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The Importance Of Planning And Goal Setting In Networking

It’s January, which means it’s the time of new beginnings, resolutions and generally planning for a better 2018. But as well as deciding what you want in your personal life, and maybe even in your business life, have you looked at your networking strategy? Looking back on 2017, could you have got more out of your networking groups, or given more back in return? Many people who find networking ineffective for them only do so because they don’t have a goal, or a plan for achieving it, when they walk into a meeting. But networking is just like any other business activity – if you don’t have a plan  for it, you won’t get anywhere. In this month’s blog, we want to talk about goal setting and planning in networking

How Do You Plan For Networking?

Before you get into the detailed planning of the day. You need to set yourself a wider strategy. This involves looking at your business plan and your target market, and choosing the right events to go along to. What networks will be right for your business over the next year? Will they help you achieve your business goals, or will they just eat up your time? It may sound harsh, but time is precious, and if your networking isn’t bringing in results, then it might be time to move on. Look back over the previous year and see which groups delivered a good return on your time and monetary investment, and which didn’t. Of the ones that didn’t, did they fail because the room wasn’t right, or because you didn’t work hard enough with it? Did you neglect your follow up’s from referrals and one to ones, or maybe not send hot seaters when you were absent?

Another big part of the planning is in the preparation for each event. The day before your networking meeting, make sure you have everything you’re going to need. That’s business cards, flyers, any props or samples you might want to use or give out. Most groups will ask you to do a short presentation – around 40 seconds to a minute long. Rather than winging it on the day, prepare what you want to say in advance and write it down – even if it’s just bullet points. Also prepare a series of questions you can ask – things to break the ice and help you learn about the other people in the room. We’ve got a list of great ways to break the ice at networking events here, along with our top networking tips here. On the day, make sure you are clean, dressed properly and well groomed, so that you can make the best possible impression on the people there.

So What Are Your Goals?

Of course, it’s easy enough to say, but how do you decide on your goals for networking, and follow through on them? Our resident business coach and member of the Reading group, Jana Green, has this advice:

You cannot reach goals you don’t have. Success = having a goal.

The very first step towards any success, whether business, personal or networking, is to have a goal. People who master the art of goal setting become very successful because then they apply it continuously throughout their lives towards any activity. When you know your goal, you can work out back all the steps you need to take to achieve it. In business goal setting, focus on how much you want to make, what you want your business to look like and work out what you need to improve. There is a very good chance you need to improve your marketing, sales and money beliefs to do that.

In networking, remember that apart from the socialising, meeting new people and listening to other people’s experiences, your main goal is to find more business. Whether that is through people introducing you to connections who could help you achieve that or finding an actual client. So set yourself a goal of never leaving a networking meeting without making a step forward in your business.

You can find out more about what Jana has to say on her website

So take January as a time to look back over the last years networking and reflect. For some people, the success of networking isn’t just measured in revenue, but in partnerships built up or even in friendships. All of these outcomes are good, but only if they align with your business strategy. At 10-12, we are dedicated to bringing our members not only a chance to connect and network, but to learn and grow in a supportive, all female environment. To find out more about how we can help you grow your business in 2018, get in touch with us or book in as a visitor to one of our meetings.


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Top Festive Networking Tips

Ok, hands up who’s already put their Christmas tree up?

*  raises hand *

I thought so. There’s just something infectious and cheerful about the Christmas season few ca resist. And as the year draws to a close, we start to look back on the year and remember all those people who have helped us make it a success. If you’re an avid networker, many of those people will be fellow business owners who frequent the same events as you. So this year, why not show them how much you appreciate their support, and make the most of the Christmas season, with our festive networking tips.

Steer Away From Work Talk 

While the idea behind networking might be all about generating business, the real value has always been in building relationships. So if you’ve spent 11 months talking about business, customers and strategic alliances, take December to do something different. Whether you’re at a Christmas networking event or your groups Christmas meal, get to know the people around you on a personal level. Talk about your families, what you’re doing for Christmas, your hobbies. By spending the time getting to know the people behind the business, you are building stronger relationships based on mutual like and trust – a key essential to successful networking!

Don’t Drink Too Much 

Particularly when it comes to December, many networking events will bring out mulled wine and minced pies for their final meeting. This is a great way to get people chatting, reward them for coming along and start a lot of great conversations. But they are also a bit of a risk. Christmas dinners or free drinks can spell disaster for anyone who tends on a bit overboard, or just doesn’t keep track of what they’re drinking. No one enjoys watching someone humiliate themselves after one too many drinks, and it will do a lot to harm your professional reputation. So, if there is alcohol available at your event, just be sensible with it.

