Making Things Happen

So as I continue on the huge learning curve that is running a business, I’m tackling the first major challenge. Just for context, some of you may already know that instead of returning to my corporate career post The Nippers arrival, I joined the family business. I’m not going to lie, its still a big adjustment every day.

Having found that there is a requirement to wear a different hat pretty much every minute of the day i.e. ordering office suppliers, pitching to partners, fixing the photocopier (again), the current challenge is generating business. Historically our little firm has done exceptionally well on client referrals and repeat business. But that can only take you so far I guess and add the fact that there is now another household to support, we need to take some structured action in the form of a scary word starting with M.

Marketing.

I’ve been doing a little research and it seems there are LOADS of people out there that can help. Great. However, a large proportion of them require LOADS of money. Not so great. So I’m trying to work out how much we can do ourself and how much we’re going to need some help on. First things first, we need a plan and I’m aiming for it to cover off the following

1) Conduct an overall assessment of what we have in terms of marketing materials

As with most businesses, ours has evolved over time so we’ve ended up with good content split over a hotchpotch of designs and format which means no recognisable branding or easy point of reference for the client

2) Set our Goals

We really need to get this pinned down before we drift along and find ourselves……..well, right where we currently are

3) Define our target audience

We can’t be all things to all men (or women!). We really need to identify who is going to gain the most benefit from our product offering and ultimately spend money with us.

4) Tactics, budgets and resources

Essentially, what do we want to do, what can we actually do and how much time do we actually have to fit this in with our day to day operations. Sales channels, costs and the anticipated return on these investments all needs to be mapped out.

5) Evaluate and Change

If something works, do more of it. If something doesn’t work, bin it. Simples.

Right, we have a structure to get this thing going now I just need to put some specific content to it and hold myself accountable. I just need to fix the photocopier again first!

“There are three kinds of companies.
Those that make things happen.
Those that watch things happen.
Those that wonder what happened…”
Marketing Management by Philip Kotier

2 Pooped Parents and 1 Bottle of Red

As I finally sit down with a (very) large glass of red wine and reflect on the weekend that was, it still amazes me at how my life has changed since he arrival of the Nipper. I thought I was short on time before he arrived………Ha, I now laugh in the face of my former time-poor-but-actually-time-rich self!

My weekends BB (Before Baby) generally commenced with the Friday beer unwind after a generally exhausting week at work. There’s no doubting that corporate life can be pretty frenetic at times, but 3 evening business functions and 12 hour days were way more exciting than a 1am vomit cleanup and 3 incidences of seemingly random child insomnia sessions. Oh, and 18 hour days leave no time for unwind beers.

Saturday BB was generally spent working out the pros and cons of having a workout at the gym before or after my hair appointment and if I also had time to go clothes shopping before getting back to beautify for a swanky meal out with friends. This Saturday I took a walk with the husband in the freezing cold to investigate our new local butchers followed by a stop off at the park on the way back so the nipper could have a go on the swings. Nipper then refused to get out of the aforementioned swing and therefore screamed all the way back to the house.

Frantic sandwich preparation and house cleaning then commenced before our antenatal friends arrived for afternoon tea with their kids in tow who then proceeded to systematically destroy the house over the course of the ensuing 3 hours. Us adults had a jolly team keeping the children away from any kitchen cupboard doors/other children’s slapping hands/escaping through the front door whilst stuffing cake into our mouths and drinking cold tea in between keeping one eye on the kids and attempting some kind of adult conversation interspersed with various children’s names every other sentence or so – “So how about that situation in the MATILDA Middle East?”. Our Saturday night was then spent in a heap on the sofa of crumbs in front of The Voice.

BB, lazy Sundays started with a fantastic lie in, a full English and a read of the papers. Sunday lunch would inevitably be at the latest place to go and incorporate a full bodied red along the way. Today, we were awoken at the crack of dawn by some very loud singing to the favourite snuggly rabbit toy over the monitor. This was followed by a burnt bacon sandwich and a cold coffee. Sunday lunch was then at the very glamorous Chez Parents with Nippers 2 cousins. At least today the kids were systematically destroying someone else’s house. Due to an illegal 5 minute morning nap in the car following an earlier trip to Sainsburys for life’s essentials (more blue top milk), the little cherub did not have a full afternoon nap therefore we had to leave Chez Parents before the Sara Lee gateaux was even presented and return for bath and bed before full throttle meltdown was fully engaged.

