I get to wear a floaty dress and I need your support

It’s Day 55/90…of my personal #90DayChallenge to reach fitness and lose weight. This coincided with me being selected to take part in Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice Strictly Christmas in December. A great opportunity to combine my own personal fitness challenge with raising money for a great local charity. However, I need your support to reach my £500 fundraising target.

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Well despite losing 7lbs in the last two weeks, I’ve hit a bit of a plateau. I blame the solar eclipse for the fact that I lost my mojo. Yesterday was all about hot chocolate and cake! I never eat cake but for some reason yesterday I just needed it, so I had it. I also had wine! For me it’s all about choices and not about deprivation. Sometimes we all need a little bit of what we desire along the way.

Today’s a different story…I’ve had yoghurt and fruit and I’m off for a run later. My goal is to run 5k by the end of my #90DayChallenge.

Most Saturdays I volunteer at Parkrun Coventry. I’m the one in the yellow vest being a marshall with my dog (AKA Marshall Dog). We are usually positioned at the bottom end of the War Memorial Park. If you’re passing give us a wave.

It will be a different story in a couple of weeks when I am on the volunteer roster for my first tail walker/runner role. If anyone wants to join me, you are more than welcome. I will be the one at the back with Marshall Dog. The last time I did this was the same day I broke my ankle so this is a huge milestone for me, both physically and mentally.

Meanwhile…

The excitement about Strictly Christmas is building as each Contestant is being revealed over the course of the coming days/weeks. You can follow all of the progress and reveals on the Strictly Christmas Facebook Page.

My excitement is building too as I realise that I get to wear one of those floaty dresses to dance in.

Strictly Christmas is organised by volunteers to raise vital funds for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry. Tickets are already on sale for the evening show on 9th December and for the lunchtime show on 10th December. As well as an impressive line up of judges, including Anna Kennedy OBE who featured in the first People’s Strictly for Comic Relief, you will also get to  see some of the dresses worn by celebrities and dancers of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing! (Exact dresses to be confirmed)

If you want to know why I’m supporting this challenge you can read all about it here.

In the meantime, I need your support to help me reach my target of £500. I will be posting regular updates about my progress and you can support me via my JustGiving page

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Follow Strictly Christmas on Facebook and Twitter

I’m Running! My ‘Strictly Christmas’ training regime in aid of Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!I am on Day 43/90…of a personal #90DayChallenge I set myself to reach fitness and lose a bit of weight along the way. This coincided with me being selected to take part in Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice Strictly Christmas in December. What a great opportunity to combine my own personal fitness challenge with raising money for a great local charity.

I am now walking most days, counting my steps and eating a healthy diet.  However, a huge leap for me last week was signing up for the Couch to 5K “Run Like a Girl” (RLAG) 8 week challenge organised by Sky Blues in the Community through their In it Together project.  So last Monday I turned up feeling slightly nervous at the War Memorial Park, along with 150 other local women, in my trainers ready to commence Week 1.

I don’t really know what I was expecting…perhaps a few breathing exercises, maybe a few stretches or even a talk about how we were going to build up to the magical 5k?  I certainly wasn’t expecting to actually run on Week 1!

However, I soon got into the flow of the 90 second runs and 2 minute walks which I generally used to gasp for air before we set off again.  The biggest challenge for me was trying to forget about my ankle and once I got over the mental hurdle of actually running on it, I enjoyed it.  In fact, the more I did, the easier it became until I was actually quite disappointed when the final whistle went at the end of the last 90 second run.

Now just to clarify…when I say run, I mean a sort of gentle jog. To me it was running, it was definitely faster than my walking pace as I couldn’t speak while doing it, so it definitely counts as a run….a whole 3.4k and over 5,000 steps. So I am actually looking forward to Week 2.

All this activity must be working because I jumped on the scales last week and dropped 5lbs!

Strictly Christmas is organised by volunteers to raise vital funds for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry. Tickets are already on sale for the evening show on 9th December and for the lunchtime show on 10th December. As well as an impressive line up of judges, including Anna Kennedy OBE who featured in the first People’s Strictly for Comic Relief, you will be able to see dresses worn by celebrities and dancers of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing! (Exact dresses to be confirmed)

If you want to know why I’m supporting this challenge you can read all about it here.

