This is the third of our new blog series with Business Psychologist and Coach, Charlotte Sheridan.
Running a business is hard work – if it was easy everyone would do it. And the stark truth is that most new ventures don’t make it. Statistics from Small Business Trends (USA) show that of the small businesses that set up in 2014:
By 2019 this would be a fail-rate of about 50%
These are difficult figures to read if you’re an entrepreneur. But you believe in your product, right? You think your service is worth pursuing? If that’s a yes, then what can you do to succeed?
One useful area to watch is how your pace can impact your performance.
Years ago I did a half marathon for charity. I hadn’t run for years so I got some help from a personal trainer. One of the first things she taught me was pace.
But I had a hard lesson many years before. I was 11 and it was Sports Day. My mum and dad had high expectations - my grandfather had run in the Olympics fifty years before. I wasn’t a good runner, but I was competitive and wanted to impress them. So, I set off at an incredible speed and was quickly at the front of the pack.
My parents were clearly excited and I knew their imaginations would be going wild - podiums and ribbons were in sight. So I pushed myself even more and the gap got wider. Would this be the fastest I’d ever run? The cheers went up. Just a handful of parents, but it felt like a stadium roar to me.
And then I hit a wall. I completely ran out of steam. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t run, my legs turned to jelly and the roar was now in my chest. Three minutes into the race I just gave up and stopped.
Back in the 1970’s there was little training. We wore tennis shoes for running and didn’t drink much water! No one told me about pace. It didn’t understand what stamina was - I just thought you had to go fast. And I was a hare, not a tortoise. Always throwing myself into a task, giving up too soon because I ran out of energy.
It’s something I’m still working on today. Trying to find a pace to matches my enthusiasm but one that’s sustainable. This is one way I keep track - I imagine a project or task as a race.
(or when a deadline is looming):
Research has shown that an optimal pace when you’re sprinting is to go slightly faster at the start (3% quicker than normal). It’s OK to push a bit harder and work extra hours - but only for a short time. If you drive yourself too hard for too long you’ll reduce your performance. In fact when runners run 6% faster than normal they fail to finish the race at all.
So don’t over do it. If you’re pulling late nighters for weeks on end your work will suffer. So will your health. Keep an eye on how you’re doing physically. Pay attention to your eating, exercise and sleep. Here are two people who didn’t - one nearly lost a leg and the other had a life-changing seizure.
(or when you have months of hard work ahead):
Pacing for a marathon is the opposite. Successful marathon runners pace themselves 3% slower for the first few miles. Inexperienced runners talk about “putting time in the bank” – running faster at the start to make up for going slower at the end. But this has the reverse effect. World record holders always run the first half of their race slower than the second.
I’ve been interviewing 100 people who have left or are leaving their paid jobs behind. One of my interviewees used to push himself incredibly hard.
“Previously I just got in the boxing ring and I kept going until the fight was over.”
Nowadays he does things differently, “I get into the ring and say, ‘I have to break this up into rounds.’ So I give myself short breaks. We have more nights away. We go to more concerts. I'm breaking up the difficult parts of the job with more interventions that are restorative.”
Being an entrepreneur is a marathon. You’ll need to put in months of hard sweat to get your business up and running. Then, if it’s successful, there’ll many more months of hard graft to keep it all going. So pace yourself in a sustainable way. Remember which race you’re in.
The second area is the impact of pressure on your performance. When you’re working on something you enjoy, when the challenge is high, it’s exciting and interesting and it will stretch you. Then you’re in a state called “Flow.” You won’t notice the time passing and you’ll feel full of energy. But to get into this state you need to manage the pressure and effort.
Psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson developed the Yerkes Dodson law. It says that performance will increase as effort goes up, but only up to a point. Test yourself too much too quickly and your performance will go down.
Different people will have different points of boredom, flow and burnout. It depends on your skills, experience and what you enjoy. Try and keep as much as possible in the Flow state. Do this by monitoring the pressure you’re feeling. If you’re edging towards the stressful end make sure you give yourself breaks so you can rest (both physically and mentally).
Try to stop thinking for a while - take time out to do something relaxing, enjoyable or just completely different. Our brains use up a large amount of energy. They make up only 2% of our body weight but use up 20% of our energy.
Another of my interviewees works in a very high-pressured environment. He uses mindfulness and breathing techniques.
“Those moments when other people might panic I just step away, take a deep breath, visualise what it would feel like to be awarded the business… that’s really helpful at 11.30 the night before, when you've got another three hours of work.”
Meditation, exercise, being out in nature are all good as they increase alpha waves in our brains. This helps us to feel calm and relaxed, reducing stress and anxiety. But when you don’t have time for these, just get up and stretch your legs for a few minutes. Sometimes this can be enough.
