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Change your life

Change your life

Recruitment is Amazing!

She is truly, truly amazing.

Who?

The wonderful creature that is our new business administrator.

We may not be able to afford to have her, but once I met her I realised we couldn’t afford to not have her… hmm, where have I said that before?

In numerous places, probably, because, once again, the process of recruitment has surprised me.

I always assumed we would grow the business to the point where we were bursting, where we had a clear vacancy for someone and the money to pay them.

Instead, so far for the last three employes, we’ve recruited before we could afford them and even before we had work for them. I mean, we advertised for K back in the summer because we desperately needed a third installer, not because we were finishing projects, but because we weren’t. We weren’t finishing the projects on time so we didn’t have the money for a third person, but by taking one on we were able to complete jobs and get paid far more quickly. Does that even make sense?

Back at the start of the year, T came along because I could see the value he would bring to the business, not because we had anything like his wage in the bank. He hit the ground running and literally created his own salary as the business sped up and became more productive and efficient through him.

Four weeks ago, I had a meltdown. I just wasn’t getting any of the important stuff done because I was getting too bogged down, inputting invoices into Xero

It was time for change – so I ran our first proper Facebook recruitment drive (as opposed to just sharing a photo of our vacancy ad). Her email popped into my inbox, with her impressive CV attached, and I realised the minimum wage I had assumed I would be paying was going to be way too low.

I also realised, with delight, that the scenario I had envisaged – the basic bookkeeper inputting invoices so I could concentrate on producing reports and doing the higher level stuff – was also not going to happen. She is wayyy more competent than I am – so once she’s inputted the invoices, the one doing the reports and doing the higher level stuff willl be her.

I already can’t imagine life without her. She’s now in week three, asking the sort of questions that make my heart sing. She’s still working her way through the huge backlog of invoices that I had waiting for her, but she’s marked on her 2019 wall planner when the van’s MOT is due, and it was upon seeing that that I fell in love.

And that’s the thing about recruitment, just as in life, you don’t always get what you want, sometimes, actually, maybe, most of the time, you get what you need.

 

 

And the business evolves... Business success Change your Mindset Gratitude

Feel the fear…

I absoutely LOVE Facebook memories (most of them anyway!) and the way they throw up random past happenings, thoughts or muses. A bit cringey when they date from 2007 when we all spoke in the 3rd person, but hey ho.

I’m the same with a paper diary, I’ve never kept one for the Dear Diary moments, but years later I just love to look back and see what I was doing on that day.

And keeping a diary is absolutely a must when you start a business, or at least start to change your life, as I have. Reading back over your past is a great way to recognise your progress – it just might not be visible to your weary eyes.

So yesterday Facebook threw this one up for me: “Eeek shizzle just got rizzle! Feel the fear and do it anyway I reckon!’

I read it and grinned, wondering what I was going on about. I read the comments.

Chris had asked ‘???’

And I had answered ‘Biggest job yet!’

So in our Monday morning meeting I showed the guys the screenshot and began to work out with Dean what that job might be. And do you know, we had no idea.

How ironic that something so big and scary that I Facebooked about it, just 365 days later has faded into the fog of time and memory loss.

But it has made me think back, to all those times I didn’t do things because I was afraid to, or I thought I would fail, or I was scared other people would laugh. And there we were, 12 months ago, feeling afraid, fearing we might fail and knowing full well our competitors would laugh if we did – all for it to disappear into the passing weeks and months.

We all owe it to ourselves to fight our inner fear and not allow it to stop us doing exactly what the fuck we want to.

Dammit! We all get one life here on this fabulous planet and the least we can do is live it to the full.

Ensuring we fill our minds with gratitude is one way to squeeze the worry out.

So with that in mind, today I’ve felt the fear but I’ve ignored it and I’ve shared a Facebook job vacancy post. So what if we don’t have huge amounts of money, we need someone to do all the data-inputting, letter writing and general admin and I have accepted it is starting to hold me back.

I am feeling extremely grateful for the perfect person who is about to come into our lives and take that job!

I am 200% confident that if we take on the right person to support T and I, both of us will fly higher than before, just as I have done every time we’ve taken on someone new. Committing to paying someone’s salary is scary, but I’m going to feel the fear and do it anyway, no matter how rizzle the shizzle!

