New Year, New Focus

I’ve seriously neglected this blog for the past few months. I found I lost focus, motivation and self-belief for a little while.

But I decided in 2022, that was going to change. I got excited about my small business again by welcoming changes. I decided to shake it up, get creative and use planning and routine to get my focus back.

I now have a great morning routine in place. I have 2 planners that I write in while I have my coffee. I then do some activity whether it’s the gym or a nice walk in nature. I also meditate for 10-15 minutes. I find doing these things set me up for a productive day. I was so fired up this morning!

I also make sure I fully wind down at the end of the day and not take my work into my evenings. Just simply changing into comfy loungewear helps me massively.

Have you any tips for keeping focused?

Back to Basics

I was lucky enough to get away this month. I returned from Kos, Greece last week after a lovely, relaxing holiday. While I was away it gave me a chance to think about my business, my goals and reflect on recent months.

It’s been fairly quiet on the sales front. A candle business is bound to quieten in the summer. I found myself dwelling too much on numbers. I kind of lost my passion and drive because of it.

I decided when I returned home and got back to work I would change my attitude. Instead of worrying, I got back to basics. What do I love most about my work? What is my favourite part of the job?

I stripped back the business head and the creative me was allowed to run free. I did what made me happy. I found I have a new mindset now ready for the busy period. Autumn and Christmas are usually manic so I am mentally ready, it just takes a reminder of why you started to help you through that wall.

What do you love about your work?

Where is my mind?

How things can change in mindset. One day you’re more motivated and determined than ever. The next you struggle to accomplish the most basic of tasks.

The past few weeks I’ve been distracted by lots of things, I’ve only been concentrating on my small business (as quiet as it is) and not much else.

My podcast has taken a back seat, this blog as well. Why does this happen?

Well, it is thought that motivation is a cycle. It’s not linear or constant. It is ‘a dynamic process, and our motives vary over time. Raising and falling as circumstances change, and as time passed, motives contribute to the ongoing steam of behaviour. To further complicate matters, we are driven by a multitude of different motives as any one point in time.’ (Positive Psychology, 2021)

So what can we do to change our motivation levels? One of the easiest ways is to simply take action, just start. From personal experience, I know when I’m avoiding cleaning because I can’t be bothered, once I actually start – I’ll end up doing more than I thought I would.

Another tip, simplify where you can. One big goal can be split into smaller, simpler steps.

Sometimes just looking at what you’ve achieved so far can really help. It boosts your confidence and kickstarts that drive to accomplish even more. Celebrate your successes.

Express gratitude – it can increase your energy, lift your mood and change your outlook. (Thrive Global, 2021)

Just simply reading more about motivation for this blog post has given me the boost I needed to tackle my to-do list and get myself back to my productive self. I hope it can do the same for you.

England: Never give up hope

I vividly remember being a young girl in 1996 going to bed crying because the England team had lost. And on penalties. That was my first real taste of disappointment as an England fan.

Euro 96

Many years followed, as the song goes “Everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before”. A new tournament, more disappointment. In fact it was inevitable.

Then, in 2018 – they make you think that this time will be different. You get hooked and your heart goes all in… just to be broken again.

Last night I finally watched our England team get to a major tournament final. I never thought I’d see this day, after all the years before, I always knew what was coming. But this time, is it really different? Could we do it?

Last night

And how does this relate to small business? Well, simply put – I never give up on England. Failure after failure, loss after loss. A part of me always still believes and supports that team. So why don’t we have that belief in ourselves and our business? When we fail or do badly, we need to support ourselves and believe we can do it next time. There will always be a next time to show up and succeed. No matter how hurt you are, or how bad you failed – never stop dreaming.

Ambling through Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms – there’s around 1 billion users per month (Instagram, 2021). These users spent on average 30 minutes per day on Instagram in 2020 (eMarketer, 2020).

So we have the potential to reach 1 billion people and we have to get their attention in a 30 minute window. Sounds daunting, right?

Primarily, break that 1 billion down to your local area. Conquer your corner first then the world. Your local town/city is most likely where you’ll get your first customers/clients. Follow some successful local businesses and see who is following them.

The way to get followers on a brand new account is to be seen – when money for advertising isn’t really there, simply follow someone’s account. They will see a notification and check out your profile. Chances are they will see you’re local and think why not, and hit follow back. You have a follower!

Of course, make sure you share your profile with your friends and family and prompt them to follow you too. This can bump your following up a significant amount and it costs them, and you, nothing.

Another tip on being noticed is interacting with other accounts. Like and comment on their posts. Not in a spammy way – read the caption and comment accordingly. These other accounts could be your ideal customers.

