Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for many business owners it can also be the busiest. Outsourcing can be a great way to save some time this festive season and give yourself the chance to enjoy the holidays. In this blog post, I will share the tasks you can outsource this season.
1. Ensuring all 2021 admin is complete
The most stressful December task for many is ensuring everything is ticked off your to-do list ready for January before you close for business for the year. I can save you time by ensuring your database is up to date for 2022. I can also help with your invoicing ahead of the new year, helping you to get paid and start the new year without any outstanding invoices.
2. Christmas cards
Writing and sending out Christmas cards can be an exhaustive task, by outsourcing this task you can save yourself a lot of time and effort whilst still wishing your contacts a Merry Christmas. Last Christmas, I hand-wrote all Christmas cards and envelopes for a client enabling them to send them out ahead of the Christmas rush, assisting them to build upon their client relationships during the pandemic. There are many advantages of sending handwritten post, you can read them here.
3. Christmas gifts
Sourcing and sending the perfect corporate Christmas gift can be a logistical nightmare. It is expected to be even more challenging this year due to delivery driver shortages, making it vital to be a thought for now, rather than later. I understand many business owners have clients and staff throughout the UK and into Europe, who may still be working from home or live in areas where travel restrictions make it still difficult to visit them, therefore it is vital for gifts to be easy to post. I can work collaboratively with you to find and send the perfect corporate Christmas gifts for your requirements this year. Before sending out cards or gifts you must also ensure your database has been updated to guarantee items are posted to the correct addresses. Database management and maintenance is something you may also wish to outsource.
4. Planning or researching ready for projects to kick-off in the new year
The new year is a time many businesses launch new products and projects, for this to happen research must be taken prior to January. A remote support service like Busy Lives! can carry out effective research so you are able to start your new year projects with the best possible information. I can work closely with you to create clear research goals to ensure suitable and effective information is gathered ensuring your business is ready to start 2022.
To learn more about outsourcing the tasks mentioned above or anything else, call Busy Lives! 07 565 722 031. Alternatively, you can drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements!
I understand that many business owners can become distracted by the mundane tasks the organisation must undertake, but do not enjoy carrying out themselves. This can lead to loss of motivation meaning these tasks take longer than necessary to complete, wasting time that could be used to perform other tasks within your business.
This is where I can help, you may wish to outsource these tasks to reclaim your time and motivation. But what are examples of tasks in your business that can be outsourced? I have put together a shortlist below.
Invoicing is the most common task small business owners decide to outsource. It can take a lot of time to not only carry out but to learn and ensure you’re up to date with current financial guidelines and compliance. However, a remote support service like Busy Lives! can manage your invoicing, saving you time, boosting your efficiency and ensuring you get paid on time.
- Testimonial gathering
We all know people read reviews online before making purchasing decisions nowadays. Consumers tend to trust what other consumers have said more than the messages a business puts out about itself. Though, I understand many small business owners do not either have the time to gather their own testimonials or feel awkward asking for a review. Outsourcing your testimonial gathering can be the perfect solution for those seeking honest reviews for their business, people are more likely to be honest with an outsider than the individual they did business with as there is no pre-existing relationship.
I recently collated a client’s testimonials from all her various media platforms, produced a report, and selected those that would be most appropriate to use as social media content. I then created 52 branded graphic and social media posts, so my client could share a “testimonial Tuesday” post every week for a year.
- Business overview reporting
I understand the activities your business undergoes daily can have a big impact on your overall business, that’s why I believe it is important to produce regular business overview reports. For many of my clients I collate financial data and produce a forecasting document that analyses trends. By forecasting and analysing trends my clients can spot early warning signs or the areas in which their business is excelling to ensure they can focus on the areas that need immediate attention. Through doing this you can save time, money and resources as you have a greater understanding of what is and isn’t working within your organisation.
- Database creation and management
Databases are the most effective way of storing large volumes of information efficiently. They make it easy to view, update and remove important client and prospect data. If you do not have an existing online database, I can transform your paper-based information to create one. During this process, I will ensure all your business information is correct, up to date and most importantly secure and compliant.
