Work Essentials: My Guest Blog on Work from Home Wisdom

Work from Home Wisdom badgeThis month, rather than writing a blog here on my own site, I was asked by Judy Heminsley of Work from Home Wisdom to write a guest blog on the “5 Things I Can’t Work Without”. I love Judy’s blog and always enjoy clicking through to read her posts which are often informative as well as fun to read, so I was thrilled to provide a blog post for her.

Fluffy Slippers and Filofax
My fluffy slippers are definitely a work essential!

“5 Things I Can’t Work Without” is a series of blogs written by various people who run their businesses from home. It’s a very popular read – we are by nature nosey folks who love to learn about other people and what their routines look like day-to-day, especially with so much flexibility and freedom involved in home working.

So here is my guest blog on the 5 Things Back Room SAM Can’t Work Without. I have made an effort to avoid the obvious items like a laptop or mobile phone, and instead tried to include things that explain the nature of my business and give a good idea about some of my character traits (the photo might give you some clues about some of the items I’ve chosen…)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it!

sarah x

What’s on your ‘Get To Do’ List?

To Do ListI attended a networking event the other day which had an open Q&A session. Somebody asked whether there was any free software out there to help them organise their ‘To Do’ list. After a couple of people speaking up with suggestions of helpful apps for helping with time management, another person then suggested the idea of dividing your list into things you want to do and things you need to do.

This may well be a useful way of helping you prioritise your tasks, but I would like to make a simple yet bold suggestion for completely changing your attitude towards your To Do list altogether…

Got to do ‘or ‘Get to do’?

If you’re anything like me, you wake up in the morning and the moment you open your eyes your brain starts whirring with the mountain of jobs you need to get done in the day ahead. All the things you absolutely have to get done, or else…

This is of course very normal, but with this regular way of thinking it’s very easy for a normal person (let alone a busy business owner!) to end up getting stuck in a perpetual state of fear and joylessness. Our To Do list, for all its value in helping us be productive and prioritise well, can actually start to have a detrimental effect on our well-being and, ironically, our productivity. If we’re not careful, life simply becomes a daily slog of ticking things off, and our To Do list has enslaved us and become a heaven burden to bear. Sure we may be driven, but are we only driven by fear and anxiety?

So how do we stop this from happening? How do we avoid the daily grind and fear factor as we work through our daily, weekly, monthly business tasks?

It’s all about attitude!

I strongly believe that battles such as these are won or lost in the mind. Instead of considering all of the things you’ve got to do today, instead consider all the things you get to do today. Have you ever considered the tasks you’ve got to work on as being privileges? It is a privilege to work and earn a living and serve others with your products and skills, and it is certainly a privilege to run your own business. Yes, it is even a privilege to do you’re annual accounts.

choosejoy2This attitude can be difficult to adopt, and in all honesty at first I found it quite ludicrous! But this just shows far we have slipped into a negative pattern of thinking. If this is how you feel, then I recommend the ‘fake it ‘til you become it’ approach. Whenever you catch yourself woefully looking down your To Do list and risking being overcome by a low-level sense of fear or despair, re-frame your thinking. Remind yourself that these are all things you get to do.

These are all things you have the privilege of doing.

This change of attitude doesn’t promise to make your To Do list shrink or become any shorter, but it does promise to drastically affect the way you tackle your tasks. Firstly, you will feel the joy return that may have long been missing. You will approach jobs with a much more positive and freeing attitude. You will feel the fear and anxiety lift, and in a short time you will notice that your to-do list will have become your slave rather than your master. And interestingly, with an increased level of positivity you are much more likely to be more efficient, productive, persistent and alert as well.

So, what do you get to do this week?

Over to you
Feel free to share any thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading,

sarah x


Writing a tagline for your business: 4 quick tips for getting started

Nike - Just .....errr?

If you’ve ever had to try coming up with a tagline or slogan for a product, service or business as a whole, you’ll probably agree with me in saying it’s not an easy thing to do. Many of my clients have commented that writing an effective tagline has been one of the biggest challenges for them in their marketing communications development.

A tagline needs to be concise, to the point and memorable, while also telling your potential customers or clients something about your business (preferably the most important thing – we’ll come back to this in a minute).

So, here are 4 quick tips to help with coming up with an effective tagline…

1. Have you done the strategy groundwork on your business? Do you know what the most important thing is that your target audience most care about from your product or service? Is it quality? Expertise? Customer care? Or maybe something more emotive like the feel-good factor. It’s also worth considering what it is that sets you apart from your competitors, and what you want to be well-known for in your field or industry. It’s useful to try and pin this down to just one (at a push two) things. I know this is hard, but doing this will make constructing a tagline that typifies your business’ most important feature lots easier. You also need to think about the extent the tagline is also required to communicate what it is you actually do. The name of your business or product might already do this so your tagline doesn’t need to (e.g. If the name of your business is ‘Photo Restoration Services’), but if your name doesn’t explain what you do, you may also need to think about how to work this into the tagline as well.