 

 

 

Business success Change your life Start a business

Glorious New Day

And then just like that… we’ve had a great few days.

All the fears and concerns of the first half of the week have been forgotten.

Life is amazing.

Business is amazing.

We have got this.

The future is certain.

The future is glorious!

We can finally book that world cruise!!

Nothing can stop us and we will never fail again!!!

Ok, I’d better stop dreaming. But still, it has been such a good week they all got to the pub on Friday, which is the week end that I have been dreaming about!

I can’t believe I only posted on Wednesday about various issues with staff which had us all worried. There were concerns over staff moral, would we ever manage to finish a job early, would we even manage to finish anything on time, ever again?

This week started, as they all do, with our Monday morning meeting, but this week was the first time D really laid into the lads about the following:

  • Doing things his way (because he’s had years of discovering which is the best way)
  • Respecting each other
  • Checking, checking and double-checking
  • Keeping the van tidy
  • Calling him if in doubt
  • Etc etc et

It was a good meeting. We always try to make it a collaboration even if there are some strong words to be said. We try to be leaders, not bullies.

This week could have gone disastrously and on Wednesday I was only too aware of that. We still had last week’s job – a kitchen – to finish, even though D had worked all through the weekend it was a long way from being done and it wasn’t clear why (he did later admit he had gone the extra mile with the tiling and created loads of small cuts just to centralise everything, when being slightly off-centre would have looked just as good and given this was a cheap rental, no one would ever care, but that’s just his own personal battle with being perfect).

So although all three got to this week’s job on Monday, D ended up leaving C and K, got held up in traffic, didn’t get to the kitchen until late and so still needed a full day there on Tuesday.

Our new van, purchased last week, has developed a fault which the vendor agreed to honour under the warranty. So Tuesday morning I headed an hour north, carrying my laptop and prepared to spend the 3 hours needed in the café nearby. Of course it ran on, finally at 5.30 pm he gave me a different vehicle and so I got home hours late after spending most of the day with no phone signal so unable to do any of the calls I had planned on doing. I did write a fabulous Halloween-pun-ridden script for BNI though!

I hardly dared inquire about the progress on Tuesday but although it was a long day things seemed to be ok and the kitchen was finally finished. As I sat frustratedly in the café on Tuesday, T text me, worried about team moral.

So at 10 am Wednesday, as I left BNI and called D, tentatively, to find out how things were going, I was so relieved to hear he had finally been able to join C and K on this week’s job and amazingly the progress seemed to have been good.

He was really happy with what they had got done.

In addition, they had both called D with questions when they hit problems and seemed to have really taken on board the issues raised on Monday.

Later on Wednesday something amazing happened – the customer waited until only young C was around and had a go at him. It was pretty unreasonable, but it was the behaviour of a man who is uncomfortable with being out of control. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it had the magical effect of grouping our little gang together around C.

There is nothing like a common enemy to unite a band of bros!

The hope was we would be finished on Friday morning but it was actually 3 pm before the guys made it to the pub. But, my dear dear universe, THEY MADE IT TO THE PUB AND THEY HAD A PINT TOGETHER.

Ok, this is not an exact pint consumed by our triumphant team – but they looked pretty similar to this one

It’s hard to describe just how important this is for us. Suddenly opportunities sparkle in front of us. We are a successful business which finishes early on a Friday. Our lads go for a pint together. T went to look at a job to refurb four – YES FOUR – shower rooms in a social services home. Ooh, our first commercial job!

Oh mighty-oh-may, how things so magically play!

Of course it’s not perfect but compared to how the week could have gone, it’s amazing. AMAZING!! AMMMMAAAAAAAAZZZZING!!!!!!

And so I’m sitting up in bed at 10 am on Sunday morning writing this, literally fizzling with gratitude for the wonderful week we have had. Progress was made this week and achievement was achieved.

Whatever challenges next week brings (and there will be some!) we know we can do it.

 

 

Change your life

Meet Vicky the Viking

OMG. ANOTHER big step…

We’ve only gone and bought our second vehicle!

And just like every other step we’ve taken on this crazy journey of business, it’s scary and exhilaring at the same time.

It – she – is an Astra van. We know she’s a she because her reg plate starts with VK – so she’s quickly become Vicky the Viking.

