Posted in Time

Work Life Balance

Lots of people talk about work life balance but what do they actually mean.

For me, it is more about priorities, you may be someone who works to live or lives to work. The main thing being that you are happy and enjoy how you spend your time.

I have worked had for a Corporate company and now I am working hard for my own business. I wouldn’t say that either is easier and am not one to say everyone should work for themselves because it is the best thing ever because it is not for everyone.

I enjoyed my time being employed for 13 years. Yes, there were ups and downs, peaks and troughs but, in the main I did enjoy my time there. Unfortunately being made redundant it ended on a sad point, the offices were being moved over 100 miles away and I didn’t fancy a relocation or long commute 3 days a week. I do believe that everything happens for a reason though and it was time (I was on maternity leave when the decision was made) to have a change in lifestyle.

This is the key point. Everyone is at different stages of their lives, everyone has different priorities which is great as the world would be a boring place if we were all matchy-matchy!

When employed I made the job work for me. I worked the hours I was paid for, I achieved my savings targets year after year, I received positive feedback. I can say I achieved work life balance because I was strict with my time and what I needed to do. This was not always popular but as long as my team and line manager were happy then I was.

I am not saying that everyone agreed with me. As an example, I liked to come in early to beat the traffic and concentrate on certain tasks before everyone else arrived (it was an open plan office and I can be easily distracted) and then leave on time to spend the evening with friends and family. Not everyone was the same and may have thought the opposite so didn’t see that I was in early but didn’t stay late like they may have done. This can cause issues but, as mentioned above, everyone is different.

Since starting my own business I would say it has taken me 6 months to get into a routine and I still struggle. I would say work life balance is harder but this is mainly due to my work shifting into being more important to me. It is important that I succeed, make money (we need to eat!) and achieve my business goals.

I cannot stress though that it is important to me. As it was when I was employed – nothing has changed in that regard, I am working to improve myself and I am happier with my own business, much happier because it suits me better.

Seeing up your own business and feeling a bit disorganised? Get in touch via E-mail or Phone as I’d love to hear how I can help you with your business.

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Posted in Uncategorized

What happened to feedback?

Is it just me or do you rarely get feedback anymore?

Years ago references for jobs changed where “you couldn’t give a bad reference” however, if you receive just confirmation of work dates you immediately think something is up – which, is a problem in itself as some companies may contact head office instead of the outlet who will only give dates.  Bad start.

In some jobs and industries there is so much networking and contact between various companies people already know each other and have had conversations before anyone has even applied for a job.  Or, some jobs are created for particular people! This is fine for the person who is in mind but not for anyone else who applies.  They will get a no thanks but no real reason as to why they are not ideal for the role.

Then there are jobs and industries where it is straight forward, a job is created or someone leaves a current role so the company advertises for someone new.  Many people apply, interviews happen, one person is chosen and starts as soon as they can.  All simple and completely straight forward? Hopefully sometimes but doubtful.

Having been on all sides it is not an easy process.  From being the interviewer to the interviewee and all in-between – yes, there are people in-between who may be asked to look at CVs or even sit in interviews for various reasons even though they may not be directly related to the role in mind.  Interviewing is difficult but it doesn’t have to be.

My main issue is feedback.  I had to interview for one of my team once and the person had been pre-interviewed by HR.  (The same HR who provided interview training)  Great, I thought, I will only have to ask more technical questions related to the role and give scenarios to ensure they understand what the role would entail.  Unfortunately the person arrived not dressed appropriately and within the first minute told me a story of shouting at their line manager across the office.  Wow.

If I do not get a role and receive the standard “thanks but no thanks” e-mail I ask for further information on why as it will always help me improve.  I thought this was common sense, surely if someone genuinely wants to improve they will ask for honest feedback?  I don’t know.  So far I’ve had a rejection 3 times recently.  Only once have I received some honest feedback even though I asked all 3 for it (1 being public sector!) None ever met me and only received references, details of what I can do which matched over and above what they were looking for and information on me.  Unfortunately I’ve no idea where I went wrong and why I wasn’t suitable to meet.

If I am asked for feedback, I will always be honest whether it is what people want to hear or not – anything negative is worded as an improvement into a positive.  It means the person can improve, they may not choose to but I feel I have done my bit.  Plus, there is nothing worse than you not saying anything and then someone else stating the obvious! A bit like when you don’t tell that person they have spinach in their teeth!

Do you always get feedback?  Do you always give feedback?  If not, why not?  Is it due to a lack of time or just not sure what to say? I’d love to hear from you, let me know your thoughts.

Seeing up your own business and feeling a bit disorganised?  Get in touch via E-mail or Phone as I’d love to hear how I can help you with your business.

Posted in Startup

Favourites, cliques and just being polite

You’ve started your business, you’ve taken on employees, you may have your own Facebook group or, just work for someone else and can relate to the situation.

How many times have you been on the outside of favouritism or a clique?  Or, even on the inside and you don’t even know it? The other half says that the guys are normally not even aware that they are involved, they think just everyones being nice – although I know some guys and they can be as bad as girls!

Online, real life, it scarily can end up in a not so nice situation when it comes to working with other people.  It’s not necessarily a difficult line or hard to balance but, sometimes a group of people can end up getting on better and then it can seem like favourites or, even that a clique has been created.

Unfortunately this makes the people on the outside feel inadequate or not part of the whole group which is a horrid feeling when you work in the same place or are part of a larger team.  Can it be stopped?

It’s harder to get out of once you have the problem but, yes, you can avoid it.

