Tag Archives: work-life 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/

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?

10 things to do in your extra hour this Autumn

23 Oct

It’s coming up to that time again when the clocks change and the atmosphere suddenly feels like autumn or winter. On Sunday the 25th October at 2am the clocks will ‘fall back’ to 1am. A lot of people will probably think this is the perfect time to get an extra hour in bed (if the children allow you to) but whether your employed, self-employed or looking for work there are some much more productive things you can be doing with your extra hour to get you ready for Monday and feeling great. Here at Opportunity Plus we’ve created our top ten things you can do with your time instead of staying in bed:

  • Learn how to say ‘Good Morning’ in 10 languagesIMG_1673
  • Update and re-write your CV
  • Create a playlist of motivational music
  • Carve a Halloween pumpkin
  • Make a list of your goals for the next 6 months
  • Clean out and organise your emails or social media
  • Do a SWOT analysis of yourself
  • Relax yourself with some yoga
  • Review and update your weeks to-do list
  • Make a pumpkin pie

However you spend it, enjoy your extra hour!

If you’re looking for help with employment or self employment please get in touch on info@opsw.co.uk. We won’t be here at 2am on Sunday but will reply as soon as we can.

Share Your Return To Work Story

26 Feb

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a real worry, no matter what your family and job situation. There is so much to think about, and everyone’s worries will be different. It’s important that you consider your options but don’t let these worries take over your maternity leave – it’s such a special time and you should enjoy getting to know your baby. If you have any concerns about returning to work, please get in touch with us for free helpful tips and advice, or just someone to talk to. Call us on 0800 043 2440, or join our friendly Flexi-Mum group on Facebook.

  • How will my baby cope without me all day?
  • How can I sit still and concentrate all day?
  • What am I going to wear?
  • What are “Keeping in Touch” days?
  • Which childcare option is best for me?
  • What hours do I want to work?
  • What if my baby is poorly?
  • How on earth am I going to get to work on time?
  • When should I go back?
  • I’m not as passionate about my job as I used to be!
  • How will I cope without my baby?
  • What are my rights?
  • I don’t remember how to do my job!
  • I’m so tired, how will I get through the day?
  • Will I have to stop breastfeeding?
  • How flexible will my employer be?
  • Will I get any in-work benefits?
  • Can I afford not to go back?
  • Can I afford to take a full year off?

Most Mums on maternity leave have asked these questions, and many more. Luckily, most of these Mums find a solution that works for them, their children and their employer, and many more find that going back to work allows them to regain their own identity, which can get a little lost when they become a Mum. We would love to hear your stories about returning to work, your worries and how you overcame them. Please email us at info@opsw.co.uk to share your story – we might even feature you in a future edition of our Flexi-Mum magazine!

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!

 

Best of Both Worlds

30 Dec

It can take time for a business to get off the ground and start bringing in enough profit to create a real income.  In the first few months of trading, most of your profits will go back into the business – buying more stock, equipment, or marketing materials.  Therefore many small business owners choose to start up whilst continuing in employment as well.  This provides the reliable income of employment, giving you time to build up your business over time, the way you want to.  Depending on the business you are starting, you may be able to continue working full time, or want to change your hours to part time.  Alternatively, you may be working part time and need or want to supplement your income and hours.

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Jo Abram has worked with disabled people for over ten years, but in 2012 decided to follow her dreams and open Jo Joe’s – her own vintage clothes shop in Bideford, North Devon.  She continues to work part time to subsidise her self employed income.

“I decided to leave my corporate job, move back to Bideford and set up Jo Joe’s at Butchers Row  – they have small retail units which are ideal for a start up business, they are priced at £100 per month and are small enough for you not to feel too overwhlemed! I also work part time helping people with learning difficulties find employment – I think it’s important to say that unless you have lots of savings or a rich husband (who does!!) that it is unlikely that you will earn enough on one of these units to live on, so most of us there work part time elsewhere too.”
“I don’t miss being employed full time but I must admit I do like the balance between running the shop and office work 50/50. I have worked with people with disabilities for 10 years and I am glad to still be involved in this type of work, there may come a time when I go full time in the shop but I actually enjoy the variety of having two jobs at the moment.”

You can find Jo Joe’s at http://www.facebook.com/jojoesretro.co.uk

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Laura Gamble created her own beautiful paper bouquet for her wedding, and after receiving lots of positive feedback, decided to start her own business – A Paper Rose.

“As a classroom assistant I’m sort of spoilt with my hours, I work 8:30 – 3:30 – so can get an hour of work done each day when I get home, before it’s time to make dinner etc. I also have the school holidays to work on the business – which is great. I usually spend an evening or two per week working on A Paper Rose and try and do a few hours on a Saturday. It depends how many orders there are or if a wedding fair is coming up.”

apaperrose.co.uk

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As well as working as an Enterprise Coach for Opportunity Plus South West, Chloe Myers runs her own small business selling baby slings.

“I love that there is no pressure on me to make a full income from my own business, it is something that I can enjoy and put in as much work as I want to, when I want to.”

http://www.go-sling.co.uk

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Many people worry that they will have to pay higher rate tax on a second job (or self employment alongside employment).  In fact, you should not be paying any more tax than if you had the same income from one job.  Everyone has a tax-free personal allowance which they can earn before they start paying tax.  Generally this would have been used in your first job, so you will be paying a higher percentage of your earnings in tax in your second job.

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Thinking of starting your own business?  Why not check out the range of Business Start-up Courses available with Opportunity Plus UK.  They are full of ideas and inspiration for a range of business ideas, as well as all the information you need to get up and running.