Ed’s Top – Tip 8: Work For Yourself, Not By Yourself

Tip 8: Work For Yourself, Not By Yourself

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business. This week: Work For Yourself, Not By Yourself.

When you work for yourself, you have that flexibility to work when and wherever you like! This has it’s up sides like being able to sit and work from your garden on a sunny day, or have two hour lunch break lounging on the sofa. The beautiful thing about working for yourself is setting your own rules for your working day.

It also has it’s downsides. Working for yourself can be pretty isolating and lonely, most of the time your day will go by without talking to another person (the cat or dog doesn’t count!). Overcoming problems when you have no one to air them to can cause you to feel frustrated  The great news is there is another way of working which isn’t so isolating.

Watch this video were Ed gives his top tips to avoid this situation.

Action Point:

Now you’ve watched this video, how do you think it would be advantageous for you to venture out and try a couple of different of working environments?

People who work from home don’t get the distinctive difference of separating work and home life. This could cause issues in the future.

If you’re not keen on meeting new people you could also look at different options like online networking groups. It’s a group which will provide you help and advice is Freelance Heroes. You can also find them on Twitter too.

Tell us if you do feel isolated or lonely when working by yourself  or how you overcame this. Leave us a comment below or Tweet us using the hashtag #EdsTopTips

What Do Coworkers Do at CBL?

Every day we welcome coworkers who choose to work from Cambridge Business Lounge for the day, rather than from home or elsewhere. On the surface, I know what they’re doing. For example, today working from here is an Architect, Design Agency, Events Management, Accountant, Web Developer, and Town Planner, amongst others. However, I’m always curious to know what it is they’re actually working on.

Therefore, today, I decided to go round and ask some of them “what are you working on right now?” and these are their answers…

“An analytics tool which reduces millions of lines of cloud billing data to useful charts for businesses and academia to work out how their money is being spent” – Dan Frost, http://www.3ev.com/


“Assessing the environmental impact of various worksites required for construction work to implement a major rail infrastructure scheme” – Sheena McCallum, http://cam-planning.co.uk/


“Right now I’m working on eating a pastrami and Gouda cheese sandwich I made using two Tesco bread rolls, leftover from a barbeque I held on Saturday afternoon, and other ingredients purchased from Waitrose.”

He added “I’m then working on designing integration workflows between our in house investor services and wire processing systems and our new Hedge Fund research and portfolio construction platform.”


“A large-scale support ticket session to help customers who we’ve migrated to our new platform.”


“Writing a job spec for a junior developer” – Kelly Molson, http://www.rubbercheese.com/


“I’m currently working on a company away day to Lisbon. The logistics of getting 75 staff plus their partners to Lisbon from a variety of airports is interesting!  We have a wonderful hotel booked, I’ve found a stunning water front restaurant for dinner and we have some fun activities planned.  I just need to get everyone there now!” – Sabine Edwards, http://pendletonevents.co.uk/


“Architecture design; I’ve just finished sketching an alternative floor plan option for a new medical practice in London.” – Jon Clayton, http://complete.archi/


So, there you have it. Each person is heavily focused on completing their to-do-list and has chosen Cambridge Business Lounge as their place to do it. Somewhere where they feel productive, with the benefit of other professional minds too.

Try it for yourself, for free, and see how coworking can benefit your productivity. Get in touch here for more details.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 7: Using CRM tools for your business

Tip 7 – Using CRM tools for your business

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

When you start out in business you’re going to meet a huge number of people. Some of these people you might work with, some you might find useful to connect with in the future and some you might never meet again. This is where using CRM tools come in use for tracking these interactions.

How do you track all of these connections? It’s a lot more powerful and personal if you’re able to log where you first met and what interactions you’ve had. Once you’ve logged you can easily go back to your CRM tool and remind yourself what the last interaction you had or how you met.

Watch this video where Ed explains how a CRM tool will help your business:

Look at the massive pile of business cards you’ve received, what do you do with them?

Firstly, you need to make sure you’re tracking these connections so now or in the future you can draw on that connection. Go test out one of the CRM systems Ed suggested and tell us how it went. leave us a comment below or Tweet us using the hashtag #EdsTopTips your experiences.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 6: Answer your phone!

Tip 6: Answer your phone!

