Christmas Saving Tips!!



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Christmas time is upon us again, and parents everywhere are bracing themselves for the inevitable dreaded Christmas list.

To try and soften the assault on your wallets and purses, we thought we’d compile a few helpful hints to try and save you a bt of cash. As always, your thoughts and your ideas are welcome!

1)Make your own presents. You can make sweets, cookies, fudge etc, family and friends (especially if you have a large number to buy for) will love the personal touch.

2)Set limits for family and friends- suggest a reasonable amount that you all can afford and try to stick to it. Quite often working to a tight budget shows more thought has been put into the presents, making them more appreciated.

3)Try a secret Santa. Put everyone’s name in a hat and each person pulls gets ONE name. Agree a price limit and buy your present. Only having to buy one present saves a bundle!!

4)Lots of small inexpensive gifts can mean more or just as much as 1 big gift.

5)Plan ahead for next year, put aside a small amount each week/month so you don’t have as much pressure on you.

6)Take advantage of sales, keep in mind presents for people so you don’t have to pay full price- I bought a toy in August which was £30 full price, £7 in the sale- bargain!!

7)When using credit cards, only charge what you know you will be able to pay off the following month- if you max out your cards and cannot pay it off within a reasonable time, your balance is too high!

8)Make use of 3 for 2 offers & promotions.

9)Use cash back and voucher sites- Quidco & Topcashback help earn you a small percentage back on online purchases. Also, may have some useful deals on there.

10)Trade old items on ebay, Gumtree, Musicmagpie– if you aren’t using them, you may as well get some money for them!!

11)There may be a clothing bank near you that pays money per kilo of clothes you donate- one of my friends ‘earned’ £50 when she dropped some of her unwanted wears off!

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Self-Love for the Busy Entrepreneur

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When you’re busy, love what you do and immerse yourself in work 24/7, it’s super easy to forget to take care of yourself. You order in pizza, fried rice or Indian curry while working late, which you do, well, almost every night. You book a meeting on top of your scheduled yoga class more often than not. You pamper your clients more than you’ve pampered yourself in ages and you most certainly don’t take the time to meditate or journal. After all, they’re more pressing tasks to get done, right?

Maybe, but taking care of yourself and your innermost needs is essential not only for your overall well-being, but also for your career. If you don’t make it a point to pause every once in a while and relax, your schedule is going to get the better off you and before you know it, you’re exhausted, overweight and entirely burned out.

But I don’t have the time. There’s so much to do. I can’t possibly pull myself away from this project, presentation or meeting. I hear you, believe me, I do. That’s why I thought I’d share a few irresistibly quick ways you can love yourself on a daily basis without it taking over all of your precious time.

 1. Use Mantras While Doing Your Morning Routine

Mantras are powerful. They reaffirm you, ground you and inspire you and the best thing is that you can repeat them while brushing your teeth, showering or commuting to work. There’s no extra time needed, just a bit of effort and maybe a post-it note here or there to make sure you don’t forget.

 2. Stretch

Stretching awakens your body, relieves stress and gives you that extra boost of energy you often need. It also connects your body and mind and only takes a second to do. So, right now, stretch your neck, your arms or your shoulders. Do you feel that? That’s the response of a happy body.

 3. Do a Quick Meditation

Join Susan Piver’s free Open Heart Project and begin your meditation practice with 10 minutes twice a week. The revelations you’ll have in those 20 short minutes will benefit you and your business for years to come. Struggling to find the time? Get up earlier, stop watching TV and your problem is solved.

 4. Practice Gratitude

Before you go to bed, write down five or more things you’re grateful for. This’ll give you perspective on life, work and your needs. You’ll soon find that there’s so much you can be grateful for: your family, friends, this beautiful planet, your body, talents, skills and gifts. Once you’ve started, you’ll more than likely end up with 20 things or so. This little exercise is an instant happiness booster.

 5. Buy or Store Pre-cut Veggies and Fruit

In our super convenient world, eating healthy is as easy as eating fast food. So, instead of ordering pizza, grab a bag of pre-cut fruit, some veggies or a packaged salad and you’re all set for your super healthy snack, lunch or even dinner.

Being passionate about your career doesn’t have to come with the price of neglecting yourself. Just take one step at a time and you’ll soon begin to enjoy loving yourself just as much as you enjoy building your biz.

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Top 5 Challenges Faced By Women In Business…and The Solutions!