- Research and information gathering
Outsourcing research can enable you to focus on your core business offering, I understand not everyone’s main skill set is research and carrying out effective research can be a lengthy process and hiring full-time researchers can be expensive. I can research anything for you, from website audits to membership organisations that may be relevant to you and your business I have worked with a wide range of clients on several information-gathering projects. I work closely alongside the client to understand the aims and objectives of the research to ensure the data collected is appropriate and effective.
Outsourcing allows small business owners to get more done, without sacrificing the important but tedious tasks and processes to professionals without having to hire more internal staff. You also benefit from my extensive knowledge and expertise. I keep my skills fresh and up to date so you get the best of both worlds.
To learn more about outsourcing the tasks above or anything else, call Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Alternatively, you can drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: email@example.com
Nowadays, instant communication with your clients and prospects through email is expected, while sending them handwritten post is unheard of in most industries. Even though technology may have transformed the way we communicate, receiving a handwritten post still excites many of us!
Sending handwritten post can be a great way for your businesses to stand out and be listened to by your customers. As inboxes and social media feeds are getting fuller by the day, post is way more likely to be opened and read than any email. It’s also a good way to show you care.
What works well being sent in the post with a handwritten envelope?
- Cards – Thank-you cards, Christmas Cards, Just to Say Cards
- Handwritten business letters
- Invoices & quotes
- Lumpy mail – promotional mail that you want to get opened
- Newsletters, brochures
Why don’t organisations send handwritten post?
- The time it takes
- The perceived costs
- The organisation needed prior to the task
- Not everyone has neat handwriting
I can squash all these concerns by managing your handwritten post.
Recently I wrote the envelopes and posted 100 cards for a client, they were thrilled with the time and effort I saved them which allowed them to focus on the business’s core function. Many of their clients and prospects also commented on how lovely it was to receive something so personal in the post.
Last Christmas, I also did something similar for clients to ensure their Seasons Greetings were sent on time ahead of the Christmas rush helping them to build on their client relationship skills during the pandemic.
The year before that, I handwrite 120 A4 letters for a business to introduce themselves as a new service provider that would assist their staffs wellbeing in large companies. A printed brochure was also enclosed providing more detail.
Are you ready to send information through the post and get it opened? Take a look at the post you receive over the next week and see how much is actually handwritten.
Why you should send handwritten post
It’s a great way to build relationships, the perceived time constraint of handwritten post can also be an advantage. By sending your clients or prospects a handwritten birthday card, thank you letter, Christmas card or invitation they will recognise you have dedicated time to contact them.
It can improve brand recall and resonance. Handwritten post is personal, unlike digital communication such as emails, it can be 100% personalised. Post is a fantastic tool for standing out amongst your competition as it is likely to resonate with the receiver in a way an email cannot.
There is less distraction when opening post than on screen, your customers are less likely to switch off and have their attention grabbed by something else. People often dedicate time to opening and reading their post, that they do not routinely do for online communications.
So, what next? I would love to have a chat with you to see how Busy Lives! Nottingham can help your business with either remote support or we can visit your premises. Can I help you plan your next mail campaign?
Let me help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every business is different, however, the one commonality we all share is that we want to save time so that we can work on our businesses not in the day to day. This is why I set up Busy Lives! Nottingham. I want to help busy businesses owners, save time, money and stress by outsourcing the tasks you really don’t like doing.
Be honest, I bet you are sat reading this and thinking of all those jobs you have been putting off such as filing receipts, typing up minutes, sending invoices etc. That’s what I love! I am very organised and methodical, so these tasks are just what I love – helping business owners to get clear.
Let’s be really open, I have walked in your shoes. I spent 16 years as a Head Teacher of one of the largest primary schools in Nottingham City, regularly working over 70 hours a week and managing a large workforce. I wanted to reduce the stress but keep the organisation skills I had developed so created Busy Lives! Nottingham
I am often asked what are the main types of work that can be outsourced that save both time and stress for businesses so here are my top 5:
1.Business Organisation and Paperwork,
Businesses cannot ignore the number of records they need to keep in terms of accounts, insurances or correspondence. Even with paperless offices, records still need to be kept. One of the biggest time stealers for any business owner is dealing with the post, emails and letters. This can all be outsourced saving you precious time. Just think today how much time have you spent on business organisation and collating paperwork?
