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Working for an agency

4 Aug

Recruitment agencies act as an intermediary between an employer looking to fill a vacancy and someone seeking work. Having this middle man may seem like a disadvantage but can actually be a great way to return to employment or find your ideal job.

The role of the agency itself is to find suitable candidates for vacancies and there is often a lot of pressure to do so. When seeking an agency; find out if they offer relevant roles as some will specialise in specific industries that may not be relevant to you. It’s good to physically take in your CV and discuss the kind of role you are seeking so you become more memorable, just remember that this will be their first impression of you so be friendly and presentable.

Agencies often work closely with employers and can give you hints or tips on what to expect if you are offered an interview. If you are successful, you will be paid by the agency but managed by the employer, with the right to use any onsite facilities such as canteens or nurseries. If you are in the same role for 12 weeks, then you are entitled to the same pay and benefits as any permanent members of the company doing the same job.

Several of the positions offered by agencies are temporary but can still be used to your advantage as you can prove yourself to the employer and may even be offered a direct position. A temporary role can be taken whilst you look for permanent work or used as valuable experience.

Although you are entitled to paid holiday hours you cannot claim maternity leave whilst working for an agency, you also cannot claim redundancy or file for unfair dismissal so just bear these factors in mind before contacting.

However, overall a recruitment agency can be a great way to find a suitable vacancy. So search your local area and send your CV today!

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Focus Groups for your Business Idea

27 Jul

What are focus groups?

A Focus Group is a market research tool which involves a group of people, usually between 6 and 12, who have been selected to participate in a pre-planned group discussion, and/or Q&A session, to gauge opinion on a product or service. Using a focus group to research your products or service before you start your business, can help you to identify ways to sell or advertise to your target group. It’s also a valuable tool when introducing a new product or service, or to find out how your product or service is being perceived.

 
What are the benefits of organising a Focus Group?

Focus groups can help you to gather a broader range of information than surveys because they allow people to voice their opinions in their own words and add meaning to their answers. They can also generate ideas for improving or adapting your product/service which you may not have considered.

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How do I set up a focus group?

1. Decide on what type of people you want in your group: age, income, gender, employment?

2. Advertise your focus group in a way that’s going to attract the people you want. You could use Facebook, for example, go to community centres or mother and child groups, have a stall in a market and invite people who come to look at your product, put up a poster or invite people you know personally.

3. Arrange a venue for your focus group. It should be somewhere easily accessible, private and quiet enough to talk.

4. Ensure the meeting space is well prepared beforehand i.e. layout, equipment, parking spaces etc.

5. Prepare an introduction which explains the purpose of thee focus group and how it will work

What questions do I ask the group?

goodWork out what information you need. Create a set of questions which will give you this information. Ensure that these are easy to understand and will give you the answers you need. Get someone who does not know what you are doing to look at your introduction and questions to see if you get the right sort of answers.
For example:

  •  Would you use this product?
  • Would you buy this product for yourself?
  • Would you buy this product as a gift?
  • How much would you pay for this product?
  • Would you pay x amount for this product?
  • How would you improve this product?
  • What is your opinion on the packaging of this product?
  • Does the packaging make you want to buy the product?
  • What do you think of the colours used in the packaging?
  • Where would you go to buy this product?
  • Do you have any other ideas about this product?

Online Focus Groups

Running an online focus group eliminates the need for travel, refreshments, and finding a venue. Other advantages could include people feeling more able to speak out as they are anonymous to the rest of the group and can sit in the comfort of their own home.

Disadvantages include not being able to see the body language of the participants, which provides another method of seeing how a product is received.

TIPS

  • Don’t make it last too long – participants could lose focus or get bored

  • If possible, arrange refreshments

  • Don’t make the group too big – you don’t want anyone to feel left out, or unable to voice their opinions

The day to day reality of business start-up

5 May

Starting self-employment as a sole trader, whether it’s as a window cleaner or dog groomer is a long process but completely worth it! It can be hard to know what to expect in the early days so we have spoken to Ritchie, a self-employed car valeter to give us some tips.  