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Both career women and those in business have faced many obstacles in past decades and unfortunately, still today.  Women in the workforce have battled glass ceilings, unequal pay for equal production and undeserved stereotypical barriers. As business prototypes have changed with the advent and growth of the internet, so have the unique issues encountered by women in business. Below are five of these challenges and solutions to overcome and achieve success.

Challenge 1: Lack of Cash Flow

Even the most brilliant business plan will fail without sufficient cash flow. Simply put, cash flow can be loosely defined as “cash in” (as generated by revenue) and “cash out” (to pay the expenses incurred to achieve “cash in.”  Inadequate cash flow can stifle a business into failure.

Let’s just get real… your creditors, employees or suppliers don’t care about your cash flow woes. They want to be paid in a timely manner!


To simplify this problem, as well as correct it, look at all facets of the balance sheet and income statement. Is there a lag time between the time you have to pay your creditors, suppliers and employees and when you collect from your customers?  If so, you must pinpoint the problem areas and take necessary steps to correct them.

Four quick solutions to manage your cash flow:

  • Consider factoring. In factoring, a business owner sells accounts receivable at a discount to a third-party funding source that pays invoices immediately. Chris Lehres, a loan officer for Versant Funding says, “A wide range of companies in a multitude of industries, including some with a negative net worth, that are losing money, and often even companies in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy are eligible for factoring services.”
  • Open a line of credit.  A line of credit is a standard service provided by many banks and credit unions that serve small businesses. Your banker can best discuss the benefits of a business line of credit.
  • Offer several payment options to your clients, such as Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or pay pal.
  • Track your receivables. Have a collection process in place so that you have a protocol to handle aging invoices.

Challenge 2: Undefined Niche

To Niche or Not to Niche…that is the question. What is a niche? A niche business is one that targets a very specific group of people with specific shared interest.  A business with an undefined niche is like a ship sailing in shallow water.

By creating a niche business allows you to market to your ideal clients.  For example, if you were a behavioral psychologist targeting teens, you would market your services in places where parents are likely to find out about you; such as advertising in parent magazines, providing  resources to local middle and high schools or joining organizations geared towards parents.


By understanding who and where your ideal customers are; it is easy to craft a marketing plan to target them.  Here are three easy ways to target your potential clients:

  • Improve your website’s SEO with specific key words.
  • Generate exposure locally and virtually with professional speaking, seminars or publishing a book or articles.
  • Craft a clear message that speak at the heart of your customer.

Challenge 3: Not Understanding the Power of Referral Marketing

For years, the mantra for success in marketing was “cold calling.” Today, we know that cold calling is ineffectual, especially when compared to referral marketing. Referral marketing is promoting your business thru referrals and word of mouth networking to more effectively gain sales.

When comparing referral marketing to cold calling, think of it as sowing grass seed. It is much easier to grow grass from seeds if you know how fertile the ground is. You can scatter a handful of seeds over a wide area of dirt and some of it may, or may not, take root.


: Find others with whom to network and collaborate to gain sales. For instance, if your business sells cars, you might collaborate with a local automobile service company with the result that the purchase of a car includes a certificate for a free oil change from the car servicing business. Both businesses benefit and just increased the likelihood for repeat business.

Challenge 4: No Social Media Plan

Random tweets and meandering Facebook posts will result in a lot of time devoted to zero results. Before making another useless post, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of what you want to achieve from social media. To which social media do you belong? What are some social media marketing strategies that you have noticed from other companies? What do you have that will offer value? You may find that your company is spread a little too thin across the social media spectrum. Quality truly is superior to quantity in this respect.


Create a social media marketing plan and stay the long haul. Establishing a strong presence can be a very time consuming process. It is unwise to expect your list of fans, followers or subscribers to grow overnight.

Challenge 5: No Strategic Plan (after 3 years in business)

Without a strategic plan, a business can become stagnant in the mire of what is immediately going on, rather than focusing on long-term goals. Successful businesses recognize the critical need for strategic planning and it is an ongoing process – it is never finished.


An effective strategic planning process allows small businesses to take control of their future and stay focused on the essential areas that will result in sustained periods of growth and success. Here are six tips to help you in the planning process:

  • Assess the Current Business Environment
  • Focus on Important (SWOT) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  • Define (or Redefine) the Company’s Mission and Goals
  • Start with An End In Mind
  • Establish Mini Milestones
  • Plan for Follow Through
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Five business trends that will change our lives in 2013

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In our regular series Andy Yates explores the weird and wonderful world of business life. Yates is an experienced entrepreneur, adviser and mentor and investor-director at – Europe’s largest daily money-saving site for small businesses.