I am regularly asked to help businesses:
- Keep their records up to date,
- Create databases,
- Send invoices and letters.
I can keep the wheels turning whilst you concentrate on what matters most. Another great example is if you keep carrier bags full of receipts, invoices etc and you are coming up to your year end or tax return time, I help to organise your records ready for your accountant or bookkeeper.
2 Business Documents and Templates
It is vital that all documents used within a business are speaking from the same voice. Templates and processes can be costly in the time they take to create so this is where we offer real value. I can help with:
- Letter templates
- Powerpoint presentations
- Handout and notes
- Training Manuals /staff handbooks etc.
- Mail merging letters and labels
3. Meeting Notes & Planning Documents
Note-taking and typing up reports can take you precious time to collate and once you get back into the day-to-day, it is difficult to find that time to ensure the minutes are professionally created, actions noted and circulated to all concerned. Before Busy Lives! I often felt stressed trying to effectively chair a meeting with multiple stakeholders, whilst trying to take detailed notes, and managing the day-to-day workload, especially when there were urgent actions that needed to happen.
This is a popular way I help businesses. Even through the pandemic when meetings were being undertaken on Zoom / Teams, I was able to provide the benefit of minutes and note taking enabling the owner to concentrate on what was going on and being discussed. I do also offer a transcript service, for more lengthy, detailed meetings. In your next meeting, just see how much time you spend making notes and not focusing fully on what is being discussed. I think you may be surprised about the amount of concentration needed.
4. Data Entry
On my travels to different businesses, I often hear “I’m too busy to create a database” or “I don’t have time to send letters” and one of the biggest barriers to this is data entry. It can be really time-consuming to create a database from existing client records, invoice details etc. Whilst data entry can be time zapping, it is a job I really enjoy, especially when I am qualifying the data as I go along. Especially since the GDPR regulations came into force in 2018, it is vital business owners keep their records up to date and any marketing data is kept in the correct way and maintained.
Did you know the regulations are different for just keeping a postal address to electronic details on a person!
I am so proud when I have helped a company collate customer records into a database which they can market to them with ease and new work is generated. How much more money could you generate for your business with a fully working, up to date database?
5. Strategic Planning against Key Performance Indicators
Have I told you how much I love analysing data? I have recently been helping several business owners to analyse their data and create monthly strategic planning documents to give them a snapshot of their business without them having to analyse all of the datapoints themselves. This service has proved very popular helping owners to see where they are going and what they need to do if they are off-target.
Don’t be scared of data, with my help you can have a clear vision and make realistic decisions.
So what next…I would love to have a coffee and see how Busy Lives! Nottingham can help your business with either remote support or we can visit your premises. Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: email@example.com
Using excel to track your finances – 1
The beauty of Microsoft eExcel is that you can tailor it precisely to what you want it to do and your level of skill. I have a file for each financial year for Busy Lives! and a separate one for the cost of living, which believe it or not I set up in 1994!
This is the first in a series of Excel finance blog posts. It explains how to use some of the simple controls to be able to create, use and track your own finances on excel.
The second post will explain how to insert simple formula, filter information and dropdown lists. Last but not least, the third post will be how to use and show data in charts and graphs.
What sheets to create & why
Having a professional look
Shortcut keys & Freezing panes
Formatting a column to present data the same way
How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this
What sheets to create for your business finances
A good rule with excel is to only have a sheet if you really need it to inform your business. Here are the main sheets I have both used myself and created my clients:
- Annual Expenditure
- Car Related Expenditure
- 12-month Cash Forecast
- Expenditure / Expenditure (Client) / Expenditure (VAT)
- Bank Statements
- Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client)
- Client Analysis
- Thank you
If you sell items I would also suggest / incorporate:
- Profit Margins
- Stock Levels
- Client Ordering
Annual Expenditure – I find this sheet useful to both track and predict how prices increase year on year, along with where my money is going.
