Tag Archives: benefits

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

Take the leap into self-employment

23 Jul

You might think that becoming self-employed is not an option in this economy but just look at the facts:

  • Last year 15% of ALL workers in the UK were self-employed.
  • 4.6 million people were self-employed in 2014.
  • 32% of these were women.
  • 43% were aged 50+

The idea of being your own boss is appealing to many, but often people don’t know where to start with the transition to self-employment. Some don’t even realise that their talents or skills can become a new career.

There are two types of business: a service or a product.

Here at Opportunity Plus we have helped many service and product based businesses get started, so we have seen a range of ideas. Cleaning, dog-walking and tradesman are some of the most common services we encounter and cards, jewellery and photographic prints are amongst the products.

With the right knowledge and guidance you too can join the many others who have used their skill or hobby to generate an income.

Once you’ve established what you’ve got to offer, you need to start asking yourself some questions about your possible business.

  • Who’s going to buy it?
  • Why will they buy it?
  • How am I going to sell it?
  • Where will I trade?

Starting a business takes a lot more planning and research than you may at first think, but it’s worth it in the end!

Answering these questions is the very first steps to planning your new career and if you want help developing this and moving through the next stages until you’re ready to trade then get in contact with us and see how we can help you, whether that’s face to face or virtually.

Telephone 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk

Crowdfunding

3 Jul

Crowdfunding may seem like an unknown and scary way to help fund your business but the concept is really very straightforward and is a successful industry with hundreds of platforms. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture via the internet with contributions from a number of people. The projects seen on the sites can range from a newcrowdfunding business idea to a creative project or a charity raising money for a good cause.  Websites act as a platform for people to advertise their project or business and people can invest funding if they think it’s worthy, often receiving a reward or thank-you in return. Crowd Funding as a concept has been around for years, including when work stalled on the Statue of Liberty, individuals came together and pledged small amounts of money to see the project finished.

Not only is it a great way to get the money and investment you need but it is also an amazing marketing and advertising opportunity, getting your business or project out to lots of people.

So how does it work? Well this can depend upon what you want funded. There are different platforms that will be best suited to ‘host’ your idea or business request, most will take a percentage of around 5% of the funds raised.

Some are based on ‘All or Nothing Funding’ where projects must get 100% of their funding request or they get nothing. They usually involve substantially larger goals and are much more likely to be successful at achieving their goals as they provide more detailed information on the campaign. Others are ‘Flexi Funding’ where you keep whatever you raise whether you hit target or not. Both are open to ‘Over Funding’ where you have hit your target and the money keeps on coming in- Great!

Rewards Crowdfunding: Businesses/entrepreneurs pre-sell a product or service to launch a business concept without incurring debt or sacrificing equity/shares. This has worked well for musicians or producers who can offer previews or products to investors who have funded their project.

Equity Funding: The backer receives shares of a company, usually in its early stages, in exchange for the money pledged. The company’s success is determined by how successfully it can demonstrate its viability. A business plan will need to be provided with at least a 3 years’ worth of financial projections.

Charitable/Social enterprise: Charities looking for donations for projects to be funded with little or no reward other than supporting a worthwhile cause.

So, if you are interested in Crowdfunding for your business or project here are some ‘Top Tips’.

  • Choose the right platform
  • Start by sharing with friends/family/current contacts
  • Get your supporters behind you, motivate them and they can spread the word
  • It is important to get off the zero mark early
  • Tell your story- sell your passion- clearly
  • Use videos and pictures
  • Rewards can lead to higher funding
  • Line up a few backers before you start

Good luck!

If you are looking for help with starting a business and want to see how we can help you then please get in touch on 0800 043 2440 or info@opsw.co.uk

 

 

Government Start-up Loans

26 Jun

Start-Up-Loans-new-logo

When starting a business you may find the start-up costs slightly daunting and may prevent you from going ahead with your idea, however there is help out there so don’t give up!