Mystic Meg I am not – but it is very clear to me that there are some key trends emerging that will help shape the business and entrepreneurial world in 2013.

By following these trends the right entrepreneurs and investors could make their fortunes, existing businesses could adapt their business models to save money and win customers and consumers will never look back. So, deep breaths and crystal balls to the ready – here are some key trends we would all do well to watch in 2013.

Crowdfunding: Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has hosted more than 70,000 projects - and about two fifths of these have been funded Crowdfunding: Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has hosted more than 70,000 projects – and about two fifths of these have been funded

The payment revolution

Up until now payments have been a pain for businesses. Payment processing has long been an oligarchy – dominated by a handful of providers, small businesses needed a network of merchant accounts, terminal providers, and more, all with myriad fees, just to accept the most popular credit cards.

But a payment revolution has recently led to the democratisation of payment services. iZettle has just launched in the UK – allowing businesses to take secure payments anywhere and everywhere via iphone, iPad or Android. Through Huddlebuy, businesses and entrepreneurs pay nothing upfront and can get a free mobile website for life

The payment revolution promises to be a boon to existing businesses and retailers. It could also spark a revolution for market stalls, events, pop-up shops, restaurants and delivery services. This, combined with the continued emergence and use of mobile wallets on smart phones and NFC technology that alerts users to local sales, offers and deals, will mean that any businesses which don’t build mobile compliant sites for phones and tablets could end up being downwardly mobile.

Payment revolution: iZettle allows businesses to take secure payments anywhere and everywhere via iphone, iPad or AndroidPayment revolution: iZettle allows businesses to take secure payments anywhere and everywhere via iphone, iPad or Android

The wisdom of crowds

2013 should be the year that crowd funding comes of age in the UK, changing the way many businesses and projects are backed. The concept is a relatively easy one to appreciate. You put your business or product on one of a growing number of crowd sourcing sites and ask people to back you with donations – and a growing number do.

The launch of Kickstarter in the UK has kick-started the debate on the importance of crowdfunding. Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has hosted more than 70,000 projects.

About two fifths of these have been funded – raising more than $345million for entrepreneurs. Businesses or individuals pitching on the site typically offer a range of perks in return for money. Pledges can be anything from £1 to thousands of pounds.

Success stories have become legendary. For example, video games console Ouya, which raised $8,596,474 after initially asking for $950,000.

Crowdfunding is on the crest of a wave at the moment with sites like Indiegogo also proving popular if you have a product to sell. Played right, a good crowdfunding project can help prove the popularity of a product as well as providing some much needed cash.

Riding this wave is a growing number of new crowd investment services – in which would-be investors can buy shares in the business instead of perks. Services like Crowdcube, Seedrs and newly-launched Bank to the Future allow investors to back businesses they like, with anything from the price of lunch upwards.

Yes, these are high-risk punts on early-stage investments (and investors need to be aware of this and educated about the risks) but, over time,these sort of crowdfunding services could attract a new crowd of investors where, previously, business angels have feared to tread.

Spacehive has pioneered crowdfunding for communities allowing us to back local projects – from playgrounds to public spaces. And more crowd-solving services will no doubt emerge in 2013 – where businesses ‘ask the audience’ for their help.

3D vision

3D-printing technology is not new in itself. It has been used by designers and engineers for many years. 3D objects are created by sending a digital file or scan to a printer which then builds the item layer by layer. Rapidly falling technology costs could herald an industrial revolution which could start in earnest in 2013.

The revolution is likely to begin with designers, start-ups and small businesses, who can finally compete with the big boys and offer cost-effective bespoke and small-scale production runs. Then, when prices fall enough, these 3D printers are likely to be the must-have new gadget at home – stimulating our creative juices and creating a new generation of budding designers and products.

The growth in 3D smart phone apps and communities will also gain pace and momentum in 2013.

3D printers: Falling technology costs could herald an industrial revolution which could start in earnest in 20133D printers: Falling technology costs could herald an industrial revolution which could start in earnest in 2013

Glued to the box

The TV could make a comeback in 2013. Rapid growth in internet usage has created a generation of Facebook couch surfers. But internet TV could take off in 2013 with the likes of Google and Apple TV gaining traction and bringing services we know and love to a bigger screen.