Work The Room

It’s all too easy to get sucked into a conversation with the first person you see, and suddenly realise the whole event has gone by. Festive meetings are usually a lot busier than usual, so use the opportunity to work the room and talk to everyone. Try and find people you haven’t met yet, or had more than a brief ‘hello’, and get to know them a bit more. Don’t end up as a conversation hog – it’s not good for you or the person you’re monopolising!

Relax! 

Above all, relax! Christmas is a time for fun, laughter and wine. (But maybe not too much of the latter, as we explained earlier). Festive networking is often the time that even the most staunchly professional let their hair down a bit and unwind. So don’t try too hard, and don’t send yourself mad trying to figure out how you can crowbar in a festive joke that also promotes your business (trust me, it rarely ends well). Instead, just focus on relaxing, chatting with people and having a good time. After all, it’s what Christmas is for!

 

At 10-12, we’re all for having a bit of festive fun. It’s why we’re currently gearing up for our annual Christmas lunch, which brings together members from all of our groups in one place for a full Christmas meal. Complete with crackers, secret Santa and, of course, plenty of laughter. If you would like to try out 10-12, December is one of the best months to visit. Just take a look at our meetings and choose one to come along to. We can’t wait to have you!


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5 Ways To Grow Your Business Organically

As an entrepreneur, starting up your new business it can be incredibly exciting. But getting it off the ground can also be equally as difficult. When profits start to appear and you get used to the demands of your business, expansion could be the last thing on your mind. But while it’s important to enjoy your new found success, you may also want to look at growing your business.
When it comes to business growth, it’s important not to do too much too soon. Instead, focusing on growing your business organically will help ensure steady growth and profit, instead of making a huge and uncertain leap into paid growth and falling short. But how can you successfully grow your business organically?

Invest Some Time In Your Online Presence

In the words of Bill Gates, ‘there will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.’ We are living on the internet of things, so it’s important to make sure you’re online. People turn to the internet for all kinds of information, and you want to be there to provide it.  Even if you’re running a one-man business, it’s worth investing some time in your online presence. Get yourself a website and make sure it is optimised properly so that people can find you online easily. Use social media to regularly interact with customers, prospects and other businesses.

Network Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the things that helps many businesses stride from start-up into small and even medium sized businesses is networking. Getting your face out there, meeting local business owners and building relationships is crucial for any successful growing business. There are a lot of different options for networking out there, and the best way to find one that’s right for you is to try some out! For example, if you want a very laid back and casual approach to nurture ongoing relationships gently, you could try Business Biscotti. If you’re looking for something structured, aimed at accelerating growth quickly with structure, and are prepared to commit to an early morning weekly meeting there’s BNI. Or if you’re looking for a supportive group of women who can help you and your business grow at a pace that suits you, there are groups like 10-12 Business Club. The trick to getting networking to effectively grow your business is finding a group you like, that works for you and your business type. So try out every group you can find, then dedicate yourselves to the ones that work.

Keep An Eye On Your Cash Flow

The saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ might hold some weight, but small businesses still need to keep a close watch on their spending. Businesses will typically calculate their cash flow based on what’s left over after all of their essential expenses are paid and non-cash items are adjusted on the net income. When you start to think about business decisions from a free cash flow perspective, new growth opportunities become more apparent. But if you start to lose sight of your cash flow, you may find yourself making big capital investments with large depreciation costs that provide little long-term value, and you can get into trouble.

Build Key Relationships

Relationships are one of the most important things to any growing business, and spending some time building and nurturing them can be worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s with your suppliers or with new customers, those relationships are critical. You should also look at making connections with other businesses in the area that could grow into partnerships. So, for example, if you provide a marketing service, you might want to build some key relationships with specialist service providers, such as social media gurus, bloggers or SEO specialists. Make sure you are spending time helping the relationships you do have, and the return will be huge.

At 10-12, we are all about helping business owners connect and build their businesses together. All of our members are dedicated to not only making connections but building giving as much help and support as they can to other business owners on the road to growth. If you are interested in trying out a new networking group and joining a network of supportive, successful business owners focussed on growth, just get in touch with us today, or arrange to visit one of our groups.


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evolution for women

Dreams for your future

What are your dreams for your future?