I am by all means not saying that you need to be best friends with everyone, the line is whether you are a colleague or a friend.  A bit like creating a wedding guest list, who would you take out for dinner and pay? Who will you be friends with if you didn’t work there? People will understand if you are not friends but only colleagues, they will feel the same as you, I promise.

First things first, involve the (relevant) whole team in plans.  Whether it is a smaller team and directly those working with you or, a larger team which is a team by name although you do different things.

Next, avoid private messages and e-mails. Yes, there are occasions where you and your friend e-mail each other about personal stuff but not everyone knows this.  Use text or go 1990 and call each other!  Don’t exclude specific people on e-mails or tags!

Create that line. If you don’t get on then you don’t get on. Avoid the person, be an adult about it, you don’t click but, if you need to work together don’t create an issue and be nice.

Finally, treat everyone the same at work, especially if you are in charge.  Some people are sensitive – others couldn’t care less but, if everyone is in the same camp then your conscience is clear.

What happens when you don’t?  People feel excluded, feel unhappy at work and leave, which is when you can lose the best ones! Don’t risk it – especially if it is your own business and you control a lot more than you realise!

The most important thing?  Just be polite to everyone, they may not be part of an inner circle or are outside of your normal team but it will make them feel better if you’re nice, welcoming and involve them where you can.

Feel like you can relate to this, would like a chat about your own business or need some organisation to help with focus? Get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com

Posted in Startup, Time

Do things straight away!

It’s always difficult when I recommend someone to a potential new client for their services and they reply “Yes, I’ve already contacted them but not heard anything.”  I never know what to say next so try to move on with a mental note to contact the person I’ve recommended.

It is difficult running your own business and there are always 1001 things to do which range from urgent to not so urgent to I could do this and it would be nice.  Unfortunately the nice, non urgent things sometimes take priority when they shouldn’t.  Especially when you are having a day where you’ve lost all motivation but have so much on your to do list you go off on a tangent and choose the easiest or nicest option!

The thing which is easy to forget is to phone people, get back to people and send e-mails when you said you would.  The majority of people like to hear from others and want to be wanted so, if they are interested in your business and ask for a call or a quote you should get in touch! ASAP!  Whilst you will / should have a niche and small target market anyone who is interested in being a client should be contacted for a follow up.

If someone is waiting for your call they will be disappointed if you don’t call or even send an e-mail.  There will be nothing worse than them telling others that you never called or got back to them. First impressions are so important and it is so easy to receive a recommendation and also easy to let people know when a business doesn’t respond.

Have you heard the saying; ‘When you have a good experience you tell one person but a bad and you tell 10’?  It’s the same but if anyone puts anything on social media, it can be bad times 100 (or however many friends a person has!)  This is why you need to contact people when you say you will, it only takes 1 comment of “They didn’t get back to me” or “By the time they called I found someone else” to give you the start of a bad reputation.

This is the same for completing work for client, when you have work to do, do it.  It’s all about managing customer expectations.  Promise what you can do and always do better, the more fantastic feedback you get, the more existing customers promote you and the more your business thrives! Win win win, makes sense surely?  Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen – why? I honestly don’t know the answer but we all do it, put things off, have other, more urgent stuff which comes up or even forget which happens. The important point is that you are in control, it’s your business and you can make a difference to everyone you work with.

The main thing is to learn from any mistakes – I am learning everyday. Organise and prioritise your workload, write everything and I mean EVERYTHING down so you don’t forget and manage your time to put your clients and potential clients first!

Feel like you can relate to this, would like a chat about your own business or need some organisation in your business to help with focus? Get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com

Posted in Networking, Startup

Collaboration v Competition

As long as I can remember I have just wanted to help people.  This is good, right?

Unfortunately people are wary of those who just want to help and I always get so many follow up questions when I tell people this.

Why?

What do you want in return?

You can’t just want to help surely, no one is that kind?

Well, OK, I do charge for my time when I work but I also give advice for free.  For the same reason I have created this blog, I also meet people who have got in touch since I started Starfish Organisers Ltd to ask how to start their business, becoming a VA, becoming a personal organiser and just going out alone into the self employed world.

This is the big thing, you are not alone, there are so many people out there in the same position who want to help and have someone else to bounce ideas off and one of those people is me.  I genuinely love helping people and want to see everyone else succeed. When I mention this to some they comment how I could be helping the competition and this could be a disadvantage to my business.  I get a kick out of seeing others meet their goals whilst achieving my own.  I’m not a business coach by any means but I like to help and share my learnings from experiences in my own business.

As an example I have visited various networking meetings, some of which have rules where only 1 of each type of service can attend.  Now, I get this in some ways but I also don’t understand.  All the other VAs or Organisers I have met have a) been lovely and b) specialise in different sectors or provide different services.  My thinking is that if we join forces we can send work each way as well as supporting each other when we experience similar issues.

This is probably why I didn’t “fit in” the Corporate world, where competition was expected and if you could get one up on someone else it was like a win.  It was very odd to me as I enjoy collaboration.  Especially where local micro businesses are concerned.  There’s a saying that when you are using a local business you are helping put a child through swimming lessons or someone save for their next personal goal instead of filling deep pockets.

I believe it is due to this I seem to spend so much of my time networking, well, talking to people and trying to help, referring people and bigging up other local companies.  All without paying any large fees.  This is what I am passionate about.  Helping local businesses. Of course it is great to get some business in return and receive help for my own business – every day is a school day and I am learning all the time.  Today’s reminder was to listen and take note, you will learn more listening than filling silence with your own voice.

Feel like you can relate to this, would like a chat about your own business or need some organisation in your business to help with focus? Get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com