The Astra van is probably the best, handiest, most user-friendly vehicle EVER for any business. Until Vauxhall quietly stopped production back in 2012. I mean, who knew that Vauxhall stopped making Astra vans? I had no idea!

Even I had an Astra van, back in the late 1990s, a bright red cool dude called Pedro. Boy did we have some good times together!

And so when T, our project coordinator, started to make noises about needing a vehicle, getting him an Astra van was one of the first things that came to mind.

So T’s job covers a few different things. He visits customers, draws up quotes, selects products for them, then manages the job as it runs and manages the end of the job and sign-off with the customer. Basically, the things I used to do… mostly slower than him.

Recently, I’ve started to pass more on to him. He now sends the final invoice out. He also does the guide to products that we leave with the customer.

(It’s all part of my plan to remove myself gently from the business, so I can start my next business… and the next business… and the next one.)

Vicky for T!

Ever since he joined us, T has used his own vehicle for all this, and we’ve paid him mileage. He drives a sweet little Fiat, and I think we’ve all been aware this was a temporary situation. It really wasn’t practical for picking up materials and there was always the risk of damage to his car. So a couple of months ago when he first started making noises about having a vehicle, it felt like the right thing to do. We are ready to grow and a second vehicle would make getting the third one easier, if that makes sense – I do believe that the second of something can actually be more challenging than the first.

So, we got on the hunt for an Astra van. A white Astra van, so it works with our signwriting. And then we discovered Astra vans are no longer in production. So we kept looking, slightly half-heartedly, because frankly we’re all busy. And then we discovered that looking for an Astra van is like looking for a needle in a very large haystack.

And then by magic, she popped up. T drove straight over to see her, and I think he fell in love. She’s quite an old lady, but in true Viking style she is a true trooper. She’s a bit more expensive than we had hoped, but she is there, and available, and then we can all get on with our lives.

So, we’ve bought her.

At least, we’ve reserved her and we’ll pay when we pick her up.

She will belong to the business and be available for us all to drive, but she will be T’s main vehicle. We’ll get her signwritten so that will be more advertising driving around for us. And we’ll probably pick up a private plate so that no one can see how old she is.

I am really hoping we’ve done the right thing! Things have been a little tricky recently, what with Fox’s surgery and a few tough jobs. Again, it’s scary, it’s a big financial outlay and it could all go horribly wrong, I guess…

But every step we’ve taken so far has moved us upwards and onwards and I hope this van will continue to do just that.

Let’s do this, Vicky!

 

 

 

Change your life

A Christmas Miracle!

This blog should be dated September 28th, 2018, because that’s the day that the actual Christmas miracle took place. So let’s just ignore the fact that it’s October the 10th, and I’m only just writing it now, because it truly is amazing!

So here’s the deal: On September 27th I took Foxy our pup into the vets for dramatic, drastic surgery. She stayed overnight, a long, scary night filled with some dark fears round about 2 am (although a less interrupted night than most of the nights following her return home).

I kept myself busy on that second day before we could collect her, mostly by investigating our options for a work Christmas party. And in that simple action I realised one of my own personal dreams for our business from 2017.

Back then we were smaller than we are now, in every way. We employed C1, our first ever employee, and C2, D’s son, joined us in November, aged just 17.

We were small and skint, too small and skint for a work’s Christmas do, and besides, Little C was too young to attend and Big C did not enjoy social gatherings. We were still a few months away from hiring T, who has been a big part of our huge growth his year.

Plus, we were still in renovation hell, and everything was packed away, including most of my shoes. This is on top of all the belongings that have been packed away since we moved up here in 2015.

So apart from considering that D and I went for a night out, which we didn’t manage, all thoughts of doing something special failed and we prepared for another Christmas without a party, which didn’t exactly feel like a hardship.

And then, at a December BNI meeting, one of the trades invited us (D and I) to come along to his company’s do. We agreed, slightly reluctantly.

If I’m honest, it didn’t mean much. When you’ve been freelance for years Christmas doesn’t mean what it does if you’ve been employed. If you are working on a contract which sprawls Christmas you may or may not get a bit of time off, and you may or may not be invited to the works do. Over the years I often found myself working in London and so the Christmas party has mostly fallen on the day everyone finished for Christmas.