Raising funds:
Your new venture may require specific equipment or start-up essentials and you need to find a way to raise the funds. You might start off by selling unwanted personal goods (I’d recommend your games console as you’ll have less time to play it if you’re committed!) or by asking family and friends for support. There are always start-up loans and banks but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received from those around me.

Gaining new custosprayingmers: No matter what kind of day you’re having or what mood you’re in you must remain polite and presentable with customers. Those first impressions are critical to spreading news of your business and building your customer base.  Never let a customer down by arriving late and remember there are always competitor’s ready to fill your place if you don’t give good service!

Constant commitment: When I’ve finished valeting a car I can’t just make my way down to the pub. I’ve got to think about completing my paper work, meeting new customers, replacing stock and cleaning my equipment. Then there are other duties that might not have been thought of such as visiting the bank, training, buying new equipment and keeping up with industry trends. Just stay on top of your tasks and you will see great reward.

Getting support: It’s ok to not know some aspects of business start-up and there is plenty of support available out there. There are sites such as the HMRC site or organisations like Opportunity Plus (www.opsw.co.uk) that can offer advice or guidance.

It may seem like a lot of work but I LOVE working for myself. I get to meet people from all walks of life, earn my own money and see my business grow. I’m constantly learning new skills and surprising myself without dreading Monday morning!

You get what you put in, persevere through the start-up phase and you will succeed!

Check out Ritchie’s website at http://www.carcareplus.co.uk/

The Work within Wonderland

3 Dec

There are often jobs and businesses that we don’t even think of when looking for work or business ideas, so as we are entering the Christmas season let’s take a look at a well known Christmas song, just to see how many different jobs we can find within the lyrics.

 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

You need a good carpenter or two to make the sleigh from Scandinavian Ash, lumberjacks to cut down the trees and groundsman and land owners to grow them. Paint and varnish manufacturers and wholesalers for these would also be involved, plus a few delivery drivers.

The sleigh bells would be made from metal by a manufacturer, but the metal would be mined, transported and amalgamated. There would also be delivery drivers involved here too, and they may need some mechanics.

In order to listen our ears need to be working. This could involve chemists, nurses, GP’s, receptionists, hearing aid manufacturers, scientists, whole university research departments, government departments for NHS funding, admin, and of course, delivery drivers again. It’s worth mentioning that drivers need roads, so town planners, road workers, highway maintenance, police, electricity workers for lights, power plant workers, cable layers, drainage, etc.

In the lane, snow is glistening

Well, we’ve already looked at the lane and the road workers etc, but now we have snow, so there’s snow plough drivers and their managers, the trainers who teach them to drive it, the awarding body staff who issue the qualification, all the admin staff, internal and external verifiers, the postman who delivers the licence, the sorting office workers, paper mill workers to make the paper the licences come on, ink manufacturers, computer engineers, programmers, website developers, etc. There may also be gritter drivers, wholesalers, producers of sand and grit, makers of sacks for the postman and the grit, people who produce the material for the sacks, cotton growers, the people who sweep the factory floor, forklift drivers.

A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight

Here our medical staff may come into play again, including opticians, lens manufacturers, glass manufacturers, receptionists, advertising agencies, designers, graphic designers.

Walking in a winter wonderland

On come all our medical staff and their support staff, plus shoe manufacturers, leather manufacturers, retailers, designers, farmers, distributers, plastic manufacturers, health and safety officials, clothes manufacturers. Clothes and shoes need to be paid for, so bank staff, card manufacturers, on line security specialists, security officers, wallet and purse manufacturers, people who work in the mint, government officials.

All of these workers need to eat, so farmers, butchers, fruit growers, importers, exporters, chefs, food production factories, packaging manufacturers, gas engineers, stove and fridge manufacturers, waiting staff, kitchen porters. Some of the workers mentioned above may have a few overnight stays, so this will involve chamber maids, hotel receptionists, bar tenders, night porters.

