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Posts Tagged ‘women in business’

The Power Of Thank You

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Growing up, it was a built-in tradition that after every birthday and Christmas, I sat down with my best fountain pen to handwrite a thank you letter to family members and friends who had kindly bought me presents. It’s a tradition I keep up with my child, though I do still currently write the letter/card and the finishing touches are added in colourful crayons!

A thank you goes a long way, equally in business. Not just at Christmas time but maybe after a successful project has been finished or a new office opened. A thank you to staff after an exceptionally busy period where everyone has dug deep and worked hard as a team.
So, as we have two national anniversaries this month which celebrate baked goods, why not say a little thank you to your friend, colleagues, staff or your family.

National Doughnut Week!

The 11th of May heralds the start of National Doughnut Week and a sugar coated jam doughnut is still viewed as a treat in our household. Why not pop into your local bakery on the way to work or in your lunch hour and pick up a few of these jammy delights to share? Maybe stop in on a friend or relative for a cuppa and bring a doughnut for each of you to enjoy.

National Biscuit Day!

As we approach the end of the month, we encounter National Biscuit Day on Wednesday 29th May. Last year’s YouGov survey revealed that the chocolate digestive was Britain’s favourite biscuit with a plain digestive coming in second. This winner may spark a huge debate in the office – bring in a packet or two, enough for your team or department, and discuss it over a tea break.

Expressing gratitude in the work environment, whether highlighting specifics in a team meeting or privately sending a quick thank you email does boost morale and increases productivity. We all appreciate when our efforts have been noticed, even if it is part of our job role. A boss or team leader who acknowledges the hard work and dedication of colleagues, will create a ripple effect through team structures, which will in turn benefit everyone.

Our true friends are extremely valuable and do not ask for anything in return, however, telling them how appreciated they are – either with simple words, a note, an offer of babysitting, sharing a coffee (or a glass or two of wine) or the aforementioned doughnuts and biscuits will deepen the bond between you.

Gratitude is a wonderful thing.

It can build mental strength and make you more resilient. A simple – honest – mention of those two little words can have such a positive effect in all environments in which it is uttered. In whatever you do today be mindful to say ‘Thank You’ to those who deserve it – however big or small their endeavours, from holding a door open to handing you change from a purchase.

It’s Stress Awareness Month – Here’s how we react

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

April is stress awareness month – something we can all attest to as stresses do get on top of us whilst we juggle the various aspects of our life. Making sure we get ‘me’ time each day to decompress and relax is easier said than done if we have a busy routine and people – however big or small – relying on us.

Exercise will always help to create those happy endorphins which in turn can boost our mood and reduce stress. Whether it’s getting out in the fresh air for a run in the great outdoors or heading to the gym for a workout class or a swim, these activities will release happy hormones to surge around our bodies and combat any stressful worries.

The Acorn Marketing team all have their own preferred ways of relaxing and taking some time for themselves after busy working days.

We all enjoy the benefits of yoga and Pilates. Some of us take time to focus at home with daily movements at the beginning of each day, others head to a weekly class and switch off both phone and mind to outside influences and just enjoy being in those 60 minutes to workout, breathe deeply, stretch and prepare our bodies for the week ahead. You can find great tutorials online – even short routines to do at your desk.

I find baking to be quite cathartic, switching off to follow a recipe and working methodically. Tidying up whilst my creation is rising in the oven (I’m sure Bake Off contestants don’t have to do their own washing up though!). The big reveal when your cake/pie/bread comes out of the oven and stands to cool on the counter – is always rewarding. I will be honest though; a disastrous bake does negate the relaxing effect achieved during the stirring/whisking process.

Work can be the biggest causes of stress for people so to try to combat this, try and ensure you step away from your desk at lunch. Go for a walk or sit somewhere aside from your desk to eat, just to change the scenery and give your brain a rest from your work space.

Jogging is also a definite means to de-stress. Step into your trainers and head outside (I prefer on a dry day!) either solo or with a friend or two, to appreciate your surroundings – especially in this beautiful Spring season with so many new flowers and trees in bloom. We don’t run so fast that we can’t hold a conversation so it’s easy to keep fit and put the world to rights (always multi-tasking). It’s now a ritual in our diaries.

