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  1. Sometime the end of the year is when I start to get annoyed at the things I didn't yet achieve. (Notice I used the word YET! I am a big believer in the power of that word). However it always a great time to think about what you have achieved in the last year. So here is my reflection on 12 months of building The Sparkling Business Club.

    For the most part my business energies have been focused on building the group, of refining and re defining what it is and what it should offer. I had thought that I would need to introduce an annual fee. You might have guessed I was going to give the members the world for not very much money LOL but every time I reflected back on the ethos of the original group all those years ago and how we wanted to keep the group easy to access. So that people really didn't have a hard decision to join a group, they could just come along and give it a try. I am proud to say there are still no joining fees for The Sparkling Business Club and the fees for events are kept as low as possible. 

    This year we had our second A Day to Sparkle event and we saw rise in the number of people attending. We moved to The Mecure Hull a venue we are now using a lot. We attracted some world class speakers including Viviene Joy and Susan Weeks who were amazing and both these ladies want to attend with you at the next A Day To Sparkle on 29th June 2020. 

    The numbers at the monthly meeting began to hit the capacity of the room we had been in for 8 years. So we looked for a new space and found it at The Warton Arms in Woodmansey. I pleased to tell you they have agreed to hosting our meeting for 2020 so I hope to see you all there. 

    I hope the 2020 sees the group growing from strength to strength and although it may look to some like I am the one who runs the group. The group is actually as brilliant as it is because of the members. Without such and amazing group of women it would not matter a jot what I did. The group is the sum total of it's brilliant sparkling ladies 

     

  2. We all need to some time to relax and be with our friends & families over the festive period. But a week or two without working in or on your business can be scary. Here are a few ideas from me that you can do over the break to make next year even more brilliant.

    FIlofax and glasses etc

    1. Go through that new planner/diary and put in the important dates. Now is the time to plan when you will take time off next year. Do not wait until you feel you really need a break, plan those dates now. If in doubt add in extra dates. Having gone straight into teaching as I left university, my holidays were dictated to me. So when I left teaching in 2000 I had never been able to choose my holidays. It took me about 18 months to realise I had to be the one to say when my holidays where. I was working with Martin and was so passionate about what we were doing I didn't plan any breaks for quite some time. For the first 3 months I didn't even have a day off, I worked 7 days a week. Until Christmas Day which we spent together as a family and Boxing Day when I had both families at our house and then back to work the next day. I really do not recommend this!! Book your breaks in now. 

    2. Buy a magazine your Ideal Customer would buy. Study it from cover to cover. What headlines do they use? what about images? How are the photos styled? What topics do they cover? Who advertises in there? 

    3. Look at you own line presence. Check your website on someone elses laptop and /or phone. Do the colours still work? How readable is it? Google yourself, again do this on someone elses phone/laptop.

    4.  Create a reading list for the year. This can be business books or not. It can be fiction or non fiction. Add some variety, explore new authors. If you don't already have one, sort out an audio book system. I use Audible.

    5. Write a list or set of notes for yourself based on what happened this year. This could be to tell yourself you already have Crackers or that you need to organise Gift Voucher for your business in October. What ever lesson you learned.

    6. Look after yourself. Rest and Relaxation. I think we all know how important this is when we watch someone else working too hard, well now is the time to really look after yourself. YOU are the key to your businesses success in 2020. The healthier you are the healthier your business will be.

  3.  Anyone who has bumped into me recently will have heard talking about this a LOT!

    Am I here to apologise about that? NO definitely not.

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    You can expect me to talking about quite a lot in the next few months.
    Adding a blog to your website is a brilliant way to keep your content fresh and the googlebots happy. It is also a great place to start working out your content creating muscle at the same time as making you quotable as the expert.

    It doesn’t actually have to be a traditional blog, it could be a vlog or even a regular podcast.

    It does have to speak to customer, preferably your ideal customer. It will help them understand something they have been concerned about or tell they how to do something. It might even tell them a little but more about you.

    When running Oak House Studio, the stamp company I retired from in 2017 I had a basic blog that featured my design team. That blog highlighted products and taught techniques to inspire people to buy my stamps and inks.

    It was a brilliant place to run competitions away from Facebook rules and we ran 24 hour events from that basic blog. Many of us use Facebook for our businesses and encourage people to use it to its full extent but I have never been an “all my eggs in one basket” kind of girl.

    Developing your blog on your website is certainly the way forward and if like me you use Create.net then a blog is built in for so nothing difficult there. So this blog you are ready is formatted as part of my site. I can schedule post ahead of time and I can even dump blog ideas in there ready to finish when I find the prefect picture.

    If you are considering a new website check the prices at Create as they are pretty good and the team are brilliant in fact tell them I sent you and you can claim 10% off your first bill by quoting this code RAFLYNNDA.

    So tell me do you have a blog? Leave a link in the comments so we can all come see it.

    If you need help with your blog or creating content in general then email me at [email protected] I can help with one to one support plus I have a Content Creating day planned for the Mercure Hull in September 2019.

  4. Becoming a volunteer fosterer for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People has given many new perspectives on life. To be honest I missed a dog in life so much I needed to find a way to have one back in my life that the rest of the family could live with. Ben needed a dog back in his life too and fostering was something Martin could handle as there is no commitment to give.

    The day they came to inspect the house & garden was also the day they rang for us to go pick up a dog. A small black Labrador called Kiwi.