Several times I would attend for about an hour then fight my way through the London Christmas crowds to get to Kings Cross for one of the late night trains back up to Leeds. Now that’s one grim way to sober up, on a cold gloomy train surrounded by a dwindling number of fellow half-drunk travellers. Not to mention the fun of trying to get a taxi out of Leeds station when the entire city has just had its own Christmas party.

Some years I often felt invited to do’s out of politeness. Other years at other companies there wasn’t a Christmas do at all. And for many years, I worked for a company based in NYC, who posted photos of their amazing Christmas party all over Facebook but didn’t offer to pay for the flights for their international staff to go there.

So, while some Christmases have been amazing over the years, several Christmases have often passed me by. In telly, if you’re not working in November you’re unlikely to be working in December. And so if you have a contract that finishes late in the year you may be pretty skint by December, with no sign of any work until January so the whole frivolity around everyone breaking up for a two-week can be quite depressing.

Back in December 2017, as D and I took up our invitations, and stepped into the local golf club, festooned with tinsel and sparkly wall hangings, it was like stepping into a scene in a movie.

Occasionally, as we live our new lives in this small town, the ‘normality’ of life hits me. Working in telly I have never really been part of a community before, working away means you will never live the day to day that most of the population experience.

This was one of those times. The ‘normality’ of Christmas hit me like a punch from an inflatable Santa. The tacky decorations, the Christmas meal (my veggie version was lasagne, which is hilarious) and then the music. Oh my goodness the music! The cheesy Christmas tunes, the crowds dancing. Halfway through the night I stepped out of myself and took just long enough to take in the scene, such a contrast from the cool telly parties I’d been to. Just a bunch of everyday people of all different ages whose lives focused around this small town, living and working and being, alongside each other.

I pledged, then and there, that this year, we would have a work’s Christmas party night.

So booking our ‘do’ was not just a way of marking an amazing, breathtaking year in which we have achieved so much. It wasn’t just the thought of a fun night out with our colleagues. It wasn’t just a way of cementing us and our little business into the fabric of this historic town.

It was the glorious realisation of a mighty, thunderous dream. Booking our Christmas do is more than a step, it is a bridge between what was and what will be. Even if it’s not quite a miraculous event, it’s pretty much up there with them.

Later, we collected our sweet pup from the vets and discussed her recovery. It will be long and arduous and needs to be handled carefully. Twelve weeks before she can go off lead.

And then I realised, twelve weeks from September 28th is exactly Friday December 21st – the night of our party!

So if Fox’s 12-week recovery goes right, December 21st will be a big night for her as well as a huge event for us.

Those momentous events that then tie in magically with other momentous events can make for quite the emotional response! All hail the Christmas Miracle!

 

 

Change your life

Hypnosis gastric band first session

So I did it. Last night I drove myself an hour away and had my first hypnotherapy session for my hypnosis gastric band!

I didn’t have the ‘surgery’ – that’s next week. Instead he just worked on giving me a vision of myself how I want to be. This is just a quick post and if you want to know more about my hypnosis gastric band watch my vlog – but oh squeeee today I feel a little bit fabulous!

 

Change your life Exante diet Hypno gastric band Weight loss

Hypno Gastric Band!

OMG – I’VE agreed to do it – the hypno gastric band!

In other words, I’m having gastric band surgery – in my mind. It’s all going to happen through hypnotherapy.

So just to recap, I met Kevin the hypnotherapist a few months ago at a networking event, we had a chat and he told me about the hypno gastric band, which he had had and then lost two stone (28 lbs) as a result.

I’ve never had hypnotherapy but I know people who have had success with hypnotherapy for smoking etc so it has stayed at the back of my mind for possibly helping me shed a few pounds. (And then, hopefully quite a few more!)

In October I have two events coming up – one is a reunion of old work colleagues and the other is I am going to take over as President of our local BNI group. The most hilarious thing ever as I never thought of myself as President material, but hey ho it’s happening!

I’ve piled loads of weight on over the summer – a mix of laziness, the heat, sitting at my computer, eating my stress away, and then just flippin eating – so it is definitely time to do something about it. I saw some photos of me recently when I did a presentation at another networking group and I looked bl**dy awful. I really don’t want to be presenting our business looking awful and I hate seeing myself look enormous on my YouTube channel.

