The Northern Affinity (Virtual) Partners Meeting – Friday 27th March 2020

The Northern Affinity is all about community and support and never has this been more important. Many of us have had to make adjustments to the way we work at the moment. We know there are many of you juggling work with bouncing children and we salute you! We’re all in this together.

Despite the hurdles, we were so thrilled to be joined by so many of our partners at this month’s meeting. Thank goodness for Zoom, right? 

Protecting your intellectual property.
The meeting’s theme took the theme of protecting our businesses, particularly during these strange times. We first heard from Matt Sammon at Sonder IP. Often, when we think of intellectual property, we think of trademarking a logo or name. Matt took us through the many other components of your business that might be worth protecting. For example, colours or moving images as well as your company designs and website content. But why should we bother? Well, there’s many advantages to it as Matt explained. Not only will it give your business continuity, it protects your investments and helps future proof your assets. In addition, the improved continuity will help your commercial appeal.

Protecting your website.
Next up, we heard from Phil Storey who walked us through his new app, Glow. Much like a car needs a regular MOT and service, so does your website and that’s where Phil and his team step in. It’s worth noting that Glow is only available for WordPress sites however, you can easily check whether your site is compatible or not on Glow. Investing in your website maintenance could save you a great deal of hassle down the line, as we found out from Phil’s case study. The client didn’t take up the monthly plan and then found themselves in the middle of an enormous hack and ultimately had to commit to rebuilding their website from scratch – ouch! 

Phil kindly left us with a few tips for protecting our websites that we can easily do at home. 

  1. Always change the default login. 
  2. Always update plugins
  3. Always change the default username
  4. Use a strong password. 

Thank you to both Matt and Phil for sharing some really valuable knowledge with us. If you’d like to present at a future partner meeting, please contact Michael. 

Update from Michael.
We wrapped up the meeting with a few words from Michael on how we can continue to support one another through the next few weeks. To all our partners, please continue to make use of the Whatsapp group and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or arrange a Zoom call, even if it’s just for a quick chat and a virtual brew. Michael has also curated a Twitter list where we can continue to share, like and support each other’s social media posts. 

We have recently set up Workplace by Facebook which is another social hub for us all to chat and share ideas. You can use Workplace even if you don’t have a Facebook account. 

Finally, we quickly discussed the available grants and schemes the government has announced for those who are self employed. We are lucky enough to have several partners based in finance who are happy to answer questions on this for those wanting some more guidance. Please see our partners to see who you can connect with. 

Remember, we will be hosting a series of webinars throughout next month as part of our April Business Booster. You can find more details on our Eventbrite page.

Thank you again to everyone who joined in this morning! We’re learning everyday and will be back with you next month for the next meeting. Wishing you all the best of luck and please stay in touch!

Why has coworking become so popular?

There has been a significant increase in the amount of coworking spaces appearing all over the country. Statistically, the amount of people using a coworking space has risen year on year. We thought we’d take a closer look at why coworking has been gaining popularity and what you as a freelancer or small business stand to gain. We discussed the increase in self employment and freelance work in our previous blog

Firstly, what is coworking? It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot but what does it actually mean? There are a few definitions out there, but we thought this summed it up nicely.
‘Coworking is working together under one roof, using the same resources but for different companies.’

Keep you and your business looking and feeling professional.

When freelancing or working as part of a small team, we often start out with an idea at our kitchen table. Part of growing your business can be making the decision to leave the kitchen behind and venture out to the big wide world. 

We’ve all been there. Meeting clients at random coffee shops and cafes. Coworking spaces can provide that professional feel to your meetings. They will often provide meeting room spaces with refreshments for you to host your clients comfortably and professionally. A lot of the time, they are located in a central, convenient location, making it easy for your clients to meet with you. 

As your business begins to grow, you’ll probably want to start thinking about having a fixed office address to protect your privacy. Using a coworking space, you will often be able to utilise virtual office services, giving you a fixed address and phone number and potentially storage for your business. Not only this, it will increase your company’s legitimacy

Meet and collaborate with others in your field.

Coworking spaces will often house others in a similar position to yourself. The spaces are much more than just a desk in a building. Newer offices tend to boast a modern environment to boost a creative and productive atmosphere. 

Put your brand in front of people that can help you with exposure. You never know who you might find in there, too! There might be just the service you’ve been waiting for to move your business on to the next level. Users of coworking spaces often have access to additional events, workshops or seminars to help you grow as a business. All of these events are a fantastic way of meeting like minded professionals both in your industry and others. 

Working solo can be isolating. Coworking spaces have allowed freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs to build new communities and soundboard their ideas. Partners of The Northern Affinity are able to use our designated coworking space, The Northern HQ as part of their package. The NHQ is a place for our partners to come and work, share ideas and catch up with other members of the community. 

