Archive for June, 2012

Working from home: business ideas for mums

Working from home: business ideas for mums

Mums who are working from home can be really successful, but what to do? We give you some business ideas to inspire you. After all, your work can bring in some extra household income, set a good example to your children, and help you to improve your skills and assets.

Child minding

Stay at home mothers who really enjoy caring for their children might find that child minding is an excellent option. Even caring for one child can provide some much needed extra money, and can give your children the opportunity to play with other children who are of similar age. For more ambitious mums, it might be possible to set up a playgroup or nursery, which can become a very successful and lucrative business.

Tutoring

Similarly, if you have good qualifications and talent why not start up a tutoring business, for example in maths, English or languages, or even musical instruments such as the guitar or piano? This is really rewarding, and is very flexible as you can choose exactly which hours you are available for tutorials.

Writing for profit and selling

Another very popular choice for home workers is freelance writing. There are many different companies, many of them internet based, which offer freelance writing work to people who can work from home. On the other hand, for active individuals who enjoy getting out of the house, product sales can be an excellent business venture. There are many businesses that require people to distribute their catalogue, for example Avon or Kleeneze. It is possible to distribute as many or as few catalogues as desired, and it can also be an excellent way of meeting new people and socializing.

Internet businesses

If you prefer to work at whatever time of day suits you, starting up an internet business can offer a great opportunity for success. One option is to create a website which sells goods or services, or sell them via an online auction site such as Ebay, but this is not the only option. If you can build up a website that attracts a lot of visitors, it can be possible to make substantial amounts of money simply through affiliate marketing and advertising.

Study at home

One way of broadening your horizons even further is to do some studying. Most colleges offer part-time courses and many offer online learning courses that can be studied at home.

If you already have a qualification you have even more choice when deciding how you want to work from home – for example, with an accounting qualification you can start a book-keeping business from home. Many other work from home options require a substantial amount of IT knowledge, so taking a course in computing can really help to improve your prospects of success, especially if you will be running your own website.

Author: Charlotte Ellie Parker

Please note, this article is sponsored content. Sponsor: ICS Distance Learning  

Flexible working after the Olympic Games

Flexible working during the Olympics: how can you make the most of it?

The government is actively encouraging employers to allow flexible working during the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, could you take advantage of this? What could you do to let your employer extend your flexible working arrangements beyond the Games.

Getting around London during the Games

There are regular reports in the media as to how London’s transport system is going to crash during the Olympic Games and how people will not be able to get to work. Many suggestions have been made to improve matters: staggering hours/shifts, home working, and less usefully for our purposes, spending some time in the pub after work and delaying your journey home.

 

Right to request flexible working, just during the Games?

The law gives the “right to request” flexible working to qualifying employees who are parents of children up to and including the age of 16, parents of disabled children up to 18, and carers of adult relatives. However, an employer can refuse on certain grounds:

  • planned structural changes;
  • the burden of additional costs;
  • a detrimental impact on quality;
  • the inability to recruit additional staff;
  • a detrimental impact on performance;
  • the inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
  • a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; and/or
  • lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.

Employers have explicitly expressed concern that allowing staff to work flexibly during the Olympic Games will increase employees’ expectation of such working patterns being granted on a permanent basis in the future. Those employers are being advised to make clear to their staff that changes being introduced during the exceptional circumstances of the Olympic Games and that existing flexible working policies in line with the statutory framework will continue to apply after the Games.

The arguments you need to convince your employer to extend your flexible working hours beyond the Olympics

It might be short-sighted of an employer to take the line that flexible working is just during the Olympic Games, and all is not lost for you. If revised arrangements work for a few weeks, they may well work long-term and it’s worth an employee pointing this out. For example, if the employer fears a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, but output is maintained during the Games, you may have a stronger case to support your application for permanent flexible working.

Some jobs just do not lend themselves to flexible working, such as teaching or being a receptionist (although shift patterns may be flexible in some roles) but others do. An employer may be able to save money on office space if it has more people working at home or if people work different shift patterns to avoid the rush-hour. An employee ought to be able to show that they can do their job just as well from home, or between the hours of 7-3 or 11-7 rather than between 9-5. Avoiding travel can save time and increase productivity.

According to Stylist magazine, a survey by Regus found that 60% of businesses believe that flexible work, whether office hours or location, is more cost-efficient. A desk for a single employee in London can cost £12,000 a year. So use these kinds of arguments in your flexible working application.

