Wellbeing tips for lockdown 3.0

As we approach February, it’s been nearly four weeks of lockdown 3.0. We know many of our partners are juggling their businesses, home schooling and other responsibilities. So we thought we’d pull together a few tips for taking care of yourself as we approach the next few weeks. One size doesn’t fit all here. We’d love to hear any of your experiences. Every little helps. 

Find the routine that works for you. 

Dolly’s method isn’t necessarily the way to make a living at the moment. We can all be forgiven for ditching the traditional 9-5 and finding the routine that works best around schooling, partner work habits and other responsibilities. 

You might find that getting a few hours in early in the morning is what does it for you. It might be late into the evening once everything else has settled down. Whatever way works for you, make sure you cut yourself some slack. You’re doing your very best. You never know, you might find that your creativity actually thrives outside the traditional working day. This might illuminate you to a new way of working you hadn’t considered before. 

Make time for yourself. 

We know our partners and we know how dedicated you are to what you do. But in the middle of a lot of chaos, it’s so important to remember to carve out some time for yourself in the day. You might get an hour, you might get ten minutes. But remembering to stop, step back and smell the roses (no matter how long for) is so important for maintaining your wellbeing. 

Whether you watch your favourite show, work out, play your favourite video game or simply sit in silence away from a screen for a short time, doing something for yourself in the day will help you to slow down from work. Working from home, especially when you’re a business owner, can make it feel almost impossible to step away from the desk. Remember the importance of a work-life balance. 

Stay connected to others. 

Never has a situation affected so many people around the globe. So the chances are, there will always be someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Part of carving that time out for yourself will include staying connected to your friends and family. It’s easy to start feeling isolated when not leaving the four walls of your house (and the other people in it). 

The Northern Affinity is full of people who share a passion for what they do. Make the most of your community. A number of our partners are in the same boat – juggling managing their business on top of young families at home. When things get tough, reach out. We use several platforms to stay in touch and there is always someone to chat to. While our circumstances aren’t all identical, we’re all in the same wider situation. 

We hope you’re all doing well. While the lockdowns have meant we’ve been unable to do a lot of the things we normally love, they’ve also presented a number of really positive opportunities we may never have had before. 

If you’d like more information about connecting with The Northern Affinity, we’ll soon be expanding across Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire. To find out how to get involved, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Your business new year’s resolutions

The time for writing new year’s resolutions has come around again. Have you decided on any for your business for 2021? We thought we’d take a look at some of the most popular business resolutions and how you can implement them this year to help your business grow and flourish. 

Firstly, let’s start by saying that small changes can often amount to big change in the long run. Often when we set ourselves a number of enormous targets and challenges all at once, our success rate isn’t that great. Best to break it down into small (and most importantly) achievable chunks. 

Delegation 

Most of our partners are small business owners and it’s not uncommon for small business owners to feel like they need to do everything and do it well. Realistically, few of us are true Jack of all trades. Is there room for you to delegate or outsource something that’s taking up too much of your time or that you feel could be done better by someone else? Knowing the point at which to start sharing the load could be the turning point for the growth of your business. 

If you’re feeling nervous about letting go of the reins, like we said, start small. You might only give one job over this year but it’s one job less for you to worry about. 

Attend more networking events. 

Well, this one is obviously going to be slightly strange at the moment. By now, most of us have gotten used to the idea of virtual networking. In fact, we know many of you actually prefer it as it saves you valuable time in travel. 

Why not explore your virtual networking opportunities? And don’t feel like you need to attend every single available one out there. Attending several before you find the right one that’s a good fit and actually brings you business can take time. It’s a real quality over quantity situation. There’s no point spreading yourself too thin for things that aren’t actually going to help you grow. 

At The Northern Affinity, we have several networking events available. Come and get to know other like minded northern business owners. We’d love to see you there. 

Make more time for personal development. 

The old saying goes, ‘everyday’s a school day’. There’s always something to learn. How often do we find ourselves shelving our personal development plans because something else gets in the way. 

