Tag: "working from home"

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Are You a Trailing Spouse? Why Teaching English Could be the Answer to Your Career Plans

Trailing spouses are known for making the ultimate sacrifice; they give up their careers and lives at home to follow their partners overseas. But rather than see it as a negative, we choose to see it as a wonderful opportunity. A chance to experience an unknown culture, see the kids thrive in a fresh environment and try out a new career.

TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is a great option for women who want to make the most of their new life abroad. Here’s why:

The Job Market is Huge

Recent estimates suggest there are currently more than 1 billion people learning English around the world. The British Council predicts that number will double by 2020.

As you can imagine, with that many students there is huge demand for teachers. There are plenty of positions available, particularly in Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe but even English-speaking countries have their share of vacancies too.

Finding vacancies is simply a matter of searching online job boards, contacting local language schools or advertising your services privately.

Hours to Suit the Kids

This is probably the most important factor for working mums. You want a career and a life outside of the home, but you also want to be there for the kids (and your spouse).

Teaching is the ideal solution, not least because you’ll get school holidays off! Whether you choose to work for yourself or work part or full-time in a school, you won’t be away from home for much longer than the kids. Working hours that complement their schedule saves massively on childcare costs too.

You Can Work for Yourself

If the thought of working in a school fills you with cold dread or you need really flexible hours there’s the option to teach privately instead.

Many experienced English Language teachers move onto private tutoring as they love the freedom it allows. It can also be very lucrative, with tutoring rates starting £15+ an hour. And don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need experience, just a willingness to work hard and promote yourself to prospective students.

You Can Work Anywhere in the World

Even back home! If you relocate to another country or move back home, you can bring your skills and experience with you.

As already mentioned, there are TEFL jobs all over the world and an abundance of vacancies for experienced teachers (and even inexperienced ones). There are very few jobs that travel as well as TEFL.

The Skills are Transferable

Teaching English abroad will boost your CV with a whole host of transferable skills. The skills and experience you’ll gain whilst teaching will be highly desirable to other employers. This is really useful if you return home or decide on a different career path.

So if you want to boost your confidence, improve your communication, IT and language skills, learn to become adaptable, creative and resourceful, teaching is for you.

You Can Train in a Matter of Weeks

Qualifications aren’t always necessary to get a job teaching English. If you’re a native (or very fluent) English speaker, most employers will consider you.

However you will increase your prospects – and your confidence – if you complete a TEFL qualification.

Fortunately, you don’t need to go back to university for 3 years. You can learn online. TEFL certification courses range from 120 – 150 hours, so if you’re in a pinch, you can gain your qualification in a matter of weeks.

It’s Really Rewarding

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. Whether you’re privately tutoring a young adult hoping to land that exciting overseas job or a group of young children in a school, you’re practically guaranteed job satisfaction.

Sure, it can be very hard work and frustrating at times, but teaching English as a foreign language is one of the best ways to kick-start a career abroad. Why not consider it today?

Author: Mark Johnson is an experience TEFL teacher which saw him visit Asia. Upon returning to the his home country he began working for ICAL TEFL in the hope of inspiring others to take a similar career choice. Find out more about ICAL TEFL.

Shared Office, Working from Home

Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex desk in a shared office space. Especially on those days where I have 2 meetings in the city and end up trying to get work done in a place like Starbucks, Costa or Eat in between.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to try it out last week when I was offered a day at a Regus shared office in London.

Morning commute

It got off to a good start. I dressed in office attire, and joined the commuters right after school drop-off. I felt really professional travelling in, reading my morning newspaper and being part of that world of work that I have said goodbye to when I started working from home many years ago. Nice to be back.

The building was only one tube stop from Waterloo, and it was only a matter of minutes before I had reached the Regus building. Great commute.

Settling into my Shared Office

Reception staff were kind and efficient and quickly showed me to my office, explaining all practicalities on the way. I installed myself in my cubicle, and got down to work.

I loved having everything there: the desk, the set of plugholes for my equipment and even an in tray and a pencil holder. It all looked and felt very professional and efficient, unlike the invariably cluttered desk I use when working from home.

There was nothing there to distract me, and I was surrounded by people who were all working too, so it should have helped me to get lots done quickly.  In reality though, it took me a while to get settled in. It’s like that first day in the office. All your colleagues look really busy and you are still wondering where on earth to start, how to get the coffee machine working and who best to ask where the loo is.

