Mums The Boss – The Blog

Simple Approach coversContinuing our series of book reviews, we now turn to the Everywoman collection of Simple Approach pocket book business guides.

The Everywoman website offers ‘advice, tools and networking for business success’ including  practical tips, fact sheets and useful online tools to help you grow your business. Their handy set of 8 pocket books covers a whole range of areas which are all important for anyone with their own business. The ones that I chose to read first were those that related directly to my WAHM status; Work well from home, Manage your Time and Balance your life and work.

There were some interesting ‘questionnaire’ activities which forced me to be very honest about how I spend my time, and how effectively.  The overall  tone of the books is very straight forward and helpful, and there were occasions when I thought ‘Of course – that’s just common sense’  but it had been lost or missed by me because I was too involved with what I was doing.  The use of bullet points and headings gave a clarity which appealed to me and made it very easy to read rather than be faced with pages of close type.

The books are a  very handy size, both in page number (between 80 and 90) and in dimensions which was great as I was able to have one stashed in my handbag to read in 5 minute bursts whilst waiting for the children to come out of pre-school, running a bath etc. 

All the books have been contributed to by a panel of leading businesswomen who were chosen for their expertise to offer their ‘words of wisdom’. The books are very direct and clear. They offer step by step advice, common mistakes to avoid,  and a useful summary at the end of each chapter.

Other titles in the series include Assert yourself, Deal with Stress, Give Great Presentations, Interview others and Succeed as a new leader. For more information please visit the Everywoman website at http://www.everywoman.com/ResourcesAdvice/Books/

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Twitter_Bird_Logo_by_iPotionOn Nikki Pilkington’s suggestion I have decided to clear the Twitter airways of my Follow Friday recommendations and each week write a blog post recommending some of my favourite Tweeple. This week’s theme is one close to my heart – Advice for Work at Home Mums.

@FunkyAngelClair – Claire’s website www.funkyangel.co.uk was the very first work-at-home resource I came across when I started looking for information on the subject, long before I got bitten by the Twitter-bug. Claire is one of the founding-mothers of the WAHM revolution and was instrumental in Mum’s The Boss evolving from just an idea into a reality. Her Thursday evening Consultants Hour on the Funky Forums also led to us gaining sponsorship from another businesswoman on the forums that evening.  As well as having a day job in journalism and publishing, Claire is a business mentor to some and an inspiration to many through the Funky Angel site. Follow Claire and add some Funk to your Favourites!

@antonianell – I discovered Antonia through Twitter and still marvel at how she has so many strings to her bow with 3 small children. Antonia provides do-it-yourself PR tools and advice at www.acpr.co.uk and has compiled a wealth of information about flexible working opportunuties at www.familyfriendlyworking.co.uk/acatalog/. She has also written several books about business and family and offers a free online course to starting your own business through the Mumpreneur Guide. Antonia’s Family Friendly Working Blog is always up to date with interesting and relevant articles so if you are serious about being you own boss then you owe it to yourself to follow Antonia Chitty!

@e_nation & @emmaljones are the same person in different guises and both worth a follow. Emma Jones’ website Enterprise Nation is the UK’s largest website for people starting and growing a business from home. Emma also runs the Home Business Awards, produces the annual Home Business Report and advises Government on the topic of home-working. Her newsletter is well worth signing up for and her book Spare Room Start Up is a fantastic start up guide from someone who has walked the walk, as well as an excellent advert for home working as a lifestyle choice, not just a way of working.

Claire, Antonia and Emma are all incredibly helpful, supportive business women. They have all been instrumental in helping Mum’s The Boss directly, either by providing information, a platform on which to promote the group, the donation of business books, as well as bucket loads of encouragement and support. For this reason they are my Top 3 Twitterers for any mum hoping to become a Mumpreneur!

CB044590Now that I work from home my wardrobe of ‘work clothes’ consists of jeans, jogging bottoms and pyjamas! This is in sharp contrast to the vast array of trouser suits and shirts I wore to the office before I had children. So now, when I go to networking meetings or to meet with potential sponsors, I face a dilemma about what to wear. I want to look professional and businesslike – but I no longer feel comfortable in (or can fit into!) the suits of days gone by. So what is the dress code for a work at home mum?

