Tag Archives: balance

National Carers Week

6 Jun

A huge 3 out of 5 of us are expected to become carers at some point in our lives. Caring for someone, whether its part time or round the clock can have a huge impact on your lifestyle.

The 6th June – 12th June is National Carers Week, aimed to help the 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK with support, advice and recognition!  As a carer it can be hard to maintain personal relationships, health and work.

We will be at Newton Abbot Racecourse on Wednesday 8th June offering guidance to carers who are looking to get back into employment and providing alternative ideas such as self-employment.

Self-employment can enable you to work flexible hours that suit your caring commitments, whether it’s ironing, dog-walking or a hidden talent you can look to sell your skill and become the owner of your own business.

Opportunity Plus offer a range of free business start-up guidance, so if you are unable to make it on the day then please get in touch on 0800 043 2440 or info@opsw.co.uk to see how we can help.

For more information on National Carers Week or to see how you can help, please visit: http://www.carersweek.org/

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Conquer your job search fears

30 Oct

As its Halloween you may be thinking about things that scare you and we’re doing the same. Fears aren’t always spiders and ghosts though, and some fears can stop you from getting what you want. We have been looking at some of the most common job search fears and how to overcome these.

Fear of being ‘un-hireable’

You’ve worked on your CV and handed it out everywhere; you may have even been called to some interviews but still no one is offering you a position. It’s a situation that can cause you to think you’re not hireable or no one will employ you – this is not the case! If you start to fear this then it can be easy to slow down your job search as you’re scared this theory will be confirmed further. It’s best to take a step back and think rationally about what’s going wrong. Perhaps you need revamp your CV or tailor it more to the positions you’re applying for or ensure the skills you have match the ones needed for the job roles. Just refreshing what you’re doing or making a slight change can make a big difference to your confidence and hopefully you’ll start seeing the benefits.

Interviews

Even the word interview is scary to some and it’s easy to understand why. In an interview you’re put under a lot of pressure to prove that you’re right for the job and it can be stressful for some if not all. To feel more confident and relaxed in an interview it’s all about the preparation. Before your interview you should research the company and find out what they do and what kind of candidate they’re looking for. You can also practice answers for common questions or think example that you’re going to use, this was you won’t feel so on the spot so will come across well. It’s also sensible to search where you will be going in advance so you’re not rushing and to prepare your outfit in advance.

Asking for help

Asking for help or admitting that help would be useful is a scary thing to do. Many people think if you ask for help then you’ll be judged and some are even too embarrassed to admit they are currently looking for work. Being unemployed is not something to be ashamed of (even Steve Jobs has had a period of unemployment) and neither is asking for support. You don’t know how useful the recourses around you can be until you try them. Friends and family may know of upcoming or available vacancies or can even just offer moral boosts to keep the hunt going. You can also seek local help from a company such as Opportunity Plus where we can give professional help and advice for your job search.

My new boss

You might be concerned that your hard work of finding a job may be for nothing if you do not like your employer. Remember that you don’t have to accept a job just because you’ve been offered it and if you’ve had an offer the likelihood is you’ve met your boss already. It’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of working for that person and assessing what your work like will be like. You never truly know how this person will behave until you’re in the role so maybe just give it ago and you might be pleasantly surprised – they did hire you after all.

Stopping benefits

This can be a very real fear for some, particularly if you have been on benefits for a while. Perhaps it has not been easy, but you are managing ok, so now if you get a job your benefits will stop and maybe you won’t get paid for a month – How will you cope? What about your rent? The good news is that there are systems in place to help and support you, for example housing benefit run –on and in work benefits. Don’t let this fear get in your way. Speak to an adviser or seek information from websites such as entitledto.co.uk, gov.uk, and turn2us.org.uk

What if the job doesn’t work out?

You have done really well to get this far and have been offered the role. Now the self doubt kicks in and you start wondering if you will be able to actually do the job. Everyone feels a little nervous when starting something new. Remember that the application and interview process is there for a purpose – employers need to find the best person for the job. There is a reason they chose you. They have faith in you, so have faith in yourself.

If the job is not what you expected it to be, or not want you want to do forever that’s fine. Learn from the skills and experience you are gaining and give it a try anyway. If you still want to change jobs later it is easier to get a job when you are employed than when you are unemployed.

If you want help with any of the issues mentioned please contact us on info@opsw.co.uk or 0800 043 2440

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

Do you have goals, or are they dreams?