Unlike me at her age, my daughter is not really a dreamer for the future if I ask her. She is very much about the here and now and even though a part of me wants to hear her talk about her dream job (knowing that it will change), I actually like the independence that she shows in not being under pressure to talk about growing up.

As a child, one of my dreams was to work in Africa saving animals, partly influenced by watching the Diane Fossey story in Gorillas in the Mist and others like it. Back then, before the days of social media, if you wanted to help a cause, you went out and got involved, you couldn’t make a difference in the world via facebook and perhaps you still can’t. I still hold on to that dream a little, perhaps one day I might go to Africa for a time when my daughter no longer needs me quite as much and offer my services to an animal charity.

Our Dreams May Have Changed

Our dreams may have changed since we were little as our responsibilities have grown, what’s the dream that gives you the reason to get up, work hard and do what you need to do in your career or for your loved ones every day?

  • Retire early?
  • Get a better work/life balance?
  • See more of the world?
  • Spend more time with or caring for your loved ones?
  • Buy that holiday home or move abroad?

Is this just a dream or are you making the plans that you need now to help this to become a reality?

Saving for The Future

When we are in our 20’s or 30’s it can be easy to not look too far into the future while we are busy focusing on the financial demands of the here and now, juggling work and family life and the additional living costs at this time. For many, this is the reality, well into our 40’s with big mortgages and low disposable incomes. Saving for the future seems impossible. In our 50’s, some have managed to get to point when we can start seriously planning for our future though the task ahead of them to achieve that dream can seem quite daunting at that time.

Savvy Choices with Your Spending & Borrowing

Whatever stage of life you are at, savvy choices with your spending & borrowing can help you to make your dreams a reality sooner than you think. Planning for your future in other ways such as protecting your income and family, can help you to cope better with the curve balls that life may throw at you. It’s not too late to start. We want our clients to have fun, be happy and spend quality time with loved ones with the peace of mind in knowing that your finances are in order, you have a financial plan for the future and your family will be provided for during some of the more difficult life events that can happen. If you know or think you need help in all or any of these areas to make your financial future more certain, please get in touch with me or your local Evolution for Women Adviser and see how we can help you.


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network hot seating

Network Hot Seating – The How, What And Why

Category : Blogs , Networking

Network Hot Seating may sound like a dangerous activity but it can actually be very rewarding for you and your business! However, it’s often an activity that few people know about or understand the power of it when you are a member of a networking group.

Network Hot Seating should be the ideal solution for busy business owners that can’t make their usual monthly meetings, whether that’s due to family commitments or extra workload. Often members will simply choose not to visit their group, which is fine but if several members of the same group choose to take the same approach the regular busy groups are diminished with lower than normal attendees. This could mean that meetings between July and September have low numbers, which is quite disappointing for everyone. But instead of holding tiny meetings or cancelling, there is a process in place that means you can enjoy the benefits of your membership without having to leave the poolside. It’s called Network hot seating.

What Is Network Hot Seating? 

Network Hot seating is a really simple concept. If a member discovers she can’t make it to her normal meeting for any reason (life happens, business gets busy, the list of reasons goes on), then she can send a hot seat in her place. This hot seat acts as your substitute in the meeting, reading out your 60 second pitch and any other information you supply them with. In return, your hot seater gets to visit the meeting free of charge, network, participate in the workshops and read out their own 60-second pitch. That’s all there is to it.

 What Do Members Get Out Of It? 

For members, network hot seating is a great way to get value out of your membership, even when you can’t be there in person. Rather than sending an apology and not being represented at all, a hot seater will be able to remind the group of what you do, what value you offer and who you are looking to connect with. This means that, while you miss out on the extra bits of the meeting, you are still visible to the members in the room. Network Hot Seating is also a great way to visit other groups and meet members there while ensuring that the member you’re hot seating for is still represented. So if you want to visit another group, find out if there is a member there who needs a hot seat, and fill it. Similarly, other members can hot seat for you, giving everyone the chance to visit other groups and get the most out of their membership.

Don’t Forget Your Visitor

Of course, the person you ask to hot seat for you gets some great benefits too. They are invited warmly into a room full of business women eager to meet them, and get to experience networking at its best. Our members are always looking for new people to help out, so hot seaters in the room are a fantastic opportunity for both the members and the visitors. You can invite another member from a different meeting to come and hot seat for you, but to get the best for your visitor, you should try and choose someone who has never experienced 10-12 before. This means they can visit the group at no cost to them, see the benefits and potentially join up, all without any pressure or obligation.

