The key this Spring is to FOCUS

March 3, 2014

Can you believe it? Spring is here and we are already nearly a quarter of the way through 2014. The spring bulbs are starting to make an appearance, thankfully, even though it’s still raining.

In Shepton Mallet, life is just great. Lizzie turned two last month (what a grown up!) and Morwenna, who is going to be one in April, is as cheerful as ever. The ability to work in and around the kids is just fantastic and I’m loving every minute.

I’ve been spending most of my time designing, refining and realigning my business, products & services and brand. In some ways the past eight weeks have been a baptism of fire, learning lessons the hard way, making some cracking mistakes and having to dig deep to figure a way out of them!

So yes, I can safely say that setting up a business is as hard for me as for everyone else. Admittedly the financial planning side of things has been straight forward enough, however the advertising & marketing side of things has, for example, had me sat with my bank manager last Thursday afternoon, pritt stick & scissors in hand like something out of Blue Peter, trying to work out the best way to align all the logos on my new leaflet. Crazy days.

“What’s new Jo?” I hear you ask. Well folks. As the title states, the key this Spring is to FOCUS. So I’m leading by example and doing that very thing right now. From here on in, Free Range Business Services will be focusing on two, very distinct areas.

Firstly, I’m heading back to my roots. I am returning to specialising in the niche areas I have been practising in for the past 11 years and am going to concentrate on working with Agricultural and Equestrian businesses in the South West.  It’s not that I don’t want to work with any other industries, it’s just that after two months I have already realised that sticking to what you know best and doing it really well is definitely the way forward.

I’ve also learnt that it’s much easier to get out of bed every morning if I’m off to work for a client I love and a business I am genuinely interested in! I suppose I have been incredibly spoilt in my previous roles, always working with truly amazing and fascinating clients.

Secondly, I’m doing something new. I’ve always been a huge fan and supporter of new business owners and I now have the chance to really help out. I have signed up and been approved as an Enterprise Nation Growth Voucher Advisor in Finance & Cash Flow and am now able to help new and growing rural businesses via matched grant funding from the Government.

The Government funded programme helps small businesses get expert advice on a range of topics such as finance and cash flow, recruiting and developing staff and improving leadership and management skills.

To see how difficult it was to apply for this grant funding I decided to sign up myself and see if I personally was eligible, and within no more than 15 minutes I had been awarded a £2,000 growth voucher to allow me access to expert advice in business strategy. It was really easy to apply and I was delighted to see that help really is available if you know where to look.

To see if your business is eligible for a Growth Voucher go to https://www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers

So what’s next? I have applied for registration under the Trading Standards “Buy with Confidence” Scheme, which will enable me to work as an advisor with Jan Spencer from the Heart of the South West Business Support Service. This service is specifically for rural businesses that are more than 50% owned or managed by women, enabling them access to a whole host of free sessions, support vouchers and action groups locally.  Watch this space!

Rather excitingly I have my first mailshot being sent out to local businesses in the next week and I am also running an advertising campaign in the Shepton Journal, Wells Journal, Bath Chronicle and Central Gazette newspapers from this Thursday, 6th March for four weeks. It’s so amazingly refreshing to be able to make my own decisions and I’m thoroughly looking forward to making a few more in the near future.

Here’s to a cracking March – fingers crossed the rain will stop soon as the spring bulbs are in need of some sunshine, as am I …..