19 November 2012

#Like #Ladders on #Facebook


Independent businesses need to support each other as much as possible and I believe that here in Enfield, they really do. Most of the people coming to my SHOCK Cash Mobs and pledging to spend a tenner in a local and independent business, are independent business owners themselves! Those very same people have also wholeheartedly joined in with The Ideas Station's 'Like Ladder' generously giving each other support and advocacy, in 'Liking' each others pages. In fact it was local award-winning hairdresser James Whittaker, that suggested doing a 'Like Ladder' in the group, in the first place. Thank you James!

What is a 'Like Ladder'?


A 'Like Ladder' is done on Facebook, usually in a Facebook Group, where people post the link to their Facebook Page, then underneath that, someone else posts the link to their page. If they post a link to their page, they have to go back to the ladder and then 'Like' everyone else's pages that have been posted. Everyone gets more likes for their pages, thus increasing their chance of friends of friends of others seeing page activity and then also choosing to like that page. Of course this is all made even more effective when, if you have 'Liked' someone's page, you also comment on the posts on the page and 'like' some comments too.

You can propel this all up another level by, after liking a page as yourself, click on the settings icon to the right and chose 'Add to my page's favourites'. If both the pages have done this to each other, this is a great way of cross-promoting. By mentioning the other page, on your page, your post is seen on the other page! Does that sound complicated? Yes, it does, doesn't it but it's so easy when you actually do it and see what happens.

Make it into an event!

I have found a better way to create a LIKE LADDER is instead of posting it in your group. The problem with posting a like ladder in a group is that people will forever add to it and post conversational comments, that like ladder will then stay as the top post on your group page, as there will be so much activity on it, however the group will look very one dimensional and uninteresting. The way that I have found to combat this is to create a LIKE LADDER event. As you can see here.

Some might argue that 'Liking' another's page, just for a reciprocal like, has no or limited value, however, I would claim that actively 'Liking' another's business page, even if it might not be a product, or service that you have a use for, is an important part of being a player in your local business community. Just as in my shop, I have leaflets up advertising other services, even other shops and businesses that sell similar products to us, I use the online forum to ensure that our business helps other local businesses to promote themselves, as much as they possibly can.

Connect and Be Seen!


There are so many reasons why being connected to and promoting other businesses is a valuable and important part of your business' marketing strategy. The most important one being that you are giving your customer added value, extremely important added value. They begin to see you as a useful resource of information and knowledge, they think of you first when they want to find something out. In fact this is just one of the many reasons why the Independent Shop can survive, even thrive, wedged between Chains and Supermarkets. That local knowledge and those important local connections help to propel you higher up in people's consciousness, not only that but this pattern is mirrored on the internet, in your search engine optimisation and higher search results on Google, for your business.

My advice is, to keep promoting other small, local and independent businesses, as much as you can. This makes sense on several different levels, such as it strengthens the local economy, you make fantastic friends and connections that you might never have had and the feel good factor of sharing the success that your business has with others, feels so good! Sharing your customers with other businesses doesn't, in the long term take business away from you, it might seem counter-intuitive but passing on great local information brings success and prosperity to the area, rather than empty shop fronts and closures. On a personal level you ensure that those quirky local businesses that you love to enjoy too, on your days off, can also thrive!

Join a Like Ladder NOW!


So, the Like Ladder on Facebook, is this ethos, created in an easy to follow online format.If you have an independent business in Enfield, you are welcome to join the Like Ladder event, on the Ideas Station Group, here.

You can learn more tips and tricks about how to make social media work for your business at The Ideas Station with monthly workshops, or one to one training, here.

To make it even easier for you to 'Like' others' pages, I will be updating the list here too, with links to the pages already posted on the Like Ladder so far.

The Ideas Station Like Ladder...

Work your way down the list and like all the pages, then go to here and add your own page.



































9 November 2012

A SHOCK Cash Mob in 10 Easy Steps!

Background

A Cash Mob is an idea that originated in America in order to support local independent retailers, to make sure they can survive the competition against bigger chain stores and ride out the recession.

