Friday, 23 October 2009

Speaker evening - SEO, coaching, time management, marketing and wine everything you could possibly need!

We had our first speaker evening last night and it was very interesting, I have even actioned 2 bits of advise already -  put together a plan for the weeks work and add keywords to your blog title (see above!!) Only another 20 plus great action points to work on now, but I do feel very positive and feel that I can achieve a lot more from my business, if I take on the advise I heard last night, which I suppose is what it is all about.
The main points I took home from last night were as follows:
Sarah Harkness from Action Coach

  • 3% of people have written goals and they have 98% of the wealth
  • Look at your Dreams x Goals x Plan x Act, make sure your dreams are big dreams and have clarity
  • Goals - have a 90 day plan, use SMART test
  • Write a diary of a positive thing that you did every day and what you have achieved that day that gets you closer to your goals - Sarah said it was amazing what a positive effect such a simple act can have.
  • Top time management tips
    • Set personally motivating goals
    • Don't finish today until you have planned tomorrow
    • Eat a frog for breakfast every day
    • Don't major on minor things
    • Create a default diary and stick to it
    • Use email and auto responders effectively
    • Invest time don't spend it
    • Have an agenda for all meetings
    • Don't procrastinate
    • Delegate effectively
    • 80-20 everything
  • Recommended reads
    • Eat that frog - Brian Tracey
    • 4 hour work week - Timothy Ferriss
    • 1st things first and 7 habits of highly effective people - Stephen Coby
    • E myth revisited (great for start up businesses) - Michael Gerber\
Emily Hogarth from Fitness and lifestyle discussed how she became such a success, her main tips were be an expert in sales and PR, have a great support network and client file and no your niche and competition.
Helen Taylor from Human E creative gave a great talk on top tips for establishing a brand ( please contact me for the slides)

  • Value proposition - what makes you unique, create a set of values or develop a mission statement
  • Be consistent with your brand, logo
  • Its good to be unique 
  • Involve your staff
  • Communicate your brand
Michelle Kay from Your Webstar discussed SEO and showed off another pair of wonderful shoes!!!
Her main tips were - 
  • Have good strong marketing copy with the onus on keywords
  • Links, get as many as possible but ensure they are relative, and link only to sites with a higher page ranking than you
  • Tags - make sure your title tag is different for every page
  • Alt tags - add these behind images, as much information as possible
  • Have a blog
  • Check your site very 90 days due to internet explorer, firefox etc updates.
I hope this is useful and please contact me if you want any more information, off to redo Cococards website now and do my accounts, or have a coffee, not quite sure!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

19th October update

We had another busy session on Monday and welcomed two new members, Jayne Davenport and Deanna Thomas. Deanne runs North Star Deli in Cholton while Jayne is in the processing of starting up a kids cookery school - by sheer coincidnce they both also organise Jamie At Home parties in the area so if anyone is interested in either hosting a party or finding out more about the business opportunities, just get in touch with either of them.

Tracy from Elianna kindly ran another session on confidence which got us all thinking again and the key messages we came away with were:

- not to worry too much about what people think about what we're doing - just do it!
- we should all take time out every day to focus and reflect on what we have achieved and what our plan is going forward - unless we consciously take time to do this a lot of our good work gets lost in the ether and we lose sight of our ultimate goals.
- if we're worrying about a specific task or problem, do something different for a while to break the cycle of negativity and return to it later when you can approach it with a fresh approach.

I think this is all right - apologies to Tracy if it's not! It would also be really helpful if you could take a couple of minutes to complete the attached feedback form and return direct to Tracy. Michelle and Kul also recommended Audrey Hepburn's book 'How To Be Lovely' as a great read for for anyone looking to make the most of themselves.

