All posts by philippabonham

Creating the Super Team!

True-Ambition-logo

My work is varied, because I have different clients with a whole range of requirements.  This makes life so interesting, and at the same time challenging!

This requires me to work with different teams, with a range of personalities, with a spread of extremes to those that perform brilliantly as a team, and then those that fail to perform.

I chose to keep True Ambition small, with a team that are called together when needed, they are my Super Team.  The members of the Super Team are flexible, intelligent and hard working, a team of experts specifically chosen to deal with the problem we are tasked to eradicate.  We identify the source of the problem, develop solutions and implement, working effectively, testing and securing the project before closure.  The work is challenging, and the job is always completed to the agreed requirement, with no time for under performance.  The Super Team earns their name.

Teams need to perform. In a business where deadlines are tight and projects are expensive, it becomes more important that the teams perform well.

How how do you select your own Super Team?  Two major points to consider;

Expertise – mix up the experienced with the learners, have different disciplines regularly work together to deal with problems, combining expertise is essential to find solutions, and also people who are unfamiliar with the problem who can see beyond boundaries, such as external consultants, trainees, and staff from other areas of the business.

Personalities – the type of personality is so important when building your teams. Remember that experts know their area, and depending on their personality type, they may cause ructions within the team.  Check out the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and other measuring tools to make sure you have a good balance.

Creating Super Teams to get together to deal with a specific problem or project has added benefits. It forces people to work together that do not usually work on a daily basis as a team, increasing learning, depth of problem solving skills, and a variation from the day to day tasks, increasing motivation and loyalty.

Good luck with putting your Super Team together.

Looking for Contracts?

One method of growing your business is to win tenders for public sector contracts, to deliver services and supply products.

It can be time consuming to search for contracts and opportunities, which means streamlining the process is vital.

It’s part of my job to be on the look out for new contracts for clients and I use a document to log the public sector procurement sites, and insert opportunities relevant to my clients, when they are uploaded.

Here’s a few links below that will help to find tenders that you may want to apply for.  Although it can be a lot of work to complete a winning tender, it is well worth the effort when you start to build your business.

The information below is biased towards the areas where I work (Yorkshire, Humber, North West and London).

Let me know if you need any help.

Procurement sites:

Yorkshire and Humber Yortender

North West Portal The Chest

Health tenders NHS Sourcing

Most public procurement tenders should be on here Contracts Finder

Tenders Electronic Daily TED 

My Tenders site Mytenders

Procurement for Skills 

Skills Funding Agency SFA

Construction Industry Training Board CITB 

E-Tendering for (some) FE Colleges In-tend
If you click on each link they will open in a new window and you can find opportunities! Good luck!

Be the best BusinessMum

14 Tips to be the best BusinessMum

14 tips for being the best BusinessMum

I know how the days go rushing by in whirl of family, work, house, work, and more work! Trying to fit it all in, and have some sanity time often feels like an impossible task, leaving you drained and desperate to hide away! Here’s a few tips on being the best BusinessMum that you can be, based on the last 26 years of being in Business while bringing up my delightful brood, who are now aged 27, 24, 21 and 9!

1. Know what you want: Each year I start a new year with my list of what I would like to achieve and what my targets are. This is themed around 4 areas of life 1. Fitness and Health 2. House 3. Activities and Holidays 4. Work and Ambitions.  I scribble all sorts of ambitions on there, and divide it into the months of the year so I know which targets I need to achieve for the next step, for example if I want to go on holiday in August I need to start saving. If I want to run a half marathon in September I need to plan my training.  If I want to do a course in WordPress then I have to factor in when that will happen around my current work.

2. Be organised: Do not set off on a journey without knowing where you want to end up, you must define your map.  Write down what needs to be done and what you want to do to achieve your targets. A planner or diary helps to plot out what needs doing from day to day. Set yourself a daily, weekly and monthly task list and put it on a noticeboard where you can see it.  Renew your daily task list each evening, it should only take 10 minutes and make sure you refer to your weekly and monthly task list when updating your daily one so you don’t miss any important activities or deadlines.

3. Routine: I often have so much to remember that certain tasks may be forgotten, despite referring to my daily task list. It’s important to keep a routine, not only so that you do not have to rely on memory but also because it is good for your children to have routines. It adds comfort in knowing what comes next in their day, which builds confidence, and allows them to take responsibility for certain tasks. As they get older the responsibility grows steadily, developing confident, happy children who are less likely to forget their spelling books or gym kit.

4. Include a business routine: Keep your routine in your business day too, for example check emails 3 times a day and act on them. Do not keep randomly checking emails throughout the day and then not making time to act on them because you were actually in the middle of something. Allocate your day the night before, allowing for some random time in case something changes. If you work from home, keep the office routine as if you were clocking on, including factoring in breaks.