When I had just got my coffee, a working wifi, and everything I needed dug up from my bag my guest had already arrived.

Receiving Guests in a Shared Office

I chose a day on which I also had an external appointment, so I could receive them in a professional environment. It worked brilliantly. I offered them a choice of coffees, teas and water (all complimentary with the Regus booking) and we found some lovely comfy chairs with a view over London for our chat. When we were done I could even offer her a place in my room to finish some work, as guests are allowed to share the room with you.

Get Organised in a Shared Office

Now that I felt more settled the afternoon went by quickly and I did get lots of work done. That’s also when I learned that if I want to do this more often I need to get organised, as it turned out I didn’t have access to some key documents I needed.

It was great to have a private desk for work that required focus and concentration, and for listening to  a webinar (forgot my headphones). I love being part of the buzz in an office too though, so for the last hour I chose to work on the larger, shared desks, and that worked very well.

On the way home I reflected it had been a productive day in the office. Unfortunately that’s when the trains were delayed and I was late for school pick-up.  Ah yes, I had been too optimistic and forgot I used to allow some extra time when I still did commute and had to make it home in time for pick-up.

Working from Home – Is it Better?

I can definitely recommend working in a shared office, as a change from working from home. It’s ideal for receiving clients, a great place to work in-between appointments and there are no distractions.

Having a choice of meeting rooms, shared space, private offices and meeting booths offers all you need. If you only do it once, there’s not much benefit to it, but if you do it regularly you will get organised and it will be a valuable addition to your work-life.

I would definitely do it again. Thank you Regus.

 

Tips for working in a shared office, and on the go

  • Ensure you have access to all your mailboxes, ideally from all your mobile devices
  • Build a filing system in a shared place such as Dropbox
  • Bring a document with your passwords (e.g. saved in your dropbox (or similar) or on your mobile devices)
  • Ensure you have contact details of clients all stored, and with you
  • Remember to carry auxiliary items such as phone charger, headphones, and laptop cables
  • Allow for train delays

Where to find shared offices, or hub near you

  • Regus – Co-Working Space, Day Office, Meeting Rooms in London and throughout the UK at strategic locations
  • Hubworking – Pay as you go meeting rooms, London (Liverpool Street, Victoria, Monument)
  • Jelly UK – Brings homeworkers, free-lancers and entrepreneurs together in a co-working space, across the UK
  • The Thinking Bus, Farnham – affordable flexible workspaces and creche
  • The Third Door, London, Putney, SW18 – flexible workspaces, meeting rooms and on-site nursery
  • The Hub, London, Islington – office space for social entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups, with 30 co-working spaces
  • Near Desk – you become a member and have access to many co-working spaces in London, the South-West and Home Counties
  • Mozilla Space London, WC2N – Open work environments aimed at hackers and coders
  • Skyline offices, London – Concierge Service that helps you find suitable business space and then run it

 

 

Working Mothers - Pet Start Up Business

A Pet Business Start Up – Ideal for Working Mothers?

Working mothers are always looking for that ideal flexible option when thinking about returning to work. A pet business may be just the right thing for you. Steph Mylchreest from Pet Insurance explains why.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of pet businesses popping up all over the UK. The reason for this: people are all too often cash rich and time poor when it comes to their four legged friends. As the numbers of pet ownership has grown so have the hours and days people work leaving them little time to give their pets the TLC they need. And the reason why pet businesses make such good start ups? Because they can be taken on part time, need no initial capital and the rewards are not only financial but emotionally fulfilling too!

Dog Walking Start Up

A dog walking start up is ideal for those who already own a dog or just have a love of the canine variety. We’ve put together a list of reasons to help you decide if a dog walking business is right for you.

1. No need for childcare

This is the perfect venture for those with young children as they can be taken with them while walking and therefore there is no need for childcare or if you walk a dog anyway why not get paid for it?

2. Flexible work

This is flexible work also, although most likely to be needed during the day while their owners are at work, dog walking can be tailored to meet your schedule and you can even just do it for a few hours here and there without any real time commitments.

3. No initial capital needed

There is no big investment to start a dog walking business other than insurance which is a must if you are looking after other dogs and need to be protected should any accident or injury occur.

