5 Easy Ice Breakers to Use at Events

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If you’re in business, it’s a great idea to get out and about to meet fellow business owners. It gets you away from your desk/studio/laptop and you learn from others. Admittedly, when I started out back in 2004, it was no fun for me until I learned the following tips.

It’s so much easier now with social media so as I once wrote, use the internet to get off the internet! Here are the tips that work for me:

  1. Walk into a room smiling. Smile at everyone; the staff, the people you pass coming in just in case you see them later and everyone that's already at the event. A smile is the most inviting sign and people will gravitate towards you.
  2. Use social media to find out who you (vaguely) know that will be at the event and agree to look out for each other. Mentioning what you are wearing will help!
  3. Ask the host to introduce you to someone.
  4. Ask the first person you speak to introduce you to someone else.
  5. When you do speak to someone, a great conversation opener is ‘who can I can introduce you to?’ This doesn't just mean people in the room. You can connect them to your contact then and there via social media or drop them an email after the event. Another connection made!

If you have any other ice breakers, do share them below or vial @RickieWrites!

Peer-to-peer lending at Rebuilding Society

thR6QIBLREI got a chance to try out Rebuilding Society, the lending platform that’s not so much crowd funding but more about investments. The companies seeking funding are looking for a loan for expansion, except they have been vetted and from what I see, are generally much larger than what we see on crowd funding sites.

I’ve never invested on those so it took me a while to figure out how to invest but a few helpful back and forth emails soon put me right. For some reason, I expected they’d be more companies listed but there are only a handful of carefully selected organisations listed at a time.

I invested my £50 on a promising company looking to expand. They had a very clear vision and because they are involved in ‘cloud computing’ and moving away from the ‘traditional mode of supplying hardware, software and installation services’, I believe their potential is huge. I'm happy to pay a teeny part in their expansion.

Advatek are based in the North West but do business in Wales and the Midlands, where I live. Another reason for investing is that they only ‘deal with proven IT brands, such as Cisco, Microsoft’ etc. and that this £50K loan will pay for developing ‘a suite of services to offer to the market’. In all their P&L looked pretty good and the loan also meant them hiring an additional employee. They quickly raised the £50K - in fact I really they raised it early and felt lucky to be accepted as an investor!

In my business, I help start, grow and promote mainly micro businesses. Even £10,000 to them would quite frankly mean the difference between trying to start their business while holding onto a salary paying job to being able to work on their business full-time and make it pay.

I get regular updates from Rebuilding Society (what a great name!) and I've already had loan repayments of £2.87 and earned 83p interest. Imagine if my investment was 10-fold or even 50-fold?!

Rebuilding Society are currently sitting on nearly £2.5m lent with an average of 15.78% earned. Not a bad return on investment at all while helping companies grow.

Find out how you can apply for a loan or make and investment here and follow them @rebuildings.

With thanks to Fuel My Blog and Rebuilding Society for crediting me with £50 to try out this great platform.

What does success mean to you?

Success for me is unlikely to be defined by money.

Of course we need money and we all mainly aspire to a comfortable life. Ultimately, what does that look like to you?
To me, success is much more than financial gain; it is enjoying life, reward, fulfillment, growing and being happy every day. Above all, success means freedom.
There are 100s of business coaches out there promising to increase your turnover along with 1000's of online marketeer types who more often than not have 'aspirational speaker' types. But would you rather have all the money in the world or would you take good health, great friends, being surrounded by family, love, making your own decisions, having no money worries and looking forward to each great, new day?
I started my own business in 2004 for the freedom to make my own decisions. After all, if it had been about earning more money, I would have stayed in the corporate world!
This is what success means to me: Freedom
I'm free to do what I want, any old time
 
  • Success means the freedom to take on the projects you want to work on. Would you like to choose what you work on every single day? As long as the revenue is steady, you can work on whatever you want to.
  • Freedom to engage in any industry, not just the one you have experience or qualifications in. This has enabled me to create niches for myself despite not having experience from the corporate world. It is unlikely I would be doing the work I'm doing now, specialising in supporting the micro business, if I was a full time employee. I know many people who are working for themselves in completely different fields to their corporate worlds from copywriter to photographer, social worker to baker and nurse to marketing.
  • Working with people you want to and choosing your own clients, suppliers and partners. This enables you to work only with inspiring, positive and helpful people. Would you like your world filled just with these great individuals?
  • To spend your time working the way you want to, trying out methods, tools and ideas as you go. Success for me is loving all seven days of the week. I love Mondays!
  • Being productive whenever and wherever you like. Every day, my trusty laptop and I work from my favourite local indie coffee houses and quite often on the train. A few times a year, it comes with me to the countryside, another city or abroad. If you love what you do, why stop doing it? If you are productive and your clients like you enough to come to you, you decide when you want to work, whenever you are inspired to do so.

Personally, success means I get to travel around the world, several times a year, working or not working. As I always say, all I need is coffee and travel!

What does success mean to you? Please do add your comments below (do it before 22nd November and be put in a draw to win a FREE 30 minute phone one2one).
By Rickie, Crafty Skills
Do you want to love what you do and enjoy every day? Book a one2one here and lets start making that happen!
Take a look at the Buddy programme for regular one2one sessions.

Making events work

As published by Handmade UK Once you've decided to start selling your lovely handmade items at craft fairs and events, how do you make sure you make the maximise the opportunity and increase your chances of gettting those all important sales? Rickie Josen tells us how...

Here at Crafty Skills we run Success Workshops to help support and grow small businesses and one of them is all about maximising on the huge opportunity exhibiting at events create.

