Tag Archives: community

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/

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/

Mixing business with pleasure…

3 Mar

Should you include hobbies and interests in your CV?

It’s a question that we get asked a lot. Do recruiters really want to know about what we get up to in the evenings or at the weekends? Well yes, they might well like to know a bit more about you and your personality. Any hobby or interest that you put on your CV should be relevant, well written and could make the difference between you and another candidate should it come down to the wire.

dogs

So maybe your love of extreme dog grooming may not seem like the sort of thing your employer might want to know about you, however if you are going for a job as a dog groomer or working with animals, dogs in particular, then it might just show them that you have got a genuine interest in their line of business.

Your hobby should reinforce your application and may also show that you have transferable skills that you can bring to the workplace. For example coaching your local football team shows that you have motivational skills. If you are the president or leader of a group or club this would be useful to add when going for a management position.

It can also make a difference how you write about your hobby e.g. a friendly kick about every Friday could be “Organising and participating in a 5-a-side football league”.

Try and avoid any generic hobbies such as socialising with friends or eating out as these won’t show your true personality or add anything to the CV. If you find that you don’t have any hobbies it is best to leave this section out altogether rather than adding it just for the sake of it.

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?

Colour influences for your business

12 Nov

As autumn turns into winter and we say goodbye to the lovely autumnal colours, it’s worth having a think about the colours we use to promote our business.

Colours often have a profound subconscious effect on people, and this is definitely something to bear in mind when choosing logos, websites, leaflets and branding for your business, or even the colours you wear when conducting your business. Having an understanding of colours can give you a useful tool to get the best response to marketing and promotion.

Obviously you will want to choose colours that you like, and you certainly do not need to use a colour that you dislike – after all, you need to be passionate about every single part of your business. There is always more than one combination of colours that will suit and assist your needs. It is best to have more than 1 colour, but avoid having too many in the mix as they may cancel each other out.

Yellow is great for fun and products or services aimed at children. It keeps people moving. It’s not advisable to use it forcolourwheel expensive products or if you are trying to convey stability.

Orange depicts adventure, risk taking and confidence. It stimulates appetite and conversation. It has a create flair, but consider using it sparingly if you have a high-end product or service, as it can also be cheap and superficial.

Red is the colour of passion, energy and excitement. It is an action colour. It can also be domineering and aggressive, so think about whether it will suit your target customer.

Pink is caring, sensitive and emotional and often represents love and romance. It is useful for attracting a feminine market, but can depict passion and energy in its more vibrant, deeper shades. It could also appear immature or girly.

Purple represents wealth, extravagance and fantasy. It is a very creative colour and can be used to denote a high-end product or service, but it can also appear aloof, arrogant and impractical.

Blue is the colour of reliability, trust and confidence. It is can depict a dependable business image, and is often used for technology, education and cleaning businesses. It may not work for the food industry, as there are few naturally occurring blue foods. Depending on the shade you use, it could be perceived as too conservative if your target customer group is young and modern.

Green is associated with growth, nature and money. It can appear nurturing and practical, with flexibility. It can depict something new and fresh, depending on the shade. Be wary of dull, olive shades as these can be quite negative. Green can also be seen negatively as greed and selfishness.

There is a lot of information out there on the psychology of colours and how they can help to market your business. It is worth taking a little time to do your research and decide what works best for you and your business before you spend money on a website, leaflet or even business card. http://jasonathen.com/color-meanings-in-business/

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

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