From Protectivity Insurance, a dog walking business policies start from £5.04 per month. You may decide to advertise locally (at your vet and in shop windows) and you could use your base of friends and family.

4. Rewarding

If you are a dog lover anyway then this one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. Seeing a happy doggy face at the end of a walk will make it all worthwhile.

5. Working Outside

This could be a benefit or a disadvantage for some people but you must be prepared to work outside in all weather conditions come rain, sun, snow, sleet or anything else the British weather can throw at you. It may pay to invest in some high quality boots and a nice warm coat!

Pet Sitting Start Up

Pet Sitting is a relatively new business area but is growing rapidly as those who own pets are no longer happy to leave them at home alone for long hours. This makes it a great start up venture with relatively low competition and incredibly easy to get started.

1. No initial capital needed

Like dog walking, there is no big investment needed to set up a pet sitting business. There will be a need for insurance and with policies from Protectivity Insurance starting at £5.05 per month this is a relatively small cost. It is also recommended to get a DBS check or more commonly known as a criminal record check which cost around £26. If you are entering someone else’s home this will make customers feel more at ease.

2. No overheads

Pet sitting can be done either at the pet owners home or your own meaning there is no need to buy or rent facilities. If you do it at your own home, it may be easy to combine with dog walking.

Owners will have everything their pet needs in their own homes so there is no need to buy additional equipment however if operating from your own home it might be a good idea to ensure your house is completely pet friendly!

3. Ability to add other services

When visiting others pet owners homes there is always the opportunity to offer other services such as dog walking, house sitting or gardening to really get the most financially from your time.

4. No need for qualifications

Although a love for pets is a necessity you do not need to be the next Dr. DoLittle. Although a qualification may look more impressive on your CV as long as owners and clients can see that you share a love for their four legged friends, you are reliable and have good references they will hire you.

We hope this has given you some inspiration to start your own pet business and help to decide whether this type of flexible working will fit you as a working mother. Whatever you do decide we wish you luck and hope your start up is as successful as possible!

Author: Steph Mylchreest. Steph is Marketing and Business Support Executive at Protectivity Insurance. Protectivity Insurance are a niche pet and sports and leisure business insurance specialists with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. They offer comprehensive insurance policies covering all pet business services. 

Creating my own Flexible Work - Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

Creating my own Flexible Work – Personal Assistant, Entrepreneur, Franchise holder

When Vicky Matthews took voluntary redundancy from a high-street bank after the birth of her second child, she vowed no-one she ever employed would suffer the same inflexible and negative experience she’d endured since becoming a mum. She really needed flexible work.

Now, seven years on, Vicky employs three very happy part-time staff in the head office of her personal assistant business, Pink Spaghetti, all of whom work around their busy family commitments.

Inflexible Employer

“I’d worked in project management for the same high street bank since starting as a graduate trainee,” explains Vicky. “When I became pregnant, I requested a three day working week after maternity leave. This was declined and I was told four days was my only part time option. A job-share was never considered.

“An even bigger blow came when I was told my current senior management position was not feasible on a part time basis and that I would need to take on a new, lower, middle management role.

“I had been their golden girl but when I returned from maternity leave, I felt my position within the company was tainted. My opportunities for promotion and recognition were gone, so after the birth of my second child three years later, I took voluntary redundancy.”

A New Start – Flexible Working

After taking time out to spend with her young family for a couple of years, a chance meeting at a baby swimming class saw the beginning of a partnership that would see Vicky’s dream of creating flexible employment come true. A poolside chat with her now business partner, Caroline Gowing, revealed the pair had all-too-similar experiences and after discussions about their respective talents and experience, the foundations were laid for an award-winning business venture.

In 2009, three years after their first meeting and with Vicky’s youngest child still at home, the friends launched Pink Spaghetti, a home-based, pay-as–you-go personal assistant service. Clients aren’t tied by a monthly retainer and only pay for the hours they need, which is a major selling point for the predominantly female, home-based clients who are often juggling work and childcare.

Pink Spaghetti, whose strapline is ‘Let us be your 25th hour,’ will take on any task from its clients and to-do lists frequently include the bizarre alongside the mundane. Sourcing reindeer for a Christmas event and attending a client’s wedding as a paid witness have featured alongside travel booking, running social media accounts, holiday cover, managing email newsletters and book keeping.