Sometimes the simplest of pleasures can help us unwind and sitting in your favourite chair with a good book and a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate, to immerse yourself in the pages, is just what we all need.

Tiny changes might also help keep calm – if the queues at supermarket checkouts get your blood pressure rising, order online for home delivery. If the thought of going to the gym with lots of other people exercising is a little intimidating and you start to feel the s-word, there are many online classes or DVDs to complete in the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits you. Whether it’s an energetic HIIT workout or calming yoga, pick the best one for you.

A great first step to make today would be to remove your phone as a distraction from your evening routine. Don’t check work emails in the evening – they can wait until the morning. Any updates on social media can be caught up on in the morning too. This will help your brain switch off, relax and hopefully aid a deep and stress-free sleep, making you ready to deal with whatever the next day brings.

Breathing can also aid us in relaxation. Taking a deep breath in for a count of 5, holding for a count of 6 and breathing out for a count of 7 will help restore calm.

So during stress awareness month, find your feel good factor (or factors), do things for you and remove those stressful triggers from your life to avoid tensions and to help you relax and look after yourself.

Juggling act

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Running a business and being a mum really is a juggling act!  I’ve spent the day writing social media plans for next month, whilst I’ve got a roast in the oven and washing on the line.

For many years my business was my baby, I put my heart and soul into it.  It was my life.  But, since I became a mum (and step mum) things have changed.  I now have two babies to look after!  Most days I manage to do some form of work, but I’m often checking emails whilst building a jigsaw or reading a book to my little girl.

However, despite it being a juggling act I actually get the best of both worlds.  I can be at home and have precious time with my daughter, but then run a successful business as well.  So, how do I do it…

  • Be organised

My biggest tip is being organised.  There is no way I could do what I do if I was not super organised.  I have lists for each client and what we need to do, plans for social media, plans for advertising, plans for future plans.  I then have a weekly list of everything I need to get done that week with priorities, I even then have a notepad, where I write down what I need to do each day.  I know it sounds a lot, but when you’re juggling ten or so clients at a time, you need to write everything down and plan everything.

I also then have lists at home, shopping lists and lists of what we’re going to eat each day for tea.  I have a work calendar and also a family calendar, so everyone knows what they are doing and when.  My little one is only two and a half, so I think this planning is only going to stand me in good stead when she starts school!

  • Communicate

It is also really important to communicate well.  Not only does it help you to be organised, but it ensures my clients (and family) are happy.  I have a rule that I will always answer emails in 24 hours, or even just acknowledge people if I can’t give them an answer right away.  I also pick up the phone.  We often fire out emails when we’re busy and I’m guilty of that, but if I have something tricky to explain about a piece of work, or if I need a question answering urgently I use the good old telephone to sort things out – an art, which seems to be getting lost these days!

  • Support

Probably the key to my success is the support I have from family – particularly my Mam and mother in law.  Between us, we share the childcare.  If I have an important meeting to attend, I know one of these great women will jump into action, swap shifts and be there to help.  April goes to Pre-school in November, so I will have even more time to get things done!

  • Give yourself a break

I recently let things get on top of me.  I didn’t know whether I was coming or going and felt like I was doing a million and one jobs all the time with no respite.  It seemed like I put everyone at the top of the list apart from me!  I discovered a book called The Self Care revolution, which is fantastic and really gives you a handle on how to manage things, coping mechanisms, stress and how to ‘give yourself a break’.  I think we’re all too hard on ourselves to be perfect at everything whether that is work, motherhood, looks, ageing, weight loss and some times, we just need to take a step back and realise that actually we’re good at what we do.  We may not be perfect at everything, but we’re doing our best!

I now make sure I take some time out for me, cinema, spa days and a daily dose of Yoga.  Have a read…it could help you too!

