The Power of Handwritten Post

The Power of Handwritten Post

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
  • 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

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.

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.

Next Steps

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 we help you plan your next mail campaign? Let us help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031. Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or email: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

5 Ways to get precious time back with Busy Lives! Nottingham

5 Ways to get precious time back with Busy Lives! Nottingham

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.

Next Steps.

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: karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk

 

Outsourcing – when & why

Outsourcing – when & why

One of my favourite top growth tips which I read frequently is all business owners should consider outsourcing and delegate anything you can! This blog post explores the rationale behind this.

 

  1. What is outsourcing?

  2. Why Outsource?

  3. What are the most common areas outsourced?

  4. What are the benefits of outsourcing?

  5. Where do you outsource from – does size of business matter?

  6. Why outsource to Busy Lives!

  What is outsourcing?

  • Outsourcing is the business practice of hiring a contractor outside your business to perform services or create goods that traditionally were performed in-house by the businesses own employees and staff.
  • Outsourcing can be used for any position whatsoever. It’s function is to provide support to the central infrastructure of a business or in in the day to day operations of a business
  • Shift tasks, operations or jobs or processes to an external workforce by contracting a third party.
  • Businesses outsource to perform or tasks handle operations and provide services that that the business is struggling to do or keep on top of.
  • The process of hiring another business for a specific focus and length of time.
  • Paying to have part of a business’s work done by another business.
  • Outsourcing is associated with efficiencies, it aims to produce higher or equal returns.

Why Outsource?

It’s interesting how the size of your business influences if you outsource and to what degree. There are a few common services that apply to all sizes of business – such as insurance and accountancy but after that it becomes much more open ended.

Outsourcing can reap great benefits for all size of business. The benefits from this can include operational cost reduction; having a specialist to work on areas not a current strength or take a long time; improved efficiency and releasing internal staff for specialist projects.

So, which of the following could really make a difference to both you and the effectiveness of your business?

What are the most common areas outsourced?

Administration                         Analytics                                 Application support

Bookkeeping                           Business support                    Catering

Change management             Cleaning                                  Coaching

Database management          Data Entry & analysis             Document & data processing

Form processing                     Grounds Maintenance            HR

IT Technical support               Legal services                         Marketing

Maternity/Paternity cover        Mentoring                                Minute taking

Payroll and pensions              Project management              Staff supply

Strategy & problem solving

Outsourcing helps you to focus your energy and passion on those parts of the business that you enjoy and are the expert at!

What are the benefits of outsourcing?

  • Increased efficiency for the business.
  • Variable capacity.
  • Increases focus and time available for strategy / leadership direction.
  • Access to specific skills or resources.
  • Flexibility to meet changing business conditions.
  • Cost effective if only required at certain times of the year.
  • Lower overall costs than an employee as tax, NI, pension is not paid.
  • Flexible time durations from an hour if remotely, to half full days, weeks, months.

Where do you outsource from – does size of business matter?

Can you remember the famous Aesop’s fable of the Lion and the Mouse? The Lion was great and mighty, but it was actually the mouse that had just the right the skill set to help the Lion succeed with the problem he had!

Why is it we automatically turn to the big companies with the products and services we know?

Is it because that’s the name we know or have heard of?

Does this always mean we get the best possible service and products by using them?

Some of the greatest advantages small businesses have over their large competitors are: flexibility; innovation and the freedom to think outside of the box to find your solution; great customer care; precise tailored responses to your individual needs; agility and adaptability to respond quickly; not having to conform to corporate bureaucracy (9-5 timings) and; building up over time an unique professional relationship where the small business owner cares about your individual needs and success, in addition to their own.

Larger service provider companies may well have a pool to draw from, but have they always got the specific skill set for the job that you may be hesitant to delegate, to save you both time and assist your work demands. Freelance executive, virtual and personal assistants are a growing highly skilled work force community, with many diverse strengths and experiences from different corporate backgrounds. We are professional, efficient at delivering high standard results and care about what we do.

Be strategic for your business and with your time. Make use of the small business executive, personal and virtual support out there.

Why outsource to Busy Lives!

I have a vast skill set that I acquired as a Head teacher that can be useful to anyone, as I now help those businesses with large workloads with a plethora of priorities and deadlines. I’ve been in that position of being time poor and totally understand and know what it’s like. Take a look at my page about me!

So, which of my following services could really make a difference to both you and the effectiveness of your business?

Administration                         Analytics                                 Application support

Business support                    Constructing Presentations    Database management

Data Entry & analysis             Document & data processing Formatting documents

Form processing                     Maternity/Paternity cover        Mentoring

Minute taking                          Organisation of files                Project management

Recruitment                            Staff supply                             Strategy & problem-solving

Social Media                          Training resources

 

I Do the things you don’t like to do,
the things you don’t have time to do,
the things that may take you much longer than me to do!
The other key benefit of using Busy Lives! is that I can do the work at your business, remotely or at your home to suit your precise needs.
Freelance outsourcing can reap great benefits for all size of business. If you know someone who is struggling with everything and really busy please share this blog post or tell them to either email: Karen@busylivesnottingham.co.uk or give me a call: 07 565 722 031
Ensure your website contributes towards your online reputation & business

Ensure your website contributes towards your online reputation & business

The quality of your website and the information within it is a fundamental part of your online reputation. Along with Social Media it is one of the main methods people now use find out more about you and your business.

From attending some excellent ‘Digital Growth Programme’ courses this Blog post shares some of best tips I have learnt for you to check against the effectiveness of your website.

Overview

  1. Assess how effective your website is running and its key messages.
  2. Evaluating the effectiveness of your website and reputation against your competitors.
  3. Acting on actions to be the best within the marketplace.
  4. How Busy Lives! can support you with this.
  5. Link to case study.