So, if this Project Life is to be a Success, that has to include my Health as well as my Wealth!

I spoke to Kevin and frankly could not decide between these options:

1. Join a group session

2. Have some ‘normal’ hypnotherapy sessions targeting cravings etc

3. The hypno gastric band

The group sessions were cheaper but frankly I’m not too excited at the thought of talking about my failings to a group of strangers (although I’m happy to broadcast it to the world – how odd!)

The ‘normal’ sessions went a bit downhill when he started to ask what cravings I get. Apparently it’s hard to pin down ‘everything’.

I tried to explain that I wanted to be able to stick to my favourite diet – Exante – but he started going on about how diets don’t work, etc, how it’s best to make a lifestyle change etc. When as most overweight people know, if the lifestyle change was that flipping easy we would all have done it!

So I figured we wouldn’t get too far with that.

So… hypno gastric band it is!

Tuesday!

Gah!!!!!!

I’ll report back!

 

 

 

Change your life

I’m a Power-Crazed Megalomaniac!

I am set to become the President of an organisation which moves millions of pounds of business annually.

Beneath me, my support team will ensure I chair meetings without obstruction. The rest of my team will carry out their roles and I hope and anticipate the success of the organisation will continue.

I have promised my team that I will do all I can to keep my feet on the ground but there is a strong possibility that the power will turn me into a power-crazed, dictatorial megalomaniac who ignores the wishes of my minions in favour of profit, profit and profit.

I know what you’re thinking – that’s a bit of a leap isn’t it?

Yep, you’re telling me it is!

I’m joking, of course. The organisation I’m about to take charge of isn’t some huge conglomerate, it’s BNI, Business Networking International.

I can’t quite believe it’s less than a year since I joined our local BNI, because really it feels like I’ve been there forever. I have to say I love our weekly meetings, it’s such a friendly group and it has massively, massively helped our business to grow. It has paid for itself over several times over.

Now, I’m about to step into the leadership role. I’ve been asked to take over as President when the current team switch over. The very thought of it makes me giggle, I really don’t feel like a proper business person but I guess once that script is in my hand I could turn into a British female version of Donald Trump, and what a thought that would be!

I’ve got a few ideas for things I’d like to bring in, but until I get started I really don’t know what sort of freedom I will have to make any changes.

And I have some other questions, things that only time will be able to answer. Will it change me? (Aside from the Trumpness). Will it grow my business skills? Will it bring business knowledge, awareness, success? How about notoriety?

The term is initially six months but I suspect this may be a role for the next year. I’m excited to think about what I will be writing in August/September 2019. Bring it on!

 

 

Change your life

Today something amazing happened!

We have hit a huge milestone.

I’m almost embarrassed to write about it, because it may well not seem all that impressive to most people. But in the context of our own unique journey, it’s MASSIVE.

Actually, two completely utterly incredible things have happened today.

Here’s the first thing:

  1. I managed to pay everyone – that is, D, C, T and K, and we STILL have money in the bank.

Which no doubt doesn’t seem all that special, but considering only a few months ago I had to lend myself several thousand off my spare credit card so I could pay wages, because we were stuck with a few unfinished jobs and those final payments unpaid.

But today, we still have money. And not just a few hundred. A few thousand. Enough to pay all the suppliers for this month, not like usual when I pay the staff and then have to go scratching around to pay the suppliers.

This is incredible! Of course, there’s a very loud voice in my head telling me this is a one-off, it can’t possibly continue, we just got lucky in August. But there’s another, quieter but even more determined voice, telling me that we’re on track and this is the start of a different level. No one is suggesting life is going to be swimmingly easy from now on, that there won’t be any months without challenges, but we’re in a different place.

Even so, I won’t feel comfortable until we have at least six months of wages in savings. And we are some way off that.

Here’s the second thing, the really big one!

2. So here’s the big one: I paid myself.

Yep, you read it right. I actually, for the first time in forever, gave myself a decent wodge of money, on payday, at the same time as the others. Not as much as they get, but bear in mind I’ve been living off my rental income, the odd income like royalties from my TV days and the odd part time job, on top of drawing the odd small amount from the business in emergencies, so it was pretty huge in comparison.