The first time I heard about a cash mob, was on Twitter and it was held in Harringey Market. The event was tweeted and facebooked about, beforehand and everyone knew that there would be a Cash Mob at the market. The Enfield Cash Mobs, that I've been organising have been inspired by this, with my own little twist added. I like to keep the number to around ten and make sure that the business owner has no idea that this is going to happen, until it happens and that means I can't tell the mobbers where it's going to be until the last minute! That's why we call it a SHOCK Cash mob and it's very exciting indeed.

This way of doing it creates a real buzz and people, really want to find out where it is and what happened, even if they can't go themselves and they interact with posts and tweets and raise the profile of the idea, even more.

The other twist, is that as I'm an independent food business owner, that's what interests me, so I have concentrated on local, independent food businesses. You of course, can choose any kind of local independent business that you want.

10 Steps to Organising a SHOCK Cash Mob!


1/Choose A Shop...

It needs to be a little independent shop. I have chosen the shops so far very spontaneously as a reaction to various events. The Village Health Food Store, was chosen because of a conversation on Twitter, where a pregnant lady was asking where she could get hold of some raspberry leaf tea and everyone was mentioning chain stores but no one mentioned The Village Health Food Store. I arranged a SHOCK Cash Mob and invited that pregnant lady. 10 people mobbed the store, including the pregnant lady who did indeed get her raspberry leaf tea, as well as other items. 

2/Create an Event...

The easiest way for me to get people together is to create the cash mob as an event on Facebook and then to invite people along to it. Some of your friends won't be on Facebook though and you can talk to them face to face or just text them. If like me you choose to keep it to just ten people, you should achieve that target without too much fuss and yet know that even with that small number you can make a big difference to that independent retailer's day and takings!

3/ Use Social Media...

Use all available avenues at your disposal to talk about the event and spread the word about your campaign.If you're on Twitter, or Instagram, use relevant hash tags, such as #CashMob and then also hash tag the name of your area. I always hash tag Enfield, so that when people search for it, it comes up!

4/ Keep Interest Up...

Keep referring to the Cash Mob in your social media updates and get people excited about your campaign. Did you know that every time you post an update under your Facebook event, everyone invited gets notified about your post? It's a great way to raise awareness and even if people can't make that event, they will enjoy following the story and finding out which business was SHOCK Cash Mobbed and will really want to coma along to the next one.

5/ Notify the Press...

You might wonder why the press would be interested in your story but if you don't tell them about it, they won't know about it and won't be able to make a judgement about whether they would like to cover it or not. You don't need to do a long passionate press release, just a quick telephone call or text should be ok. A Cash Mob is a very grass-roots type of campaign, just tell them a quick explanation of why you are doing it and the time and date it will take place. If you are very lucky they might send a photographer down and then give you an interview too, however sometimes if you take your own photos and they are any good they could use those. So don't get despondent, if they can't come, make sure you take your own photos and use them on your own blog and on guest blogs and anywhere else you can think of, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, to name a few.

6/ Check out the business before-hand

The first three businesses that we cash mobbed, I knew, from being a customer the one we mobbed today, Freckles and Cakes, I only knew from fabulous pictures and posts on Facebook, some of the pictures were instant drool inducers! 

It was only as I was leading the 'Mob' from our meeting place to Freckles and Cakes, in Enfield Town Market, that suddenly my heart was thumping and bumping with nerves, I had not been to visit this business in person before, it could be awful in real life, the lady running it could be rude, or off-hand, or anything! 

Fortunately, as we arrived and I saw the beautiful cakes on display and the look of surprise, shock and joy, all at once on Astrid Becker's Face, I knew that once again, this was a fantastic little known business that needed shouting about and needed the community to support it. Please don't put yourself through that worry, check it out first!


7/ Send Reminders...