So How Do I Arrange A Hot Seat?

If you know you can’t be at a meeting, or you want to visit another group that meets on the same day, arranging a hot seat is a simple process. All you need to do is reach out to your network and find someone who would like to come along to substitute for you on the day. Hot seating is free, as they are taking up your place, so it’s not too hard to find someone interested in free networking! Once you have someone to come along, just get in touch with your meeting leader and let them know. That’s it!

At 10-12 Business Club we believe that to get the most out of a networking group, you need to be present at every single meeting. But we do understand that sometimes business, or life, gets in the way, and it’s not possible to make everyone. By providing a hot seat to take your place, you are ensuring that your business is still in everyone’s minds, so you can get the benefit even if you aren’t there. You are also giving back to your hot seater, who will be able to see the benefits of 10-12 first hand. So hopefully we will see some more hot seating and new faces in the months to come! For more information, or to let us know about a potential hot seater, just get in touch.


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Our Top Networking Tips

Our Top Networking Tips

Networking can be tough, especially if you’re the new one in the group. When you first step into a room full of complete strangers, all chatting and laughing like they are old friends (which some of them are), it can feel hugely intimidating. But networking is an essential part of small and medium business life and it can do so much good for your business, your growth and you as a business owner (it can be awfully lonely otherwise). But how do you make the most of your networking time? We have a few tips for you.

Show Interest In Others 

This should be your first and golden rule, but so many people break it. There are always the boring people who talk about themselves non-stop, or their own challenges and worries. Those types of people get nowhere in networking. Yes, if someone asks you about something you should respond, but the real value comes in showing an interest in others, rather than talking about yourself and your business for the whole event. It makes people feel valued like you are listening and endears them more to you as a person.

Be Specific

If you are in an event where you can stand up and offer a 40, 50 or 60-second pitch to the room, make sure you are specific. So if you’re looking to speak to a certain company, try and find out who it is you would be dealing with and mention them by name. You should also be specific about your reasons for wanting to speak with them, and what value you would offer. This helps everyone else in the room be on the lookout for the right person and introduce you in the right way – which is more likely to result in being referred. 

Be A Giver And Help People (If You Can) 

If someone drops their business cards or a stack of paperwork, be the first to offer them help. If a newcomer is looking lost, make sure you approach them, welcome them and make them feel comfortable within the room. Be a giver within and outside the room, as that generosity will often come back to you 10-fold. Showing basic courtesy and offering help, support and guidance is likely to help cement your relationships with the people in the room, which is ultimately what leads to more business. 

Dress Well

We don’t mean you have to dress up in your Sunday best or in black tie, but just take a second to choose your outfit for networking and show that you care about what you look like. Ask yourself ‘would I like to meet me looking like that?’ It’s not just about clothes either – make sure your personal grooming is up to scratch and your body odours are under control. Reflect the personality of your business in the way you dress, creative people can get away with more informal dress code than that of a solicitor.

 Don’t Just Hand Out Cards

There is nothing worse than watching someone rush around the room, pressing their business cards into everyone’s hand and then walking right out the door again. You should only hand out your card to someone who you have had a meaningful conversation with, preferably after they have asked you for it. Simply throwing your cards at people sends out a really bad message about you, it shows you are more interested in quantity than quality.  Cards given to people you have an in-depth conversation are more likely to be used than those sprayed around a room.

Be A Good Conversation Starter

Conversations are hard to start, so make sure you have some basic ideas in your back pocket if you start to struggle. Keep up with recent news and try to find something better than ‘nice weather’ as your go to. One of our favourites is to always aim to have an interesting fact available. That way you can start a conversation with ‘I didn’t realise this, but did you know…’ This not only gives you a conversation starter but leaves the person glad to have met you. If you are really stuck then read our 4 Ways to break the ice at Networking events for some inspiration.

Listen More Than You Talk

Have you noticed that listen is an anagram of silent? When you’re talking to another person or group of people at a networking event, make sure you are listening to what they have to say. We’ve seen so many networkers who are only ever looking over the shoulder of who they are talking to rather than actually paying attention. It’s horrible to see and even worse to experience. Make sure you give the person you are talking to your full attention, button your lip and be a good listener – you will get much more respect for it!