If you can work flexibly on a temporary basis during the Games, use the time to achieve as much as you can, so when you come to apply to extend the arrangement, you can point to achievements during that period to support your case. It is also worth asking to extend the temporary arrangement – for example, by saying that you’ve been working flexibly for 4-6 weeks – if the employer is not yet convinced that it works for the business, could you carry on for another 4-6 weeks to give the arrangement a more lengthy trial?

Employers will need to consider issues such as:

  • confidentiality (made more difficult to police by remote working);
  • your health and safety (an employer needs to rely on you to risk-assess your working environment); and
  • the robustness of their IT systems (do they have enough licences for remote working applications, can their servers support increased numbers of home workers).

So give some thought to these issues when making your application and how they can be addressed.

Author: Helen Hart was a practising lawyer for many years and spent the last four years working for a legal publishing company. She now works part-time in a public library as well as being a freelance writer and editor.

Make money from home - how to find a franchise that works

Make money from home – how to find a franchise that works

We all want to make money from home, and get quick rich, while choosing the hours we want. But clever people know this, and set up scams, or even legal business to take advantage of you. This is how you check whether this is a good franchise opportunity for you.

Yes I know, you need the money, it’s recession after all, incomes are going down. Besides it’s quite risky to have just one income provider for the family, and it even feels unfair the burden for the family income is all on the shoulders of just one parent.

But you also want the flexibility. You want to be there for the children. How can you get an income? What jobs are there that give allow you to work at times you want?

And then this opportunity comes along, and your interest is peaked. It seems to offer everything you need. It grabs you at a vulnerable moment says Helen Lindop from Business Plus Baby, and she describes exactly what you should do to find out if this is indeed a golden opportunity for you.

Read more on Helen Lindops blog ‘BusinessPlusBaby’…

I would like to add: be careful for the wording used. A franchise is often no longer called a franchise, but can be called fancy things like network-marketing. Good luck with making money from home, it can be done, but it takes real skill and hard work for all of us.

What to Expect When You’re ….. Returning to Work

What to Expect When You’re ….. Returning to Work

You’ve been offered a new role, you’ve organised your wardrobe and you’ve sorted out your childcare – now you need to give some thought to how you will make the most of your return to work. This is true whether you are returning from maternity leave or returning to work after a career break. The key to a successful return is managing expectations: those you have of yourself; those your employer has; and those your family has.

Expectations of yourself

It is really important that you return to work with some realistic ideas about what you hope to achieve in your first months in the role. By having clear goals you will find it easier to focus your energy on those aspects of your working life which will have the biggest positive impact.

The greatest pitfalls for working mums occur when they become caught up in the need to prove themselves (to their employer or colleagues) or to please everyone (at home and at work) which can quickly lead to exhaustion and resentment. A realistic assessment of what is possible to achieve can help to minimise the risk of falling into these traps.

Your employer’s expectations

Managing your employer’s expectations rests on a mutual discussion of how you will work together. You can help yourself in these conversations by spending some time becoming really clear on the following four areas:

  • Achievement  - your tangible measurable impact
  • Relationships – identifying key people and starting to build connections with them
  • Brand – what values do you want to be known for
  • Ways of working – establishing your boundaries

Achievement

Think about the tangible and measurable business requirements that you will be working on. Through the interview process (or your prior experience of the role) you should have a clear idea of what the organisation expects of you. You will need to shape these expectations into specific and tangible results that will demonstrate your competence to your colleagues and in doing so will help you to build your confidence and credibility in your role.

Very early on, you will need to check your view of what goals are important with your manager’s expectations, to ensure that you are aligned with each other. You will also want to build in to your goals, opportunities for quick wins that will enhance your reputation as someone who delivers.

Relationships

As a working mum, you won’t necessarily have as much time for social interaction with your colleagues as you might wish, so it is important to identify those people with whom it is essential to build rapport and concentrate your time and energy on these relationships.

If you are returning to work following a maternity leave, you may already have a network in place and it will be necessary to keep that working and also to add in new connections as you identify them. If you are new to the organisation, you may need some guidance from your line manager on the key people for you to meet and connect with early on.

You will need to be smarter about how you start to build these relationships too, as you may no longer be able to go for drinks after work or go for longer lunch hours. Being new, or recently returned, gives you a perfect excuse to introduce yourself to people and to ask for their advice and their views on your priorities (even if you don’t agree with them!).

Brand

Having a break from the workplace can give you the space to reflect on your values and priorities and you can return to work feeling much clearer about how you wish to be known in the workplace.