13 Aug

Author Mary Anne Graham wrote a blog on the difference between goals and dreams, in which she says:

 “Winning the lottery is a dream.  Making a living as a full-time romance novelist is a goal”

Lottery Balls

A dream is a lovely ‘maybe’ place that we visit to escape reality, for example, seeing all 6 of your numbers come out for the national lottery. It’s a great thing to imagine. You plan how you would spend all of that money, who you would help, what you would buy.

A goal is a target you plan, plot and work to reach, and the work can be hard and relentless at times. This can be a problem.

It’s so easy when creating another hopefully interesting post in order to gain more ‘likes’ on your business Facebook account, to start looking at what your friends are posting, and dream of lazing on that Caribbean beach that your cousin is posing on, drinking rum cocktails and sailing on your yacht.

That will never happen unless you improve your networking, get out there and sell, sell, sell your product or service, and then work, work, work to get the income and repeat business.

It’s easy when adapting your CV for the 50th time and writing yet another ‘stand out’ cover letter to a company you long to work for, to give up, ask yourself if it’s really worth it, go get a cup of hot chocolate and dream about being spotted in the street by the managing director who begs you to come and work for her.

It’s easier to listen to your won’t than your will.

Mary Anne says that “Sometime, when I wasn’t looking, my goals sneaked back into my closet and put on a fuzzy robe and slippers.”

Does this happen to you? Do your goals slip into dreams and stop you getting that job, or starting that business?

As Mary Anne Graham says:

“Whatever your dreams are – do you want to keep them in fuzzy robes and slippers or do you want to suit ‘em up and put ‘em to work?  And if you think your dreams are already goals – be sure to take frequent time to check up on yourself.  Keep your goals in work clothes because no one ever crossed the finish line in fuzzy slippers.”

Mary Anne Graham is a lawyer in California and a Romance writer. She has published books in her own name and her alter ego Olivia Outlaw. Her blog is called Quacking Alone.  http://www.quackingalone.com

Want help achieving your business or employment goals? Call 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk

Our Smart start-up courses

30 Jul

Having just finished our latest free SMART Start up Business programme we are excited to start another this week, meeting new people wanting to start up their business and become self-employed. We have had a range of businesses from land management, jewellery makers to property services.

The course aims to give people the skills and confidence to start up their business, how to overcome some of the challenges of starting up and how to ensure that you have a successful business.

“It is a relaxed atmosphere where you are not bombarded with info but come out feeling very motivated”

The attendees really benefited from the support of others and felt happy to ask questions and share concerns as the learning is done in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Breaking the information down into 4, 3 hour sessions that build on each other makes the information clear and easy to understand and retain. The sessions cover Idea Development, Market Research, Finance and Funding and Marketing and Sales.

“I am due to meet my NEA Mentor next week. Really can’t wait to get things up and running now. Once again, thank you so much to you both for all your help, I found the course so helpful.”

The attendees came on to the course with a business idea and in some cases feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much they didn’t know and how much they needed to do.

One of the areas of concern for all was finance, with tax and registering with HMRC being the top worries. By the end of the session all felt much more confident and were surprised how simple everything can be.   By the end they all had a clear plan of their next steps.

“The finance side was my biggest concern but after today I feel more positive about things”

We really enjoy watching our lovely attendees start moving their dream to a reality, filed with motivation and enthusiasm.

There are courses running in Newton Abbot and Exeter and our ‘Get inspired’ Intensive start up programme is running in Torquay and Paignton and is just for women.  For more information, call Opportunity Plus on 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk

Kasia McClure – Director, Our Community Matters – Blog #1

10 Feb

My journey has been an interesting one. Born in Poland in the 70s, my father was granted political asylum by Germany when I was little, but it took years for my mum and I to follow. When we eventually joined him, I was placed in a school with no German language skills. I had never left Poland – at that time, firmly behind the iron curtain. I was bullied, my parents struggled and the shock was immense. Nevertheless within a year I had immersed and made it into a grammar school. This was when my parents decided to move to Canada, where I had to do it all over again, graduating from high school and eventually becoming a teacher.