Make a Commitment and stick to it

Structured networking events normally come with a membership of a year or less and require a commitment to attend on a weekly or monthly basis.  If you join one of these groups, make sure you clear your diary for those monthly or weekly meetings and stick to them. Your investment will be totally wasted if you just turn up occasionally, lack of attendance can show that you are not committed to growing your business, even if its because you are so busy. Groups often allow you to send a hot seat so if this is the case, get a list of “hot-seat” fellow business owners, plan your diary in advance and make sure you always show up or send a replacement.

Want to try out some of these tips for yourself? Come and join us at one of our monthly networking events, meet our members and promote your business. For more information, get in touch or book here.


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Networking

4 Ways To Break The Ice At Networking Events

Category : Blogs , Networking

If you’ve never been to a networking event before, it can be a daunting if not downright scary process. Stepping into a room full of chattering business people, it’s easy for your mind to go blank and not be sure what to say. It’s happened to all of us at some point or another – I even forgot what I did the first time I walked into an event! But while it does get much easier as time goes on and you network more, it can be difficult to get past that initial barrier. To give you a helping hand and ease you into networking, here are our 4 best icebreakers to get the conversation flowing and help you feel more relaxed.

Hi, I’m X

It sounds so simple it’s stupid, but it honestly works. Everyone at a networking meeting has been the ‘new person’ before, and you might even run into a few other first timers while you’re there. A smile, a name and a confident handshake can sometimes go a long way, and if you’re not sure what to do next, let the other person guide the conversation. Mentioning that it’s your first time is also a good tactic, as the other person will immediately start looking around the room for people to introduce you to and support you in starting conversations with them.

 What Do You Do? 

If you’re not quite ready to talk about yourself yet, your best bet is to get someone talking about themselves instead. Luckily this is very easy – human beings take very little prompting and are often happiest when talking about themselves. That’s not meant to sound derogatory, it’s just the way our minds work. So you can start out by asking someone what they do, paying them a compliment (I love your hair/shoes/watch, etc) or by asking them about something you have overheard them saying. For example, if you have been pouring yourself a coffee and overhear someone talking about their volunteer work, you can ask that person what volunteer work it is that they do. This is a safe approach that will often initiate a back and forth of questions that’s just like any other conversation, without all the intimidating ‘networky’ bits.

Do You Have Any Insights About X?

If you’re really struggling to find things to talk about, asking someone for their advice or opinion is a great way to break the tension and start a meaningful conversation. Asking people to share their expertise in order to help you will make them feel good, and encourage them to be open to connecting with you. You can ask them about anything, from work projects to what car you should buy next. Just make sure that you actually listen to and reflect on their advice, and don’t just respond with something vague – this will defeat the point of asking the question.

What Did You Think Of The Speaker?

For any networking event with a guest speaker or even a spotlight on a member, this question is a sure fire conversation starter. Conversations tend to flow best around shared experiences, so bringing up something that you know you both have in common is a great start. If there has been no speaker, try and pick something else noteworthy in the event to talk about. Some common ones would be:

  • A certain person’s 60 second pitch
  • The theme of the group discussion
  • The format of the meeting
  • The food

Of course, there are thousands of icebreakers out there, and most of them will work in a networking setting. However, there are certain areas it’s best to avoid in a professional meeting. Divisive topics like politics will often be met with either cold disinterest and boredom or passionate zeal – neither of which are great within a networking group. TV and movies is also one that, while it might prompt a passing conversation, tends to peter out quite quickly and can result in an awkward silence if the person you’re talking to hasn’t seen the show.
The important thing to remember about your first networking event is that everyone has been where you are, and everyone knows how scary it is. Most people will be kind, friendly and open to conversation, otherwise they wouldn’t be at the event in the first place! All you really need to do is smile and be open, and the networking will happen by itself. Just remember to prepare yourself for those icebreakers and you should enjoy your time at the event. Introduce yourself to the host and tell them if it is your first time, they will understand and happily introduce to a member of the group. For more advice, or to dip your toe into the networking water with a group of lovely supportive women, get in touch with us today.


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Keeping Your Business Safe From Hackers

Category : Blogs

 

As business owners, we have to wear a lot of different hats on a day to day basis. From marketing to web development, business coach and finance guru, we need to take control of every element of our business to make sure it runs smoothly. But one area we often forget about is IT. With so many high profile business targeted hacking incidents recently, we wanted to bring your focus back down to the technical side of things. In fact, we asked some of our members what their suggestions were for keeping their business safe from hackers.