In the meantime, your support would be greatly appreciated. I will be posting regular updates about my progress and you can support me via my JustGiving page

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Follow Strictly Christmas on Facebook and Twitter

It’s official! I’m very excited to be a contestant in ‘Strictly Christmas’ in aid of Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice

This is the start of a huge personal challenge for me having recovered from a badly broken ankle last year.  Little did I know that I would spend 6 months on crutches, gain over 2 stone in weight and face almost 18 months of pain, coupled with the inability to walk properly.

30 days ago I started my own personal #90DayChallenge to fitness. Over the last 30 days I have been walking almost every day and, although I still have some pain, I can now easily walk 5k (in trainers).

The next 60 days are all about preparation for the intense training for Strictly Christmas. I will be eating healthy and my gym visits will be less about chatting, eating and drinking coffee and more about actually entering the gym to do a workout. The dance training commences in early October.

So why Strictly Christmas? Basically, I am a supporter of Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in Coventry. I help through a variety of local business activities to raise vital funds each year for the charity. However, I wanted to do something personally and this seemed a great way to do it. The event is organised by a group of volunteers and I am one of 20 contestants taking part. Tickets are already on sale for the evening show on 9th December and the lunchtime event on 10th December.

I’ve always wanted to be able to glide effortlessly across a dance floor…Strictly style. In my head I’m the most amazing dancer with great rhythm and footwork, usually after a few glasses of wine! However, the harsh reality is that I  leave a trail of trodden toes, stumbles and I’m sure that I resemble an elephant with two left feet. Quite simply, I can strut my stuff on my own but put me with a partner and it all goes to pieces. I can’t wait to meet my dancing partner…I hope he has the patience of a saint and protective footwear!

I will be posting regular updates about my progress and you can support me via my JustGiving page

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A Few More Networking Tips for Success…

Face to face networking is still one of the best forms of engagement to generate, nurture and retain relationships.

networkingIn my earlier posts Networking Tips for Success and More Networking Tips for Success I shared the benefits of networking and some general tips for success. Here are a few more tips to get the most from your networking.

To ensure that you maximise your opportunities at each event, some advance preparation is key. These few simple tips should prepare you for attending your next networking event:

  1. Phone up the organisers and ask for more information about the event, its format and how many people usually attend.
  2. Find out what the dress code is. Is it a relaxed event or is business dress required?
  3. Be certain of what you want to achieve and set yourself some goals.  For example; “I will connect with three new people“.
  4. Prepare your pitch, if appropriate. Some networking events allow you to make a pitch or presentation of 40-60 seconds. Be prepared!
  5. Ensure that you have plenty of business cards or marketing materials with you. There is nothing worse than being asked for your card and not having one to hand.
  6. Look in the mirror before you leave! You would be surprised how many people have a wardrobe malfunction or something stuck in their teeth. You don’t want your new contact to be distracted. You want them to listen to what you are saying.
  7. Check the address of the venue, look up the location, directions and parking arrangements. You would be surprised how many people get this wrong and arrive late and flustered because they were convinced it was somewhere else or couldn’t park easily.

These and many other tips are an extract from 101 Networking Tips by Sandra Garlick, due for publication shortly.

Sandra Garlick, a former Solicitor, is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Trainer and Public Speaker. Sandra frequently speaks on various business growth topics including “Networking for Success“. Sandra will be speaking at the FSB’s B2B Expo about “How to raise your profile by networkingon Tuesday 10th January 2016 at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. You can book your free place here.

Follow Sandra on Twitter @SandraGarlick @SGBusConsulting

www.sandragarlick.com

Do you overpromise and underdeliver? Vital things to consider before you agree a sale

Have you ever found yourself getting overexcited at the prospect of securing a new piece of client work or making a sale?

broken-dealIt is so easy to get carried away during those initial discussions and promise the earth with little regard for whether you can actually deliver. Early negotiations are vital in sealing the deal and sometimes, business owners can get a little carried away with the “can do” attitude of wanting to do the very best they can for their client or customer to get the sale.

So, when it comes down to finally putting what has been agreed down on paper (or not as is often the case), there is a sudden realization that you may not be able to deliver what was promised on time, or in some cases not be able to deliver at all!

Here are just a few things to consider:

Do I have the resources to deliver?