Other news/events

  • We have a few spaces left at our speaker and wine evening on Thursday so please pass on the details to anyone else you think may be interested. We'll be in the Dorchester Suite at The Tytherington Club from 7pm (when the bar will be open!) for a 7.30 start. Price is £5 on the door - details of our fantastic speakers are on the website
  • Helen from Modo highlighted a 20% discount on her home and office concierge services to all Happy Mondays Networking members and on any referrals, so get in touch and reclaim some valuable time!
  • Lindsey Russell made us aware that Eilidh Milnes will be giving a motivational talk and book signing at Waterstones in Macclesfield from 6.30pm on Tuesday 10 November. Attendance is free but places are limited so reserve your space by calling 01625 424212.
  • Lisa from has been very busy and dropped me an email last week to let us know that she has now also launched Check it out and get in touch with Lisa if you have any community news which you think would be relevant.
  • Remember there's no meeting next week due to half term but we'll be back at Caffe Latte on Monday 2 November (November??!! OMG!!!)
  • For anyone in the vacinity of Alderley Edge on Sunday and/or who is looking to pick up a bargain or encourage your kids to swap something they don't want for something they do, please come along to Kids Car Boot and Swap Shop at Alderley Edge Festival Hall from 10am. I'll be the one having a breakdown!

See you on Thursday or in a couple of weeks and please help us spread the word about Happy Mondays Networking by passing on our details to any othe local Mumpreneurs you know - thanks very much!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Catching our breath!

Phew, what a manic couple of weeks - hence the tardy blogging. Anyway, our recent meetings continue to be well received (hoorah!) and here's a summary of what we got up to this Monday:
We were delighted to welcome three newcomers:

  • Natasha Dee who runs Confident Cooks who are making their name locally running group cookery courses and helping to stage dinner parties
  • Kathy Brodie, an early years professional who works closely with nurseries addresses staff training needs
  • Hayley King, who will shortly be opening a new legal practice Didsbury Family Law

Richard Weston also came along to tell us about a photography for business course he is running at Lindow Primary School from 9.30 - 12.30 on Saturday 7 November. This is particularly useful for anyone who takes photographs for their websites and Richard was at pains to stress that you don't need to have a fancy digital SLR camera to do this well - it's all about knowing how to use lighting and props and making the most out of whatever camera you have. Cost is just £25 and please contact Richard on 01625 531271 or via if you'd like to attend.

Tracy Griffiths from Elianna Leadership Training ran a breif introductory session on confidence and self awareness which certainly got us all thinking! She's also kindly agreed to do the same thing at Fina next week for people who were unable to attend on Monday. For those of you that did attend, Tracy has asked if you could take a couple of minutes to complete the attached feedback form and either email it back to her or give it to her at the next meeting.
Finally a few dates for your diary:

Remember there is NO Meeting at Caffe Latte on 28/10 due to Half Term - we'll be back there on 2 November. This is set to be a busy meeting as we'll have Nicky from P81 Print and Productions talking to us about her company and the various options for promoting our businesses cost effectively and Eileen Coldrick is being very brave and will be making a small presentation about her virtual PA service company in preparation for another event the following week and would welcome the group's feedback.

A final call for anyone who wants to attend our speaker and wine evening at Tytherington Club next Thursday (22nd). Price is just £5 and will include talks from four great speakers - Sarah Harkness, Emily Hogarth, Michelle Kay and Helen Taylor, plus informal networking opportunities. More to the point, the bar will be open! To reserve you place, simply email us back.

We've also managed to arrange a fanatstic package with Nailrooms in Alderley Edge for a Pamper Evening on Weds 2 December - a perfect opportunity for some 'me time' before the mayhem of Christmas begins. The evening will comprise a make over with mineral make-up, your choice of finger or toe nail file and polish, plus champagne and nibbles. Numbers are limited to 10 and the cost is £30 (usual treatment price £55). As usual, to reserve your place, simply email us by return and treat yourself and/or a friend to an early Christmas present.

Although none work related I thought it'd also be nice to post the tale below which was sent to me by a very modern male customer - it made me laugh anyway

What Do You Do All Day?

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pyjamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on
the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out of the
bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls. As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pyjamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?' She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me sarcastically what in the world I do all day?' 'Yes,' was his incredulous reply.
She answered, 'Well, today, I didn't do it.'

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Tanith Carey's new book - How to be an amazing mum when you just dont have the time

Just received a copy of this book from their publishers and some flyers, so will read and write a review for HM members.
Extracts below:

Are you a mum who feels like you are fighting a losing battle against the clock trying to keep your show on the road?
Whether you’re at home, back at the office, or simply fighting the eternal battle to keep the kitchen clean, these tips from Tanith Carey’s new book: “How to be an “Amazing Mum” -  When You Just Don’t Have the Time – the Ultimate Handbook for Hassled Mothers”, price 7.99,  will help find you more time for your child, your partner – and even yourself!