I am still a teacher by profession, though along the way I have also been a journalist (in Canada), trade and investment advisor (for the British Embassy in Warsaw) a media assistant (in London) and I worked with foreign national prisoners in Northern Ireland. I have also lived in America and Mongolia. So how did I end up in Torbay? My husband is from the Bay. We worked all over the world as he had a variety of postings, and I was able to teach in most places. When we had children, he was offered a home based job and we decided to move to Torquay, as it is a lovely place to raise a young family. When my second (and final) child turned two, I decided to go back to work and got a job in the Pastoral Team at Ellacombe Academy.

I loved the work but wanted to expand and use my life experience, my qualified teacher status and my love of working with vulnerable children and families for the greater good. I handed in my notice and set about working on establishing my own social enterprise, now known as ‘Our Community Matters’. Four weeks after having left Ellacombe in November last year, I had developed my product concept – and built a prototype website. Many of my contacts and ideas come from the school run, and Helen from Pink Fish Design (www.pinkfish-design.co.uk) was one of these people. Helen came up with wonderful branding and a logo based on my colour pallet and I was starting to build a credible business already.

But what is my product? I wanted to work with the local community in Torbay, particularly with primary and secondary schools, working with children with learning difficulties, those who don’t speak English as their first language, those who struggle to integrate and those who have behavioural problems. I want to help their parents and carers. I want to give teachers and assistants ideas on how to reach these people. I want to make a living, but I want to reinvest most of my profit into the community – hence I am a social enterprise. And I am thrilled to say that with four contracts, 400 twitter followers, a facebook page with over 200 likes and a thriving dialogue with other similar organisations in Torbay and further afield, I couldn’t be happier with how things have started.

To find out more, look at my website, follow me on Twitter @kasiamcclure1 or like and share my Facebook page. Stay tuned for my next blog entry and @boosttorbay!

 

Top Ten Tips for Working From Home

6 Jan

Working from home is a dream shared by many – the thought of that extra time in bed, no road rage, no waiting for the bus – it’s easy to see why! With the growth of the Internet it is becoming easier to work from home at least some of the time. But it’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be – whilst you might at first love the idea of extra time with your family, it can be hard to concentrate and achieve what you need to with children around. Here are our Top Ten Tips for making working from home work for you.

1 – Create a workspace for yourself. It doesn’t have to be an office, it might just be your kitchen table. Get everything you need ready and remove anything that’s not work related. If you’ve got family members at home, make sure they know that this is your work area and they shouldn’t disturb you there.

2 – Get dressed as if you were going to the office. Working in your pyjamas might sound like a dream come true, but it can be hard to get into the right mindset when you’re not dressed the part.

3 – Set aside proper time for work – don’t just squeeze in what you can when your baby is taking a nap – set yourself proper hours and stick to them. Make sure your family know your hours too and don’t disturb you when you are in work mode.

4 – Wash up before you start. Whether you’re working from your kitchen table or an office two floors away, when you’re struggling with your work, housework can suddenly look like a very attractive prospect!

5 – Take a lunch break. Set a proper time for your lunch break and use the time to relax and switch off from work. Try to get out for a walk if you can.

6 – See people! Working from home can get lonely so arrange to meet a friend for a coffee, go for a networking meeting, or go and meet a client as often as you can.

7 – Choose your hours to suit you and your customers. If you know you work best in the morning, get up early, work, and then enjoy your free time in the early evening. If you struggle to get up, start later and enjoy that lie in! But remember that you need to make sure that your hours fit with your customers’ needs.

8 – Be organised. Keep a To Do list and take great pleasure in crossing things off it when they’re done!

9 – Set yourself targets and reward yourself when you meet them. It might just be treating yourself to a biscuit once you’ve sent that tricky email, or it could be buying that jumper you’ve had your eye on for ages after you’ve made a big sale.

10 – Make the most of working from home! Remind yourself why it appealed to you in the first place and make sure you are still getting that benefit. So if you wanted more time with your family, make sure you are spending that time with your family and not just working longer hours. If you wanted lie ins, don’t start work before ten unless you have to. If you wanted to save on travel costs then make sure you’re not spending the same money driving around visiting customers all the time.

If you’d like some support creating your own flexible business opportunity that allows you to work from home, call us on 0800 043 2440.

Still struggling to make working from home work for you?  Find out if there is a Work Hub nearby.  Work Hubs offer desk and private office space on a regular or ad-hoc basis and often have great rates.  Being in a buzzing work environment can help give you the motivation and focus you need to achieve what you want to.  Visit www.workhubs.com for more information.