The government offer a business start-up loan service where you can borrow money to cover your start-up costs and also receive useful advice from experts. To help get your business up and running there are a few requirements:

  • You’re aged 18 or over
  • You’ve developed a business idea
  • Your business will be based in the UK
  • You are a UK resident
  • Your business has been trading between 0-24 months

The application will also require you to have produced a business plan and cash flow, which is essentially creating a more detailed plan of your business. You can find templates on their website, along with support. Alternatively you may be able to get help from one our enterprise coaches at Opportunity Plus can run through what you need.

Once you’ve been successful with your application you still get on-going support, and can pay the loan off over up to 5 years at a fixed interest rate.

Don’t think you’ll get accepted? Take a look below to see just how many businesses they’ve helped get going so far, or check out their website – https://www.startuploans.co.uk/

Don’t forget to think about how you’re going to pay the loan back, and only borrow as much as you need.

Start up loans

If you want support and guidance for starting your business then please get in touch on 0800 043 2440 or info@opsw.co.uk

How is an Education and Training course beneficial?

5 Jun

My name is Ann and I teach and assess the level 3 Award in Education and Training for Opportunity Plus. There are a few people out there who have never heard of this qualification and quite a few more who reckon it’s of no use to them as they do not want to work in education.

Well, here’s my view on it:

Firstly, it’s a very enjoyable course, particularly when taken as part of a group. It’s my favourite thing to teach. It’s a great confidence booster and you do learn lots about yourself, as well as the topic. Taking part in the micro teach sessions as a learner is fun and also gives you a chance to learn about things you would not normally consider.

TeachingIf you have ever thought about teaching, or have skills that you would like to share with others it’s a fantastic starting point to a new career, or a stand alone qualification on its own. I got my first teaching job at a college due to possessing this qualification.

However the knowledge and confidence you gain can be put to good use in so many other ways. Are you a manager who regularly holds staff meetings which involves giving instructions? Are you a senior manager whose middle managers might benefit from having this short and useful qualification when dealing with their staff, looking at equality, diversity, individual need and different ways to make information giving fun and meaningful?  This course can give you a basic knowledge of how different individuals learn and respond, and ways to support those who struggle

Why not find out more by contacting our course support team on 0800 045 2440

A Micro-Teach experience – (Education and Training Course)

28 May

As part of the Education and Training course, all learners are required to conduct a Micro-Teach. A Micro-Teach assesses the more practical side of teaching – running a lesson.

This process may seem incredibly daunting to some (including myself at the time) but it’s in fact a great learning experience and thoroughly enjoyable.

I’m the kind of person who’s cheeks will rapidly become a deep shade of red just at the thought of addressing an audience. So the idea of teaching a class of adults really had me biting my nails. However, there was much more to it then standing and stuttering in front of my peers.

There is such a variety of talent within an Education and Training group so you are not given boundaries as to what you must teach in your class, and are encouraged to choose something you have good knowledge on or a hobby. I personally have a background in Art so for me it was an easy choice, at least that’s what I thought until I realised how broad this was.

Seemingly throughout this panic period I had forgotten the importance of planning within the teaching role. Everything started to come into place once we had been given a detailed example of a Micro-Teach lesson plan. Seeing the plan enabled me to think logically about each time slot of the 20 minute lesson and how I could fill it with something beneficial and relevant. Learners are to be engaged by the lesson and get fully involved, so I didn’t have to just stand at the front talking. In fact, it should be 70/30 Learner to teacher activity.

In the end I decided I would hold my Micro-Teach on speed portrait drawing, as this meant I could get everybody involved whilst fitting it into the small time frame. I was lucky that I had a background in such a practical activity as it made the ratio of talking and involvement easier to fulfil. When it came to the day itself there were still some lingering nerves but when I got started with my plan in close proximity it was all worth it.

If you prepare what you’re going to do and your subject then the Micro-Teach can be such a fun experience. The thing to remember is that all your learners on the day are going to be going through the same worried states and will be completely supportive of one another as they are in the same boat. Having the opportunity to watch the other teachers is also a fascinating part of the day and you may even leave with a lot extra knowledge.

All in all, do not fear the Micro-Teach, embrace it and enjoy all the possibilities it has!
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Please contact us if you want to know how to start an Education and training course.