There is a social media post being shared and re-shared at the moment that keeps popping up in my news feed, and it is getting hard to ignore. You know the type of thing; a social rant, written eloquently enough that everyone ‘likes’ and reposts, secretly wishing they had been the originator, but equally relieved that they only have to wade through the few hundred responses / ‘likes’ as a re-poster. (The author probably is currently contemplating going to live in a cave somewhere to avoid the keyboard warriors that often appear as standard when someone expresses an opinion.) The post questions why celebrities selling a new wonder product, fad diet, gambling website, shopping channel rubbish / crazy invention garners immediate credibility through their status when family and friends showcasing a new venture experience much more guarded predictions of success and support.
The overall message is that every business has to start somewhere so please acknowledge and support those crazy sounding ideas from those not famous but equally hardworking people around you. Even if ‘support’ is just clicking the ‘heart’ button on f/book or sharing a blog/meme from your friends / family / the-person-on-the-train-who-you-randomly-chat-to-in-the-morning-whilst-trying-to-work-out-where-their-gorgeous-shoes-are-from. It is true though – we all do have to start somewhere, and sometimes that first blog post can take ages to pluck up the courage to write (ahem). Maybe that person has agonised over the angle and colours of their first instagram shot, desperate to get it perfect (guilty). Yes – even the Finch bakery ‘huns-with-buns’ started out with 0 followers. The point is that they have ‘started’. They have taken that step and it probably is tangled up in the beginnings of turning their dreams of a better future into a reality of some kind. Surely, just that brave step alone deserves acknowledging, and our support.
In a previous corporate life, I have done my fair share of networking and it has never really bothered me. Most people who (really) know me, will probably agree that I talk a little too much, and the inquisitive part of me loves to meet new people – I really am a naturally social person. I love positive interactions, much to the exasperation of my husband when I explain that ‘no I didn’t know that person’ on leaving the supermarket. However, formal networking has not really been that high on my agenda over the past 9 months because, well, running a small business seems to take up a lot of my time and to be truthful, the google results for local networking events were rather uninspiring. But as we have already established, I talk too much, and I talk to my friends. One thing led to another, and my good friend ‘M’ who happens to be ‘Mr Network’ said oh I know someone you should meet. Enter Stage left, my first ‘proper’ networking contact, who invited me for coffee on the back of an email from Mr Network. Wow. What a productive hour I spent and left with; a head full of ideas and information, invites to various events, some credible marketing intel, and a warm fuzzy feeling given that we both have very strong values that guide our customer service. (Oh and the coffee was great too!)
Fast forward to Thursday evening last week and I managed to make it to my first proper networking session as a small business owner. I am embarrassed to say that my expectations were low, it was something I thought I really needed to get on with, raise my profile I guess and perhaps hand out a few business cards. WRONG. What a bland misconception I had about this fantastic group of people. (I feel a little guilty about my earlier thoughts on Networking). The lovely lady I met earlier in the week had been thinking about me over the past couple of days and had introduced me to a number of people over email she thought might be able to help me out in various ways. Some of those introductions attended the meet up on Thursday night along with loads of other interesting, helpful, supportive people. It felt like a door to a secret club had been opened to me. Although its not secret, its just hard to know where to start. (They do say that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’)
Networking is a powerful weapon for any small business owner. I knew this in my heart of hearts before I set off in my Bright & Beautiful branded vehicle on that sunny Thursday. So why on earth hadn’t I made it part of my business? If I am being totally honest, I didn’t really know where to start. On Thursday, I hoped that people would be friendly to a new face. In reality I got so much advice, tips, general chat, pizza, and a short discussion about George Orwell’s ‘1984’. I can’t really remember when I last enjoyed myself at a Networking event. Small businesses that help other small businesses are a force to be reckoned with. Business owners that support other business owners strengthen the local economy too. I am a convert!
At Bright & Beautiful we offer the opportunity for busy people to buy their time back. We are not a standard cleaning company or an ironing service. We offer a fully managed, bespoke Holistic Housekeeping service that can be tailored to your needs with the added reassurance of a Trusted Team, Strict Security, and we provide all our own Eco-friendly cleaning products. Sound great? We are! However, everyone has different needs so what should you look out for when you are searching for someone to keep your chores in check?
- What kind of level of service do you need? Will you be around to speak to/supervise the housekeeper whilst they are in your property? Do you want the responsibility of employing someone directly? If the answer to these questions are ‘I just want someone to just take control over the whole service so I don’t have to worry about anything’ then you should look for a fully managed service. If this is not you, and instead you are happy to work directly with someone, you can often find that local facebook sites or word of mouth are a great place to find people offering these services on a more casual basis.
- How important is Security & Insurance to you? When I mention the strict security procedures we have in place, the fact that we DBS check our staff and the high levels of insurance we offer, most people agree that they are important to them. Worryingly though, a high number of people admit to me that they hadn’t automatically considered this a top priority when researching service providers. Always ask questions and make sure you are comfortable with a companies policies in these areas.
- Does it bother you if different people visit your home every week to do the same job? Everyone has a clear expectation on this. Some people are just happy for the job to be done well every week regardless of who does it, and some people like the continuity of having the same person visiting their home every week. If you like continuity, steer away from using an agency as staff are not directly employed by the agency. If you choose a more casual arrangement such as a self employed cleaner, think about checking how sickness and annual leave will be covered – will you be left without a service or are there plans in place to refer work on? This is one of the reasons that we clean in teams of 2 or 3 so that if one person is off sick, you still receive a consistent service as the rest of the team know your property and the way that you like things doing,
Remember, always ask for references and check out reviews. If you do not feel comfortable with someone, say ‘no thanks!’ and ensure that you avoid putting yourself or your property in a vulnerable position.
Note: This first blog post is dedicated to all my super supportive friends, but in particular M&S. Not obviously the premium clothing & food retailer but instead, a couple of people providing me with a very premium friendship. Friends who made this blog happen by suggesting it in the first place, showing me the ropes, and then providing the introductions which has led to the content too. Its not just friendship, it’s a M&S friendship.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog belongs to Impalah Ltd. trading as Bright & Beautiful. All the content has been written by me unless otherwise stated. If you are sharing any material from my blog, please credit me as the source.The views and opinions expressed within these posts are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of any other company T/A Bright and Beautiful although we do all share the same Code of Values. Anyone undertaking the tips or recommendations should do so after considering the options and consequences, and by their own choice, under their own volition.