And so here we are collapsed on the sofa (again)with a bottle of red, the one tangible reminder of the life that was BB. And I never thought I’d say this, but I wouldn’t change it for the world x

Avoiding Kiddy Mealtime Meltdowns

So far in the life of the little nippers extensive 16 month life, mealtimes haven’t been too stressful but I’m starting to feel the little notches of tension quietly starting to ratchet up. The boy has always been pretty good with his food, but his firm standpoint that any bread like substances or fruity foodstuffs must NOT be on his plate is starting to make things a little tricky. That, combined with an aversion to cheese (except when occasionally melted on toast, which makes NO sense when reference is made to my earlier sentances) and eggs are a total no-go zone.

This means that following a breakfast of Weetabix or dried cheerios, lunch is generally what I would term a ‘main meal’ ie pasta, fish pie, chicken risotto and dinner is more of the same. He is a very well fed little boy. Vegetables are not too much of a problem, but fruit will only pass his lips when of the smoothie variety.

This means that lunch on the go is often pretty limited. If we’re out and about, I generally have to take food with me as I do find that kiddy  menus are often pizza, chips, chicken nuggets which are on the refusal list. Which I guess may not be a bad thing as they probably have the nutritional value of zero. However, sometimes I do need to step away from the pressure of providing my child with the most nutritional foodstuffs know to man for the sake of, well, convenience. There I said it. Its simply a pain in the ass to always take stuff around with me and sometimes I just want him to eat what’s available wherever we are.

I get the feeling that this is a naïve and non-existent utopia I’m looking for and whilst I wouldn’t say the tiddler is massively fussy, I’m at a loss of how to convince him that quick scrambled egg iss not the poison of the devil.

I’d be interested to know how others get the kiddywinkles to try different food options – I need some ideas!

New Year, New Approach

A rather belated ‘Happy New Year’ to all. After a lovely lazy recharge over the Christmas break, getting back to reality has been a little slow for January thus far in our household. Rather than booking lots of activities and obligatory visits to hardly ever seen friends and relatives, we had a little period of hibernation. It was a lovely feeling not quite knowing what day it was and having a great stretch of time to fill with absolutely nothing. Even the Nipper relaxed somewhat and his daily 8am lie-in’s were glorious.

Prior to Christmas, we’d had a really bad run of bugs, virus’s and colds that really wore us all down so by the time the festive period was actually upon us, we were really rather shattered. And, you don’t realise just how run down and poorly you’ve been until you actually start to feel better and see the world beyond the oh-so-not-glamorous lemsip and immodium haze.

And with a renewed spring in my step and enthusiasm for pretty much life in general, the timing couldn’t be better to consider 2015 and how I want to experience the forthcoming year. Rather than the obligatory New Years resolutions (which can be like a monkey on my back until I fail with them and then they become the black cloud of moodiness), I’ve decided to have a think about my approach to the day-to-day of my life rather than defined tasks or goals, though of course the latter will undoubtedly naturally arise as a result.

I’ve decided to break things down into chunks (for those of you NLP’ers you’ll be familiar with this approach). Rather than seeing certain aspects of my life as the epic, long and enormous road I may at times struggle to navigate, I’ve decided to try and break things down by working out what the next landmark is that I’m trying to get to rather than the final destination. For work, a 1 year or 5 year business plan is all very well but the fundamental (and lets be honest, sometimes tedious) day to day tasks that contribute to monthly results shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued when compared to the ‘big stuff’. Rather than being over faced by a massive goal, I’ve decided to concentrate on some of the smaller wins that will get me to that final destination i.e. working on my product knowledge, build my network, fixing annoying IT issues that can speed up production. Each of these aspects can in themselves be broken down further so they appear achievable and manageable…….as they all are.

The other thing I want to do this year is capture my memories. Disaster struck a few weeks ago when my iphone keeled over and I realised that 3000 photos (mainly of my son since he was a newborn) were potentially gone forever…….yes there was a loud scream! Happily all was retrieved but it made me think about how magical it is for me to go through my parents family albums and look at photos of myself as a child. I’m ashamed to admit that we probably only have 1/2 a dozen photos of the toddling monster actually printed off – the rest are on various digital devices. So I’ve decided to jump on the Project Life scrapbooking bandwagon. I’m not going to lie, sorting out the 3000 unprinted photos is going to be a complete pain in the ass but the theory is that that with a structured way in which to document memories moving forward, I’ll also perhaps value the experiences as I’m in them within in my own mind and imprint them a little more clearly. And of course, document them as I go along rather than leaving it until I have a massive backlog to clear! That’s the idea anyway.

The third thing I want to do is to be a little more open to new experiences, rather than immediately ruling them out  as ‘not my thing’. I had a go at this one last night when I attended my 1st ever WI meeting which was all about burlesque dancing…… who’d have thought it! That one deserves a post all of its own!

I’ll let you know how I get on and I hope your 2015 is all you wish it to be.