Post to your stories often. Add interactivity to it – like a poll. It’s so easy for people to just click their vote. Add a hashtag or a location to the story – this means other users, not just your followers will see it.

Post consistently. This is a big one across all platforms. But the Instagram algorithm will push your content a little further to the front if you post every day. During Instagram’s Creator Week in June 2021, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri revealed that posting 2 feed posts per week and 2 Stories per day is ideal for building a following on the app (Hootsuite, 2021).

Don’t stress about followers amount. Some accounts could have 10,000 followers but engagement is really low. Another could have 300 followers and really high engagement. You want followers that are interested in your content, they are potential customers. The Follow for Follow trend essentially gives you a higher follower count but they only follow you because you follow them. They may never buy from you or engage with your posts.

Instagram is always evolving and changing. New features like reels are added. There are endless free resources to help guide you on the best times to post, the kind of content people want to see, the most popular hashtags to use. Just spend at least 10-15 minutes a day on your Instagram content and engaging with other accounts, you’ll soon see an increase in followers. Good luck!

Podcasts are fun

I planned and recorded my latest episode today. Sometimes inspiration and motivation just pops up out of nowhere so I took advantage.

After it took me 4 months just to get the first episode out there, I needed this surge of creativity to play out. Within half an hour I’d recorded a 20 minute episode. I actually love recording, it’s fun. It reminds me of why I loved working in radio.

Recording Episode 2 tonight

Now I just to need to get the audio edited and posted this week, and not wait another 4 months. I am not letting any seeds of doubt enter my head, I will not be afraid of achieving what I want to and I am going to at least try – there won’t be any regrets that way.

And of course, it’s coming home! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Rest Days are Essential

Being a small business owner means taking time off doesn’t seem to come naturally. There’s always work to do so taking time for yourself can lead to guilt.

But, why? When I worked for somebody else I definitely did not feel guilty for taking time off. I enjoyed those days A LOT. Now I work for myself, I know the work only gets done when I do it, so me time = work outstanding.

If I plan properly and prioritise my workload, planning in time to rest can be done and should be. Your work performance will certainly suffer if you don’t. You might as well not be doing it if it’s not done well.

This weekend, after a successful Market Night on Friday, I headed to Shell Island for a camping trip with family and friends. It’s exactly what I needed to finish off a week of hard work.

Sunset on Shell Island

Creating a work/life balance is what we all strive for. I will not look back at the weekend and wish I stayed home to get more work done, I will cherish the new memories made.

And The Winner Is…

Yesterday I got to pick up the award I won back in January for Candle Company of the Year.

I headed to Nunsmere Hall Hotel with my husband Jac and Starlight team member Hannah (who is also my cousin).

Nunsmere Hall Hotel

We made ourselves a complimentary coffee and waited to be called in for our photos. It was so exciting – this was my first business award win.

The Dream Team

Then we headed into the room where there were bright lights and a huge back drop. We had some photos taken and I was passed our award and certificate! It had to be organised this way due to COVID. Unfortunately!

In my hands at last

So me, Jac and Hannah had a little wander around the grounds, took some photos and then treated ourselves to a pub lunch! It was a lovely day.

I hope this is my first award of many. I’ll continue to work hard at my little business and I’ve loved my journey so far.

Keep on dreaming,

Amy

In The Beginning

I woke up this morning and decided to take action.

Today, I am going to collect an award for my small business – Candle Company of the Year. It’s very exciting, I’m nervous and very proud.

Four and a half years ago, I wanted to start a candle business. I worked full time for the NHS at the time.

As my business grew, I would dream that making candles and wax melts was my full time job, I wanted to be my own boss.

In October 2019, I was half way there. I had dropped to part time hours and had much more time to invest in myself and my business.

Then COVID-19 hit and the demand for wax increased massively as people were stuck at home and weren’t spending money on holidays or socialising. I was able to quit my job and one of my dreams came true.

It’s not been an easy journey. I was a complete business novice in the beginning, and sometimes feel like I still have so much to learn. But there are people out there who are just like me when I started out. Struggling, not knowing the basics, failing. Well, I decided I might be able to help those people get through their first year or two of business.

With a history in radio production, I figured a podcast would use my strengths and skills more than other platforms. I recorded and edited the first episode then nothing. Mindset is a very important thing. Self doubt works it’s way in. Do people even want to know about me and my story? Do I have anything of value to say? What do I know?

Well this morning I decided to take action. I decided I won an award, I must know something.

Get out of your heads. Take a step forward, I dare you.