Growing the Business – Franchise Holder

The formula proved a resounding success, so much so that after three years of steady growth Vicky and Caroline decided to grow their business through franchising and now operate in 10 UK territories, from Chester to Portsmouth.The flexibility the pair needed in their own lives has proved a major pull for franchisees, almost all of whom have children and tales of inflexible employers forcing them out of the workplace.

“Our franchisees come to us with years of valuable business experience and yet find themselves unable to find a job that fits around their families,” says Caroline. “We have franchisees from all backgrounds, but they all share the same desire to not have to choose between work and family.

“From our own experience, we knew that our business model works as both a part time opportunity, to fit around the school day or nursery hours, and that it can also be scaled up as the children get older.

“One of our franchisees has proved just how scalable the business is, by buying a second neighbouring territory and taking on employees of her own. We also have franchisees with very young children who work just a few hours each day. They know that the opportunity for expansion is there once it suits their family.”

Flexible Work from Home

Ever since that first meeting in the swimming baths, flexibility has been the driving force behind Pink Spaghetti. As owners, Vicky and Caroline have the flexibility to manage their business in a way that suits them. For clients, the Pink Spaghetti service frees up much-needed time, and for franchisees, Vicky and Caroline’s model allows them to grow their franchise at their own rate and fit in work around their own commitments.

But, more importantly, the pair have been able to provide flexible employment to busy working parents. Pink Spaghetti’s head office, in Northwich, employs three part-time members of staff. Lucy works school hours four days a week. Katherine does three days, two to fit around school times and a third shorter one to allow for a nursery pick up. Leigh-Anne is currently on maternity leave, but before the birth of her second child she was able to work two long days at the office in order to make the most of her son’s hours at nursery. When she returns from maternity leave, Leigh-Anne has opted to switch to two short days.

This flexible and family friendly approach was cited as a best practice case study in a report handed out at a recent Working Families conference. The charity was greatly encouraged that employees can pick their own working hours, and are able to change them at short notice, where feasible.

“By accommodating our employees’ needs for flexible working we are offering them the kind of benefit that money can’t buy,” says Vicky. “In return, employees work harder and have more work satisfaction as their needs are being met and their voices heard, which is key for retention.

“After what I went through in my previous job, I feel very strongly that I want to set an example to other employers.”

But what about Vicky? Her business is providing a positive work life balance for her employees and franchisees, but has she achieved the flexibility she was striving for?

“I work from home, I can do the school drop off and pick up and I don’t have to miss important milestones like special assemblies and sports days.

“I love my work, both servicing our own Pink Spaghetti clients here in mid-Cheshire and supporting our franchisees to grow their own businesses. When I took voluntary redundancy seven years ago, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. It’s been a fascinating journey and I wouldn’t change any of it.”

 

Author: PR Agent on behalf of Vicki

April 2015 (2)Attached picture (left to right) Aylesbury & High Wycombe franchisee Rachel Martin, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Vicky Matthews, Luton & Bedford franchisee Anne Little, Pink Spaghetti co-owner Caroline Gowing

From Registered Nurse to Plug-In Developer

From Registered Nurse to Plug-In Developer

Now here’s a great story of a mother changing career. To inspire you all to try something new. Of course there is lots of work in nursing, but there is also lots of work in IT, and it’s probably better paid. Is it for you?

Read Steph Wells’ honest and inspiring story

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Why Working At Home Rocks for Mothers

Why Working At Home Rocks for Mothers

Holly Easterby is a fashion blogger who loves taking pictures of kids in fun outfits. She shares fashionable kiddie items at Bonza Brats for parents to see and also takes the time to write about family stuff for blogs such as this one. In this article, Holly talks about the benefits of working from home especially for mothers. Of course it’s brilliant for fathers too, and you may wish to let this article drop onto his radar.

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Working from home is now fast becoming a global phenomenon that’s getting a lot of people hooked. Is it an empty promise of better income? Or the answer to a mum who needs a job but has to take care of her kids at the same time? See these pros and cons and you be the judge if you are better off working as one.

Benefits to the Working Mothers

1. You need not put up with traffic. With a traditional office job, you will need to allow for traffic and travel time. A work at home job will allow you to fit in the school run, and will certainly allow you to be home before bedtime, rather than being stuck in traffic and missing it all together.