Remember what we said about starting small? Practise assigning specific time to your personal development. Even if that’s 15 minutes a day to read a quick chapter of the book you’ve been meaning to read, or starting the podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to.

When your 15 minutes becomes part of your routine, up it to 20. And so on and so on. When we’re busy making things happen, we forget to invest time in ourselves. 

Will you be trying to increase your personal development time in 2021? 

Get your name out there. 

During the first national lockdown, many of you turned your efforts to your marketing. And rightly so. In many cases, that’s something that gets forgotten about. 

Is one of your resolutions for your business to get your name out there more often? 

Whether it’s getting set up on the right channels, executing your dream campaign or growing your mailing list, there’s lots you can do. While we’re in the midst of a second national lockdown, your marketing is going to be one of your biggest assets.

And if you’re not sure where to begin, plenty of our partners are on hand to help

It might not have been the start of the year any of us were hoping for. But we’ve done it once and we’ll do it again. In the face of adversity, there are an awful lot of opportunities as well. The Northern Affinity will be doing everything we can to provide as many events and ways to stay connected as possible. Whether that’s through our podcast, live videos and online events. We’ve got you covered.

Join The Conversation

Spencer Hayes Group, based in Rawtenstall and West Yorkshire, are a Commercial Insurance Brokerage that specialise in risk management solutions by making businesses more resilient against loss.

During the global pandemic, the team have been working tirelessly to help their clients and surrounding businesses receive help and find the solutions they need. Whether it’s creating specific solutions and schemes for businesses, sourcing products, launching new services, collaborations or new jobs – the list goes on.

Although Spencer Hayes Group isn’t alone in this, the entire community has come together to help one another in these difficult times.

Spencer Hayes Group came up with an idea to help save time and help those in need more effectively. The forum is specifically designed for companies and people to list or find offers and advice during this incredibly unique time. Posts can disappear on social media or become lost very easily, this solution is a lot more permanent and listed within the same place.

One of the biggest ways people can use this to their advantage is to help people looking for work, as companies can list that they’re searching for staff. It has been really common for people seeking HR advice and the forum has already seen HR specialists list their offers and give free advice.

The forum is split into industries and is open for anyone to use it. To post, all that you need to do is simply create an account or sign in with your Linked In account. The categories are split into specific specialisms, there’s also a general chat and a free & discounted section completely free for people to use.

The forum makes this extremely easy for people to navigate and find what they’re looking for. Along with giving people the ability to broaden their connections and be able to have general conversations.

Simply follow this link to access the forum, any posts are welcome from any industry, along with any ideas on how the forum can be improved.

If you have any further questions, simply contact pwright@spencerhayesgroup.co.uk

https://spencerhayesgroup.co.uk/ourforums

Strategy: Business, Branding & Marketing

 

Our Partners Anna Short (Boo! Marketing), Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (honest Folk) sat down this week with Michael Edwards (The Northern Affinity) to discuss the vital connection between business strategy, brand & marketing that’s required for a strong & successful business. You can’t have any of these without the other, they work in synergy.

The outcome of this 25 min chat was that post-Covid19, businesses won’t be able to pick up where they left off with their strategy, they need to be rethinking this now, as the world & audiences’ mindsets are already changing. What worked before may not work in the near future – this places SMEs at an advantage as they can be agile enough to adapt quickly.

SMEs can capture the present situation to be relevant, adapt & refine in short stints. Long term plans just won’t cut it, so an ‘in the moment’, simple & practical approach will see you as prepared as can be.

The key takeaway here is to ADAPT NOW.

Make the simple connection between business goals, brand & marketing for a strong & consistent approach with deep-seated & meaningful values that you live & breathe.

Any questions let us know, we’re not an affinity for nothing, we’re here to support one another.

For more information about our featured partners click on their profile below;

Anna Short

Brenda Etchells

Fliss Gibbeson

Think about how you have helped people and not just hitting targets!