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

We all own a smartphone, but are more likely to use it’s smart functions such as email and social media than it’s original function of making and receiving calls. Some new business owners are reluctant to put their personal number out there but all of these things could stop potential business coming your way.

Watch this video where Ed focuses on the reasons why you should answer your phone.

As a business you need to consider what form of communication is going to be most effective for the task you have in hand. A phone call can be more direct and productive than an email conversation.

Action Point:

What solutions have you found to help you answer your phone? Comment below or send us a Tweet including the hashtag #EdsTopTips.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 5: Using Social Media for your Business

Tip 5: Using Social Media for your Business

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

Many fall into the trap that social media is a tool to sell more of your product or service, but the key is in the name. Be sociable and treat it as a communication tool to enable interactions between you and your customers.

Watch this video where Ed goes into detail on the right way to use social media for your business.

Action Points:

Now you’ve watched the video, have a look at your social media channels and see how much of your content fits into the following categories:

  • Enthuse
  • Empower
  • Entertain

Do you have any questions on how to improve your social media efforts? Share them below or send us a Tweet including the hashtag #EdsTopTips

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 4: Network your way to success

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

Tip 4 – Network your way to success

Building a successful business is fundamentally creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. One way of creating those relationships is attending networking events and understanding how they can contribute to your success.

Watch this video where Ed explains why networking is an invaluable benefit for your business.

We challenge you to avoid using the opener ‘what do you do?’, instead try something like: ‘what brings you here today?’ or ‘tell me the one thing about your job you love the most’. This creates the start of an interesting conversation which is different to the standard openers and will flow more naturally.

We’d love to know what the best and worst networking experiences you’ve had. Comment below or send us a Tweet including the hashtag #EdsTopTips.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 3 – Managing your cash flow

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

Tip 3 – Managing your cash flow. It’s all about the money, money money…

One of the main reasons why a business fails is its mismanagement of its cash flow. In fact, according to a U.S. Bank study, as many as 82% of business failures are due to poor cash management.

Watch this video where Ed talks about the importance of managing your cash flow.

How do you track your finances? What lessons have you learnt in ensure your cash flow is managed effectively?

Let us know in the comments or Tweet us using the hashtag #EdsTopTips.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Remote working has the made the decision of where to work or run a business very easy (or not, if you don’t like making decisions). Which is why, I’m sure, the number of employed and self-employed, who work from home, has increased so dramatically in recent years.

In March 2016, I took to social media to get a greater understanding of where my connections (across the UK) run their business from. The results were:

laptop-943558_960_720Home: 81%

Serviced Office: 10%

Coworking Space: 6%

Other (coffee shop, library, etc.): 3%

Not too much of a surprise there, as working from home is certainly the most flexible of all options. It’s also free and commuting is a dream. I know, as I’ve worked from home for years, and completely agree that it’s great for convenience. However, it takes discipline to work from home day in, day out, and can extremely isolating. Also, if you have a bad day at work, how does that impact on your home environment? Especially if you work from a room that you socially spend a lot of time in.

Whereas, working in an office or shared space is great for inspiration, bouncing ideas off everyone and breaking away from at the end of the day.

A Freelancer’s Route To Home-Working Discipline 

CaptureI remember a freelancer telling me how they used to leave the house at 8:30 every morning, dressed for work, and would walk round the block (via a coffee shop) back to their home. Now there were at work and all home comforts and chores were out of bound.

At the end of the day, he would leave ‘work’ and walk the reverse route, so when they entered the door, they were now at home. It sounds like a lot of effort, but that was their way of mentally getting in the right frame of mind.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Given that most of those who responded (majority of which are freelancers) worked from home, here are how they described their Pro’s and Con’s:

Advantage: No longer have to get up at 6.30 for the hour long journey into work on the A14.

Disadvantage, no longer get up from desk to go see colleagues, so spend far too much time sitting at the computer, getting fatter. – Susan Fleming, Not Just Travel Anglia


 

Advantage: Incredibly short commute

Disadvantage: No banter with colleagues – Andy Boothman, Creative Graphic Designer Director


 

Advantage: I can work in my pj’s.

Disadvantage: The washing is here… (and the rest of the chores) – Nicky Shephard, Director of The Marketing Boutique.


 

Advantages: Cost and flexibility.

Disadvantages include being treated as the neighbourhood parcel drop. – Karen Packham, Editorial and Website Consultant.