Really, really important to send people a personal text or facebook message and communicate with them as an individual, the night before the cash mob, so they feel a real responsibility for turning up and don't let you down. Sometimes it's easy to say 'Join' for Facebook events and then not turn up because you feel almost anonymous, it's harder to stay in bed, or get distracted and just not turn up, when you've been having conversations about it, beforehand.

8/Twists...

It's important to keep things fresh, exciting and dynamic. For instance, when we cash mobbed Ma Battley's, we arranged for North London Brass, to stand outside the shop and play. It was great fun, lent a real sense of occasion to the proceedings and really suited the character of the shop to have some jolly tunes playing, whilst we choose our goodies and sweets and two papers turned up for that one, which was a great result for Ma Battley's.


9/ Wait!

You've arranged your meeting place at a local, well-known landmark, like a fountain, or outside a pub, or something like that. Don't leave that spot until about 5 to 10 minutes later, just to make sure that those running a little late, get the chance to meet up too. Also, before the day make sure that participants have your mobile number, so that they can text you if they are not going to make it in good time, you can then text them the address of the Cash Mob and you are actually there doing it, so they can catch up but there's no risk of divulging the possibility of a cash mob, to the business owner. 

10/ Enjoy!

A good cash mob has a real feeling of happiness and pleasure about it. You have chosen a shop, that you might not necessarily normally visit and you might not find anything to buy for yourself but you'll surely find something to give as a gift to a friend, or family member. So, the love just goes on. When we cash mobbed Holtwhites Bakery, I ended up buying salami and rolls for my partner, with biscuits for my children and lots of gorgeous olives for myself.


So, there you go! A simple way to make a big difference. The shops that have been mobbed so far have enjoyed, new customers, more cash in their till at the end of their day, a raised profile for their business online and in print and very importantly, a real morale boost. 

Hope you feel inspired to arrange your very own cash mobs and help your locality to change their spending habits!

If you live in Enfield and want to know when the next cash mob is, you can find out, here.

25 October 2012

#Shock #CashMob #Enfield!

Pam, Owner of Ma Battley's with Cash Mobbers and North London Brass!


I'm still on a high, after taking part in the latest Shock Cash Mob! 'What is a Shock Cash Mob', I hear you question.

Well, it's an idea imported from America, the first one I heard of in the UK, was done at Harringay Market. The ones in Enfield have built on the original idea and added a few enigmatic twists.

The main idea is to boost local independent businesses. Around 10 people arrange to meet up and each one of those people brings a tenner. They then descend upon one lucky shop and each person spends their tenner, or even more!

It's a way to inject cash into our local economy and make an independent retailer's day!

Ten CASH MOBS are being arranged in Enfield, in the run up to Christmas. Two have already been done, the first was at The Village Wholefood Store, the second one which was today, was at Ma Battley's a really cute Sweet Shop, with a very quaint tea room above it.

People pledge their tenners but don't get to know the location of the independent shop, until the night before.Which makes it all very enigmatic and exciting.

Oh and it's a shock for the shop owner, who doesn't know it's happening, until it's happening.

Sweet Sensation!

Today, there was an extra special twist, which was to have North London Brass playing outside the shop. We walked from the fountains outside Enfield Town Library into Enfield Town itself and as we came onto the High Street the brass band struck up some happy tunes! Passers-by were smiling, our tenners were waving and Ma Battley's owner Pam and her staff did not know what on earth was going on!! I don't know who explained but somebody must have done, as she was looking very happy indeed. I was taking photos and telling people outside to go in and spend some cash! The press were there too, taking pictures and Pam must have felt like a star for the day, or at least like it was her birthday.

The special moment for me, was when I looked at Pam's shop and saw all the people browsing and holding onto things that they would buy, prettily packaged confectionery in cellophane, tied up with colourful ribbons, or pick and mix sweets, items that looked like they must be for presents and chocolate and sugar-free sweets,browsing, shopping and chatting, all with jolly music playing outside the shop!

Cash Mob Below, Calm in the Tea Room!