If you are clear on your values, consider how you can bring these to life in your new role. (If you are less clear, it is worth putting some thought into this essential area for your success.) How can you demonstrate your brand as you work towards achieving the goals you have set and start building new relationships? What will your priorities be? And just as importantly, what will you let go of?

Ways of Working

Starting a new role is an ideal time to establish sustainable working patterns. By thinking through in advance how you wish to work, you can protect yourself from being drawn into the need to prove yourself or to please everyone.

Ways of working includes considering the following questions

  • Will stay you late or get in early and, if so, how often?
  • Will you take work home with you and, if so, how often?

And if you are not working full-time?

  • Are you prepared and able to come into the office during your time off?
  • Will you look at your work email during your time off?
  • Will you answer your work phone during your time off?

Everyone will have a different view of their personal boundaries, but it is important to define what yours are and stick to them. If you don’t, you may quickly find yourself becoming resentful of your employer and feeling that you are letting down your family.

Expectations of your family

Success here depends on keeping those ways of working boundaries in place and efficient delegating. As Nicola Horlick explains, there is no value in asking your nanny to heat up meals that you have spent the weekend making because you don’t trust her cooking capabilities. You need to set the standard for those you’ve asked to look after your family while you’re at work and then trust them get on with it. The same goes for leaving your partner in charge!

Finally, the key to making your return to work a success for you, your employer and your family is to make sure that you keep time for yourself to recharge your batteries. Not only will you feel better for it, but you will have more energy for your work and your family if you can allow yourself the time that you need.
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Good luck with your return to work and please get in touch if you have specific questions or issues to explore.

 

Author: Katerina Gould. She is an executive coach and career consultant at Thinking Potential. She specialises in supporting people through transitions in their careers. Since starting her family, she has enjoyed part-time employment, being a full-time mum, acquiring new training and skills and establishing her own business; so she has real experience of many of the options available to women with children. Katerina has a background in finance, marketing and strategy in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Master’s degree in Law from Cambridge University. She has also founded two companies, an employment agency for interim managers and Thinking Potential. , her executive coaching and career consulting business ( ).

Business books for women

Research reveals – how can women get top jobs

BBC News figures show women still hold fewer than a third of the most senior positions in the UK. In politics this figure plummets to a fifth, and it is even lower in the top 100 companies. However, the Government is not going to implement the European Commission’s suggested quotas, and instead will encourage firms to hire more women in executive positions.

Recent research from Ashridge Business School exposes that organisational attitudes towards women frequently impede career advancement, and also outlines what steps women can take to make sure that they are best placed to be considered for top jobs.

Whilst women are becoming a higher percentage of the workforce throughout the world, significantly less than 20 per cent are getting into board positions globally.

The book Women in Business: Navigating Career Success, based on a survey of over 1,400 female senior managers and directors, reveals that 48% believe it is harder for a woman to succeed at work compared with male colleagues, while 49% think men and women are treated differently in terms of leadership and behaviour.

The continued existence of the old boys’ network and male senior teams who recruit in their own image, being fed up with “playing the games” that go on within boardrooms, having personal commitments outside of the workplace and lacking belief in their own ability, often lead to women turning their backs on the corporate ladder.

Having children remains one of the biggest hurdles to career development. A culture of long hours and extensive international travel can affect some women’s ability to fill certain roles. Other issues for executive women include being perceived as being “soft and fluffy” by colleagues and struggling to earn the same level of respect as a male leader.

However, when women have plenty of support and direction in their early careers they are more likely to excel in the workplace. Early career opportunities are crucial, and planning for a promotion and career overall will boost success.

Tips on how women can get top jobs and earn their seat at the top table:

1. Understand the role of others

Having a good line manager and supportive senior colleagues are key career promoters. Most importantly, identify sponsors – those people who will support and endorse you. Develop relationships with people willing to be a mentor and/or coach.

2. Take and create opportunities

Having an early opportunity to take on stretch assignments, work internationally, work in a different professional context and join a challenging project team in an area outside your professional comfort zone are all vital in building your credibility and reputation. Remember, don’t wait to be asked but look for opportunities and put yourself forward for tough, challenging projects. Also, ask for what you want – women often end up earning less because they don’t ask for that pay rise.

3. Have a plan

Set goals, have a timeline for achievements. Be clear about the job roles you would like and the type of organisations you would like to work for. One of the women interviewed for the research set herself the goal of being a main board director by the age of 30 – she did this by the time she was 28.