For those that know me, know that my background is business development and sales. I also worked predominately in the banking sector and did so around the time of the financial crisis. 

When you work in sales, and in the banking sector, there is a culture of target setting and many workers are set targets depending on the amount of sales they make, or the amount of business they bring in. With these targets come rewards. 

There is no doubt about it; target setting in sales works! I have never met a sales person that has ever achieved great things without some form of targets being set and rewards being granted. 

My main issue however with these points is that as soon as you start bragging about these points, you can start to alienate your customer – and it does not set the right image whatsoever. 

You see, we should all be in business to help one another. Sure, there are monetary rewards and profits to be made – but all of us work as we have a solution to a problem that someone else needs. We just make a profit on that solution. That is business theory brought down to a very basic level. 

Now, there is nothing wrong with making profit. However, the appearance of bragging about making big commissions and ‘smashing your targets’ can really portray the wrong image to your customers old, current, and future. 

Your customers will turn to you to solve a problem that they have in that current time. That should ideally be your main priority as a sales person or business man. If your sole focus is on making commission, making money, or hitting targets is your heart in the right place? Is this how you want your next customers to feel when they walk through your door; just a commission hit, or the next target?

Now, I am not against offering targets or financial rewards where they are justified. These things can work wonders to increase business and to boost profits. They also make a great impact on staff morale and can, if done right, create a great culture to work in. But for your PR and your marketing image these should really remain in house.

Your marketing image and PR view should always be that of helping customers solve the problems they have, to develop long-term relationships with your customers and to offer solutions for your customer needs. 

Hitting targets and earning high amounts of commission should be kept under-wraps and in-house – these elements of success should be hidden from any form of marketing strategy whether planned or unplanned. 

If anything were to go wrong, just like they did during the banking crisis, you only leave yourself open to criticism which will only incur lasting damage upon your brand and marketing message which will be very hard to repair. 

So next time you feel the need to boast about your latest achievements, just think to yourself: “Is this the right message I want to be putting across to my customers?”

The strategy I apply to LinkedIn

Over the years, LinkedIn has grown into perhaps the best social platform for business. There is no denying that.

And over the years, I have developed a strong network that not only looks good in numbers but interacts with me strongly too – I get a lot of daily engagement in the form of comments, debates and conversations.

Which is what social media is for, right? To be social! 

So quite recently I have had people asking me about my strategy on LinkedIn; and it got me thinking. Until this point, I wouldn’t have even said I had a strategy at all. Even now, I would not say I have a strategy as such, or a ‘game plan’ or some kind of tactics that I have pinned up on the wall of my office. 

The more I think about these questions however, the more I start to think about actually what it is I do on LinkedIn that seems to get me the best results. In a nutshell, I like to think of my LinkedIn strategy like that of a standard business networking meeting. 

We have all been to a networking event, right? A good chance to speak with like-minded business individuals, all of whom have their own opinions, and their own insights to life, and their own view points. The same can be said for LinkedIn, and it works for a beautiful analogy.

A networking event always goes better when people are starting conversations and discussions. If you can converse with another business owner, you can open the door to wonderful opportunities and start to develop wonderful relationships. LinkedIn is the same; hide in the shadows, and no one will be able to find you!

We all love to buy from people we love. It can be very easy to post general robotic posts about your business, why your business is so good, and why people should buy from you. But is that personal? Does that kind of post allow your connections to understand you as a person and to start to form a likeness towards you? The more personal, the better. This is social media after all, not a classified ads board. 

If you see something that you do not agree with, move on. Don’t start being the negative one and appoint yourself as ‘head of LinkedIn Police!’ – at the end of the day, you wouldn’t run over to a conversation going on at a networking event and say; ‘please stop talking about your children! This is for business!’

Finally, I always say, keep it social. This is a social media platform after all. If you wouldn’t say it in person, or in public, it is perhaps best not to say it on here. Be professional, be polite, and be yourself. You cannot get it wrong if you just be yourself. 