 

Install Anti-Virus, Web Filtering And Firewalls 

 

Preventing any form of malware or hacker from entering your business in the first place is undoubtedly the best way to guard against attack. The best way to do this is to adopt what is called a ’layered’ approach to security – in other words, lots of layers of protection. In lay man’s terms, this means implementing anti-virus software on every machine and all servers, putting web filters in place company wide and installing firewalls. It’s essential that you ensure each component of this layered approach is accurately configured and kept up to date in order to work effectively and keep the nasty people away from your data.

 

Use 3rd Party Cloud Suppliers

For smaller businesses who don’t have their own servers, it can be difficult to store all of their data. A great way to get around this, and protect your business data from hackers prying eyes, is to use 3rd party, cloud based suppliers. So maybe you would keep your client contact data base in MailChimp, store your passwords in LastPass and Google Drive to store your backups. Using these off-site systems means that even if your main computer is hacked or becomes infected with malware, this mission critical data is stored safely in a secondary location – and not in your main systems. Because 3rd party suppliers deal with so much of other people’s sensitive data, their security measures are often much better than those we could put in place ourselves, so your data has never been safer.

Back Up Regularly

 

Of course, something completely out of your control could happen, and it’s at that time that you need your final layer of protection – your back up. As a business, you should be doing regular backups of your full systems – and by regular we mean at least once a day (usually done overnight). Not only is this just good practice, but it also protects you against data loss if the rest of your precautions should fail. Users who find themselves the target of an attack, particularly a ransomware attack will be unable to access any live data, but if their back up data is stored off site and separate, it should be untouched. So, if we take the worst-case scenario and a hacker hits at 4.30 in the afternoon, the business will only lose data generated that day, as opposed to everything. This means that you don’t have to panic – you can focus on addressing the problem, shoring up your defences and restore your data quickly once the systems are clear, so you’re back up and running in no time.

Have An IT Specialist On Hand 

 

If the IT starts going funny in your business, or you aren’t sure what’s going on, who you gonna call? (admit it, you sang that). Odds are it’s not Ghostbusters. iInstead it’s likely to be some sort of IT guru. But I know many people who opt to call a friend or family member who knows their way around a computer, rather than finding a business IT specialist. And while uncle Joe might understand how to set up a computer, he probably doesn’t understand your situation, or appreciate how important it is that your data remains safe and your systems get up and running again. Would you use a random friend to deliver your services, or fix the plumbing? Probably not. So we recommend you find yourself an IT specialist who works with small businesses, who can be on hand when you need them, and not charge you when you don’t. There are plenty of them out there – all you need to do is look.

 

Of course, there are many different ways you can protect your business from hackers, and these are just the headline points. To really understand not only how to protect your business, how at risk your business really is, you need to speak to a professional. At 10-12, we bring together professional women from across all industries to help support each other and grow their businesses, including in the IT sector. To find out which group your nearest IT guru is in and arrange a visit, just visit our website today.

 


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Know Your Rights – As A Customer And A Business Owner

Category : Blogs

Know Your Rights

As business owners, we are always striving to provide the best product or service we can to our customers. And we would like to think that all of our customers are delighted with what we provide and that nothing will ever go wrong. Sadly, we all know this isn’t always the case, and bad relationships or interactions do happen. And when they do, it’s important to understand your rights and obligations as a business owner, and what your customers right are as well.

As A Business Owner

Business, Owner

skeeze / Pixabay

As a business owner, you have the right to run your business in any manner you see fit, providing you are not in violation of any laws. This gives you an awful lot of freedoms, but you do need to remember not to tread on any other statutory rights along the way. For example – you have right to expect the best performance from employees or customers. So provided you have documented your expectations from them and made these clear, you have the right to terminate your relationship with them if performance is not satisfactory.

Similarly, you have the right to refuse service to any customer – but you should be careful that you don’t come across as discriminatory. For example, you can’t refuse to bake a wedding cake just because the couple receiving it is gay – that’s really bad. But you can refuse to work with someone if they have failed to pay your invoices for previous work.

You also have the right to make changes to your business, such as structural or pricing changes, and the right to express your opinion on a wide variety of topics. However, you do need to be careful that you aren’t forcing those views on other people or engaging in inappropriate workplace conversations. Do you see where we’re going with this?