4. Strategically network

Be thoughtful and deliberate about where you put your networking energy. Be focused and tactical in your networking strategy ensuring that your network includes people you enjoy being with, can learn from, find challenging, or will be beneficial to you career success.

5. Build your personal brand

Think about how you describe your career aspirations and plans. Your reputation and credibility depends upon the impression you create.

Evidence suggests that women have to work harder to get respect and get top jobs. But women shouldn’t become like men. They must maintain their own authenticity and approach to doing business.

Business books for women

Authors: Viki Holton and Fiona Elsa Dent part of Ashridge Business School. Their full research is published in the book ‘Women in Business – Navigating career success’

You can WIN the book – Just sign up to the Mum & Career Monthly Update between 24th May -30th June 2012 and you will have a chance to win. Sign up in the box on the top right-hand side or click here to sign up. Signing up is free and easy, no strings attached. Read more about this competition.

For more practical advise we would like to invite you to our next Mum & Career workshop  “Navigating your career around children” on Tuesday 9 October in the City of London. We have got some fabulous speakers lined up.

Can you sustain your lifestyle when one income falls away?

Can you sustain your lifestyle when one income falls away?

It’s this question that is on most of our minds before and perhaps even after we have our first baby (or babies, in my case): can we live on one income?  It is one thing going back to work after you have a child if you want to, but it is quite another if you have to.  Are you really able to exercise a choice at all?  The answer, for the most part, is yes.

Most people I speak to want more money, regardless of what they earn.  So whether they earn £30k, £45k, £60, £80k, or more, it never seems to be enough.  The truth is that it’s not necessarily a case of earning more, but of managing our money better and learning how to make our money work for us.

Not quite sure you believe me?  Look at Michael Jackson, the king of pop, he died leaving millions of dollars of debt and only a couple of valuable assets.  And it was only a few years ago that Whitney Houston had to sell off many of her assets to pay off her debts.  Both of these stars earned millions during their singing careers.

So how do we manage our money better and how can we get our money working harder for us?

1. Know what is important to you

We have to start off by knowing what is really important to us.  In other words, we need to know what we truly value and then spend our time and our money accordingly.  If we know what we value, it is easier to make difficult choices.  For example, if it is more important to you to be able to spend time with your children than to have all the little luxuries that having more money has to offer, then you’ll make the choices necessary for you to be able to do this i.e. working or spending less.

2. Set yourself a budget

We need to set ourselves a budget and stick to it, as closely as we can.  Budgeting is one of those things that many of us know we need to do, but fail to.  However, budgeting is the one thing that will let us have a little of all the things we want, i.e. the annual holiday, our weekly entertainment, nice clothes, a decent haircut, etc, while making sure we are saving for our futures.  It’s also the one thing that will keep us out of the red.

We have to plan how we’re going to spend our money otherwise we spend it as the need / want arises in the moment, without a thought for tomorrow.  Budgeting is also the best tool I can think of to not only show us where we are wasting our money, but also that we do not need as much as we think.  If, like many others, you don’t know where your money is going, I can guarantee you that a budget will help you sort out this problem.

3. ‘Get the most bang for your buck’

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, would agree with me when I say that it is very often not a case of doing / having less or earning more but rather a case of finding cheaper alternatives for the things we do / want.  It’s often our apathy that keeps us from putting in the effort to find the best deal for our money on things like utilities, phone and internet, holidays, etc.  If it all seems overwhelming, try tackling one of these things a month.

 4. Be proactive about growing the money you have

We need to have a strategy that will get us the best deal for our savings and investments.  Our strategy has to be balanced in terms of our short, medium and long-term financial goals and it needs to be sufficiently diversified across the various asset classes (cash, property and equities) to give us a stable return in the long run.  I know this part of money management can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be.  If you know the basic principles, you can take it from there.

So, can you sustain your lifestyle when one income falls away and you live on one income?  You can more than you think.  Yes, it may take some effort and it may mean doing some things differently, but it can be done, especially if you set as a pilot light the things you really value in life.

If you need help with any of the things I have mentioned here, please do take a look at my Road Map to Financial Freedom , 21 lessons to help you make the most of your money.

 Author:  Liz Lugt, Speaker, Trainer and Mentor.  Liz can help you discover what your passion is, make a living out of doing what you love and overcome the things that hold you back.  She does this by drawing on her skills as a qualified Chartered Accountant, her experience in business and her own personal journey in following her passion.  Liz lives in Twickenham with her husband and three children.