If you’re at the bored end, add in some pressure. Set a timer to give yourself a mini deadline or stretch yourself more in the kind of work you’re doing. Some people find working on a number of projects means they can keep themselves motivated. By rotating across the projects they keep engaged. But don’t confuse rotating through projects with multi-tasking. Keep focused on one project at a time and do only that. Then move to another task and do only that. Psychological research shows that too much multitasking is actually just constantly switching. This is very tiring and can affect your memory, increase your stress and distractibility, and it can impact your intelligence longer term.
So overall, pay attention to how you’re feeling. Keep yourself motivated by rotating projects. And most of all, remember to pace yourself as you’re in a marathon not a sprint.
To find out more about these topics read this.
This is the second of our new blog series with Business Psychologist and Coach, Charlotte Sheridan.
Setting up or running a business is hard work. If you’ve done it already you’ll know. If you’re about to do it, friends may have made a face and said, “Are you sure?”
So why do we make it harder than it needs to be? Why do we say to ourselves, “This bag isn’t heavy enough, I’ll pick up a second one!”
I’m talking about the monkey on our back, or the gremlin on our shoulder. It’s that nagging, critical voice that tells us that we’re going to fail. It’s also The Imposter Syndrome, the self-doubt and worry that we’ll be found out. We’re in good company as many famous people have also had Imposter Syndrome.
Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook CEO):
“There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”
Tom Hanks (Actor):
"No matter what we've done, there comes a point where you think, 'How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?'”
Maya Angelou (Civil rights activist, author, poet, Nobel Laureate):
I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'"
David Bowie (Musician):
“I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing. … I was driven to get through life very quickly. I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”
There are many challenging aspects of setting up or running a business that we can’t avoid. Taxes, accountants, stock-taking, But one thing we can avoid is the wrong mind set.
Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck says that we either have fixed or growth mindsets. If we think our skills, experience or talents are fixed, then we can’t improve and we won’t reach our goals. That’s unless we aiming low – doing something we’ve already done. Then we’re just in repeat mode. Or, we might have a growth mindset. We know we can learn, develop and gain new skills. It might take effort, but our future is in our hands. We can aim big and do something spectacular.
So ask yourself these questions:
We need to pay attention to what Psychologists call Thinking Errors. These are faulty patterns of thinking that make us stressed or anxious. This happens when our thinking doesn’t match reality - we often don’t even realise we’re doing it! Here are some examples:
“Focusing on the negative” - when you only pay attention to what has gone wrong in the past. Whatever you think you can or can’t do, you are probably right. It’s helpful to shift your mindset and pivot to what has gone well. Remind yourself of these times when you are full of doubt.
Another is the “fortune telling”– predicting how something will go (often the worst-case scenario). Picture your business being really successful. Imagine in detail all the things that will be successful. Athletes do this all the time. They imagine themselves in a race or a playing a game, picturing how well it goes and how they will win.
“Mind-reading” - second-guessing what someone else is thinking and how they’ll behave, without evidence. Is there a challenging conversation coming up with a supplier? Or a difficult meeting with a new business partner? Maybe you are avoiding it, as you already “know” how they’ll react. Instead imagine different responses that are more positive. It will make you less anxious in the run up to the meeting or the conversation.
“Overgeneralisation” - when you take the outcome of one event and predict it will happen every time. Instead remember other times when you tried something and it went well. Be aware that we often overgeneralise on what went wrong, not what went right.
To find out which thinking errors you use click on the link at the bottom of this blog.
Other people's voices
Don’t you just hate it when you share a new business idea with someone and they kill it….stone dead. Perhaps you’re about to launch a new product or service and you’ve sunk months into development. But now you’re really worried about it. Ask yourself these questions:
Setting up or running a business is hard work, but don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Be aware of your mind set and thinking errors and that will help you to reduce your stress and anxiety.
To find out which thinking errors you might have, use this questionnaire.
This is the first of our new blog series with Business Psychologist and Coach, Charlotte Sheridan.
So you want to set up your own business? Or you’ve just started. Maybe you’re killing it already (tell us how and share the love).
Whatever stage you’re at, remember one thing. When the flight is turbulent do what the crew says…. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else.”
This is the first rule of survival. If you run out of oxygen, you can’t run your business.
We are in the eye of the storm. COVID-19 is a body blow to us all and we can’t predict where it’ll take us. We can’t know what our businesses will look like in 12, 18, 24 months time.
But you can take control of one thing. Set yourself up with the right resources. Focus on the stuff that will keep you on track.
I’m suggesting you create a Virtual Board of Directors. A group of people who will help you and your business stay fit. Then you’re more likely to weather the storm.
I’ve been running interviews with 100 people who have left or are leaving their paid jobs behind - Spoon by Spoon: why we must feed ourselves with wisdom.
Some have set up new businesses, many are changing career, others are re-training. They range from 28 to 68 years old. It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur!
Whilst each person is unique and their circumstances differ, they do share similar strategies. See what some of my interviewees have said below.