While these might be legal rights, there are also some things you can only enforce if your customer has agreed to them in the first place. Elements like payment schedules and copyright for work created can all be decided by you as a business owner, but unless you have a way of showcasing these to your customer, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

This is why it is so important to make sure you have up to date Terms and Conditions displayed at least on your website or better still given to your customer at the point of sale. It’s also valuable for you to invest in a customer relations procedure, so that your customers know how you work from the outset, and a privacy policy explaining your data use and other legal bits and pieces. If you policy is to use money claims courts then include this in your terms and conditions so the client knows what to expect from you as a supplier.

As A Customer

As a customer, you are covered by the consumer rights act, which protects you when you buy goods or services. The basic rules set out under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 mean you can seek governmental help and support when dealing with:

  • Credit and store cards
  • Faulty goods
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Poor service
  • Problems with contracts
  • Problems with builders
  • Rogue traders

If you’re ever not sure on what your customer rights are, here’s a helpful little guide we found that explains it all. Of course, there are slightly different rules depending on whether you are buying goods or services. For goods bought, they must be of ‘satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time.’ With services, the act states that any service should be carried out ‘with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time, at a reasonable price’. This is fairly straightforward and easy to identify if something is not to your satisfaction but sometimes hard to prove in a court of law. Always be very detailed in your communication for services required. Put it in writing and get confirmation from the supplier.

When we live in such a transactional world, it’s important to know your rights. As a business owner, you need to understand what your rights are when providing goods or services, and as a customer you need to know that you are going to be taken care of and not left out of pocket.

If, as a business owner you don’t have any policies and documents in place to tackle this, you could end up in a rather sticky spot. For more information, or to chat with one of our expert members on the subject, just get in touch and 10-12 will point you in the right direction!


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Why You’re Losing Out On Leads – The Perils Of Failing To Follow Up

Category : Blogs

There is an old saying (well, it’s sort of old) in business – “the fortune is in the follow up.” And there is one very good reason that sales people the world over chant this like a mantra every day – it’s true! Following up with clients, suppliers and even people we meet networking can be one of the most important business actions a business owner can take. And yet we still see people fail to follow up on meetings every single month, which of course leads to lost business, which makes us at 10-12 very sad indeed! But why is this?

 

Bad Business Practice

As a general rule, it is considered bad practice not to follow up with people you meet in a business capacity. That along should be enough to convince you, so maybe we should just stop the blog there and go home early.

 

Of course we wouldn’t do that!

 

As a business owner, you should want to run and promote your business as well as possible, and to show that off to other people. This involves following the general guidelines that everyone follows in business, like turning up to work showered and non-smelly, or following up on your meetings. It’s a common courtesy in business that is expected, and failing to do so can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.

 

It Shows That You Don’t Keep Your Word

When we meet new people, we would like to work with, showcasing your reliability is a crucial part of solidifying that relationship and turning it into something long term. If you promise the person you’re meeting to send them across a link or a document, make sure you do it! This little gesture shows that you are willing to put some effort into the relationship (which is what networking is all about really) and above all that you keep your word. No one wants to work with a business person who isn’t reliable – who’s going to be flaky or forget to do things. And while we all understand that life can get hectic sometimes, just a quick acknowledgement can go a long way to showing your commitment.

 

Bad Manners

But above all, forgetting to send someone a quick ‘thank you for your time’ after meeting with them is just rude. A business owners time is valuable, and whether or not you think that meeting with them was worthwhile, you should show some appreciation that they took time out of their undoubtedly busy day to see you. Even if you only chatted for 10 minutes in a wider networking event, sending a quick thank you is not only polite, but it helps cement you in their minds for the future. But if you don’t follow up on a meeting, you are showcasing a level of rudeness – intentional or otherwise-  that reflect very negatively on you as a business person, and show that you aren’t willing to put in the effort to develop the relationship. Overall, it’s just bad manners.

 

Of course, we understand that this just adds to the very long list of things you have to do on a daily basis at work, and sometimes things happen than stop you being able to follow up. But these should be the exceptions, not the rules. Lately we have seen a lot of lovely ladies lose out on some fantastic opportunities, all because they haven’t followed up with the prospect after a meeting. So this month, make sure you don’t lose out – follow up every time and reap the rewards!

If you are unsure on which ways you can follow up with your meetings then a visit to the 10-12 Business Club will help you with this very subject. For every new member we include some helpful tips on ways to followup with clients and other business owners that you meet. Why not find a Networking meeting to come and attend today.