5. Focus: Set a task from your task list and do it to completion. You may have a whole bucket full of tasks to get through, but focus on priorities and completion. Ticking off tasks that are done feels so good!  If concentration is an issue, give yourself timed tasks. See how much you can get done in 45 minutes, reward yourself with a drink and a 5 minute break then return for 45 minutes.  

6. Delete, remove and throw: If there’s anything that you don’t need to do, that has no relevance to what you want to achieve or what you have to do, delete it! Whether that is sales emails for something you might possibly buy next year, a phone call from a friend who always bitches about her husband, or the pair of trousers that your baby grew out of 2 years ago, throw it out, delete it, remove it from your life – it is cluttering up your energy, space and time – you do not need it.  

7. Delegate: Your child of 8 years old can pack their own school bag; your husband can make his own lunch; each member of the household over the age of 3 can remove their dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket (put a laundry basket in each bedroom if it helps); every person over the age of 3 can help to clear up after every meal. Make it routine that everyone helps where they are capable of helping.  This works in business too – everyone who is involved and/or employed in the business can keep their spaces tidy, and be an ambassador of the business, do not leave it all to the Marketing specialist, if you’re lucky enough to have one! You can delegate some tasks to digital tools too, for example payments can be scheduled by Direct Debit, social media can be scheduled by programmes such as Hootesuite, saving you valuable time.

8. Delay: prioritising tasks is important. If your credit card payment day is the 2nd of the month then schedule it to arrive that day, is there any need to pay earlier? Tasks that have a longer timeframe can be scheduled later, as long as they are on your to do list and you do not over delay!

9. Do: I will borrow Nike’s strapline for a moment to say ‘Just Do It’ – stop putting it off, get it out the way, get it done!

10. Be reasonable: You may have a whole load to get done, but you have to be reasonable with yourself and remember that you can only do so much in one day. Do not get stressed out about the little things that don’t matter – the lower priority jobs can be done when you have a few spare minutes, if they don’t get done of day 1 of your list then do not worry. If they are still on your task list by day 10 then you need to ask yourself if it really needs doing (see delete or delegate above).

11. Be flexible: Things happen to surprise you, particularly when you have adventurous children like mine!  You may need to take time out to be a taxi service to the doctors, or see your little one perform in the school play. These moments are important for Mum and child, if you can attend then do so, but do not allow the guilt to set in if it can’t fit in with work.  

12. Time management: Try to make appointments at the beginning or the end of the day to make the most of your time. Get up early and go to bed at a decent time, only allowing a few exceptions.  Being tired drains your ability to work and to be a good parent, factor in your sleeping hours to make sure you get as much as you need.  If you have young children, you may need to learn the art of cat napping to keep sane during those hectic BusinessMum years.  Breaths of fresh air and sipping cold water, help to deal with tiredness temporarily to help you through the day.

13. Seek Help, guidance and a confidante: Whether life is going well, or if it isn’t, you must make sure you have someone to talk to, someone to confide in, and someone to share your ideas with. Do not exclude yourself from the world. Husbands, partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, siblings, older children, colleagues and best friends should be there to help, to advise, give you guidance, listen to your dreams and hear your tears. Make the most of them.

14. Be positive: When you’re tired and anxious it can be so hard to enjoy your days, and getting bogged down in negativity can impact on your health relationships and your business. It is important to remain positive and enjoy your time as you’re living it now.  I’ve coached many entrepreneurs and CEO’s whose negativity has nearly resulted in tearing family’s apart and killing businesses, life should never get so bad that you hate to get out of bed in the morning. Take positive action if you feel everything is getting too much. Every morning, think about what makes you happy? What are you grateful for? What do you love about your life? In the words of Peter Pan ‘Think Happy Thoughts’ – your family, and your business, needs your positivity to thrive.

Some of these points you may be already doing, and perhaps you think about doing some of them, or not at all. Try to get a balance of thinking, doing and enjoying in your life, always enjoy the moment you are in before its gone.  Your children won’t stay little for long and nothing is permanent, life is always changing. Make sure you and your brood are changing, learning, growing and happy :) Good luck to all the BusinessMum’s out there! Let me know how you’re getting on.

Unconditional love

Does it matter what I wear?

Does it matter what I wear? I think it matters to be relevant for the environment where I am at that time. I wouldn’t wear my bikini to ride my horse or my riding boots in the pool.

Photo 02-12-2014 12 29 49

I’d like to spend my life in jeans with a scraggy top, but it just doesn’t do to turn up at a business meeting that way. If only I could have my own personal stylist to make suggestions when I go shopping, before a meeting and practically each morning. If I think I look ok on the outside then I feel confident enough to tackle anything life wants to throw at me, mostly.

We are coming up to Christmas party season and I’ve got two parties to attend early on in December, with a few other social events also pencilled in.  Some of them are work related and some are personal.

Photo 02-12-2014 12 29 15

The dilemma of what to wear at one party has been solved as it’s fancy dress, giving me the opportunity to be whoever I want to be! Fantastic! As long as it fits the ‘Heroes and Villians’ theme.