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    Kiwi was an angel who came into our lives and taught us so much. I soon realised how much these dogs had to learn to do their job. I learnt how individual each dog is and likewise, each deaf person they go to help has their own unique set of problems. The dogs are carefully matched to the person they are going to help and once a bond has been established the dog undergoes further training to be just the help the person needs.

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    Each dog that comes into our home is unique and so are the people they go on to live with and help.

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    I was surprised to discover that one in six people in the UK has hearing difficulties. On reflection, I personally know a few people with difficulties and work to help this when I am with them. It struck me that is just like how as a business we have to find the right clients and how much we should be aware of their individual needs. Tailoring our services to the specific needs of clients is not always possible but the more accessible we can make everything we offer the better.

    Are you considering the needs of all? Do you have more than one way for clients to contact you or do you just ask everyone to phone you? How easy is for you to tweak how you display your information? Is it easy to read ? What size fonts are you using? What sort of language are you using?

     

     

  5. I love to share news and promote other business ladies I meet at The Sparkling Business Club and I have plans for yet another project to do just that to launch in August so keep watching.

    At last year's A Day To Sparkle we met local  award-winning author Samantha Towle. It was a plesasure to listen to her staory and be able to ask her about her journey so far.

    The New York Times bestselling author's newest book in the hugely popular STORM SERIES is coming September 6th, 2019!

     Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs

    Photograph: Wander Aguiar Photography

    Model: Colton B.

    Sam has used this designer and photographer before and I can see why she chose them to bring her story to life in this cover. 

    FindingStorm_Paperback.v10

     

    There will be no pre-order, but sign up to receive an alert on release day: https://bit.ly/2WTt1nc 

    Add to your Goodreads TBR: https://bit.ly/2XU12Aw

     

    Blurb for FINDING STORM: 

    The son of an icon.

    He was a legend. Rock royalty.

     A man I never met. 

    But I’m measured against him in every aspect of my life. 

    The only time I feel like me … the real me … is when I’m onstage with my band. But the more we grow in popularity, the more people compare me to him.

    I’m not him. And I never will be. If only everyone could figure that out for themselves.

    I need a break from it all. 

    Then, a confrontation has me jumping in my car, putting LA in my rearview mirror. And a stupid mistake ends up with my car on the side of the road. And straight into the path ofa girl who is the exact opposite of everyone else in my life.

    She’s like everything I used to know.

    And she has no clue who I am.

    Even if she did, I don’t think she’d care.

    She thinks I’m cavalier.

    I think she’s intriguing. And hot. Let’s not forget hot.

    I’m stuck in this town overnight while my car is being fixed. But I’m thinking I’m gonna stick around a bit longer.

    I’m Storm Slater, lead guitarist in Slater Raze and the only child of the late, great Jonny Creed. But, here, right now … I’m nobody. Just a regular guy.

    I’m liking it a whole lot.

    And I’m liking her even more.

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    As part of building the presentation team for this years A Day To Sparkle I came across local author Samantha Towle. Sam's story really inspired me, a local girl who had seen amazing sales of her books. It was great to have Sam as part of our day and to hear more of her story. As part of this process I started to read her contemporary romance books and I am one on many eagerly awaiting her next book. 

    I am pleased to be able to share the cover of her next book River Wild due out in January 14th 2019. 

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    PURCHASE LINKS:

    Add to Goodreads âžœ https://goo.gl/NwQNKe

    River Wild will be available on Kindle Unlimited. Links will be posted on release day.

    Sign up for Samantha’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live! âžœ http://samanthatowle.co.uk/newsletter-sign-up

     

  7. Google Reverse Image search

    Why and how

     

    There has been quite a storm in the craft world recently where a stamp designer has become public villain No1 when it was revealed that some of her stamp designs are rather too closely related to some images that belong to other designs. She has had to take time out having been branded a liar and a thief. He main mistake was possibly claiming she hand drew her stamps, I think there is probably more to this story than we are hearing at the moment but a witch hunt has seen her name plastered every where with critics condemning her in quite a nasty tone. I won’t be going in to detail here as I do not know enough. I mention it only because it serves as a timely reminder about use of images.

    As the owner of Oak House Studio, I was confident about the images I used as created most of them myself. I too have been caught out though sometimes when I have trusted other people’s images especially people on my design team. I had someone submit a sample using another companies stamp as if I wouldn’t notice! So that one didn’t catch me out.

    I was caught out when under pressure to produce something new for a magazine, I was inspired by a design of a card someone had made for me, I asked their permission and created a card quite close to the one they had made. Months later I found their card was a direct lift from someone else’s card which made mine too close to that card for comfort. I was very embarrassed. It did not result in legal action but I do know of people who have been in trouble for using images without the correct permissions.

    If you use images supplied to you by someone else please take the time to check those images through something like Google image search which is simple to use.

    It doesn’t matter how well you know the person or how much you trust them. If you are involved in using the image as a social media manager, a website designer, a PA or VA, a laser cutter or stamp maker, if you are selling the image or distributing it online. If you produce your own images or design something like I did look out for people stealing your images. The stamp world is full of ripped off stamp images and I am sure other will be to. Please check!

    As a designer I would ask you to respect artists and the work they produce. There should be no need to steal from these people.

    So please use reverse image search to protect yourself and the hard working creators of images that people continue to steal from.

    Here is a Link to how to do a reverse image search with Google https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/1325808?hl=en