I am not a freelancer but I can work from home as part of my job:

Advantages: Fewer distractions, no commute.

Disadvantages: Not seen as part of the team, lack of interaction with colleagues. – Emma Saldanha, Marketing Executive at Cogent Accountants Ltd


Main advantage is the convenience & flexibility to work the hours I choose. But for a procrastinator like me that’s also a disadvantage as I can always find other things that need doing around the house instead of working. – Geraldine Jones


Advantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants.

Disadvantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants – Stewart Harris, Bassist, Singer, Graphic Designer


Big advantage is the journey to work and back. No traffic or public transport hassles. – Graham Harris


Advantage: Convenient but miss the camaraderie. – Karen Cann, Freelance Video Editor & Producer


Advantages: I can use travel time to work, I can take breaks and get stuff done at home, I can stop and go and pick my little boy up from school. It’s my space and I feel comfortable in it, no interruptions.

Disadvantages: I miss working with other people sometimes; it upsets my little boy that I am home but not playing with him. – Rachel Willer, Founder and MD at The Work Bees


 

In Summary

There clearly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it also doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be more than one option. You prefer to work from home? Great. But what happens on the days (however infrequent) that you need a change of scenery?

Test the other options, even for just one day, and see how that impacts your productivity as well as the size of your network.

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Working From a Coworking Space

cambridge-business-lounge-co-workingFlexible workspace, coworking, or hot-desking. Call it what you like, the concept of working in a shared office with other business owners and professionals is a fast growing one. Which means that the more you know about it, the more informed you’ll be to know whether it could actually be of benefit to you and your business. 

In April 2014, the Coworking Handbook was published to help those who are wanting to create a space for local businesses and freelancers to use. However, in the book are some benefits and disadvantages that almost every business owner would benefit from knowing. Here is a selection:

The Advantages of Coworking:

  • Expand your personal and professional networks
  • Find new clients and grow your income
  • Be more productive
  • No distractions from family members, or temptations from the fridge or TV
  • Share with soundboards that will improve your projects
  • Be more motivated to work by surrounding yourself of hardworking professionals like you
  • Be more creative
  • Get a professional working routine with your own schedule
  • Work by yourself, not alone

For the purpose of balance, here are some disadvantages:

  • I work better from home – Maybe coworking isn’t for you, but have you tried it (we have a free day on offer if you haven’t. Also, could coworking even one a week be of benefit? e.g. How many contacts do you make at home?
  • I don’t want to share my projectYou don’t have to share anything. Just being around others can provide the benefits listed above. 
  • You have to pay You get a lot of value for little money. Plus, as listed above, there are a lot of benefits.
  • You have to commute There are more and more coworking spaces opening every year. So, find a space that is near to you and that you like.

book-image

Really, there’s only one way to find out how beneficial coworking could be for you, and that is to try it for yourself.

Book for your free taster day by emailing info[at]cambridgebusinesslounge.com, calling 01223 324040, or tweeting @CamBizLounge

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – The Ultimate Business Book?

Bearhhunt

I look forward to going home and reading to one of my kids of an evening. Well, most of the time. Not because I don’t enjoy reading to them, but because not all books are that enjoyable to read after 50 or so occasions.

Most children’s books contain some kind of feel good story and one that stands out is “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

The premise of the book (no spoilers here) is about a family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. What a surprise awaits them in the cave on the other side of the dark forest! It wasn’t until I realised that there’s a lesson on each page that is pertinent to all business owners.

The book starts with the narrator (a child) saying “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared”

Business translation: “I’ve got an idea, I’m going for it and it’s going to be great”.

Then the family take on a series of challenges. For example, “Uh-uh! Grass! Long wavy grass. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!”

Business translation “You’ve got a challenge in front of you and you can’t avoid it. You’ve got to use the tools you have and face it, head on”

And that’s the difference between this children’s book and my business translation: The “tools”. The family only have to wade through some grass, or negotiate some mud. They can support each other through that. Who supports you through the challenges you face? Where you do acquire the knowledge and skills to ensure you’re able to go through the problems your facing?

For the narrator of the book, it’s the family; for you, it’s all the other business owners in your area. You just need to get out there and meet them.

Once you build a strong network, you won’t need to go over your challenges, or under them…you’ll be able to go right through them.

Action Point

Try coworking, visit a networking group or get in touch with a business mentor.