As for the other parties, I still have no idea.

I often have no idea what to wear though because anything other than jeans is probably out of my comfort zone!

As the Joe Browns catalogue hits both my doormat and my inbox simultaneously, my dilemma increases. As not only are the party pieces perfect, but I could absolutely fill my whole wardrobe with Joe Brown clothes! (I’m not an affiliate – I just love them!).

Photo 02-12-2014 12 29 05

I have noticed that every time I wear my favourite Joe Browns jacket, I receive compliments and definitely get noticed.

However would I be stepping into the boundaries of repetitiveness if I just wear Joe Browns?

Photo 02-12-2014 12 29 36

The brand does reflect my creative nature, and reduces the need to worry about what to wear. Although I couldn’t quite be a Steve Jobs and resort to the same outfit (unless it was jeans all the way every day). I must feel comfortable and my problem is that once I find something I like, I want to stick to it.

Sadly my budget doesn’t allow all the items I want from the Joe Brown catalogue, and I wrestle with the thought that I would still bypass that amazing dress in my wardrobe for my skinny jeans anyway. So I’ll keep my selection of skirts ready for the next meeting and take comfort in the super Joe Brown jacket that always wins compliments.

Yes, it matters what I wear, to be appropriate within the environment in which I sit.  I’ll resist the gluttony of fashion with the excuse to feel confident and take comfort in the old faithfulls, but still I cannot resist enjoying browsing through what could have been my wardrobe!

Note: There are no Joe Brown affiliate links here because I don’t have enough followers :(

Have  a look yourself (they do men’s stuff too)…

 

Photo 02-12-2014 12 30 02

How many Readers does it take to make a Writer?

I’ve been writing short stories, business proposals, plays, and marketing content for many years now, but recently dived into the unknown and exciting world of blogging.

It’s been an unquestioned assumption that my work was read, for example my scripts have been produced, by proposals have been won and websites have attracted customers.

However the leap into blogging has awakened my gremlins that suddenly demand the colourful array of information provided by analytics.

The intermittent exploring of customer data has grown to be a constant obsession with measuring my success through readership.

Analytics allow me to discover my readership quantities, and the extent to which they stay interested.

Never before have I questioned my writing abilities until now, where my gremlins began to ask;

Have I earned the right to be a ‘Writer’ because now I can count how many people read my blog?

How many Readers does it take to make a Writer?

Do I ignore my gremlins, and continue to remain in my status as ‘Writer’ judged purely on my ability to create a sensible and occasionally interesting collection of products?

Should my status as ‘Writer’ be judged according to my abilities to achieve the objectives of fee paying customers?

I appreciate my readers, each and every one of them.  I hope at some point I have entertained, provided interest and handed a nugget of knowledge to my readers.

I feel a buzz of encouragement from each reader comment I receive, knowing that my work has been appreciated.

I’m sure a big quantity of readers would massage my ego, concurrent with causing a stream of anxiety from the attack of my gremlins, who will continuously ask if I serve my readers well.

The constant strive to improve means I need my readers, the customers of my craft.

I write to share my ever whirling chaos, that span from the drama enfolding in my head, and the call of knowledgeable golden moments gained from business world experience.  The writing is an outlet for calm, reflection and learning.

Writing is part of me, and the life that I lead. It fuels both my anxieties and ego in an uncompromising parallel of balance. It’s my income, my sanity, my world.

I feel the craft, which means my readers are important and loved, and perhaps only needed in quantity to fuel my ego. I am my own judge and therefore continue to take the status of Writer.

My 5 top digital tools

My 5 top digital tools I use for (UK) business are;

1. Contracts Finder www.contractsfinder.businesslink.gov.uk- For organisations that are ready to contract with local and central governments to build their income generation, Contracts Finder is a good way to find opportunities, to see what the government is buying and to set alerts to keep you updated on government buying.

2. Yortender www.yortender.co.uk – the Yorkshire and Humber procurement sites for local authority opportunities, you can set up your organisations profile, search for local opportunities and set up alerts to make sure you have up to date information on new contracts.

There are a variety of procurement sites for your area. Find them by googling ‘ (your local authority) e-procurement’.

3. Funding Central http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/ – is a useful site for finding funds and updates on new contracts. It’s not always as comprehensive as it could be, but it is improving and definitely a good starting point for your funding searches.

4. Dropbox.com – this is a great storage and file sharing option, useful either as an individual or as a team. I use it everyday for file storage, and when I’m working on specific projects I can file share with the teams to make sure everyone who needs the information has access to it. You can start with a free storage option which is ideal for cash strapped third sector organisations.

5. Google Drive http://drive.google.com – another file sharing option that is really useful, particularly when you have a team putting information together for a project or a bid. You can create and share presentations, drawings and forms which has proved a great addition for working with remote teams.

Also Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram are the best ways of keeping in touch with friends, family and having a creativity fix!