12-month Cash Forecast – This has a formula built in which will automatically add your totals up each month showing at a glance what your currently income, expenditure and bank balance is. I find this sheet is really good where have one-off large expenditure occurring in different months such as business insurance and tax. (Blog Post 2 will show you how)
Expenditure (General)/ Expenditure (Client) – This sheet needs to be set up to reflect how your business runs. For example:
- Busy Lives! – the vast majority of what I buy is for just my business and I don’t earn enough to be VAT registered.
- The BlG Blue Hat Gardening Services – expenditure reflects a combination of tools bought for the business and materials such as plants, gravel and compost for customers. This sheet is set up so that you can see the overall expenditure, the actual business expenditure and what needs to be claimed from the customer.
Car Related – I like to keep this separate. Personal choice.
Bank Statements – It’s good to have a tracking overview to see the movement of monies in and out of your account as opposed to just the month you’re in when you view your statement.
Income Invoices / Income Invoices (Client) – Like the expenditure option above, set it up to reflect your type of business.
Client Analysis – My favourite sheet which really gives me an insight into the business. It has a variety formula in it which will populate graphs as you add to it each month.
Thank you – A useful quick reminder to ensure I follow through and say thank you to my existing clients.
Having a professional look
Adding the little things can make a world of difference to your spread sheet, here are my favourite top three:
- Colour each sheet tab and give each sheet a name – right click with the cursor over the word ‘Sheet1’ and you will see the option to Rename and Tab Colour. I often use the business brand colours!
- Have the same font and size on all your sheets – select the box between ‘1’ and ‘A’ then select the font and size you wish to use. I usually use Aerial, size 11 on excel.
- Make you headings and titles stand out by filling the cell with colour and making the font size slightly bigger – select the cells with your heading in and use the fill option which is directly under the size. Again, why not use your brand colours.
Shortcut keys & Freezing panes
The following keyboard shortcut keys can be used not just with excel but across all Microsoft Office Applications. These are the ones which I find really useful:
- ‘Ctrl A’ – to select everything in the document press Ctrl A.
- ‘Ctrl C’ – to copy – highlight what you want to copy then press these two keys.
- ‘Ctrl V’ – to paste – select the cell or area you want to paste the copied information in, then press these two keys.
- ‘Ctrl B’ – make wording / digits bold – highlight any text / digits you wish to make bold and then press these two keys.
- ‘Ctrl U’ – to underline – highlight any text you wish to underline and press these two keys.
- ‘Ctrl I’ – for Italics – highlight any text you wish change to italics and press these two keys.
Freezing panes is another expression for locking multiple rows and columns. It’s really useful to have when you have lots of entries, as it enables you to still be able to see the headings.
From the heading ribbon at the top of the excel file select ‘View’ and you will see the options for you to select to freeze multiple panes, just the top row or just the first column.
To lock multiple columns, select the column to the right of the last column you want frozen, choose the View tab, and then click Freeze Panes.
Formatting a column to present data the same way
You can set up the columns in excel for different purposes. For instance, on my Expenditure sheet I need a column to show the date, a column to show the price including the price sign, and a column to give me the option of the different allowable expense areas. This is done through formatting the cells.
Select the column you wish to format. Right click either your mouse / scroll pad and you will see the option to ‘Format Cells’ click on this. You now have a set options to select from.
My top three common ones I always use are:
Date – select the option that suits you I always like the date, month and year as digits.
Accounting – so the pound sign always automatically shows and has the same number of digits after the decimal point.
Text – where you want to insert phone numbers and have the ‘0’ showing at the beginning.
How Busy Lives! can help & support you with this
Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and unable to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position or are wanting to start their own business.
I am happy to help by:
- Teaching you how to use excel for yourself at a pace and time to suit you.
- Setting up a bespoke financial year excel template for reflecting your business needs.