Check who can talk to, who cares about you? It could be friends or even a counsellor/ therapist. Someone you’re comfortable sharing how you’re feeling.
“I've got friends who I've had for years and when I told them that I was leaving work behind, and was going to set up my own business they were so happy for me. They said it's about time, we've been waiting to hear this. So I've got fantastic support out there from family, my good friends.”
“My friends celebrated the highs and shuffled me through the lows.”
“I had a couple of really good friends. I would have broken without them. I poured my soul out to them and they kept me going,”
Wise Aunts (or Uncles)
They don’t have to be blood relatives, but they do need to support and mentor you. And they need to care about your business. They should be people you can bounce ideas off and who’ll give you objective feedback.
“I got myself half a dozen people [in the same area] who were there to help me when things got a bit sticky - when I was having a bad day, something had gone wrong or I was confused and needed a sounding board. A tribe as I call it. It’s been invaluable for me.”
“I have a coach and he's brilliant. He’s really supportive, and he's certainly the person who I go to. Just having to cope with the knock backs and being told thanks but no thanks which happens to me quite a lot.”
This doesn’t need to be an actual coach, just someone who just looks out for your health. It may even be you. They (or you) will need to help you stay fit enough to run your business. You need to be on top of your eating, sleeping and exercise.
“I’ve taken up Jujitsu and that's been a really amazing outlet for me. Because it's part physical, but part mental.”
“I cut out sugar and processed carbs and notice a difference in my mental health and how I feel. More veg and fruit and my mind feels clear and less sluggish. “
“I suffer from mental chatter, a lot of noise going on all of the time and the voices are not always positive. Yoga gives me a break from stressing out about everything. The physical element of being flexible and stronger and the mental element of finding peace of mind.”
Where do you find your information (outside of the Pop Up Business School of course)? If you’ve got a question where do you go? Some people find networking groups useful. Others use digital resources (e.g. TED TALKS and blogs) or reading books.
“I run a network of women leaders in communications which has been quite important. I'm also trying to broaden my network to people who run small businesses.”
“I'm reading Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. It's about learning from mistakes. The argument is that the more open you are to your failures, the more opportunity you have to learn and really make that kind of seismic leap into another level of performance.”
Your older Self
If you could go back in time what wisdom would you share with your younger self?
What do you wish you had known then? Remind yourself of how much you already know, how much you’ve already learned - If you could turn back time, would you be more brave?
This is what some of my interviewees said to their younger selves:
“Worry less about what might happen. You won’t get lost. You will find your way.”
“Don’t get too upset about what’s bothering you now. With time and distance most things become less important.”
“Nothing’s black or white. Not every decision is the end of the world. Don’t be so scared of everything.”
“Life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes it’s things that you really love and it's surprising. But it's okay if things don’t go according to plan.”
So, have you got a Virtual Board of Directors in place? Take this questionnaire to find how strong it is and actions you can take to improve it.
Make sure you check every three months to find out whether your Virtual Board of Directors is helping or hindering your business.
Will you allow people's comments to define the rest of your life?
This post was inspired by Nduno who we met in Namibia last year. She has aspirations to be Namibia's First Astronaut but was told by people she loves and trusts that she is 'not enough' to pursue her dreams.
Doubting yourself and your idea is a situation that we have all been in, but should we conform to society's blueprint?
Will you allow people's comments to define the rest of your life?
Jo Watson attended our PopUp Business live course in Bolton last November to help her copywriting business: agoodwriteup.
Jo has graciously written the following article about her experience over the past few months and how she is applying the PopUp Principles in her daily life.
I'm a former student of PopUp Business School, and I'm also a part of the hardworking demographic of freelancers and the self-employed, who are as much in fear for our finances as we are for our health, right now. When I found out that Simon and Alan were putting together a Survival Guide to help the PopUp community now that this Corona thing has us tightly by the tax returns, I had to show my support.
I'm a copywriter first and foremost, but for this article, I wanted to focus on figures rather than words. In particular, I want to talk about money. If you’ll indulge me, I'd like to put forward a few things for you to think about right now as you face the future, and it goes without saying that I draw these points from the lessons I learned - or perhaps had confirmed for me - during my time at PopUp Business School.
I wonder if you'll remember those lessons, too?
Whilst the PopUp principles taught us that we really shouldn't be going into any kind of short or long-term debt to set up a business, we need to remember that it's also good practice to avoid the dreaded D word now that we're actually in business. I know it's tough, and we all need to accept help where we can take it, but please please please, do your research about everything that's supposedly available to support you financially, and look carefully the Ts and Cs attached to each one.
Whilst I have my own political views on Government 'support', rather than enter into something that's going to make me really fucking mad, I'll instead focus my attention on so-called mortgage holidays from our mortgage providers and banks. It's not a bloody 'holiday', and no bank in history has ever done anything for its customers that hasn't benefited them substantially in the long run. Whilst the idea of a break in payments may sound tempting, please ask yourself if you really need to take it, or if you're just grabbing it because it's there and it sounds nice. Please, do your research, and get that calculator out, because whilst you're not paying for it right now, you'll definitely pay for it later.