I made my way to the back of the shop, away from the crowd that had now grown with some extra people joining in. I saw the stairs hidden away at the back, you won't notice them if you don't look for them, no flashing neon signs here and climbed up and up, into the Tea Room, that is just above the Sweet Shop. Coming to this place feels just like you're on a seaside holiday, with the olde worlde atmosphere of the sweet shop below and the calm oasis of the tea room above. Pretty pinks and flowers dominate and it just looked so tempting to sneak up there and relax but I thought it would look a little rude, leaving my friends below spending their cash without me! I turned back on myself and prepared myself to shop! Oh Yeah!!!

Permission to Act Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop!

Everyone in that shop had a smile on their face, the owner, the staff and especially the Cash Mobbers! Knowing that we had to spend £10 in this local independent business and that it was a good thing to do, made me feel like a child that had just been given a wedge of pocket money and a free-reign to get what I wanted. This is what I ended up buying:

Two packets of sugar free sweets for Gunter, my partner.
A little chocolate animal for my youngest son.
A packet of Mint Poppets, for my oldest son.
A very cute indulgent chocolate heart, as part of my Mum's next birthday present.
Wine Gums for Nick de Bois because he couldn't come and hopefully when he eats them he will feel encouraged to come to the next one and give Westminster a miss!
2 Halloween bags of Chocolate.
And for me!!! Guess what! I found an incredibly healthy item to enjoy, Liquorice Wood!!!! And it's absolutely delicious.
Ok I admit, I spent a bit over a tenner but that's good, isn't it!!

The reward for doing this, is the buzz you get and seeing the happiness that is spread, the morale being boosted and the profile of the business being lifted, with some press coverage too and plenty of Twitter and Facebook action!

A very big thank you for the Cash Mobbers that pledge their tenners in this way and make this all possible and to the press for coming down to photograph it and also to North London Brass, for making it all extremely entertaining!

If you support this idea, then please show it and let everyone know about it by using the Share buttons below and letting our community know about it, via Facebook, Twitter and the such-like.

Find out when the next one is, here.

Press Coverage!

A big thank you to the following for supporting this campaign, through covering the story!

Click on the links, to read the articles.







7 October 2012

Business Mum Week!

SHOCK Cash Mob at The Village Wholefood Store!

Did you know...

That from October 1st to October 7th, it was Business Mum Week 2012?

I don't know about you but I'm a Mum and if you're a Mum too, you're probably very busy, if you're a working Mum and especially if you run your own business, then you're probably extremely busy.

That particular week was for me, extremely busy indeed! It's one of those weeks, where I didn't realise, until at the end of the week, when I could relax and allow myself to rest, I looked back and thought, 'That was a busy one!'.

Art Exhibition!

For a start, we had a new art exhibition going up, by Love Light Art, on Monday. The old exhibition had to come down, the new one had to go up, more space had to be made, as there are so many brilliant pictures, just so many of them, there are cards and prints and at the same time a new delivery of goodies came into our shop, that all needed pricing and labelling up.

SHOCK Cash Mob!

At the same time, I was secretly organising a mob of ten people to go into a great health food shop, The Village Wholefood Store, to shock the owner by all spending £10 each and giving a brilliant local independent retailer a boost with finances and some great PR, with the press coming down to cover the story and highlighting Jill Simpson's business! You can find out more about this story by reading my guest blog on Clare Rayner's The Retail Champion Blog, or by taking a peek at the coverage by The Enfield Advertiser!

New Skinny Me Meet Up!

In the same week we were hosting a special event for the participants, or potential participants in the New Skinny Me programme. It was at that point, on Friday, the end of the week that everything seemed like it was colliding together.

Collide!

