Cambridge’s Favourite Networking Event

In Cambridge, there are well in excess of 50 regular networking events, each with their own niche, target audience, time of day and formality, all aimed at a small number of the 9,000+ self-employed workers in the city. Many of these are so popular, they also attract many from neighbouring towns and villages.

Networking is frequently seen as a valuable tool to increase brand awareness, reach out to new audiences, as well as to share ideas with their peers. But which is the city’s favourite?

Here at Cambridge Business Lounge – where we host our own Mastermind Group and CBL Women’s Network events – we are looking to find the city’s favourite networking event/group, as well as the reasons why.

To cast your vote ==> CLICK HERE

Everyone who votes can also enter a draw to win a 4 Day Coworking Pass, worth £70.

You can also access a list of all the networking group and events that take place in Cambridge by clicking here.

The survey closes on Thursday 31st August and results will be announced soon after.

The winner will be featured – with the results – in the business section of the Cambridge Independent in September.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 11: A sale is not a sale until you’ve been paid

Tip 11: A sale is not a sale until you’ve been paid

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: a sale is not a sale until you’ve been paid.

Don’t let the topic of money become the elephant in the room.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you make a connection with a client who loves your work and wants to work with you, but when the topic of being paid comes up it’s something many of us feel uncomfortable talking about.

You’re amazing at understanding the customer’s brief and you’ve kept them in the loop all the way through the process of the work you’ve done but near the end of the process, you’re talking about being paid. Why didn’t you bring this subject up right at the beginning? Good business practice suggests that you have clear communication about all aspects of your business and being paid is a highly important topic to bring up right at the beginning of a new relationship.

It’s important because you are being clear and concise about the way you work and this will enable you to manage the client’s expectations better, whilst also making them aware of when you expect to be paid and at what stage your output will come to an end. Being upfront about what the client should be expected to pay and your terms and conditions will make your life a lot easier in the long run and will negate unnecessary problems when do send them an invoice.

Watch Ed’s video about being up front when talking about being paid:

Action Point:

Write down your sales process and identify when the question of making payment comes up. Now you’ve watched Ed’s video do you think that you could rearrange when you talk about payment in your process?

We’d love to hear how you begin the conversation about being paid? Do you have any methods to make it more comfortable, or do you avoid it altogether?  Tweet us and tell us using the hashtag #Edstoptips.

 

 

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 9 – Make Friends With An Accountant

Tip 9: Make Friends With An Accountant

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’s topic: make friends with an accountant.

When you start out with your business, the last thing you think you need to do is speak to an accountant. You might think that because you’re only a sole trader that seeking expert accountancy advice isn’t necessary at this stage. You’d be wrong. Everyone needs to submit a tax return and HMRC aren’t the easiest people to communicate with.

The finance side of the business might actually be the hardest to deal with. You are an expert in your own field but the major point is you a not an expert at every part of your business. This is why seeking expertness of accountants, marketing professionals or designers is going to give your business the edge over the competition.

If your like myself and find anything to do with numbers or finance is dealt with burying your head in the sand, then your business isn’t going to have the success you dream it to be. Watch this video where Ed emphasises the importance of seeking out an accountants advice:

 

Action Point:

Go make friends with an accountant. This will broaden your network and you’ll have professional expertise about a subject you are not an expert in.

Have you met any accountants at networking events or Twitter chats? Why not mention to them your starting out in business and find out if they do offer a free consultation and book it! This will allow you to ask as many questions about how you go about doing your tax return, how to process your expenses. This is then a relationship which will help you in the future as your business grows.

Tell us how you found your accountant and how you’ve found them beneficial to your business. Leave us a comment below 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.