New TVs with significantly enhanced picture quality are already emerging and 4k TV, described by some industry observers as ‘the HDTV experience on steroids’ – with four times the resolution of your current set – could begin to catch on in 2013.

3D televisions are likely to get wider adoption when you don’t have to wear those annoying glasses. Also watch for the rise in second screen services and businesses – where audiences can interact with what they’re consuming, whether it’s a TV show, video game or movie. Bigger, better and more interactive – watch this space.

Social impact

A growing number of start-ups, businesses and entrepreneurs are turning to businesses that have a strong social impact and that try and solve some of the big problems in the UK and globally. The launch of Big Society Capital, funded by unused deposits in dormant bank accounts, and tasked with investing in the social sector, will help stimulate the market place.

A growing band of entrepreneurs backed by the likes of organizations such as UnLtd and Nesta can help innovation, technological advances and social impact. And, finally, bigger companies are waking up to the fact that putting something back can help rather than hinder their bottom line.

Social impact and investment looks set to be a growing and enduring theme in 2013 and beyond. I could go on… I haven’t mentioned augmented reality and Google goggles…but, suffice to say, 2013 promises to change the face of many industries.

Businesses and entrepreneurs would do well to embrace rather than ignore what’s hot in 2013 or risk being left out in the cold.

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Ten Top Tips: What 4G can do for SMEs

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EE has just announced pricing for its new superfast 4G service for consumers and businesses across the UK. The 4G network will bring numerous benefits to small firms, enabling them to become more productive, efficient and flexible. Here are 10 ways that small businesses can get 4G and use it to drive their firm forward:

1. Check you can get 4G

You’ll need a compatible device and to check to see if you can get coverage. Second, ensure you have a 4G compatible device. Third, pick a 4G price plan. Finally, request a 4G SIM card from EE.

2. Get more done on the move

4G will help accelerate the current remote working trend, enabling small business owners and their employees to become more mobile than ever before. To cut down on unnecessary trips to the office, firms can use 4G devices to hold HD video calls with clients or virtual teams.

3. Back up devices on the go

The days of coming back into the office and backing up your device are well and truly over. With 4G, small businesses can automatically back-up all their documents, images, settings and address books whenever and wherever they are.

4. Work from anywhere

Small firms will now be able to send large attachments, download files, enabling them to work from anywhere. For architects and surveyors this means they can quickly download 3D CAD plans – rather than waiting to send them from the office’s fixed line connection.

5. Use 4G to get instant connectivity

Getting to market as quickly as possible is crucial for small businesses. Unfortunately many can’t begin trading until they have an internet connection. 4G gives those firms the ability to set up instantly, rather than wait 40 days for a fixed line to be installed.

6. Give your marketing a boost

An effective way to market a small business is to create online videos. They improve online visibility and help firms capture the human element behind their company. 4G’s superfast upload speeds mean small firms, like street food sellers, can instantly upload videos to Facebook, YouTube or Twitter of new recipes being tested, food being cooked or the stall being set up.


7. Introduce new ways of working

Small businesses can use 4G to innovate by introducing new ways of working. For instance, installation engineers travelling to fix machinery can instantly connect to office systems from the road. Letting customers know when machines can be fixed will increase customer satisfaction and boost efficiencies.

8. Stop waiting for email attachments to download

Downloading an image heavy attachment can cost businesses time. A 20MB document, for instance, will take on average 8.3 seconds to download with 3G. Downloading the same attachment using 4G will reduce this wait to less than a second on average.

9. Unleash your creative side by brainstorming in the park

Inspire staff to create new business ideas by getting out of the office and brainstorming in interesting locations. For example, hold a brainstorm in a park – with a 4G mobile wifi device staff will have instant access to the internet to research ideas. They can then upload documents to the cloud at the end of the session.

10. Foster a good work life balance culture

The potential to work remotely can help increase employees’ work-life balance, helping them avoid traffic or long commutes into the office. Instant connectivity to the work network means staff will always have the access they need to crucial documents at a moment’s notice. 4G can help increase productivity and may lead to a happier workforce.

Martin Stiven is vice president of Business at EE.

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5 Easy Steps To Help Reach Your Goals


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We all want specific things in our life, the problem is how to reach what we desire. It’s not always easy to reach our goals, but are there any tricks to reach them? There aren’t any easy answers to that question, however I have a few ideas that might help you get there:

1- Believe in yourself
I cannot put enough emphasis on the fact you need to believe in yourself and in your abilities to achieve anything in life. Believing in yourself is the key to almost everything you will start. If you start a business not only you need to be in love with what you do, but you also need to believe in the fact it can work. It’s the stepping stone to any foundation. Most of us already do this for common things like cooking, driving a car or taking a class in University.