My 3 year old wasn't feeling his normal self, not ill but just not himself, let's say, not ill....yet! I was meant to be concentrating on the New Skinny Me meet Up but couldn't, everything was coming together, yet colliding at the same time! A lady that I had connected with on Facebook arrived at the same time as the New Skinny Me meeting was still ongoing, with clothes and toys that I was buying from her in preparation for my 3 year old's next birthday and all at the same time as trying to pay money to the lady from the Enfield Preservation Society, for some picture cards of our local area, for the shop. My phone was beeping and bleeping with people responding to posts and pictures of the Cash Mob event and the art exhibition, oh and asking if they would like to vote for me in The Top 100 Mums, Business Mum Awards, by The Mum's Club! And at the same time, I was trying to get an Enfield contact for a journalist, for a story, just to help them out because I reckon, that's what Mums do, isn't it! At the same time, I'm trying to meet up with my brother from America, my sister-in-law and new baby nephew but haven't got not one second to spare, to communicate!

My 3 year old got his cuddles, New Skinny Me ladies, got their guidance from Amrit, The Enfield Preservation society got their money, as did the lady with the clothes and toys and guess what! The journalist even managed to get his contact!! I even got to see my brother and the rest of the family, then my car broke down, with 3 year old in it too. Just remembered that I was covered by my insurance policy, as an added extra to have breakdown cover! 

We were rescued, then I got home and oldest son was very pleased to see me, I was exhausted and needed to clear up the lounge ready for the weekend, whilst Gunter, my partner cooked for us all.

So, that definitely was one busy and exhausting week!

Top 100 Mums!

Today, Sunday, life was a bit calmer, after I had put in a food order to arrive at the shop, for the next day, we all went to and enjoyed the new weekly Crews Hill Market! Towards the end of the evening, I got the children ready for bed, with relaxing baths and washed and combed their hair, got their things ready for school and nursery the next day. At around 9pm, I get onto facebook and get distracted for a few hours, then decide to wind down and get ready to go to bed, as it's 10.30pm. I decide to finish up by reading my emails and deleting the ones I don't need. I open my email up and right at the top, in big capital letters, where I can't possibly miss it, there's an email with the subject starting, 'CONGRATULATIONS!' My heart started thumping, was I one of the Top 100 Mums in the UK, or not?

I opened the email and, read through quickly and this is what it said....

'CONGRATULATIONS! You have been voted into the Top 100 of the Mums Club 2012 Awards!'

I read on and the email told me that it had been Business Mums Week the whole of my very hectic week and the irony wasn't lost on me, that I completely didn't realise purely because I'm a busy Mum!

So to everyone that has voted for me in these awards and made me feel loved, valued and appreciated, I say a mighty big thank you and I will always do my best to share our success, with you! 



17 August 2012

Getting to Google's Page One, on a Shoestring!


Have you ever wondered how small local businesses beat the big corporations hands down, when it comes to getting to the top of the Google Search Engine results?



Well, you can stop wondering and start getting your business up high in the search engine ranks by taking action and implementing some of these tips by Keno, Zumba Instructor and Website Whizz, who successfully got her Zumba website to the number one page on Google, in under 4 weeks!


Over to Keno...
Hello, I'm Keno and I run a web agency, Spiral Web Solutions.know first hand, that getting a website to the first page of a Google search for relevant keywords has been the holy grail and ultimate achievement for website owners, designers and SEO specialists everywhere, that's why I'm going to share with you my Seven Steps to Success!

First - A Bit About Me

Runinng a web agency means I sit on my butt, all day long writing emails, putting designs and proposals together, managing teams and producing websites and oh, writing invoices. Naturally, I get stiff and bored, (Sometimes).



So, when I discovered Zumba in October 2011, I was immediately hooked and by March 2012, I became an instructor, holding my first classes in May 2012, and trying hard not to allow Zumba overtake my Web business.



Starting on a nil marketing budget (gotta fill those classes), I started with my strengths and completed my online profile on Zumba.com. At that time I was building a personal blog, so I decided to host a Zumba webpage in the blog, rather than build a new website. So even though the blog was not finished, I built a web page, here!



Less than 4 weeks later, I was on Google page one.



Here's how you too, can achieve this...


My Seven Steps To Success!

1/Be Clear About Keywords... I was not going to spend too much time on my website, so I simply assumed that anyone searching for a Zumba class would use a local place as a keyword hence my selection of the keywords ‘Zumba Enfield’. 