2. No office politics to think of. You pretty much work alone in front of your computer. Although you may be working with other virtual employees, you don’t see them face-to-face. The good thing about it? No need to worry if they will be playing politics within the organisation. Even if they do, you won’t be hearing much of it, which will let you keep your own happy bubble intact.

3. Kiss standard black pumps goodbye. Your boss will probably not be asking you to wear them, but you know how it feels like when the others are well-dressed and you still showing bits of the children’s breakfast on your lapel. In front of your own computer at home, you can ditch the standard office pumps goodbye (although it’s okay to keep several just in case you feel like drinking tea in a posh restaurant somewhere with your friends).

4. Ability to breathe when you need it. Your employer behind your back will prevent from giving in to your body’s natural instinct to sigh when you’re frustrated. When you feel like the need to stretch your shoulders, you can do it anytime without a pair of eyes waiting for you to make the slightest mistake.

6. Closer to your kids. Now among the pros of working at home, this could be the top reason why Mums are doing it. Although you may have a nanny, au-pair or childminder, it’s still different when you can be there personally to take care of their needs when you feel like it. You could also save on childcare costs by working more flexible hours and using less childcare.

7. Control fashion splurges. Women have the tendency to make splurges on clothes and this becomes tempting even more when passing by a boutique. Since you no longer work in an environment that often encourages you to think how people see the way you look, the need to buy more clothes and accessories is also reduced.

9. Lets you save on gas. You’re not only being friendly to the environment by making it a less polluted place to live in. You get to save a bit too on gas, tube or train fares. Not a hefty sum of money, but it’s still considered saving nonetheless.

10. Offers growth. By working at home, you may find it easier to create opportunities for yourself. Working at an office will let you wait for several years before you can get a promotion. With a given unique skill, you can choose when it’s time for a career change and opt to work for another provider that offers better rates, or put up your own business for an upgrade.

11. Healthy eating. While bringing packed lunches is okay, there will be days that you will also need to eat together with your workmates at fast-food chains out of courtesy. With this said, fatty foods become unavoidable. Working mums at home don’t suffer from such dilemma (although the biscuit jar is always near..)

Downsides to Consider

Working from home is of course it’s not all rosy and perfect. If it was easy everyone would do it! There are certainly downsides, and it’s wise to be aware of them from the start.

1. People think you’re always available. Your in-laws or neighbours could distract you from working and pop up in your home office any time of the day. Some people misunderstand that working at home does not require deadlines. Your partner may also think you now have time to drop off his dry-cleaning, walk the dog and do all the jobs he didn’t get around to over the weekend.

2. Tendency to follow your own pace. Since you don’t have a supervisor watching you, there is a tendency to slack off at the job. Especially at the start you need a huge amount of initiative, positivity, self-belief and persistence , as you don’t have clients yet that have given you deadlines and it may feel like no one cares about your progress.

3. You could neglect your looks. Many of those working at home, especially the individuals who do not need to see their virtual bosses or clients on-line video, end up neglecting their looks. Putting on make-up and visiting the hair salon as most office-based working women do could become alien things.

4. Lack of people to compete with. Unless you work for an organisation that keeps a roster of virtual employees, you only have yourself to compete with. A competitive environment will always keep you on your toes, trying to best each other. You will need to discipline yourself and beat your last performance in order to improve your skills.

5. Other investments to think of. Prepare your wallet for a bit of expense. If you will be working at home and you need to research online, a slow Internet connection will not do. Photo and video editing will require you to buy a high-end laptop, or a desktop with great specs.

6. Isolation. It could start to feel quite lonely, when you work from home and don’t see a living person for hours and hours. There are no colleagues interested in your progress, no one to ask for help. No one seems to be waiting for your results, especially at the start. Once you have build up a new routine, it’s easier. And later it may feel less lonely once you have joined a networking group, created your own support network of mentors, coaches and business partners or have connected with virtual colleagues/competitors.

Final Thoughts

Many would rather opt to work in government or corporate environments because they think these offer better stability. But working at home could also offer the same benefit if you have the right skill, services or products to offer. But as you can see from above, it may or may not be for you depending on the way you see it.

holly-easterby Author: Holly’s love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby

Returning to work after a second child – how different can it be?

Returning to work after a second child – how different can it be?