You can find out more information on The Northern HQ on the website.

How to stay motivated during business challenges.

Any business has its challenges, there’s no doubt about it. Many of our partners in The Northern Affinity are self employed or part of an SME. These often pose their own unique ups and downs. How do we stay motivated when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road? We thought we’d compile a few tips and tricks to keep you going when the going gets tough. 

Set short term goals.

We all have big goals for our businesses, there’s no doubt about it. Ambition is imperative to driving a successful business forward. However, sometimes in challenging times, those goals and aspirations can feel a million miles away. Setting a list of short term goals will help to plan out your days and, more importantly, give you a sense of achievement at the end of them! 

If you know you want to double your annual turnover in 5 years, break that down into smaller manageable chunks. This way, you can devise a realistic and achievable action plan and get your mojo back. Whether it’s a bad day or a bad week, reaching those mini victories is a fantastic way of keeping your business moving forward. 

Remember to take care of yourself.

70 million work days are lost every year because of mental health related issues. Pretty alarming, right? 

When we start out in business, we often forget about looking after number one. Understandably, we put our hearts and souls into making ourselves and our companies a success but this means we sometimes forget to put the same effort in to ourselves and our own wellbeing. 

If you’re finding yourself becoming unmotivated or disillusioned, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’re doing right by yourself. After all, a car can’t run when it’s all out of fuel. The ‘SHED Method’ is a practical way of checking in with yourself to find out whether you’re performing at your best. Put some time back into you so you can maximise the time you put into your business. 

Relight your fire. 

This may be the simplest of advice but often the hardest to heed. It’s really hard to stay motivated during challenging times if you lose sight of the reason you started. Motivation without underlying desire will only get you so far. 

At times like these, it’s useful to have nailed down your business mission, vision and values. Being able to refer back to these will be useful during difficult periods. You will remember why you started. 

Despite living in a world where we now expect instantaneous results, business is not an easy route. There will always be challenges whether you’re a multi million pound cooperation or just starting out with your first business. Results take time and effort and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. In The Northern Affinity, we hope we provide a support network to our partners; a soundboard for new ideas and a shoulder to lean on during the tough times. You can read more about finding your business tribe in our previous blog.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 28th February 2020

Last Friday, The Northern Affinity welcomed some new faces for the first time in an open partner meeting. Thank you to everyone who came along. It was great to meet new faces and catch up with old ones. The theme of the day was protecting and growing your business. We were lucky to hear from several of our partners who delivered insightful and interesting presentations. 

Most of us get into business because we want to turn our passion into a reality. But that doesn’t always mean we’re the experts on everything to do with business. Luckily, we have partners who are on hand to help.

Firstly, we heard from Alex and Andy from ABL Business who gave us a practical guide to cash flow and why it’s important. Anita and Andrew (I Credit Management LTD) took us through how to keep your cash flowing to keep your business breathing. We then heard from Jeff Dunn of Spencer Hayes Group. His case study explored the importance of making sure you have the right commercial insurance. Finally, Gary Lumb (Yorkshire Rose Financial Planning) and Martin Hibbert (Alexander Calder) gave an insightful presentation on how you can protect you, your business and your future. Thank you to all of you for your time and expertise. 

Thank you to Aspire Igen who provided a fantastic buffet lunch for the event. Aspire Igen is a Yorkshire based social enterprise committed to helping change lives through access to education and work. You can find out more on their website.

The Northern Affinity News

We are planning to host a large number of future workshops, networking and training events at The Northern HQ and at least one other venue. These sessions will be £20 per person for two hours. Those interested in hosting a workshop should contact Michael for further details.

The Northern Affinity will also be expanding our services and switching up how we can help our partners going forward. More details of this will be unveiled at the April partners meeting.

Had a big breakthrough? Won a great new client? Please tell us! We want to hear all your good news. Please email Michael with any updates and we will help you share the news on social media.

The next meeting will be another open meeting on Friday 27th March 2020 at The Northern HQ

March Events and Workshops: 

Strategy – Business Plans and People Plans – Wednesday 4th March 2020

Introduction to The Northern Affinity – Thursday 5th March 2020

In Business – Marketing for busy small business owners – Thursday 12th March 2020

Declutter and Digitalise Your Workspace – Friday 13th March 2020

In Business – Networking – Tuesday 17th March 2020

Social Media Audit Masterclass – Friday 20th March 2020

Effective Leadership Skills – Wednesday 25th March 2020

Co-working open day – Thursday 26th March 2020

For further details on The Northern Affinity, becoming a partner or any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

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