All of the businesses will need a building, so this will involve construction workers, architects, planners, plasterers, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators, roofers, scaffolders, stone masons, quarry workers, steel workers, hard hat manufacturers, work boot manufacturers, people who make eye protection equipment and high visibility jackets, and all the people who make the materials to make these things. Logistic people.

Workers have to get to work, so there are the bus drivers, timetablers, manufacturers of bus stops, bus manufacturers, uniform manufacturers and retailers, upholsterers, ticket machine makers, ticket makers, accountants, Train drivers and all the workers involved in making train travel possible, including track layers and buffet workers.

Car manufacturers, car salesmen, driving instructors, driving test examiners, road sign manufacturers, highway code workers, car part manufacturers, in car air freshener designers.

How many others can you think of?

Sales for your start-up

4 Sep

There are many ways to sell your product or service, whether that’s online, over the phone or face to face and you need to make sure you’re getting the right message across to your potential customers.

Although sometimes you may want to shy away from direct selling, it is extremely effective if you can engage them in your product. Selling and sales techniques can be found call over the internet and in various books. There is no set way to sell something though and it really does come down to you as a person and the way you interact with others. Some will choose a more pushy approach where ‘no’ will not be accepted where as others will be more laid back and let their personalities do the selling. It’s your business and therefore you choose the approach you want take.

A good way of thinking about your sales tactics is to picture the scenario if the roles were reversed. If someone approached you with this product what would grab your attention? Another approach is to think about what NOT to do. There are certain actions which can jeopardize your chances of making a sale and it would be best to avoid them.

As an alternative way of preparing your strategy we have made a quiz – where for the most part, we want you to think about the worst ways to sell and use this is a ground step for creating your sales pitch.

https://www.onlineexambuilder.com/selling-your-product-or-service/exam-35665

If you would like more information or are thinking about coming self-employed please get in touch on info@opsw.co.uk or 0800 043 2440

Body Shop Party

15 Mar

Volunteering in Health are hosting a Body Shop Party on Thursday 20th March to raise funds and awareness.  The party starts at 7pm at The Roundel Club, Station Road, Teignmouth.  To find out more, call 01626 774484 or email vicki@volunteeringinhealth.co.uk

Have you considered Direct Sales?  It is one of the easiest ways to start your own business as you have the backing of a well known brand, and can be great for building your confidence.  Read more about four Mums who have benefitted from doing Direct Sales here.  Find out more about becoming a consultant for The Body Shop at Home here.

Flexi-Mum Project

22 Apr

We are delighted to announce that Flexi-Mum, a pilot project set up by Opportunity Plus South West to support Mums of all ages to develop and improve their work-life balance, has been supported by the Big Lottery and has received an Awards for All grant.  This funding will allow us to inspire Mums of all ages and backgrounds across Devon and Somerset, and beyond, to pursue their goals, and make the most of their local resources.

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We started running Flexi-Mum as part of the second phase of the main Opportunity Plus South West project.  A large proportion of our customers seeking business start up support in the first phase of the project were Mums looking to start their own business to gain more flexibility, or to top up their part time employment income, often using new skills and passions they had discovered since becoming a parent.  Flexi-Mum is designed to support Mums (with children of any age) with the specific difficulties they can face.  This includes things like:

  • Returning to employment after maternity leave
  • Starting your own business
  • Seeking new, flexible employment
  • Volunteering
  • Retraining
  • Choosing to take a career break to focus on parenting

We have been out and about meeting Mums across Devon and Somerset to discuss their needs/worries and have come across a range of inspirational stories and ways of managing work-life balance as a working parent.

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With the funding we have been awarded, we will be publishing three magazines as part of this project, to inspire and motivate Mums.  If you would like to write an article for the magazine, please get in touch.  We are looking for a range of articles, and would love to hear your ideas.  This is a really exciting opportunity for anyone looking to get into any kind of journalism, or wanting to promote their business, or just share their story to inspire others.

You can find out more about Flexi-Mum by following us on Facebook, joining our Facebook group for peer support, and reading our blog.  If you would like to discuss your own situation, call our friendly advisors on 0800 043 2440.

View the Fleximum advert.