Okay so far? Good.
Know your worth. Unless there's really, truly, absolutely some return value in it for you, don’t feel pressured to give anything of your business away for free. Anyone who values your talent and time - and who respects you as a person as well as a professional - will never expect you to do anything for free at a time when it's just as tough for you as it is for them. They'll certainly never ask you, at least. I know that as a good person you'll want to help people out in a time of crisis, but please don't do it at the expense of either:
a) finding or doing paid work for yourself elsewhere, or
b) spending time supporting those closest to you with the issues they have at this awful time.
Like I said, if you can gain some kind of non-monetary yet valuable return on your 'investment', brilliant. But pure freebies? No. Look at how the world keeps turning on its business axis despite Corona. Tesco aren't giving you your groceries gratis, British Gas aren't lighting and heating your home out of the goodness of their own hearths (yes, that was an awful pun), and HMRC aren't going to turn around any time soon and say, "Y'know what, Karen, it's been a shit year, don't worry about paying your tax for 20/21, love."
As a business, you have a right to earn money, especially if you're providing a product or a service that will help people right now in addressing an area of their own business that will likely help keep them afloat.
Just as a side note, and I don't know if you've noticed... but if you've ever done anything for free for someone in business, they've usually ended up being a bit of an ungrateful and demanding dick about it... A blog for another time, maybe? Let's move on.
Keep marketing your business. Providing that you're not putting your prices up, or venturing into brand new territory where you now don't ply your usual trade but instead sell marked-up bog rolls by the boot load, you are fully within your rights to market the hell out of your products or services. Everyone is struggling, so you're really going to have to make sure you're heard above the noise, and you'll also have to show that your business is the perfect choice over the competition to help others stay afloat during this shitshow of a health and financial crisis.
Social media virtue signallers will cry “profiteering” and spew passive aggressive keyboard warrior rants about “capitalising on the crisis”, but let's just remember, social media virtue signallers are arseholes. Do what you've always done. Why wouldn’t you?
I'd been running my business (agoodwriteup) for a few years already by that point, and honestly thought that the PopUp sessions would mainly be aimed at those people setting stuff up from scratch. That was so far from the case, however, and so as well as learning so many new concepts and ways of applying them to my business, I developed the confidence to come away from any existing plans and projects that were just never going to work. So I guess my point is this... with the three things I've talked about in this article being deeply embedded in PopUp principles, I think it's only right that at this tough time where it's really not 'business as usual', we go back to basics and remember our roots.
It is so bloody tough right now, but I'm practicing what I preach, and I'm remembering that PopUp Business School may not have been around when I got my business off the ground, but they've sure as shit been there to help it fly.
They know their stuff, and you know yours.
Keep that partnership in mind, and you'll get through this.
As well as being a Chartered Manager and a former PopUp student over in Bolton (Greater Manchester), Jo is a freelance copywriter, editor and trainer.
Over the past year she’s also become a professional speaker and is currently writing her first book. She’s aware that everyone says that. When it comes to language, she’s a fan of swearing, sarcasm and puns. She likes to attract clients who feel the same!
LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/jo-watson-agoodwriteup
Facebook - @agoodwriteup
Twitter - @agoodwriteup
Website - www.agoodwriteup.com
We have joined forces with Starling Bank to help bring you help and financial advice as part of our Business Survival Guide. In this second guest blog, Starling will run through some tips and benefits of using a digital bank compared to the traditional high street banks.
The world has evolved. The way we shop, download music and order food has changed. The last few years has seen a revolution in the way people and businesses do their banking too, with a move towards app-based bank accounts challenging the high street ‘big four’.
Starling Bank is a digital bank which has won Best British Bank three years running, in addition to Best Business Provider and Best Current Account 2019 & 2020.
In this blog, we’ll run through some of the reasons why people and business owners are making the change. Click here to learn more and open an account.
Set Up in Minutes, from Anywhere
Setting up a Business Bank account was historically a lengthy and frustrating process which could take weeks. Business owners were required to collect together a mountain of paperwork, and arrange an in-person meeting at their local bank branch to set up their account. At Starling, we recognised this needed to change.
That’s why we created an award-winning business account that’s completely free to use, and takes minutes - not weeks - to apply for. All you need is a valid form of I.D such as a passport or UK driving licence, and details of how your business operates and a document or website that backs this up, and you are good to go. Applying for an account takes just minutes and providing you pass the security checks you will be up and running after a matter of days.
Plus, because we’re an app-based bank, business owners can set up their account from their homes or office. So, say goodbye to waiting weeks to see a bank manager.
Starling was built to be the best bank in the UK - but our intention remains for our customers to spend as little time banking as possible!