I rather excitedly returned to work earlier this month having had almost a year off following the birth of my second son. Returning to work the second time around offered an entirely new experience, why had no one warned me about this? Why did they just warn me about how different my second child would be, and how they would have hugely distinctive personalities, habits and traits from the first one? Unfortunately for me the new experience wasn’t positive either.

I was returning to work again as a freelancer for an organisation I used to be an employee at, and which I had been working for years. The major shift in the way I worked had been after my first child when I decided to resign my permanent job and go freelance so I could more easily juggle the demands of motherhood and career. That was a hugely nerve wracking time but turned out to be the best decision I could have made. At least, returning to the same arrangement the second time around wouldn’t be such a shock or upheaval, I thought to myself.

The night before did bring some of the usual anxieties: how do I help get not one but two children dressed, breakfasted and off to nursery, and myself ready and out the house in time for my train? (really, hats off to you working women with more than two sprogs); will I still fit in my work attire having lost none of the pregnancy fat I promised I would; mmm, oh yes, and can I still do my job?

Yet it was none of these that in the end put a dampener on my spirits. When I walked in the door and strode over to the work area I usually shared with five lively and (unwittingly) amusing salespeople, I found a lone computer sitting on a deserted desk with a mountainous stack of unwanted paper on one side and a huge empty space where people should have been on the other. It was MY computer sitting there in isolation shoved next to what, frankly, looked like preparations for a bonfire. My old colleagues had been ‘rehomed’ leaving my desk to rack and ruin and become a mere dumping ground.

Worse though, where were the friendly, familiar, smiley faces I assumed would be there to greet me? I looked around me to ask someone what was going on and bar a smattering of old timers I realised, with a pang of fear, I hardly knew anyone. So many people were new. My old boss had gone, old colleagues moved to a different floor, departments restructured and moved around, and an entire magazine which I used to work on and dedicated most of my career to had been TUPED off to a different company altogether. Hardly a soul welcomed me back, not because they were being rude but because they just didn’t know me, even though I am now one of the longest serving workers. Gosh so much had changed – spurred on, no doubt, by the spectral economic downturn – and I was in unfamiliar territory.

I had been already made aware, of course, of the major changes such as my boss leaving (something the organisation, to be fair, wasn’t obliged to do given I am a freelancer). However reading about it on email is not like feeling it in real life. Also just think, colleagues aren’t necessarily aware that the gradual changes they experience over the course of just under a year can add up to something representing quite a dramatic transformation to someone who has been absent all that time. They are just busy getting on with it all.

And realistically some change must be expected. Which successful businesses do you know of simply stand still? After all, the organisation had gone through some key changes while I was off with my first child. I coped with that just fine.

Yet this time was different, the pace of change felt far more accelerated. As I said, I guess it’s just a sign of the times. The organisation has been brilliant at supporting me but really not much can prepare you for feeling like everything is suddenly unfamiliar.

As a result, I actually felt lonely but rather weirdly, also a bit stupid, out of place, like a spare part. And feeling like that on top of the insecurity you can experience after such a long spell out of work can be a recipe for disaster if you are trying to get your career back on track. It can be tricky to explain how pressurised it can feel returning to work after maternity leave to those that haven’t done it. Many women suffer a crisis of confidence just because they have been absent so long and worry about their job performance. Then there’s the added stress of worrying how your little one is coping without you and hoping to god they are not sitting in the corner just crying. Your emotional state is about as stable as a straw mountain but the façade you have to give is cool, calm, collected, adding to the pressure.

Going back to a workplace that you then feel has changed beyond recognition can make it tempting to bid a hasty retreat to your desk, speak and interact with no-one and just bury your head in your work. That’s certainly what I wanted to do.

However, on the journey home that evening I had the chance to analyse the day, re-assess the situation and thought I should draw on all the great coaching I had been lucky enough to receive as an employee. I realised fading into the background is not a strategy that was going to get me back on the career ladder. So I devised a personal strategy with a few goals and aims. I thought I should share them, so here goes:

1. Accept change

It happens every day in business. Don’t bemoan the fact the place has changed, all the fun people have gone or old ways of working have been replaced. It will just make you feel worse about your working life. Get to know your organisation as it is now and accept that’s how it is. All the positive elements will soon make themselves apparent again. I resolved to do this after that first day, having realised that all I was doing was comparing the here and now with the ‘old days’. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling dealing with change but I decided I must switch my thinking, be adaptable and ride it out. The next day I started work with a new much more positive outlook.

