If you enjoyed this post, why not make sure you stay in touch by joining  my mailing list? I’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Trust Yourself

Today I’d like to welcome guest blogger and life/business coach Grace Marshall. She’s also a rather good writer, which is why I’ve been wanting to feature her for a while now.

Enjoy!

For all those times when you bury yourself in research, in the hopes of feeling more confident. When you look to other people to make decisions for you. When you force yourself to do something you feel you ‘should’ and push aside the groan of your heart. When you sabotage your progress by second-guessing yourself.For all those times when you think, “Who am I, to think I can do this?”

I have two words. They are as much for me as they are for you.

Trust yourself.

Here’s why: Continue reading “Trust Yourself”