Image consultant Penny Gregory helps women to dress to look great and feel fabulous every day. ‘When you run your own business, you ARE the business,’ says Penny. ‘In the words of the famous aviator, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The most exhausting thing you can be is inauthentic”. So why not just be yourself? Make the most of yourself and let that shine through into your business.’

Here are some tips to help you dress to feel comfortable and confident:

  1. Do not feel you must ‘conform’ to a dress code
  2. Wear clothes which flatter your figure
  3. Choose styles which reflect your personality
  4. Wear colours that flatter you – you will instantly look healthier and more vibrant
  5. Make use of colour psychology – wearing different colours can promote difference reactions in your clients/audience
  6. Build up a capsule wardrobe for work – several garments which can be mixed and matched to provide lots of outfits
  7. Wear one or two pieces of bold or eye catching jewellery or use texture and pattern to create a little individuality
  8. Be yourself – you will feel more confident and your customers will respond to that

You can find out more about personal style and image and sign up for Penny’s newsletter at http://www.pennygregory.co.uk

42-17098259We all know how our children benefit from an after lunch nap, and as busy mums we are probably all guilty of using that precious time to crack on with work or housework.

But research shows that a 20-30 minute power nap after lunch can reduce stress, improve memory & patience, increase learning & efficiency and generally make for a more productive afternoon all round.

It may seem like a criminal waste of time to sleep when you feel you could be getting lots done but if you are lucky enough to have children who still nap, or who are at school, then maybe it is worth trying it for yourself to see if you can feel the benefits.  

Experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

 

So why not take the plunge and become a Lady Who Naps! Simply follow these 10 steps to the perfect nap – and feel the benefits!

  1. The best time to nap is between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm, just after lunch.
  2. Try to avoid large amounts of coffee or caffeine before your nap as this will make it difficult to sleep and to wake up.
  3. Switch off your mobile and put the answerphone on to avoid being disturbed.
  4. Set your alarm to wake you when you have completed 30 minutes of sleep. It is very common to lie down and sleep for a while and end up sleeping for hours!
  5. Set the scene for sleep – make sure the temperature is comfortable, pull the curtains and put some soft music in the background
  6. Try to free up your mind from any thoughts or alternatively focus your thoughts on something you enjoy.
  7. 30 minutes of sleep is enough to relax. If you sleep more, you will end up with a headache and a bad mood.
  8. When you wake up, put some water on your face, drink a class of water and go out in the fresh air for a while. If you feel groggy or disorientated when you wake, sit down and try to relax for 5 minutes before standing up.
  9. If you are not feeling like sleeping then do not try to force your self to sleep – just lay and relax
  10. Do not feel guilty. Taking a power nap does not make you lazy – rather it will make you more alert and productive for the rest of the day, and improve both your mental and physical health.

As the mother of 2 toddlers who DON’T nap I can only DREAM of such a luxury……! But if you do decide to become a Lady Who Naps, we’d love to hear your comments about how it made you feel!

 

For more information about the specific health benefits of napping please see http://www.manageyourlifenow.com/Articles/tabid/60/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/19/15-Proven-Tips-For-The-Perfect-Power-Nap.aspx

At Mum’s The Boss we are building up a library of business books to share with our members. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of authors and publishers who have donated books to our collection and so, for those of you who aren’t able to join our meetings and borrow the books in person, we will be reviewing the books here on our blog too.

So to kick off, here is Helen’s review on the book Inspiring Women, featuring the women entrepreneurs behind Fat Face, The White Company and Specsavers, to name but a few….. 

 

Inspiring Women – 25 Top Female Entrepreneurs Reveal How Real Women Succeed in Business

by Michelle Rosenberg.

Inspiring Women coverI chose to review Inspiring Women first because it had the most attractive cover, was the thinnest (so seemed more achievable to read in the short time I had) and finally (and probably most importantly) I was burning to know what these icons of women in business had to say.

Each of the 25 chapters is only a few pages long, but they are very well chosen words!  These women have been brutally honest and candid in their accounts of how they have achieved so much. They all talk about how their journey started, how their business grew, about the pitfalls and mistakes they made along the way. In addition to this, each chapter has ‘Advice to other entrepreneurs’, and an opportunity for the women to describe their own role models. It is a truly fascinating insight into the people behind the brands.