- Entering all your finance invoices, bills and receipts for you as and when you need support. (This can be on Excel, QuickBooks or Xero)
- Analyse your data on a monthly basis and produce a summary of the key headlines in a report. This will help you recognise trends and areas within your business to help it grow in the future.
- Setting up an easy system for your filing all your financial paperwork and receipts.
Find out more about my Small Business Support Services – Click Here
Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031
Drop me a message on this website, LinkedIn or Messenger on Facebook
Or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top tips for making your home look good before selling
When selling your home first impressions count. Making your home look welcoming and well-loved can make a world of different to your selling prospects. Below are some helpful hints and tips, organised by room, to help you get your house looking its best ready to be sold. Making your home appeal to the right type of buyer will help it to sell quicker and for the best price.
Outside: The garden and Kerb Appeal
Inside: General tips
Inside: The Kitchen and Dining Room
Inside: Living Spaces
What Busy Lives! can do to support you with this.
Outside – The Garden and Kerb Appeal
When buyers arrive to view your property the first thing, they will see is the outside of your home, so making the outside look good is important and thankfully, it is easy to do. These simple steps will ensure your outside spaces are looking their best.
- Mow the lawn and trim any hedges, bushes and trees.
- Put bins out of sight. If you don’t have somewhere to hide them consider building a hiding place for them or invest in a couple of large plants to hide them.
- Make your garden secluded and secure. People like their privacy and if potential buyers have children or pets they will want any garden areas to be secure. This can be achieved by putting up appropriately sized fencing or hedges. Just remember not to make the place look like a prison or dark and dingy.
As well as improving the garden boosting your home’s kerb appeal (the outside appearance) is important, and easy, to do.
- Clean the windows.
- Make sure the house number is visible. There is nothing more annoying than buyers being unable to find your house for a viewing!
- If it’s winter and getting dark early leave an outside light on or put a lamp in one of the front windows. This will make your house look homely and it will also be easier to spot by potential buyers.
Inside – General hints and tips
When selling your home ‘staging’ it, the way newly built properties are staged allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home.
If your house screams of you then some buyers may struggle to picture themselves living in ‘your’ home whereas a neutral looking home is easier to envision being filled with the buyers belongings.
Here are some general hints and tips to get your home ready for buyers.
- Make sure everywhere is clean and tidy.
- Set the table. This will appeal to buyers with families or who like to entertain guests.
- Turn on lights. Lamps can disguise dark corners and make your home look more inviting.
- While you may love your dog, no one wants to buy a house that smells like one. Spray air freshener before a viewing or buy some plug-in air fresheners. Some homemade baking smells coming from the kitchen always work well for me.
- Check the temperature. If it’s warm open some windows or if it is cold turn on the heating. A house that feels too hot or cold can be very off putting for buyers.
- Hide the clutter. Put away knick-knacks and small pieces of furniture to make rooms look bigger.
- Repurposed rooms. If you are using your spare bedroom as a home office try and revert it back to a bedroom. Sometimes buyers can find it hard to imagine an office serving as a bedroom so showing them will avoid this potential problem.
- If you have any damp get an expert in to find the root cause of the problem and get it resolved.
- Let in the light. Open curtains and blinds to let the light it. Mirrors can also make rooms look bigger and reflect light.
- Make it neutral. It is very unlikely the buyer of your home will have the same tastes as you. While you may love your technicolour wallpaper buyers may find it unattractive. Repaper walls in simple designs and repaint brightly coloured walls with neutral colours if necessary.
Inside – The Kitchen and Dining room
Known as the heart of the home the kitchen is one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to buyers. Replacing a kitchen can a costly and you may not get your money back however these tips will help you give your kitchen a new look without breaking the bank.
- Replace worktops if worn. This cheaper than buying a whole new kitchen and often a new worktop or counter can completely change the look of your kitchen. Also, keep your worktops clear – buyers like to see how much space they will have.
- Paint / replace cupboard doors if needed. Again this is cheaper than buying a new kitchen. A quick lick of paint can do wonders and really refresh your kitchen. Go for a neutral colour (white works best) to keep things looking clean and light. Make sure all your cupboards and doors open and close smoothly.