All of the tasks that you may have spent hours queuing for, or on hold for, you can now do from the palm of your hand. A digital bank account fits around your schedule, and keeps the same hours you do. So you can check your balance, make payments, or do your accounting, from anywhere.
And if you do need help, our UK-based customer support team is on hand to make your life easier 24/7 - simply access them in-app or via our help line (0800 0231 617).
Seriously Secure and Protected
At Starling, we make security our highest priority, especially when it comes to transfers and payments. Our experts have built in multiple levels of security within the app, including biometric security, which means if your phone can store individual fingerprints and facial data, you can access your account this way. According to Apple, there’s a one in a million chance that another person can access your account via facial recognition, so it’s a good option for many of our customers.
In addition to this, our instant notifications keep you in the loop about what is coming in and out of your account. So, if there are any transactions which don’t look familiar, you’ll be the first to know. With our Card Controls, you’ll also be able to freeze or cancel your card instantly, if you think it may be lost or stolen.
For extra peace of mind, just like ‘the big four’ Starling is a fully-licensed bank, with customers’ eligible deposits up to £85,000 protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Reduce your admin
To reduce your admin it’s a good idea to make technology your friend. And with a digital bank account, this has never been easier.
In the Starling Marketplace, you’ll find integrations with a range of third party products and services. This includes the likes of Xero, QuickBooks and FreeAgent, which all allow you to connect your real-time bank transactions with your accounting software.
Spending less time on your financial admin will allow you to spend more time on your business.
The Starling Marketplace has insurance options too, for example, invoice insurance from Nimbla or cybersecurity or indemnity cover from DigitalRisks or CyberSmart. For project management tools, there’s UnderPinned and to help you keep track of your digital receipts, there’s Flux.
Deposit cheques from home
Being able to deposit cheques on your mobile is handy at the best of times, but especially so right now. After a flurry of customer requests, Starling Bank recently introduced this functionality to its app to make sure their customers really can do all their banking from home. Simply take a photo of your cheque in the app, and Starling’s team will process it within two working days (which is generally faster than sending via post).
A massive thank you to Starling Bank for writing this blog post to help discuss why many businesses are turning to digital banking.
We are obviously a massive believer in doing things the opposite and we love how Starling have been shaking up the traditional approch and what it means to be a bank.
Come back next week for tips on budgeting your money and making the pennies stretch further!
Updated on 12th May 2020 to reflect latest furlough scheme changes.
With all of this Coronavirus madness going on in the world, it can become quite difficult to cut through the noise and figure out what to do in business with all of the uncertainty. The UK Government have released a lot of support for businesses to increase survival rate and retain jobs. While this is all very helpful, it's not always easy to decipher!
We've written, with the help of our glorious accountant Emma Cooke, explanations of the support available for UK Businesses. This blog is all about furloughing and what it could mean for you.
The coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furloughing)
The UK government know how important it is for people to still have a solid income to be able to survive and provide for their families. The Job Retention Scheme or 'Furloughing' as most people will know it as, allows UK companies to give garden leave to it's employees while the government pay 80% (Up to £2,500pm) of their salary from March 1st until October 31st PLUS the National Insurance amount to match.
The scheme was recently extended from June to October with more flexibility to support the transition back to work in August and September. Further detail will follow from the government by the end of May regarding this extension.
Employers can choose to top up an employee’s salary with the additional 20% but are not obliged to if this has been agreed with the furloughed employee (as above). If in doubt, seek legal advice.
Furlough is from 1 March so you can backdate to when the employee was furloughed. This will be in place currently until the end of October. You may only backdate if employees were NOT working in that time period.
As we say during the PopUp course, we are not legal professionals. If you are unsure if you are eligible or have any specific concerns, ask for professional advice or consult the UK Government webpage for those who can and cannot claim.
How do you claim?
Before you claim, you need to know the following:
Why would you do this?
The main reasons you would do this in your company are:
To increase the financial runway of the business
At a time like this, a lot of businesses may struggle financially. A big cost in a company is employee's. At PopUp, it's our majority cost as we have no other major overheads. By furloughing employees, you are taking away a large cost to the business for that time period, therefore increasing the time that your money will be able to support the business.
To give your employee's security and certainty
Security and certainty are some of the biggest impacts this pandemic has brought with it. People are uncertain about their jobs, uncertain about their financial situation and do not feel secure. This leads to fear, which leads to panic, which leads to things we don't want. By furloughing employees, it gives them security and certainty for two reasons: That you are being active in finding solutions and that their job is safe. At least for this period of time.
Who can claim this allowance? (Must tick all boxes)
Who can they claim it for?
This can be claimed for furloughed and redundant employees (on any type of contract) who were on the payroll on 28th February 2020.
Employees hired after this date cannot be eligible for this scheme.