Decorate your home to make it easier to pick up after kids: As a mum, you will be spending a substantial amount of time picking up after kids, so make your life a bit easier by using wipe-clean, gloss paint on the walls so you wipe off hand-marks and plenty of attractive, storage – like big whicker baskets with lids -  so you easily chuck the toys out of sight at the end of the day.

Do your beauty tasks when the kids are in bed: Are you looking like a stressed-out mum because you haven’t had the time for your old beauty regime? Set aside ten minutes every night before bed – when you children are asleep – for tasks like eyebrow plucking or moustache bleaching – so look and feel ready for the day the next morning.

Buy clothes that are easier to care for: One of the things mums hate most is the seemingly never ending pile of laundry that seems to stalk them around the house. Make your life easier by choosing fabrics that won’t need a lot of ironing.  If it already looks creased in the shop, put it back right away. Then choose clothes in the same range of colours so they won’t need separating before you wash them. That way all items like socks will always match too!

Decide on your house rules; As kids grow, your life will be a lot easier and more efficient if you agree upfront with your child how expect them to behave. With their co-operation, draw up a list of the ten most important guidelines for all the family.  It will help you be consistent and not to waver on the basics when you are tired or stressed.

Choose toys carefully: Busy mums can often feel like they spend half their lives on their hands and knees picking up after toys. But make your life easier by choosing playthings carefully. Remember that often the simplest toys are the best. Toys with flashing lights or  whirring noises will also need a steady flow of  battery changes, so steer clear of the extra work.  Certainly avoid battery-operated toys with panels  that need to be removed with a screwdriver. How  much time do these manufacturers think you  have?

Make your home easier to tidy:  Don’t let children get into the habit of pulling  everything off the shelves – for you to put back.  From the age of three, introduce a rule that they  can get a maximum of only three games or books  out at a time. If they want to play with more,  they need to return the ones they’ve used to the  proper place.

Get kids to help:  A young child in full flow can create a new mess  every minute. So harness that natural energy with  some reverse psychology, and make tidying up a  game. It may not work perfectly, but at least you  will feel as though it’s all getting slightly better,  not worse! Let them enjoy making a noise as they  drop the blocks back into the box. Buy a mini  shopping trolley and suggest they go ‘shopping’  for toys.

Make it a team effort: Mums can also get stuck in the martyr rut – doing it all – but deep down secretly resenting it. Be honest about where and when you need help. Partners, mums and dads and friends are not mind- readers, so spell out what they can do. If you need a break, explain to your parents  that a child’s family doesn’t end just with you and your partner - that you occasionally need a rest to recharge your mum batteries.

Fight off your laundry pile:  Invest in a set of hard-wearing playclothes - in a tough material like denim -  that your little one can muck about in every day so you're not constantly adding to your workload. Do more spot cleaning too. Just because your little one’s jumper's been worn once, it doesn’t necessarily need washing right away. As long as it’s stain free and the cuffs and neckline aren't grimy, let it be worn a second time. Don’t let kids throw clothes on the floor which always makes you feel like you have to wash them. For babies and toddlers, invest in "straightjacket" style plastic bibs (not cotton that will only add to your work) which cover up arms as well as their fronts to head off time-consuming outfit changes.

Tips taken from “How to be an Amazing Mum – When You Just Don’t Have the Time – the Ultimate Handbook for Hassled Mothers” by Tanith Carey, price 7.99 and available from all good book shops and Amazon.

Michelle Hart tips on planning your own PR campaign

Planning your own PR Campaign

Many new or small businesses do not have the budget to employ the services of a PR professional. The following is a basic guide to planning your own PR campaign:

