Monthly Archives: April 2014

Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: H is for Holiday

Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: H is for Holiday

In my corporate days I used to get 25 days’ holiday plus bank holidays every year, and I though I was hard done by.  Why didn’t I get more time off?  I worked really, really hard after all.  When I started running my own business, that fell to 10 days plus bank holidays (if I wasn’t doing paperwork) even though I was still working really, really hard.  Four years in, it’s back to 25 plus bank holidays.  I’m not less busy than I was; I’ve just realised that I need time off to rest, recover and replenish my energy levels – see  my previous post “E is for Energy” here:

I also need time to think, to look at some of the issues I’m facing in my business, take decisions, make plans, set priorities.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that holidays are a luxury when in reality they’re a necessity.  They’re the first thing that go into my diary every year and they’re set in stone.  I don’t necessarily go anywhere exotic, it just helps to take time away from the business.

The truth is, if you’re too busy to take a holiday then you’re doing something wrong.  Look at your time management and delegation skills.  Think about how your prioritise.  Do you really need to be doing everything yourself?  The answer will be no.  Honestly.

Do yourself a big favour and book some time off today.  Do it now, plan for it, schedule your activities and clients around your break.  It can be done and you’ll feel so much better for it.  Give yourself permission to let go for a few days.

I do a lot of work with people who put their needs last.  If you’re one of them, book a free session today – it will help you put things back in perspective.

Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: G is for Goals

The Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: G is for Goals

All coaches talk about setting goals and targets, making sure they’re SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) or SMARTIE (SMART plus inspiring and emotionally rewarding).  Why do we do that?  It’s a fact that we all need something to aim at: research has shown that people are happier and more successful when they have set themselves objectives.  However I think that we should take care when setting our goals for the simple reason that we’re not all the same – what motivates one person will cause another real anguish.  So when I start working with a client I find out what makes them tick.  Some people are motivated by really challenging goals, the harder the better.  Others are easily demotivated if they miss their targets and so the goals have to be a bit of a stretch, but achievable.  Some like really detailed, tightly defined goals with lots of deadlines; others (like me) prefer a couple of big picture objectives, filling in the detail of how I’ll achieve them as I go along.  It doesn’t matter, it’s about finding what will work for you.

If want to set yourself some goals try this exercise:

  1. Think about what you want to achieve.  They’re your goals so they can be anything you want.  Increasing your business’s profitability or turnover, paying yourself more or taking on people all common goals.  Check that the goal is realistic – can you do it with the resources you have?  If not, perhaps you need to adjust the goal or set goals around acquiring the right resources.
  2. Think about why you want it.  What will it mean to you in real as well as emotional terms?
  3. Write the goals down with a deadline (eg by the end of June, by Christmas etc).  NB if you have a big goal it’s usually helpful to break it down into stages or a series of smaller goals.
  4. Write down what achieving the goals will mean to you.  Statistically, written goals are more likely to be achieved.
  5. Write down what your reward will be for hitting your targets – rewards can be anything from holidays to a cream cake: whatever you’ll enjoy.  Make sure you give yourself the reward  when you achieve your goals

If you don’t achieve your goals have a good look at why you missed out.  Once you understand the reasons, dust yourself off and set some new targets.

For more information on how coaching can help you identify, set and achieve your goals please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.  You can do by calling me on 01235 861 311 or emailing me at    I look forward to hearing from you.




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Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: F is for Friends & Family

Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: F is for Friends and Family

Friends and family can be a great source of help and support in the early days, they’ll often muck in and help out.  However as the business grows they can turn into a nightmare and become a source of unwelcome, unwanted and badly informed advice.  You may also find that you’re expected to return the favour by giving a job to someone you would rather not have on the payroll.  In either case you can quickly find yourself in a situation which may not only damage your relationship but also harm to your business.

If you’re relying on friends and family at the start, set out the ground rules for yourself as well as them.  In other words don’t take advantage of their generosity and be clear on how involved you want them to be.  Once you’re up and running buy them dinner to say thanks – this is not only a really nice thing to do but also sends the signal that you’re ready to stand on your own two feet.

Once the business is operational it can be tempting to turn to friends and family as a quick fix for yourself (I need a book keeper, John’s wife is good with numbers, I bet she could do that for me) or to help someone out (Sean needs a job, I can find him something to do).  Sometimes it all works out, often it doesn’t.  If you’re thinking of taking on a friend or family member remember these 6 tips:

  1. Make sure they can do the job – check out qualifications and references as you would with anybody else you’re hiring.  If they’re no good then don’t offer them the job.   It’s easier to say no at the start than after 6 months of working with them.
  2. Don’t be railroaded into taking anyone just because they’re family.  Ignore emotional blackmail, remember that anyone you take on has to add value to the business.
  3. Make sure they really want the job.  If they’re doing it because it’s the easy option, or because they can’t get a job anywhere else then ask yourself why they should be involved in your business.
  4. Give them an employment contract and be clear about what the job involves. Clamp down straightaway on any problems such as not turning up for work on time or poor performance.  If they’re not doing well after a trial period, let them go.
  5. Don’t let them call you Mum, Dad, Mate, Bro, Bud, Dude or any other nickname.  You’re all at work, you’re the boss and must be treated with respect.
  6. Treat them exactly as you would any other employee.  The fact that they’ve seen you dad dancing at a wedding or their mum’s your sister should give them no special favours.


The Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: E is for energy

The Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: E is for energy

Everyone bangs on about time management but I bang on about energy management.  Why?  Well you can’t manage time, we all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and there’s not a single bloody thing we can do about that.  What we can do is manage energy levels.  Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint and energy and resources have to be managed accordingly.  Most of us don’t take good care of ourselves.  We end up working long hours and feeling stressed out and exhausted which can cause problems for the business as well as in ou home lives.  You have to look after yourself whether the business is going well or badly.  Build time-out into your weekly routine to allow yourself time to recover, rest and exercise.  Find hobbies, pursuits and interests that recharge you – that could be spending time with your family, going for a long walk, playing football or having a long soak in the bath with a glass of wine.  If you already have hobbies and interests don’t stop them just because you’re running your own business, keep going.  You don’t have to work every single hour of the day.  When you work long hours you become ineffective and useless so you need to allow time and space to rest and recover.  It’s essential.  You’re no use to the business if you’re ill and there’s no sick pay when you’re self-employed don’t forget so take care of yourself.

If you’re struggling to fit everything in and have no time for yourself give me a call on 01235 838 641 or email me at   You would be welcome to a free coaching session with no hard sell at the end.