  • Enjoy it 

The biggest thing is that I love my job.  I enjoy meeting clients, forming relationships, doing marketing and seeing projects come to fruition.  I also love being a Mummy (as most mothers do) and although I say I’m juggling, it’s not really juggling as it’s just life!  It’s what I do and I love it.  I get the best of both words, being a Mum whilst running a successful business.

If you are thinking of starting your own business and you’re a mum, I’d say go for it.  Yes, it will be hard, yes, there will be times when you want to go back to 9-5, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.  There is no looking back!

International Women’s Day

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

 

8th March is International Women’s Day.  This is a day to celebrate women in the workplace and to encourage every person – both women and men to play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women and helping to create a more gender inclusive world.

I have never personally felt that my gender has stopped me from doing what I wanted in life or in my career.  I guess I grew up in a changing world where there were more opportunities.  For my grandmother, this would have been so much different.  At that time they would traditionally have done domestic jobs or stayed at home with the children; not having the opportunities in education as I did.  I think we’ve moved on even more since I was at school and see lots of gender inclusive opportunities for children; including my step daughter playing football or the opportunities (or acceptance) she has to pursue careers that may have traditionally been associated with males.

Being a business owner I understand the challenges faced by those who run a business regardless of being a man or a woman.  And being a Mum now too, the additional challenges I face trying to juggle both.  I’m not sure there are as many Dad’s who stay at home to raise the children and run a business?

Running a business never really occurred to me as being an option when I was at school.  However, I recently read that women account for under a third of those in self-employment, but over half the increase in self-employment since the recession started in 2008. Between 2008 and 2011 women accounted for an unprecedented 80% of the newly self-employed.

There are now almost 1.5 million women self-employed which represent an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn

Women account for 17% of business owners, ie. owners/ managers/ employers.  However, there is still a long way to go.

I feel passionate about being a woman in business, inspiring young girls and encouraging them to think about running a business as a future career.  I feel proud of what I have achieved and keep achieving (despite often sending emails with a baby on my knee or catching up on work at 10 pm).

I have always been inspired by other women in business and looked up to them.  People such as Jacqueline Gold and Karen Brady are my icons.  Closer to home my old boss, Liz Pugh at Walk the Plank was such an inspiration to me.

For the past 2 years, I have won the award for Sole Trader of the year at the North West Enterprise Vision awards.  These awards celebrate women and all we do in business.  I feel this award really recognises what I have achieved and the battles I face running my own business.  There are so many fantastic women in business that ought to be recognised and by having events like International Women’s Day and the EVA awards really highlights the power and influence women can have.

I hope that when my daughter enters the working world things have moved on even further – with more opportunities, equal pay and support for women’s advancement.

Lisa scoops 2 EVA awards

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Amidst the crazy year I’ve had, having a baby and running a business, I was proud to announce that I won an Enterprise Vision Award for the second year in a row!  I was once again shortlisted as Sole Trader of the Year in the Enterprise Vision Awards.  I won this category last year and it was a fantastic event that I decided to enter again.

Last year I was 26 weeks pregnant, so I didn’t get to celebrate properly when I won.  However, this year I was going to enjoy myself and it was also the first time I had left my baby over night.

I didn’t think I would win two years in a row and had convinced myself that I wouldn’t.  When my name was announced to say I was overwhelmed and emotional was an understatement.  I had to then give a speech to 600 people and I froze.  I could not get the words out and just burst out crying.  Luckily the audience were amazing and just cheered me on.  Last year I was cool and composed.  I deserved the award, but this year I felt like I deserved it so much more.  I have been through a really tough year having a baby 10 weeks premature (read more here), but despite everything I still managed to run a business and keep things going.  This year’s award felt like recognition for that.

Lisa Jackson wins second enterprise vision award

Lisa Jackson wins second enterprise vision award

Lots of champagne was consumed, dancing was done and a trip to the casino too!  We had a great night and really let our hair down.  Not only did we leave April, but it gave us the opportunity to reflect a bit about what we’ve been through the past year.

The awards recognise women in business in the North West and I feel so proud and privileged to have won this prestigious award once again – up against some stiff competition from other fantastic businesses.