Workshops in the officeIn the organisation where I work almost everyone is either being transferred to private sector firms or being made redundant (at a later date the few remaining will either be transferred to another public sector organisation or made redundant - I will be made redundant at the end of March 2013. To help its staff take the next step forward, my employer is running a series of workshops. This week I attended "getting you and your business on the web" and "starting your own business"...brilliant! Both workshops were really useful and have given me bit more confidence to move forward, along with a better idea of my next steps.
It was so refreshing that both workshops had a real emphasis on looking at what you need to do and really want to do. The website workshop started off seriously looking at whether you need a website at all. It hadn't really occurred to me that people now market more with facebook and twitter, where you already have a connection with people. It can be quite difficult to set up a website so that it comes far enough up the search results page for anybody to bother looking at it. I think I do want a website, but I can keep it simple.
It was with this idea of marketing via social networks in mind that I joined Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/) the other week. Oh my! If you have not yet discovered Pinterest, I have to warn you - it is both wonderful and terrible. Hours can slip away as your eyes glitter with the reflections of images, like a kid with her nose against the sweet shop window (or our old golden retriever sitting by the stove waiting for a batch of welsh cakes to cook). Pinterest is dangerously addictive! Even as I opened it in another tab to copy the URL to put the link here, I found myself lured into...'ooh lemon cheesecake in a jar'...'oooh pastel stars quilt'...'ooh vintage typewriter'. I had to force myself to come back to this tab...STEP AWAY FROM THE PINTEREST PAGE! Oh what the hell, go ahead and have a look!
The starting your own business workshop looked at how many small businesses fail and why they fail, what can go wrong and what personality traits and experience make you more likely to succeed along with finances, tax and the like. What amazed me was that I came away feeling quite empowered. I am quite a risk averse person and for me to take this chance of working for myself I have had to have a whole load of safety nets in place. It is not that I am a pessimist, but I am very much a realist. I need to know what the worst case scenario is and that if that happens I will still be fine. This workshop sent me away with a spring in my step, feeling that I am doing the right things; moving in the right direction; and that I stand a good chance of it working out...even though there are no guarantees and it will take time.
One thing the workshop presenter said was that every entrepreneur needs a 'Fantastic Four' - four people who you run your ideas and plans past, are completely honest with and who you can trust to be honest with you. It's actually quite hard to know who to ask. Well, the first two are easy:
1) Mark (my partner) who has a vested interest in my making a profit, and who, when I show him some piece I have made, wants to know what the materials cost and how many I can make in a day; and
2) my sister Helen who has had many years' experience of running her own business and has loved and supported me all my life, and will always tell me the truth.
It's not that I don't know anyone else, rather that I am spoilt for choice. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by intelligent and creative friends. The choice is not made easier by knowing that many of the most appropriate friends are hugely busy... This is going to need quite some thought and consideration.
Dorset weekendHaving had a few busy weekends, Mark and I have decided to spend a relaxing 4 day weekend in West Bay in Dorset. Why is it that when we are at home our cat Rio leads us a merry dance when we try to get him in for the evening, but when Mark's parents move in to cat and house sit, they have no trouble getting him in at all? (We prefer to have the two cats inside over night because that's when cats are most at risk of car accidents and the like, because their hunting instincts kick in and all they can think about is their prey).
On the way to West Bay we stopped at one of our favourite gardens; Mapperton Gardens near Beaminster. Last time we were there it was Spring and the garden was a mass of yellow, blue and white and we found birds' nests and sat outside the cafe wrapping up against the slight chill. This visit the garden had become far more exotic with hot pinks and reds, and we had to sit inside the cafe as it was too hot outside. The benefit of this was that I had time to admire the amazing stitched canopy draped over the ceiling!
|Sawmill Cafe at Mapperton Gardens|
|detail of the ceiling at the Sawmill Cafe|
|detail of the fabric and stitching at the Sawmill Cafe|
|the orangery at Mapperton|
|the walled garden at Mapperton|
|looking back up to the Summer house|
|Mark under a canopy of roses|
|looking back up to the orangery|
|guardians of the swimming pond|
|topiary along the line of ponds|
So yesterday we returned to another favourite garden; the sub-tropical gardens at Abbotsbury:
|woodland stump - evidence of earlier storms|
|giant rhubarb (gunnera)|
|butterfly on hardy geranium|
|damage from the latest storms and flooding|
|the Japanese bridge|
|Mark with a gunnera parasol|
|plumbago and Summer house|
|reflections in the Jurassic pond|
|detail of a flower|
|Mark reflected in the fish pond|
|reflections in the pond|
|reflection of crocosmia lucifer|
|water lily and reflection|
It is expected to rain today, so we have booked lunch at the West Bay Hotel, so I am going to have to decide between the fresh fish I love and usually choose and the traditional Sunday roast Mark swears is the best ever (apart from mine of course!). Choices, choices....