2. Find inspiration! Sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and pen might not be the greatest way to get creative coming up with a tagline. You could begin by reading testimonials or feedback comments from past customers if you have them, looking at the sorts of words and descriptions they have used when speaking about your business. Ask friends and colleagues who know you and your business well for ideas; people process concepts in different ways and they might be able to capture things in a way you wouldn’t have come up with on your own. You can also test out your ideas on people who are less familiar with what you do and ask what they think you are trying to communicate about the business, product or service. Alternatively, a good tip is to go for a walk, both physically and mentally. There is no ‘correct’ process to arriving at a tagline – use whatever you think will help you to arrive at a clear and compelling message.

3. Play around with words and phrases. I have seen good taglines in the form of commands, descriptions and even questions, so play around with the structure a little. Look up synonyms and related words to those you think help say what you want to say. And don’t forget to test out different ideas by saying them out loud, not just seeing how they look on paper.

4. Allow scope for growth. Your tagline is part of the business identity. You don’t want one you’ll have to change every time you add a new product or service to your portfolio. This is especially important if your business is still quite new as you may wish to change things about your business in the first few years. So is your tagline specific enough to clearly convey what you’re about, while being generic enough to allow for some future change and growth?

Above all, don’t panic if a suitable tagline doesn’t come to you straight away. Be prepared to be patient and give the ideas chance to develop in your mind.

Over to you
How have you gone about formulating a tagline or slogan? What has led you to finding just the right words to sum up your business or product? Leave a comment below, let us know what’s worked for you.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please do get in touch if you would like to chat more about your marketing communications for your business.

Thanks for reading,

sarah x

Get a REAL break this summer with SAM’s holiday cover

Northumberland holiday photoI took a week’s holiday a fortnight or so ago. We didn’t go anywhere too exotic this year, we just booked a cottage near Bamburgh in Northumberland. Now don’t get me wrong – I had a lovely time; we got some good lie-ins, saw the sights and had some lovely meals out. We even managed to avoid the flooding that occurred in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne that same week. But in all honesty, I can’t say hand-on-heart that it felt like a complete break from work. My mind kept drifting back onto Back Room SAM matters, and as a result I didn’t come back as refreshed and raring to go as I could have been, and here is why.

If only I had had someone to keep an eye on things while I was away.

My experience this summer of taking an apparent ‘break’ from work was somewhat different from the holidays I have taken in previous years. When I was employed and working for various businesses, I found it very easy to step away, knowing that work would happily continue without me. I could go off and enjoy my break safe in the knowledge that others would be checking my email inbox, dealing with anything urgent that landed on my desk while I was away and I could generally have peace of mind that my week off wouldn’t have had any kind of devastating impact on the performance of the business.

My holiday in Northumberland taught me that now I am self-employed and running my own business, holidays need to be handled differently. There is only me in my business at the moment, which means that if I am not there, then nobody else taking care of things for me. Being a B2B business means that time off over Christmas isn’t so bad, as Christmas tends to be the one and only time in the year when most other businesses shut down for a week or so, (or even if they are at work, they at least don’t expect any other business services to be at their desks). But when taking a holiday at any other time of the year, I have found it very hard to mentally switch off from work.  I am sure I am not the only one who has this problem. I catch myself wondering if any clients have got in touch with me with problems while I’ve been away. What if new prospective clients have emailed me wanting a quote for a job and they go with someone else as a result of me not getting back to them? What if someone has hacked my Twitter account and is abusing all my contacts? Despite me being away from home and having a physical break from work, these kinds of questions prevented me from having as good a mental break as I would have wished.

Now looking back, I can see how helpful it would have been to have had someone back in Lancaster keeping an eye on things for me. How good it would have been to have been able to hire a safe pair of hands, even if only for a couple of hours or so in the week, to sift through my inbox, take care of my weekly admin and keep things ticking over for me, who would get in touch only in the case of any ‘extreme business emergencies’. This would have given me the real break I had earned and would have benefited so much more from.

The good news is that this is exactly the kind of holiday cover service Back Room SAM can offer you this summer. I am here all summer long to help give my lovely fellow business owners that kind of real, mental as well as physical break they deserve.

So, if you have plans to go away and really want to avoid that dread of coming home to your business not knowing what you’ll find, why not chat with me and let me know how I can keep your back room in good order while you’re off enjoying a wonderful and refreshing break. You will be sure to reap the benefits of SAM’s holiday cover service, while you’re away and also on your return, having had a real break.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have a wonderful summer whatever you’re doing and wherever you’re going.

sarah x

*If you fancy seeing more of our Northumberland holiday snaps, you can click here.