The effect on morale and having the conversation
Transparency = trust. If you don't have 100% trust with your employees, this is going to be a difficult time for you and the business. NOTE: trust goes both ways.
If you're thinking about this route for your business and your employees, we'd advise a team call or 1-2-1 communications with your team and get them involved in the decision. This will bring them closer, feel valued and also give them a chance to tell you their thoughts. The worst thing you can do is make this choice and tell them how it is. That will be difficult and painful. They will also bring up amazing points that you won't be thinking about, this will help you make a better choice for everyone involved.
Things you should talk about with your employees.
This will differ with every business, but here's a quick list from us. This mirrors exactly what we spoke about whilst making this decision at PopUp:
Once you've made your decision, you need to tell everyone this. Dependant on the size of your team, i would set up group calls and inform everyone at the same time UNLESS you are part-furloughing (see more below) then do this 1-2-1.
Group calls when announcing things that have a company-wide impact are key. This brings the team together and boosts the morale when hearing news, whether it's good or bad.
Follow these group calls up with everyone on a 1-2-1 basis and talk them through what happens next. Even if all of these calls are exactly the same, your team need to see you caring for them on an individual basis. This also gives you the opportunity to answer any questions they have that they wouldn't want to ask in a group scenario.
What should employers do?
Employers should discuss with their staff as soon as possible and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement (seek legal advice where necessary). Transparency is key.
Employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication (again, seek legal advice on this where necessary).
How is the employee's wage calculated?
Can you part-furlough?
You are able to furlough some people and not others. You do not have to furlough the whole company. We've been looking at this as a time to get back in to Start-Up mode. If you're trying to kick it in to a high gear to be agile and fast moving, you'll struggle with a larger team... It's not like it once was when you started! You could, if you wanted to, down-size to essential people (Sales, Product development) and furlough the rest to save cash but not stunt growth. Just some food for thought...
Can directors of Limited Companies claim it?
Where a company director can no longer work through the business, they should be eligible to claim in the same way as for employees or even if they're the only employee. You can furlough the PAYE element of their income - ie, get 80% of salary up to £2,500pm. This isn't likely to be huge as it's likely more of your income is dividends (and there's no help there), but it's something...
Directors must not be able to do any work, including administration work, during this time. This is the most difficult part!
How can I get further business advice and support?
It's a question we get asked all the time: "Why did we start PopUp Business School?"
Our answer is always....
But the overriding feeling that I can still remember was a desire to do whatever it was was in our power to help every single person in the room make as much progress as we possibly could help them to make, during the two weeks we spent together.
And that is it the basis of it all.
Alan, myself and the whole PopUp Team get a massive kick out of helping people and we are fortunate to have experienced so many different aspects of starting, growing, failing, and starting all over again small business ideas and projects.
And we’ve also got a chunk of life experience to stir in the mix.
But here’s the real kicker; both Alan and I have spent hours and hours and thousands of pounds reading, learning and experiencing unusual learning opportunities that have all added to our capability as coaches, mentors, trainers and most importantly trusted friends to the several thousand people we’ve met.
We are in the process of sharing this knowledge, the skills and experience with our amazing team so that they can do the same and the impact of what we’ve created starts to grow.
I started my first business in 2003 and whilst I’ve shared aspects of my story with lots of people over the years my early experiences of business give me so much drive to continue this journey to help people to get their business ideas off the ground.
Let me explain why.
Most of my business projects in the early days failed and I wasn’t sure why.
I’m smart, creative, hard-working with great communication skills but why was it that I wasn’t able to get these businesses working?
Looking back I made every single mistake there was to make.
I didn’t promote enough, I wasn’t focused on what I was selling and who I was selling it to and I thought that being an entrepreneur meant I had to do everything myself.
So one of my most favourite sentences to share with people is that:
"You don’t need to make the same mistakes that I made".
You can make new ones and then you can come back and teach me.
But one of the most fundamental learning experiences of that time was:
If you want to change the way you make money, you have to change the way you think.
Business creation has been a difficult, humbling and ultimately an incredibly rewarding experience and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
The emergence of COVID-19 has been a hugely challenging, fascinating and ultimately rewarding experience as an entrepreneur.
Of course it’s shaken everybody up in different ways but the one thing that it’s done for me is remind me why we started the PopUp Business School.
We have built a business by going out of our way to help people and for that I’m hugely proud. So it’s business as unusual.
We are 10x-ing our efforts and we encourage you to make the most of this opportunity and do the same in any way you can.
You’re probably hearing the term “pivot” a lot, and it simply means moving in another direction. With the current situation and our businesses, a lot of us are having to ‘pivot’ and try something completely new. Add a hint of urgency, a splash of financial pressure and changes to day to day life… it’s a recipe for challenging times. So, what do we do?
Throw ourselves into the next challenge.
Throw ourselves into the deep end.