So that means, 13 months after registering the business and 10 months after actually starting trading, I was able to pay myself.

I called D in while the payment confirmation was still up on my screen and showed him. “It feels good doesn’t it,” he said. It did, but I couldn’t get carried away. For some reason it didn’t feel amazing, probably because the voice of doubt is still too loud and too close for comfort.

So that’s partly why I’m writing this. To celebrate, quietly, today’s huge event. My first payday. From the business we have built. I say we, because it is totally both of us, but because I’m usually the one reading the map and deciding the way, I do sometimes feel like I’m on my own up at the front. And so this business is both our baby, but I’m holding the head end.

Several years ago, long before this all properly started, and at the beginning of our journey, I lay in bed and felt myself leap into the unknown. It was, truly, a leap of faith that we both took, but as it is usually me who makes the decisions, the one whose feet left the ground first was me.

Today the leap cleared a huge hurdle. Earlier I almost felt like posting this moment on Facebook, in one of my entrepreneur groups, but I held back as no doubt many people on there will have businesses that paid them from day one and they’ll see me as the foolish beginner that I am.

So here I am, telling the world. We’re on our way!!

 

Change your life

This World of Miracles!

Did you know we are surrounded by miracles?

I don’t mean miracles like turning water into wine (I’ve never managed that one!) more the sheer ability of today’s world is well and truly miraculous.

The possibilities are endless! They always were, if you were the right sort of person and had the right knowledge, backing, skills, contacts, experience and luck, but now anyone it seems – and I mean ANYONE – can do almost anything for next to nothing. And nowhere is that more visible than in the world of marketing and advertising.

I realised this yesterday because in literally two minutes I took a photo on my phone, edited it, added text, posted it to Facebook and then promoted it to reach around 3,000 people within 25 miles of us, all for nothing except for the Facebook ad charges – £30 (£5 per day over 6 days). Here it is, on my timeline:

The photo I posted on our business page and then promoted over Facebook

Even more amazingly, I did all this while sitting at the table having lunch with my parents!

Before you shake your head at my manners, I should tell you they are staying with us at the moment, so it wasn’t a once-in-six-months special. Both of them shook their heads in disbelief!

Before he retired, my lovely Dad was a commercial artist. He drew illustrations for literally anything and anybody, but mostly, for his regular clients, for books, advertising campaigns and posters so he would draw fashion, cartoons, artists’ impressions and so on. He often worked late into the night and ruined his eyesight drawing artists’ impressions of new housing developments, painstakingly drawing or painting the linework of the bricks on thirty-odd houses, the details of ornaments in the windows, as his client the developer tried to capture their sales by hitching on to dreams. His commercial drawing skills have all mostly been replaced by computers now, sad, but just the way the world has gone.

After he produced the artwork the developer would pay what I guess was a hefty invoice, then pay another hefty invoice to the printers, then paying more hefty invoices to the advertisers – newspapers, magazines, street adverts and so on. All to get their product under the eyes of potential customers.

And here am I doing all that at my kitchen table, on my phone, for thirty quid!

Like many people I have a love hate relationship with social media, I wrote here about how I’d allowed myself to start an argument on Facebook with a Facebook ‘friend’ which upset me for days. But, like most of us, I am completely addicted. And it doesn’t help that I have so many different accounts on so many different platforms…

But I can not fail to recognise how Facebook, together with all the other platforms, together with the technology that has sprung up around them, have transformed all our lives. Something that was once so costly as producing and posting an advert is now so simple I can do it while eating lunch and having a different conversation. And that is mind-blowing. As a small, new business, our ability to reach potential customers is now on a par with a multinational, even if they are spending more than £30 on it.

So here’s how I did it:

 

I hope that makes sense!

Seriously though, ten or twenty years ago this would have been a major mission – and now it is something I can do in minutes. That’s what I mean when I say the world is full of miracles, it truly truly is. There is so much opportunity now to help us grow our businesses at such small cost to time and money.

I absolutely love the WordSwag app, it is great in so many ways, just adding text to a cute photo or adding something as simple as ‘We Do Bathrooms’ to create an image that will stand out in people’s memories.

This world of ours has many many problems but I am so filled with gratitude for the amazing life that we have – or at least have access to. Truly miraculous!

 

 

 

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