What should you have on your stand?

Have the most eye-catching and unique products in a prominent position. If you offer a wide range, still have the most eye-catching at the front and a smaller selection of an album of beautiful photographs to represent the rest of your work.

You can always have enough stock with you to replace an item that sells but just putting one on display adds to the uniqueness of handmade products.

Most importantly, have your name everywhere! Be clear to all approaching your stand what your (trading) name is and ensure the price is on every item along with your name. When they take their purchase home, the price tag (with your website details) will remind them to look you up online or pass your details to a friend. You can also have some prettied-up plain shopper bags with your logo and insert a card inside.

What about prices? Should you negotiate?

Do be consistent with your prices. Fans of handmade products will travel to other events and want to buy online and will expect the same price each time. If you are trying out a new product, you could always call it an ‘introductory price’ and use the event to get immediate customer feedback.

Absolutely, do have fun negotiating deals with customers who want to buy multiple items and you can also have an ‘offer of the day’ just for the event too.

How do you greet customers?

With a smile! A good morning/afternoon is always welcome as is ‘how are you’ when they approach your stand directly. To engage customers, talk about what gave you the inspiration to make the item they are looking at or simply ask them what sort of things they like.

Ask them to sign up to your mailing list (you do have one, don’t you?!) which perhaps gains them an online discount or free gift on their next order.

How do people find out you’re there?

Promote promote promote!

Yes the organiser will be promoting via their contact list but it’s important you use your contacts too as otherwise, how would they know about it? In the same way we discuss in our Finding Your First Customer workshop, spread the word via colleagues, friends and relatives and any groups you belong to. Of course social media is a must so talk about what you are up to across all the platforms you use.

Practicalities

Check with the organiser if you need insurance to cover both your products and public liability. It’s a good idea to cover yourself anyway and remember to account for any additional costs such as parking and unloading, power, refreshments and staff.

Rickie Josen delivers Saturday StartUp workshops – start your business in a day in Birmingham every month as well as regular workshops on social media, sales, PR, growing your networks, blogs & websites and more.http://www.rickiejosen.co.uk/my-business/startup-saturday/

See her previous article http://ukhandmade.co.uk/content/business-finding-your-first-customer

 

BUSINESS: Finding Your First Customer

As published on UK Handmade Turning your hobby into a fully fledged creative business can be a daunting task but here are a few useful tips from Rickie Josen ofCrafty Skills.

Recently we ran a Success Workshop which had the official title of ‘How to sell to those other than friends, relatives and colleagues’. These workshops offer practical tips and advice about turning your creativity into earnings.

Even without trying sometimes, the first people who buy from us are people who have seen our work. Perhaps your colleague admired a necklace you were wearing and they were gobsmacked that you did that yourself? Or your mother-in-law came round and saw the beautiful hand-crafted cushion that takes pride of place on your sofa?

In fact, many small businesses have started because a friend or family member admired and your work and uttered those words, ‘you should sell those.’

So you have a ready-made market with people who already know, like and trust you but how do you reach others and make this craft into a business?

How do you find your first customer?

Yes, the first port of call is our family, friends and colleagues. Next, how many people do these kindly souls know? 10, 20, 100 or 500 each? How large are their families? How many people follow them on Twitter? How many Facebook friends do they have? Who works at a large company that can put your posters and flyers up for you? Now we’re talking of a reach of 1000s of potential customers just be having a handful of conversations with people you know.

How do people find about you Apart from the aforementioned word of mouth and important promotional tool – as well as a fun sociable one – is social media. My advice is to use them all; Twitter, Facebook Pinterest, LinkedIn and any others to heighten your online presence. It’s free after all and think of making friends via social media as part of your marketing time. Just occasionally mention your products!

What do your competitors do?

Why not emulate it the tried and tested methods? Look at what works and make it work for you.

Who can you promote your product or service to?

So far we have talked about reaching customers directly but what about indirectly? Try approaching shops that sell your type of products. It helps them as it adds more product lines and therefore increases their profits through the margin they are making on your product.

How do you know what works?

Try it and see. It costs nothing other than time to work with social media, send emails and very little to print out some flyers and make phone calls.

Who is your audience?

Work out who your products appeal to and go to that market. Do young students go gaga over your jewellery? Approach universities about events where you can exhibit at advertise relatively cheaply in student magazines.

How to make sure people buy from you

Let them know where you are and how to buy! At an event, ensure your name is on every product and you have flyers and business cards with all the ways you can be contacted. Remember although it feels like it, the whole world is not on Facebook so be sure people can find you on-line via a blog or website. When they do buy from you, whether in person or online, include your contact details so they can buy more or pass it to a friend. Who can throw out a beautifully crafted calling card?

Happy selling!

http://www.craftyskills.co.uk/

See full article as published on UK Handmade here

Making the Leap from Hobby to Full Time Business

As published on UK Handmade Today, writer, crafts events organiser and trainer, Rickie Josen, examines how to make the leap from hobby to full time business.

Making the leap

Have you ever found yourself sitting at the computer, looking longingly at the beautiful photographs of lovely handmade creations made by those clever people who have managed to turn what they love doing into a full time business? Gone are the days when those people rush home from the office to finish a hem, frame a print or ice a cake and then spend the rest of the evening returning emails, packaging goods or updating blogs. Oh and then they have to change their work space back into a home and get ready for ‘work’ tomorrow. Those people have made the transition to doing what they love full time and getting paid for it - that’s my definition of true success. Want to know how they did this? Read on.