Nearly every eventuality is covered within this book; those who had a skill and used it, those who took a new path, those who had a good financial start to their business and those who had nothing, women with families, those without and those who gained them along the way. However there are some unifying strands which bind these women, and probably all women in business; it is hard, it can be messy, you can’t have it all, there will always been some sort of sacrifice, but mostly it is worth it!

The most striking, and inspirational part for me was the realisation that before their business was so successful they were ordinary women, and many of them mothers. They were like me, but because of passion, belief and drive they have all achieved so much.

It gave me hope that if they could do it, so could I!

 

A massve thank you to the lovely people  at Crimson Publishing who sent us a package with 4 business books to add to our collection. And if you would like to buy a copy of this book you can buy Inspiring Women from Amazon here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inspiring-Women-Entrepreneurs-Succeed-Business/dp/1854584103

CB038377

A few years ago a friend of mine went to a meeting in a school hall, and as manager was the first to arrive to set up. It was during the school holidays, and as she walked down the corridor of a deserted building with the school caretaker, a man she had never met before, she suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable. She was absolutely fine, but it did make her realise how easy it is to find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

As a female who works from home, personal safety should be high on your agenda. Many of the following tips are basic common sense but worth remembering all the same.

  1. When putting your personal information on websites, emails and business stationery consider carefully what information you share. Having separate phone and emails for work and business is important and easily done.
  2. When meeting a client or business colleague for the first time, make sure it is a public place. This could be a cafe or restaurant, or make use of one of the many business incubation units which rent meeting rooms by the hour.
  3. Get a work based contact number from the person you are meeting so you can ring to confirm the appointment the day before – it is a good way of checking that person is who they say they are.
  4. Always make sure somebody else knows where you are going, who you are meeting and what time you should be finished.
  5. You can always schedule a call from a friend or business colleague which gives you an opportunity to publically announce who you are with & when you will call them back.
  6. If you do ever invite clients to your home, make sure the environment is as professional as possible, for example sit at the table rather than on a sofa. You could even try a ‘buddy’ system with somebody else in a similar situation that comes to work at your house so you are not there alone.

Fortunately the reality of you encountering problems is very small, but it is worth thinking about your personal safety so that you are never in a situation of feeling vulnerable. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

trafficEvery so often you come across a product that is just so fabulous you want to share it with the world. Well that’s how I felt, about 18 months ago, when I discovered Alison Webb selling her Dinky Duvets on ebay.

My eldest daughter had recently moved into a toddler bed and having just bought a duvet and 2 bedding sets I was horrified at how expensive these special sized sets cost. Fast forward a couple of months to our first bout of sickness in bed in the middle of the night and I soon realised I needed more bedding – and fast!

Dinky Duvets are hypo-allergenic 4.5 tog duvets with a bright and funky cover stitched onto the duvet – so the whole lots goes in the washing machine and tumble drier – genius! They fit a cotbed or toddler sized bed and are perfect everyday bedding for your little ones, great for holidays and ideal as spares in case of illness. 

Alison started up the ‘Dinky Duvet’ business soon after the birth of her first child 5 years ago.  He was seriously asthmatic and had terrible reflux which meant Alison was washing all his bedding at least once a day.  With the lack of availability and choice of duvets coupled with the prohibitive cost of buying a duvet (and possibly a spare) Alison decided to dust down her sewing machine and make her own. No sooner had she finished it, than her friends were asking her to make one for their children.  And so her business began! 

SSL22723“What started off as a sideline has now become a fully fledged business and keeps me busy every spare child free moment of the day and night!” says Alison.  “I feel lucky to be able to turn one of my hobbies into something that gives me great satisfaction and earns me some money at the same time. Plus it is a welcome break from hoovering, the school run and my old job of IT project manager.  Give me a sewing machine any day!”

We are now the proud owners of not one but two Dinky Duvets (including the pink spotty one on the right) and I have to say I far prefer them to the boring and expensive bedding I originally bought from Mothercare! In my humble opinion, every home with a toddler should have one!

For a full range of Alison’s homemade products including quilts, blankets, clothing and bags please visit www.dinkyduvets.co.uk

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