Liam, a trainer at PopUp Business School, recalls;
If any of you have heard me speak at events, you probably know before PopUp I worked for a small insurance broker. I spent 3 years bouncing around the company learnings skills and the industry like the back of my hand.
However, joining PopUp was me diving in the deep end. I’d never worked in Project management or had so much freedom or even that much responsibility. I had to quickly learn how to swim and strive or go under. Along the way I learnt some lessons through my mistakes which I want to share with you now.
Here are five reminders that during these tough times, when we have to change how we run our businesses and dive in the deep end, will help us keep swimming and pushing forwards.
You're not the expert… yet
Whether you’re moving your business onto Facebook Live, or creating YouTube videos. Maybe even creating products to sell on an online store! Chances are you’re doing something that’s completely new to you. When we run businesses based around a passion and a skill, we are the experts in what we do. But we are now trying something we’ve never done before…
It’s okay to not be the expert at this new experiment! Remember back to when you first started learning. Did you walk into School an expert? No! We need to try these new things to make mistakes and learn from them.
It's okay to ask for help
Be damn sure you’ll need it! Remember YOU’RE NOT AN EXPERT in this, but someone else might be. We can sometimes feel like we need to prove something (either to others or even ourselves), when actually getting support can get the job done ten times quicker.
You’re never alone when it comes to running a business.
Do you have employees? No…
Do you have co-workers? No…
Do you have a community of thousands of other small business owners? F*ck yes!
Remember to reach out for support no matter how vulnerable it makes us feel – then offer that help and support back once we’ve learned it. The more we give the more we get!
What was this designed to teach me?
When something goes wrong, we have two choices in how we react. We can consider it a failure and decide that route isn’t the best thing to try. Back to the drawing board!
Or we can stop and ask ourselves – "What was this designed to teach me?"
Finding a learning in a mistake can be tough when we are in the moment and the red mist is in front of our eyes. But when you learn it, how much more you’ll progress and learn is invaluable!
Don’t give up if you fall down… figure out why you fell and try again a little differently.
One Step at a time
We know this isn’t going to be easy, and we aren’t experts yet. But we have a goal and that’s going to push us forwards! But actually, that goal seems really far away and is a little bit overwhelming, right?
The easiest way to eat a big meal is one bite at a time! First of all, we need to break down the task at hand into little bitesize actions. Be really specific! It may feel like you’ve now got 100 things to do, but you’ll be powering through them in no time. Just pause, break it down into little tasks, and then GET ON WITH IT !
Trying something completely new and pushing yourself WAY out of your comfort zone is really tough! You’re probably putting blood, sweat and tears into making this work and yet a lot of people don’t know how much work you’re doing. This sh*t is difficult too!
Make sure to reward yourself for the hard work – because nobody else will. Having to adapt, throw yourself in the deep end of the pool and learn to swim is monumental. You’ve got to feel the sense of achievement – celebrate it! Then use that positivity as rocket fuel to launch into the next task.
We have joined forces with Starling Bank to help bring you help and financial advice as part of our Business Survival Guide. In this first guest blog, Starling will run through some tips to help you manage your business finances.
This is an uncertain time for everyone, for businesses great and small, old and new.
If you are using this period to continue to make plans for your new business, the Starling Bank app can help. Click here to learn more and open an account.
Track Your Costs
The most important tip to managing your business finances is to ensure that you have a clear picture of your costs.
When tracking your finances, there are three questions which you should have oversight of:
● What are your largest outgoings?
● Where is your income stream is coming from?
● Is your spending this month is higher or lower than your monthly average?
Keeping track of the answers to these could help you meet your key payments, cut down on non-essential spending, and monitor your income streams to avoid nasty surprises.
With a Starling business account, your income and outgoings are automatically categorised in the mobile app under the Spending Insights tab. Here, you’ll be able to see how much was spent on a variety of categories, from Admin to Equipment, as a percentage of your total spending, and as a stand alone amount.
Use Digital Tools
Now more than ever, we’re seeing the benefits of technology which is helping us all navigate through this unusual time. And when your business takes off, investing in digital tools can also really help you streamline your finances and admin. At Starling, we work with a number of different partner brands - via the Marketplace - that offer a wide range of products and services to help our business customers.
Among the most popular are the accountancy software partners. Xero, Quickbooks and FreeAgent all provide clever accounting software which connects to your real-time bank transactions. This makes managing your taxes, invoicing, and sorting bills and expenses automatically a breeze, saving you a lot of time and hassle along the way.
There are also plenty of other app-based brands that offer time-saving products at competitive prices. From project management tools from Underpinned, to business insurance for invoices from Nimbla. Why not use this time to do your research on which Marketplace partners might be helpful to you?
We created the Starling Bank Marketplace to help our customers manage a variety of their financial tools, directly from their app. Being able to keep track of all of your financial tools and products from one place will minimise the risk of you missing something, giving you peace of mind. Plus, you can rest assured in the knowledge that all of our third party partners have been thoroughly vetted - so you’ll only be working with the best.