Assess how effective your website is running and key messages.

 

Top ten tips taken from my checklist include:

  1. The home page is welcoming and makes people want to explore your site.
  2. Key information about your business is above the fold line / active window.
  3. The business name clear and repeated on all the pages.
  4. Contact telephone number on all pages.
  5. ‘Call to Action’ present on all the pages.
  6. Testimonials page validates who you are and your expertise.
  7. Clear messages as to why use me and what the benefits are to you.
  8. Interesting and relevant pictures used throughout the site.
  9. Good page load speed of your website on both a desktop and mobile device.
  10. The size and location of where your business serves clear.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of your website and reputation against your competitors

Sometimes the simplest methods give you the clearest answers. I use the table below to compare clients and their competitor’s sites. I usually compare between five to ten competitors to gain a good feel for the marketplace.

3 Top tips:

  1. Before you commence decide if your competitor search is going to be local, national or global.
  2. Use your website as the last business you search and review.
  3. Keep from 3 to 5 bullets for each business and make them succinct.

 

Acting on Actions to be the best within the marketplace.

Just like attending training and gaining new information, if you do nothing with it and not act upon it the result is a waste of your time. Pull out the common key features that your competitors currently have on their websites or are missing from yours. I use the following four headings to compile this:

  1. Recommendations / Next steps.
  2. Short term quick wins.
  3. Longer term content and page areas to improve.
  4. Technical improvements the web provider will need to.

Why your online reputation matters?

Having a great website will contribute strongly towards your online reputation and will:

  • Give you a competitive advantage to attracting and gaining new clients for your business.
  • Gives people an experience of not only what you do, but your brand and your reputation.
  • By adding new pages or blog posts demonstrates that you are an expert in what you do.
  • By adding new pages or blog posts improve your ranking with Google searches.
  • Validate who you are and how people perceive you.

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 provide services like these for local small businesses and this frees up their time to focus on bringing in greater income for their own business. A ‘win-win!’

I am happy to help by:

  • Researching your competitors websites for you.
  • Carrying out a website and competitors audit.
  • Linking you up with web designs / web technical editors that I know, like, trust and respect.

Why not take a look at my Website & competitor review case study

Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031

Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook or Get in touch

Find out more about this along with other remote services available by clicking here.

 

A twist to finding out more about someone

A twist to finding out more about someone

Knowing me, knowing you…

I think we would all be surprised if we counted the number of questions we ask in a single day regardless if it’s towards:

  • a client
  • in business
  • within a networking group
  • making an enquiry
  • colleague
  • family member.

The beauty of my niche business is the vast range of projects that I’m given that can make a difference to individuals and organisations. I’ve recently gained a new six-month contract to interview members of a network for their newsletter and website content: ‘Coach-in-the-spotlight.’

When invited to submit a pitch for the contract, it made me reflect on different questioning techniques I’ve used over time for different purposes. This post explores some of the common approaches which, if you read, will help you reflect on the methods you use.

Typical Question starters

We all know the five ‘w’ key question starters we automatically use in our daily lives without thinking: who, what, where, why, when…how, is another one used commonly.

Some questions we ask, depending upon how we ask them, are closed only requiring a short direct yes or no response.

For instance:

Is it raining currently outside?

Some questions have what I class as a second layer to them which require a person to respond in more depth.

For instance:

Which month of the year do you think has the most variation in the weather and why?

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Education professionals commonly refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy for developing questioning techniques (by Benjamin Bloom). This has six layers to it in a structure which increasingly requires the use of cognitive thinking skills.

It commences from a very simple recall of facts, through to  developing a deep understanding. There is a wealth of information on the internet regarding this if you are interested in finding out more.

 

 

 

Question Stems examples for each of the six areas

Knowledge

  • What happened after…?
  • Which is true or false…?
  • Can you tell why…?

Comprehension

  • What do you think could of happened next…?
  • Who was the key person…?
  • Can you distinguish between…?

Application

  • Do you know another instance where…?
  • From the presentation given, can you develop a set of instructions about…?
  • What factors would you change if…?

Analysis

  • What was the underlying theme of…?
  • What were some of the motives behind…?
  • Can you compare your…with that presented in…?

Synthesis

  • If you had access to all resources how would you deal with…?
  • How many ways can you formulate…?
  • Can you see and construct a possible solution to…?

Evaluation

  • How effective are…?
  • Is there an improved solution to…?
  • Can you defend your position about?

 

Typical Questions asked

Whilst conducting my initial research on the group I’m going to be interviewing, I found they already had short biographies about themselves on their website. This made me want to avoid and not repeat those first introductory questions that we often used when you meet someone. Typical ones I often get asked are:

  • What do you do?
  • How long have you done this for?
  • What other careers have you had previously?

A twist to finding out something more about someone

What follows are ten from a range of questions I’m going to be using to probe and find out what makes each one an interesting, knowledgeable and unique person / coach:

  1. If you could ask anyone a question in the world who would it be and what would you ask them and why?
  2. What book has influenced your work the most in your work and how did it influence and enhance your coaching philosophy?
  3. What tip would you give to someone new joining your profession?
  4. Where does the majority of your work take place? Your home / Their home / Coffee shop / Business premises / other – does it make a difference?
  5. Who inspires you the most and why?
  6. If you won a week’s holiday where would you go and why?
  7. What do you like to buy as a treat for yourself? How often do you do this?
  8. What’s your favourite comfort food and is it the same as when you were a child?
  9. What sort of marketing has generated the most new clients for you? Social media / referral / networking / literature / business expo’s / other
  10. Thinking of your favourite character in your favourite film, what type of personality traits do they have? How are they similar to you?

…what would your answers be to them and why?