Ah Sundays – lie-ins, brekkie in bed, maybe a good old slob around the house followed by a juicy roast. As idilic as this may sound, when you own your own business, you may very well have to put your regular free time on the shelf. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have time off – I would positively encourage claiming time for yourself. It may just be a tad more fractured than a standard 9 – 5, every weekend off, PAYE.
Which leads me nicely on to why I was sitting at a conference table in the depths of Manchester with a whole bunch of other bloggers on a Sunday. I was invited by Hiscox and Start-Up Academy to attend an Entrepreneur Workshop at The Victoria Warehouse Hotel, which promised plenty much learning, a talk from Helen Nugent, pastries and lunch. Well, a girl can hardly say no when an invite includes pastries – sorry Helen
With the recent launch of my new area for small wedding businesses – EAT ME, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to see what’s out there when it comes to gaining a bit of extra biz knowledge. So what went on during the workshop and, more importantly, how were the pastries?!
The workshop was ran by Anick Akbar from The Start-Up Academy, and a darn good job he did of it. The environment, though businesslike, was relaxed and attendees were encouraged to ask questions. He ran through a presentation which included heaps of tips, his personal experience within business and plenty of food for thought. He explained a number of business processes in a clear, non-jargon way – which makes a refreshing change from some of the courses I’ve attended.
Helen Nugent, freelance journalist, media trainer and the brainchild behind Northern Soul, then gave a talk. It was interesting to hear about her journey from journalist to blog/webzine creator. Her talk was crammed full of inspiration and evoked many questions from the group, which she answered with clarity and patience. She is a big advocate of being ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ – so definitely a woman after my own heart!
Anick covered many useful topics, but below are the 3 tips for a start-up that stuck in my mind and, as I don’t have an eidetic memory (I’ll leave that to Sheldon Cooper), the following is my interpretation of what Anick had to say
- Time Management
As a business owner, it is vital that you learn to manage your time effectively. You will find it almost impossible to be productive if you don’t have some kind of time management system in place. Anick suggested putting aside 30 minutes every Monday morning (or whenever your week begins) to plan out your week. Getting your tasks written down on either actual or virtual paper will certainly help to clarify your priorities. It may also highlight tasks that you are putting off – do you keep moving a particularly mundane task to the end of the week? If so, STOP! If you get these tasks completed quickly you won’t end your week on a low. There’s nothing worse than having to spend the latter half of the week completing all those annoying tasks that you’ve been putting off. Anick used a Mark Twain quote (one of my favourites) to highlight his point, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
- Look After You
As tempting as it may be to grab a sandwich at your desk, skip time off and not make time for exercise, DON’T! Take days off, have holidays, spend time with friends and family, eat well and exercise. Being healthy will increase your productivity – this is something I can defiantly attest to; before starting down my road to health I spent more hours creating far less. Being healthy and rested means that you will be bringing a brighter, happier, more productive you to your business – and that can only be a good thing.
I would add one more suggestion to Anick’s tip; try to have some time away from all technology, give yourself a break from being constantly ‘on call’. Have a few hours in the evening tech-free, or leave your phone in another room and spend mealtimes at the table with your family. Your brain will thank you for it!
Starting and running your own business can be very exciting, and there will be countless opportunities to widen your skill set. Being able to carry out a wide range of tasks effectively can be very satisfying and, in some cases, empowering. However, you really need to be able to asses your strengths and delegate where necessary. For instance, having the ability to create your own logo is wonderful, but if it takes you three days to complete would you be better off outsourcing? I know it can be hard to let go of the reigns, but allow somebody else with more expertise to sit in the saddle for a short time – your business will benefit.
So would I recommend Start-Up Academy? In my life as a business consultant, I have run many courses and workshops; it was actually quite a treat to be sitting on the other side of the table. Did I learn anything? Absolutely! It would, in my humble opinion, be incredibly naive to believe that we cannot learn and evolve – no matter how much experience we have. Just ask Richard Branson, he once attended one of my husband’s workshops – just a spot of unashamed namedropping there
Personally, I came away from the workshop having made a heap of new connections and kind of digging Helen Nugent. In a, ‘she’s a lovely lady and an advocate of being nice’ kind of way I hasten to add! I think if I had attended one of Anick’s workshops when I was new to the world of owning my own business, I would have left with a pad full of notes and a renewed view of how to run it and move forward. I would also have taken onboard some of his advice and saved myself a whole heap of time over the years – so yes, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you get yourselves over to their website and take a look at what they have to offer.
And, as I know that you’re all desperate to know, the pastries were excellent!
Before I go I’d just like to thank Joe Blogs Blogger Network for organising the event and inviting me x