- If you have old fashioned or broken tiles in your kitchen replace them with a plain tile to give your kitchen a new feel.
- Most of the time a deep clean can make old floors look like new but if your flooring is cracked or worn then replacing the flooring can help you sell. Once again chose something neutral and easy to clean.
- Make sure you give your kitchen a deep clean and empty the bin before any viewings. Remembers buyers will often want to look in your cupboards to see how much storage space they will have. Keep your cupboards neat and organised. If your cupboards are fit-to-burst full it may make buyers believe there is not enough storage space.
Whether your dining room is part of the kitchen or separate it is important to make it feel like a welcoming place.
- Set the table before any viewings and if you really want to impress put a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit on the table to give that homely feel.
- No one wants to eat in the dark. Make sure your dining area is suitably lit. If you don’t have overhead lighting put a lamp nearby to eradicate any shadows.
Inside – The Bathroom
After the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms to buyers. Keeping your bathroom clean, functional, and modern can be one of the more expensive things to do, so it is important to think about this before starting any improvements. Ultimately the most important thing for the bathroom is to make it functional and really clean.
- Replaced dated or damaged suite with a basic white suite.
- Remove carpets and replace with easy-to-clean flooring like tiles or laminate.
- Bath or shower? If your bathroom is small, then the decision of bath or shower is made for you however if your bathroom is large it may be worth considering putting in a bath and a shower. If you are selling a family home, then this can be a big deciding factor for buyers as they will want a bath for children.
- Using a grouting pen on stained grout will refresh your bathroom. The same goes for any sealant that is discoloured or peeling.
- Shower curtain. Replacing an old or bright shower curtain with a new one or putting in a glass shower screen will give a classy look.
- Put any bottles or toiletries away in cupboards.
- Ensure your bathroom as a mirror and a medicine cabinet – often medicine cabinets will come with a mirrored door.
- Add a little personality will fluffy towels in neutral colours and a pretty soap dish maybe a scented candle or green plant.
Inside – The Living Room
The living room is the place where you entertain guest and where families will spend time together. Help attract buyers by:
- Stick to the rule less is more. Keep the room uncluttered and neat. Remove small items of furniture to create space.
- Give the room a welcoming vibe. This is can be achieved quite easily with a vase of flowers and a few ‘coffee-table books’
Inside – Bedrooms
The bedroom is the place to relax, get ready for the day and sleep. Storage space and the bed are the most important factors when it comes to bedrooms.
- Keep your rooms neutral, clean and uncluttered.
- Make the bed the focal point of the room. If you have a double room always try and put a double bed in it – sometimes buyers can struggle to picture a double bed fitting in a room unless there is already one in it.
- Less furniture is always better. If possible, remove unnecessary furniture.
- As with the kitchen, buyers will most likely want to look inside any fitted wardrobes so keep them neat. If your clothes look like they’re crammed in it will give the impression that there is not enough storage space.
- With children’s bedrooms, make sure to put toys away and keep the walls as uncluttered as possible.
- Make sure all the beds are made. Adding a few decorative cushions can give a splash of colour as well as making your bed look inviting.
When it comes to making your house look good ready to be sold the main thing to do it make it look clean and neutral, like a blank canvas the buyer can see themselves painting in their own style. Before making any costly improvements, it is good to think about your selling price. Most of the time a few simple things can change the look of your home and several items are things you can then take with you to your new home.
Whenever you sell a house it is important to think about your potential buyers. Is your home ideal for families, young people, the elderly? Whoever your house is best suited to will give you some idea as to how to stage it. Families will want space and facilities for children. Young people will most likely want a modern feel while the elderly may be looking for easy access. Making your home appeal to the right type of buyer will help it to sell quicker and for the best price.
How Busy Lives! can support you with this
Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.
I am happy to help by:
Coming and organising your rooms and storage before prospective buyers come to tour your home.
Connect you with a great Gardening Services business to do the outside of your property to make it look fantastic.
Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031
Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook
Or Email: email@example.com