1. Determine what you want to achieve from public relations?
2. Decide on your core messages – what do you want people to know/think about you, your business, your products or services.
3. Decide on your target audience – think about what a typical customer looks like. You may be looking to target different customer profiles so again plan accordingly, perhaps coming up with different strategies and tactics depending on your target audience.
4. Determine what media (both on and offline) your target audience is reading.
5. Put together a media list and find out all relevant contacts (names, phone numbers, email addresses. Get copies of the newspapers/magazines etc and make sure you know the different sections, journalists, deadlines etc.
6. Start looking to develop relationships with key journalists working in your target media. It’s okay to pick up the phone and ask who is responsible for certain pages/sections and ask if they have time for you to run a story suggestion past them. They may not always oblige but keep trying, be polite and develop a thick skin!
7. Link your PR activity in with any wider marketing strategy so that all of your messages are integrated.
8. Have a brainstorming session with colleagues, friends or family – come up with potential story ideas and think outside the box. Look at every element of your business which might present you with a PR opportunity – your products, services, people, personal stories and background, business and financial news, activity within the local community, client and customer case studies etc.
9. Invest in good quality photography whether that is of your products or your people or when covering an event. You can take your own images with a digital camera but it is really worth employing he services of a professional photographer to create a stock of high quality images which can be sent out to media – especially if you are looking to gain editorial coverage of any products. For product shots media tend to prefer cut outs rather than staged lifestyle shots. Find a good creative photographer and stick with them.
10. Depending on your type of business, it is worth contacting target journalists to put your name forward as an expert or spokesperson on relevant topics.
11. Look at some sample press releases issued by PR professionals (please contact for examples and advice on press release writing). Good grammar, spelling and a strong, fluent writing style which tells the main points of the ‘story’ in the headline and opening paragraph are essential. You can include background on your business under Editor’s Notes at the bottom of a press release and always include a contact name, telephone number and email address on your press release.
12. If you have a blog or a website then do include the details on your press release. If you don’t, peak to someone now about how to create an effective website or blog and use this as a PR tool wherever possible.
13. Use social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) to direct people to your blog/website/news stories/updates/images.
14. Network whenever possible as PR is all about telling a story, not just to media, but to everyone you meet.
15. Don’t overlook radio and television. Radio in particular can offer some great opportunities to talk about you, your business and your products or services. Find out which radio stations are relevant to you are your target audience and examine programme schedules to determine which ones might be interested in using you as a guest.
16. Reader offers and competitions are a great way of telling people about products or services you offer. Speak to newspaper, magazine and website editors about the chances of running these, what their minimum prize values are and if you can data capture competition entrants’ details for future marketing purposes.
17. Send out product to key journalists for them to try. Include details with the product (EG. retail stockists, rrp, your website address, business background etc) and strong photography.  If you offer a service can you persuade a journalist to trial it for free and ask if they will write about their experience?
18. Choose a local charity or cause and get involved. Make sure it is relevant to your business and then work with this cause to help raise both your profile and your credentials within your local community.
19. Determine how much time you realistically have to devote to PR as it can be a time consuming exercise and often requires a lot of hard work before you begin reaping the rewards. Also remember that a sustained campaign over a period of time (and one that is integrated into a wider marketing strategy) will prove more effective than just trying to do things ad hoc.
20. Once you have determined your PR strategy, budget and resources, plan this out carefully over 12 months and make sure that PR is given the same priority as other elements of your business planning.

Monday 26th meeting

A BIG thank you to Michele Hart who gave us all some food for thought and useful hints on how to generate some PR for our businesses and the importance of having a clear strategy and message we want to get across to stakeholders. It was obvious from the subsequent feedback and conversations  that many of us feel we lack the confidence and assertivenes required to actually generate some of this PR. To help overcome this, Tracy from Elianna Leadership Coaching has kindly agreed to run a couple of sessions for us on how we can all improve. We'll come back to you with dates ASAP and, be warned, the sessions will include some 'audience participation' so watch this space! Tracy also highlighted that some funding may be available from Train2000 which we'll follow up on and keep you advised.

Kul mentioned that she will be appearing on Canalside Radio on 8 October and will take the opportunity to promote Happy Mondays which is great news. I'll also follow up with her contact there so see if there are any other ways we can get Happy Mondays members involved. 

We don't have a speaker for the next couple of meetings (but places are still available for our Wine & Speaker evening on 22 October so book your space & tell your friends) but we thought it would be useful if we all brought along samples of any marketing material we have e.g. cards, flyers etc and we can all provide feedback to each other on what we like, don't like etc? We'll also bring along a couple of laptops so we can look at some websites too and identify useful and relevant links. Personally, I think this will be a really useful exercise as it's always great to have other peoples' views on what we're doing.

Finally, I just wanted to welcome Victoria from Bon Bon Blue and Nicky from who both came along for the first time today.