With a little help from our friends

I love insurance. I love the resilience, confidence and safety it provides the very committed, passionate and interesting people we work with day to day. My husband and business partner loves it even more- he finds great satisfaction in helping people control, mitigate and manage their risks, solving tricky policy conundrums and stepping up to help manage a crisis.

It is very likely that you don’t share my interest . It’s very possible that your eyes are glazing over at the very thought of policy wordings and premiums and claims. But, that’s ok! In fact, that’s wonderful!

At a recent Digital Sparkles networking event at the Keepers Cafe in Dipton we were struck by the diversity of businesses represented, but the uniting passion we all share. Host Nicola Little loves social media, and so spends her days training and mentoring those who find it a chore and a challenge. Helena Borthwick Hill’s business 49digital creates websites for the digitally challenged, Michelle Nicol’s Wordstruck helps businesses find the right words, Hollie Ellis Design helps bring a brand to life with logos and marketing materials and Rachel Locke of Arlo Private PA services gets all the admin tasks done and out of the way for small businesses.

And then, there’s the wonderful Claire Robson!

With the same drive and passion, Reliant Robson rocked up to my doorstep last week with a cheerful smile and a box of cleaning products. She spent 2 hours finishing off the deep clean I’d started, so the house would be spic and span for the weekend.

“Are you feeling flush?!” my mum asked me when I told her that I was getting a cleaner in. No, not flush. Not flush at all. I was feeling very (time) poor and pretty harried and tired and jaded. An efficient, focussed and skilled 2 hours from Claire saved me many more hours of housework and freed up the weekend for my family to enjoy some quality and relaxed time together. It was just lovely!

And Claire left with a smile, proud of a job well done and very satisfied to have left my very sorry looking bathroom grouting white and gleaming again. It really made sense to hand over to an expert.

Isn’t it great that we all have different skills, preferences and interests?! And isn’t it fantastic, when those elements are perfectly married by finding the ideal niche of employment?! I could do Claire’s job, but not with the same levels of skill or passion. Claire could certainly do mine, but, would she find the same pleasure in it as I do? Eighty-four per cent* of self employed workers agreed that they were more satisfied in their working lives than they would have been in a ­conventional job- perhaps a large part of that satisfaction comes from creating a role that really suits your individual skills, interests and passions.

I recently attended a meeting in which I heard what is probably quite a well-known business theory: in order to have a successful business, you need to be able to Make it, Market it and Manage the Money. No individual entrepreneur will be strong in all three. And that requires taking the very scary step of asking for help- and sometimes even paying for it!

There is all sorts of free help available for small business owners. We would personally recommend the free BIPC clinic available at Newcastle City Library, where Experts in Residence volunteer their time monthly to give targeted advice to pre-start-ups and new businesses. The NBSL schemes also offer invaluable and high quality support to those in the NE in a variety of training courses.

But, sometimes, it really is worth putting your hand in your pocket and opening your wallet. For example, we used an accountant for the first time this year. As a Limited Company, this is a requirement, but we’d also advise Sole Traders to consider it. It massively freed up our time- and when you’re self employed, time means money. We also actually saved more than the cost of the accountant’s fees in tax, as our returns were completed accurately by an expert.

Although we’ve both built websites before, we hired a designer to have our business’ site built professionally, so it meets the high standards that reflect our brand values. This saved us a lot of time, stress and frustration, so was definitely a worthwhile investment for us.

Admittedly, it can be hard to invest money in your business when profits may be low (or non-existent), but it is often prudent to pay for areas where we lack the skills, or the time to adequately invest. It’s important to get your website, logo, branding and words right from the outset. Saying that, it’s important not to throw money into the wind, so it’s well worth gaining 3 or 4 different perspectives from trusted sources, before you make any commitments.

If there is an area of your business that you find particularly hard to manage, don’t worry! Bill Gates and Richard Branson and all the successful business people you can think of didn’t do it on their own either. They didn’t muddle along on their own, hoping for the best: they got a trusted team alongside them and moved forward together.

I have found the support of groups like the Inspire Network  and Forward Ladies (for NE women) and #DoDigital to be indispensable in supporting and advising me on our journey. With these trusted networks in place, we can build a team of other entrepreneurs who can support our business as it grows and develops.

It’s well worth getting help, be it hiring a cleaner, accountant or web designer or paying for some social media training or content-writing advice, so you can focus on doing what you’re great at for your business.

What do you need help with in your business? Who can you turn to for support? If you need some suggestions, we’d be happy to direct you. We have an awesome tribe behind us!

 

 

Talbot Jones Risk Solutions is an insurance brokerage specialising in Charity and SME insurance. Get in touch if you’d value a free insurance review, advice or quotation and we’ll be more than happy to help.

*Source: FT

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