This could be raw materials or people, or a combination of both. In fact, for the small business the only resource could be you? If you sell a product, you may make it yourself or you may need to ensure that you have appropriate raw materials in stock. What is the turnaround time to get the raw materials from a supplier? Are you reliant on a team member undertaking the work, do they have capacity or maybe they are currently on annual leave? What other client work do you have to deliver within the timescale proposed?

Do I have the time to deliver in the timescale promised?

So as well as needing the resources, do you actually have the capacity to turn this order around? You must remember that each of your clients or customers believes that they are your most important customer. They are! You need to ensure that they feel that way and manage their expectations from the outset. There is nothing wrong in saying, “Yes I can do that for you but we have a two week wait list” or “We have a 28-day turnaround”. The most important thing here is communication and not promising to deliver something the next day, where you clearly can’t and it will only lead to disappointment.

Remember, if you deliver a service, there are only so many deliverable hours in a working day or you will end up working through the night to meet a deadline.

Do I have the expertise?

When you are starting out in business, it can be tempting to accept every piece of work that comes through the door. Sadly, there are occasions where you are clearly not qualified or simply don’t have the skills or resources to deliver. What then? Do you muddle through and deliver a poor standard of work on the basis that it’s the best you can come up with? Do you outsource and give away your profit margin, or worse, end up paying out more than your profit margin? Worse still, do you fail to deliver completely? Think carefully whether you have the required expertise and skill beforeyou agree to take the work.

Am I communicating?

Things happen. If something does crop up, or prevents you from adhering to your original delivery date, let your client or customer know. If you manage their expectations throughout the process, they are more likely to understand and delay. You may not have the capabilities within your business to have an Amazon style tracking process, but communication via email or a telephone call is the next best thing.

Do I have the agreed terms down on paper?

It is always advisable to have a good set of terms and conditions that apply to your product or service with clear delivery times set out, including payment terms and other key trading provisions. Anything that is agreed between you should be clearly set out. It is where you promise over and beyond these terms that things can get tricky. Be wary of downloading or copying other people’s terms and conditions. These should be drafted and tailored for your business.

Am I going to get paid?

Whilst outside the scope of this article, receiving prompt payment for the work you undertake is crucial for your cash flow. It is essential to charge an appropriate sum for the work you undertake, considering your expertise and the urgency in which it is required. Furthermore, does the customer or client have the ability to pay and will they pay on time? This is so often overlooked. If possible, get a percentage of the payment up front and ensure that you chase overdue payments.

Running through these few simple points before you say “yes” to the sale, can save you time, money and several sleepless nights.

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Public Speaker and Trainer. She works with small business owners on planning and strategy to accelerate growth.

Follow Sandra on Twitter @SandraGarlick

 

 

 

 

Do Business Breakfasts prejudice Women in Business?

Bacon RollBefore I ruffle a few feathers, I should say that I am not a great advocate of business breakfasts, largely because they occur at an untimely hour and disrupt my day. Additionally, I do not eat bacon baps or “batches” (if you live where I do), nor do I eat cooked breakfasts, except on very rare occasions.

I am actually more productive and innovative during the mornings.  If I attend a breakfast meeting, especially an early one, it throws out my whole working cycle and I am less productive that day.  However, that’s just me.

The reason for this post is that I saw a recent photo on Twitter from a local business breakfast.  It was extremely well attended.  However, I had to try really hard to see where the women were.  I managed to spot a few.

So what are the possible reasons for poor attendance by women in the mornings at some of these events?

  1. Women are still more likely to deal with childcare, the school drop or carer duties;
  2. It takes women longer to get ready in the mornings;
  3. Lack of confidence;
  4. Women are unaware that the events are taking place.

There may be more reasons and I know some great weekly breakfast groups that have a regular attendance by women in business.  However, I also know that many of these women have no childcare or carer responsibilities.

So what is the answer?  

Whatever time of the day you hold a networking event you are going to disadvantage a certain group. However, the next time you do, please bear in mind that many women work part time hours/days, have family commitments and other reasons that prevent them attending breakfast meetings.

Sandra Web 2Sandra Garlick is a Business Consultant working with businesses on business growth and strategy. Sandra also assists with event management and regularly speaks on marketing topics including networking tips.