2- Think about the process to reach your goal
Planning ahead is important, especially when you are trying to reach a specific goal. It’s very important to visualize each of the steps needed to reach your goals. Imagine yourself doing these steps, living each instant of them. This is a very easy way to plan ahead, it also helps you not forget anything along the way. By visualizing the steps you can see what you need to do to reach your goals. When the time arrives and you are living those steps, you will probably get a “déjà vue” and this comes from the fact you already imagined it. I usually do this before going to bed, which brings me to my third point.

3- Visualize your steps before going to bed
Yes, visualizing each steps before going to bed will not only help you reach you goals with less hurdles it will also make you dream about it. I often dream about my goals or my daily life, this gives me practice in what I am about to do. Did you know when you sleep your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and fiction? This explains why your dreams can feel so true. It also explains why a nightmare can feel so real. Once we understand this concept you can see all the advantages of dreaming properly. I will write a post another post soon dedicated to this technique.

4- Strive, fight and stay positive
Your goals won’t happen overnight, they also won’t happen without work. You will have to overcome many obstacles before you reach your desired goal. There are always people who will work against you (if it’s not yourself doing so) or technical hurdles you will need to overcome. NEVER discourage yourself, always stay positive and focus on being a problem solver. Keep pushing and never discourage yourself even when you think everything is lost. No one has ever achieved anything without past failures or setbacks, try to stay positive.

5- Get backup, use your contacts and talk to people
Don’t be shy to talk to people about your new goals and how you plan to achieve them. Other people’s insight can be very important and can help skip a few steps. A teacher once told me that on a construction yard do they build new trucks and tools for each new construction? The answer is NO. The same concept applies to our life and experiences, you can use other peoples experiences to learn quicker and get by some of the steps. (In this example they are your tools) This can be true on tangibles goals like setting up a business, going back to school or building by yourself a shed in the backyard. Getting help is not only smart and quicker it will also show your friends and family that you want to learn and achieve your goals.

I want to point out one important thing about goal setting. I believe anything is possible and that everyone can reach their goals. Keep in mind some goals might not be possible to achieve. We need to be realistic in life, I understand this only applies to 1% of population, but common sense is important (after all, this is a blog for logical people ;) ). Also if you set your goals too high you will be disappointed if you can’t reach them appropriately, so don’t be too greedy and make sure whatever your goal is, that deep down inside, that is what you really want.

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Is Dragons’ Den Past its Sell By Date?

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Entrepreneurs are more firmly in the spotlight than they have ever been thanks to TV shows such as Dragons’ Den, which is currently back on our screens. Entertaining as it may be, I worry that the show could actually be damaging to young entrepreneurs of the future, and the digital industry in particular.

The most concerning thing for me is the fact that bright, young entrepreneurs are often under-represented on the popular show. To keep us viewers interested, we are subjected to endless pitches for increasingly quirky products.. In this series alone, we have seen pitches for ice cream for dogs, a self-service marriage machine, and even a design-your-own coffin service.

As an entrepreneur myself, I worry that young people with big ideas in the digital industry are holding back because Dragon’s Den gives the impression that digital businesses cannot be taken seriously (but of course, doggy ice cream can).

Although it’s great that some startups are getting recognition, I believe Dragons’ Den is giving an unrealistic view of the way things are done. With so few serious entrepreneurs and so much ridicule for unsuccessful pitches, it’s enough to put young entrepreneurs off trying altogether. But the air of tension is exaggerated in post-production and squabbling between the ‘Dragons’ would never happen in real life – I can assure you that’s not what it’s like to pitch to real investors.

When entrepreneurs are turned down in the Den, it can be disheartening to those viewers who are considering starting up a business. However, there are so many success stories from those that the Dragons dismissed, that it’s clear the show is no indicator of how viable a business is. Ideas such as the Trunki kids’ suitcase and the Tangle Teezer hair brush were thrown out of the Den but have gone on to sell millions.

I think the show is good fun, but should be taken with a pinch of salt. If you have a great idea, don’t think you’ve got to stand up in front of the cameras to get noticed. Real investors require less of a stake in your business, will take you seriously, and are considerably less intimidating.


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