2. Don’t isolate yourself and keep yourself to yourself

Not even if it is just because you feel you don’t know anyone anymore. Seek out old colleagues to let them know you are back and have a catch up, but then ask them to introduce you to new people. I went and said hello to as many of the people I had formerly worked with as I could, including making a special visit to some of the senior staff! It reminded me I had a place and history at the organisation and that I was valued.

3. Embrace new challenges and new projects

Take on projects outside your comfort zone. It will remind bosses why you are such a talent and give you the opportunity to work with new people and teams.

4. Enjoy your work

Remind yourself of the parts of the job that you find rewarding, stimulating and enjoyable and get stuck in again. It can be a real buzz re-discovering the joys of what you do as well as having some of your former identity back. For me I have loved getting to meet and write about new people again, the chance to make more contacts, to learn what was happening in the industries I write about. In other words, using my brain again!

5. Enjoy working life

It’s can be hard to arrange a night out but if you can join colleagues for an after work drink or work social event occasionally it can be a real tonic.

6. Weed out the negative

You should be too busy to have time to indulge in negative thoughts or feelings anyway!

Ok I can’t claim I have achieved all of this yet. After all, I have only been back at work a couple of weeks. Some of it such as the night out is work in progress and I admit, so too is being able to entirely eliminate negative thoughts. But the simple task of even devising a strategy and setting myself goals and aims has enormously helped my outlook and make sense of my rather overwhelming experience of returning to work. I am also reminded that if I want to ensure my work life is enriching and enjoyable only I can take charge and be sure that that is what happens!

Author: Rima Evans, free lance business journalist and editor, rimaevans@blueyonder.co.uk

Organise, delegate and outsource business start-up

How to organise yourself, delegate and outsource as a business start up

The most-repeated comment I hear from new business start ups “There are so many things to do!”. And it is so true – standing back and taking an objective look, the list is daunting:

Ø On Your Marks! – research market, do feasibility forecasts (am I likely to make money?), identify market, make business plan, identify how much capital is required and raise it (as cheaply as possible!),

Ø Get Set! – decide branding and get design work done, website creation, create marketing materials, identify suppliers, negotiate terms, open bank account, prepare detailed marketing plan, contact advertisers, financial budgets

Ø GO! – Sell, network, advertise, build brand awareness, keep on top of accounting and VAT, reforecasts……

STOP NOW! This list is endless and overwhelming. And it is dangerous. Why? Because if our expectations of ourselves are that by becoming a business owner we also become, apparently over-night, a marketeer cum salesperson cum financial controller cum graphic-designer cum copy writer, then we set ourselves up to fail.

Be realistic – you are the ring-master, not the whole show

It is your job to run the business which means your days will be spent in a combination of generating sales, marketing your business and supplying the product/service. (The time dedicated to each of these activities will depend on the nature of your specific business and how much you can delegate to someone else.)

You cannot and should not try to do everything. Your focus must always be on business-building. If you spend a day doing book-keeping, who is making sales? (Your competitors, that’s who.)

So the advice is – organise yourself, delegate and outsource

Go ahead and make that “To Do” list, then work your way through it, delegating tasks where possible. Be realistic. Outsource recurring tasks that would divert your focus if you were to take them on (book-keeping is a good example). If you need an expert for a task (e.g. marketing logo design), ask friends for recommendations and hire one.

Outsourcing is a facility that makes expertise available to you as and when you require it. Invest in another person’s expertise and experience and save yourself the learning curve that means wasted time and money. Remember, while the outsourced expert completes a task far more quickly, accurately and completely than you could, you are out generating the long-term sales contacts that your business relies on, and which will ultimately more than pay for the cost of your outsourcing.

So many things to do? There certainly are. But not all by you.

Author: Dara McGovern from JumpStart for Business. Dara is an experienced chartered accountant and ex-Finance Director of a large multi-national. She now runs her own Business Finance consultancy, DM Solutions, around her busy family life. DM Solutions is part of the JumpStart4Business strategic alliance which came into being to support business start-ups, providing easy access for new business owners to a range of relevant expertise and experience. dara@jumpstart4business.com

JumpStart4Business runs regular, informative workshops, supporting and encouraging new entrepreneurs, see www.jumpstart4business.com for news on the next event