Keep Money Organised
Organising your finances into separate pots of money can really help you plan ahead when managing your budget. Starling helps business owners do this via our ‘Goals’ feature, which enables account holders to customise their different pots to fit their individual needs, for example: ‘Tax’, ‘Wages’, ‘Stock’ and ‘Marketing’ are all popular categories.
You won’t be able to spend that money unless you move it back into your main account. So, you can keep your finances organised and visible.
Open a Dedicated Business Account
If you’re starting your own business as a sole trader, there’s no legal requirement to open a business banking account. However, by opening a dedicated business account will make it much easier to keep your finances organised. You will also look much more professional to your clients or customers if they can make a payment to your business name, rather than your personal account.
When choosing your business bank account, you should think about factors such as transaction fees, withdrawal fees, admin features and what level of customer care you will have available to support your business along the way.
A massive thank you to Starling Bank for writing this blog post to help give advice on how to manage your finances.
We are obviously a massive believer in doing things the opposite and we love how Starling have been shaking up the traditional approch and what it means to be a bank.
Come back next week for tips on budgeting your money and making the pennies stretch further!
From my 3rd year of making YouTube videos.
This is not a brag. While I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve managed to build over the past few years at very little expense to my ‘customers’.
I often have a hard time convincing people that YouTube is a genuine career. Blogging is a genuine career. Being an Instagram influencer is a genuine career. I’m left with a blank expression along the lines of ‘pfft yea alright then’.
Don’t get me wrong, I still cringe when I type ‘being an instagram influencer is a genuine career’ because it seems bloody absurd. But that’s coming from someone who films himself cut wood for a living. It doesn’t matter what you think about it. The fact is, there is opportunity out there and there’s plenty of space for you to join. You’re not too late to the party... yet.
What will you learn?
In the first section, you will learn about video creation as a topic including the mindset, the technical bits, and the outcomes. In the second section, I’ll be focusing on affiliate marketing, my approach towards it, mistakes I’ve made and most importantly how to future proof yourself to allow your income to truly snowball over time. Let’s get started!
online video creation
How many companies have messaged you this week offering to extend your credit limit?
With the Coronavirus lock-down in full swing, flow of money slowing and businesses having to lay people off we are at our most vulnerable in many years!
Help for the self-employed?
It’s what we’ve been waiting for. The Chancellor’s support package for self-employed folk has arrived; here is our quick guide to support for self-employed.
We've gone through everything released and filtered the important things to know.
Fun fact: There’s FIVE MILLION self-employed workers in the UK and they’ve delayed this a bit whilst they try and work it out but it looks like this:
As Columbo said, there’s just one more thing:
At least half of your income must be from self-employment either from your 2018/19 tax return or the average of your last three years of tax returns: 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax returns.
How are you doing?
Alan, Simon, and guest Katie Coombes discuss the actions they are taking to look after their wellbeing and mental health when working from home and being in self-isolation.
We are all in the woods. But we are going to find a way through and lead others out with us.
Like many, PopUp Business School was facing the toughest day of its existence on Monday. Many of its free business training events were suddenly postponed, leading to a six-figure hole in cash flow and an uncertain future.
But CEO Simon Paine realised that, if his company was struggling, the businesses he'd helped to launch would be struggling, too. So he posted a heartfelt message to the company’s thousands of Facebook followers, promising to help them find a way to survive - as he would have to for PopUp.
Are you stuck in the house?
We now have many hours on our hands and I am wondering what to do with them!
What am I going to build? What am I going to learn? What am I going to create?
This post is as much for me as it is for you. I have been unsettled by recent events and I am trying to find my motivation, energy and strength again.
What do small business owners and self-employed do now?
PopUp Co-Founders Simon Paine and Alan Donegan discuss how businesses should react to coronavirus and how they're approaching the challenge.
The world seems to be changing faster than ever before and with these changing times comes uncertainty.
This post is inspired by the fact that PopUp Business School had 10 events cancelled this week because of the Coronavirus.
With change happening so quickly and so out of the blue it is difficult to prepare.
What is important is how you react.
It is ok, We have Got You.
Yes it’s challenging, but there are opportunities too. We want to help you find them.
We started the PopUp Business School because the help that people really need wasn’t available. You don’t need a business plan and you don’t definitely don’t need money to start. Helping start-ups, self employed and freelancers has never been more important.
So we did a thing.
We’ve created a Business Survival Guide to support YOU. We want to help you navigate your small business through the next few months of choppy waters.
Here you will find the very best of what we can muster; information, inspiration and insights from the PopUp Team and our network of brilliant people and we’re bringing it to you through videos, podcasts and blog articles.
We’ll even send a pigeon if we have to.
Good luck. Send us questions, send us things that will help other business owners.
We can do this together.
sIMON pAINE & tHE pOPuP TEAM