Unsecured business loans

Every business at some stage of their life will require some form of funding; whether this be at the start up phase or during periods of growth and even perhaps during times of cash flow uncertainty.

If you have ever considered any funding then you may have come across the terms of ‘secured loans’ and ‘unsecured loans’. Both of these loans are completely different and before you make an application it is key to understand the difference between the two. 

Put very simply, secured loans are a credit agreement in which a person may use their property as security. Many people opt for this option if they are a homeowner or are looking for a perhaps cheaper option. Of course, this is outweighed by the threat of losing your home if repayments were not kept up of course!

Secured loans will of course by the nature of the beast not be available for people whom do not own homes but those they are available to can borrow anything from around £25,000 up to around £5,000,000. As with many things in life, the amount you could borrow and the interest available will all differ depending on the individual and the amount of equity available in the home. 

Secured loans can be truly beneficial for those with a not so good credit score and those whom are hoping to borrow larger amounts. There may also be the possibility of going through interest only periods too.

Unsecured loans on the other side are perhaps the most go-to choice for businesses looking for working capital. Unsecured loans are available to everyone with a reasonable credit score and for those whom do not own their own property. These loans can come from banks and other various lenders; primarily online companies and other peer-to-peer providers. 

Unsecured loans offer quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to repayment time periods and normally range from one to five years of fixed payments. On average, the best loan rates are set for people looking to repay their loan over a period of three to five years. Of course, this then means a higher interest rate for shorter-term loans. 

Unsecured loans are normally secured on the terms of a personal guarantee and can allow an individual to borrow anything from £5000 up to £500,000. You may find that unsecured loans are approved very quickly and transfer of funds tend to come through very swiftly too. 

If you are considering applying for some form of business loan then we recommend you take your time and look around for the choice that suits yourself and your circumstances. An unsecured loan may possibly give you the short term option that you and your business needs in a swift manner. A secured loan may give you the chance to borrow more money and allow you to grow or expand your business as best you can. 

If you ever need more advice on loan options for your business have a look at www.eliteedgebusiness.co.uk.

Commercial Property

When starting a business, there comes a time when hunting for a business premises begins. This perhaps may come in the form of an office, warehouse, yard, store fronts etc. However there comes a time when you have to make the decision between leasing a premises and applying for a commercial mortgage. In this short article, allow me to give you an overview to what a commercial mortgage is, and how it may benefit you.

In many cases, applying for a commercial mortgage to be able to purchase your own business premises can perhaps be the best solution for your business needs. 

Of course, a commercial property can support you in getting your own business property however it can also be used to buy an existing business if this is part of your plans; so if you do want to own another business then a commercial mortgage might be right for you.

Taking out a commercial mortgage will help you to make substantial capital gains through capital growth and can help you to make profits much more easily. 

Many people find that a commercial mortgage helps them to receive a stable environment for business planning simply due to the fact that mortgages such as these do not fluctuate in value like rental prices can. Also, you will find that the majority of these loans offer a nice low monthly interest rate which helps businesses to save money which can be put towards other projects within a business. 

Any interest on commercial mortgages is tax deductible which does help with the annual tax overhead that comes with owning a business and can really help with cashflow – something we all know can be tough to manage whilst starting a business from scratch. 

Plus, as mentioned earlier, the value on your business property will appreciate over time. If you were to sell your current property for a higher price an moved on to another location you all of a sudden have some cold hard capital to play around with and either use it to advertise, take on more staff, or perhaps even buy a larger property. 

So if you have ever considered obtaining a commercial mortgage then it may just be one of the best things that you can do for your business and may be a great solution for you. 

We have direct access to an extensive panel of funders that can support anyone from first time buyers right up to experienced commercial property owners. Our experience can help you with the commercial mortgages for any commercial property from offices, care homes, licensed premises, land, warehouses and much more. 

Typically, you can expect terms of anything up to 30 years and up to 80% loans to value or 100% funding depending on additional security – plus with interest only periods too a commercial mortgage may give you the best start to business, or give you a strong stepping stone for your expansion plans.

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