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How things can look up in a lockdown

How things can look up in a lockdown

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”

– Marie Curie

Ok so I’m going to be really honest with you here: I’m a little bit fearful. The country (well the world) is on lockdown, there’s a pandemic in progress and people fear for both their health and their finances.

So yes, I’m fearful, but then human beings are programmed to feel fear at times. We fear the unknown, we worry if our families are threatened, and we hate uncertainty. However, human beings are also tough, resilient and endlessly creative, and that’s why I’m choosing to acknowledge my fears and then put them to one side.

Instead, I’m going to use this unprecedented situation to do something that all business owners wish they could do but never have the time for: I’m going to work on my business instead of in it.

There are many things that can be done to develop your business during self-isolation, and it’s worth taking this opportunity to really scrutinise your online brand…

I’ve put together a few top tips for things that you can do to help you feel proactive even if work is slow:

1. Keep your business visible on social media

Post daily with uplifting, entertaining or thought-provoking content that provides value and helps your audience. We all need a little positivity right now and your customers will remember the brands that made them smile during this time.

2. Take this opportunity to work ‘ON’ your business

Make a list of all the things that you have been wanting to do but you never had time for. Now you have the time so use it wisely.

3. Stay connected with your clients & suppliers

Why not send them an email to check-in on them and make sure that they are ok – remember we are all in this together and we need to offer kindness and support at this time.

4. Host a meeting with a fellow business owner

Use Zoom or Skype to stay connected. Plan a collaboration. Provide support where possible. Remember that your colleagues are just as anxious as you so why not make plans now to keep you both motivated.

5. Attend a virtual networking meeting

Many networking groups are now online so why not show up and join in with the conversation. It will keep you talking about your business and help you to stay connected. Community is very important and we all need to feel as though we are still part of it in some way.

6. Create a new product or service

Use this time to brainstorm something new and exciting for your business. What would you like to offer your clients? How can you help them further? Business is about identifying a need and then responding to that need with something that serves a purpose, so why not identify struggles your client may be having and then create a service or product to help?

7. Audit your existing social media platforms and website

This is the perfect opportunity to look at what is working and what is not so why not take some time and audit your social media platforms and website. Be critical. Are you showing up in a way that you want to be seen? are you delivering the right message to your audience?

8. Learn a new skill through Skillshare or Udemy

Why not learn a new skill? Now’s the time to really hone in on the direction you would like your business to take, and to define what you want to create. Take this time to brush up on existing skills or learn a new one.

9. Create a 12-month content plan for your social media platforms

We all know we should do it, but hands up if you’ve kept putting it to the bottom of the to-do list! Well now you’ve got plenty of time so no more excuses!

10. Share your skills/knowledge online via a workshop or webinar
How grateful are you that there are people out there willing to do this? Well you could be one of those people! It feels wonderful to share, and it creates a great impression on your audience

11. Create an online video series to help educate your audience

Videos don’t have to be expensive affairs shot in a studio: it can be just you, your camera and your knowledge. You can even use this as an opportunity to inject some personality into your branding by introducing the audience to your pets, garden or latest creative project.

12. Create value-focused content to build your email list

Your services may be on hold for now, but this lockdown won’t last forever, and once you’re back up and running, an extended mailing list will be just the ticket.

Summary

Most of all use this time productively. I know things look dark at the moment but dwelling on the negatives won’t do anybody any good – ok so I sound like a therapist right now, but the truth is that the best way for us to get through all this with our business (and sanity) intact is to look for the silver lining: think of this as an extended exercise in marketing and your lockdown could really start to look up! 

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5 Reasons why awards can help your brand

5 Reasons why awards can help your brand

If you had told me 18 months ago, when I started my business, that I would soon be attending my third Awards Ceremony, I would have laughed!

Back in March I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Kent Women in Business Awards (KWIBA) in Maidstone, Kent where, for the second time, I had been nominated for an Award by several of my clients.

And boy; what a night it was!

It was only afterwards, when my husband and I were sitting in bed (eating cheese on toast for our midnight snack), that it occurred to me: I own a successful business.

Ok that sounds weird, but anyone who knows my story knows that I haven’t had the easiest of journeys. Like many other women in business, it’s taken me a long time to arrive at this point in my life. The transition from being an employee to being a business owner has been a long one. I may have started my business a year and a half ago, but the truth is it’s taken a while to fully shift my mind-set to one of a business owner, let alone one who’s ready to accept that she’s arrived!

To be considered for an Award is amazing. Not only is it an amazing accomplishment for me but, more importantly, it’s recognition for my business.

Awards logos

So why are Awards important and how can they help you to build your brand?

As a designer my main priority is my clients, but as a business owner, my main priority is to grow my company and position it in the best light in order to win more clients. This is where the power of Awards comes in.

First thing’s first: filling out an Award form is pretty daunting; after all they tend to be quite long and usually require you to dig deep and talk yourself up, which can be really hard when we’ve had the importance of modesty drilled into us since our school days. So why bother?

Well, to put it simply… Awards can REALLY help your brand – especially if you win.

Let me give you 5 reasons why Awards are worth it, even if you don’t win:

1. Business appraisal

If ever there was an ideal time to stop and reflect, this is it.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘doing’ that we forget to stop and reflect on how far we have come. Going through the Awards process gives you the perfect opportunity to stop and think about your achievements.

What was interesting for me about attending this year’s KWIBA event was that I could measure myself against where I was last year. I realised that both myself and my business have come a long way. My thinking is different as, somewhere along the way, I had a shift in mindset. I also realised that my vision and my goals are bigger than ever before because I also recognised that our only limitations are the ones that we place on ourselves.

2. Visibility

Just being shortlisted for an Award can help drive brand awareness and put your business directly in front of all a whole new array of customers.

The free marketing that comes from being associated with an Awards event can have a huge positive impact on your brand and who doesn’t like a bit of free marketing?

3. Awards help define quality

Let’s face it, if you have been nominated for an Award then you must be pretty good at what you do. You’ve been nominated for a reason, so be proud that you’re on the right track.

4. Motivation

There’s nothing like an Awards ceremony to leave you feeling inspired and motivated. Just being there amongst all those amazing businesses gave me a much-needed boost!

Sometimes running a business can be hard work and draining. It’s hard to switch off as there is constantly so much to do. It’s easy to get caught up in the little things and forget why you are building your ‘empire’ in the first place.

5. Build contacts

These days, when you’re nominated for an award, you tend to get sent a little banner to use on social media. This banner is your best friend! It can help you identify other nominees so that you can start conversations with them, and it helps you get noticed by other people who will want to know all about it.

Then there’s the ceremony itself, which is one big networking event!

Summary

All in all, whether you win an award or not, the whole process is a rewarding, invigorating and exciting one, so don’t be afraid to apply for awards, or ask your clients to nominate you. Your business is worth celebrating!

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