There is lots of research you can do to identify the most popular keywords and keywords that will work best for you.


2/ Do Regular Updates... 
Any little thought/idea I had, was translated to an article which I published on the Website and shared on facebook. As you can imagine, the words ‘Zumba’ and ‘Enfield’ are mentioned in the articles where relevant.From one page, I now have 6 Zumba pages and over 12 articles written and tagged with related keywords. Google is happy and it's robots can see that I am committed.

3/ Use Meta and Image Alt Tags...
Keywords, description and titles were custom defined for every page, I ensured that these were not only present, but relevant for each page.
I love meta tags, so easily missed, but yet so vital, every image on my website (the Zumba section) is tagged with ‘Zumba enfield’ or other relevant keywords. 4/ Send Emails... created a newsletter using Mailchimp and sent this out weekly to my class attendees and friends, That’s a lot of work, so I now send it out monthly, but it drives traffic to your website and Google likes this.
5/ Get Listing...
From Gumtree to Classfinder, bigdance 2012, to Netmums, I found out that there were a few directories out there that would list your classes, for free and yes, I got my classes listed on all of these with links back to my website where allowed.

6/ Use Facebook...
Facebook has been my main marketing tool. I created a Facebook page and invited all my friends, I not only listed my classes, but included articles on fitness and nutrition that would drive traffic to the website.


7/ Google Analytics...
My number one tip for web effectiveness is understanding what works on your website. Installing Google Analytics (or other measurement software) on your website is a must. I noticed the things that worked and carried on doing them. 


There were a few surprises along the way. I found out that my website had been discovered by people searching with the keywords, 'Zumba playlist uk 2012'. I had written a post about the music I use in class, so my members could go to iTunes and buy the music that they liked, however this led to other people also finding my site!


Is getting a high Google place important? I think so, its free and only takes a little of your time. I am new to the fitness world and still trying to figure out how to fill my classes. I just got leaflets printed and will be trialling a banner as well. There are loads of people out there who will benefit from our classes and we just have to let them know we exist!!
All the best with your marketing!
A must mention is the Enfield Fit Facebook Group, which is a great initiative and thanks again to everyone for your posts, positivity and networking . . . . . . .
Much love,
Keno!

*************************************************** Thanks so much Keno, for generously allowing me to share this fabulous article from the document that you originally created for the members of Enfield's Fit, the Facebook Group promoting fitness and well-being in Enfield. Join Enfield's Fit, here. Karen, xxx

19 June 2012

How to Grow Your Business!

Peter Lovell, from the North London Credit Union and myself!
Something incredible has happened for My Coffee Stop and it took just 4 weeks and a change of attitude.

Despite the recession, we have secured a loan in order to help us to open up a *2nd My Coffee Stop unit, enabling us to have the chance to grow our business and increase our profits.

Yes, times are really difficult economically out there, one business after another is folding but it is still possible to nurture and build your business.

These are the steps you can take to help grow your business.


1/ Get involved with your local community.


An easy way to do this is by becoming a member of relevant local groups on Facebook such as Enfield's Fit, or Your London, places where you can post for free and be welcomed as an individual and a business person.

In fact if you are the owner of an independent food business in the Enfield area, you are invited to join my Foodies Enfield Group, where you can exchange tips and collaborate with other independent food businesses.

By becoming involved, as a person, in your community, others are more interested and open to hearing about your business and you too will find out more about the amazing independent businesses, in your local area.

2/ Join a strong networking group that places value on a support network, inspiration and business education.


I'm lucky enough to belong to We Network, they are based in North London and arrange events, where you can sell and shop and hear talks and monthly meet-ups, where you get support, create friendships and listen to a business speaker.

At one of their meetings, I listened to speaker Mark Rhodes, who just happened to be a millionaire but I'm not money motivated, so that didn't impress me and I sat near the front noshing on delicious Thai food and then listening to Mark but with my arms folded right across myself!

It was when Mark explained the way that he challenged his negative thoughts about a situation and consciously imagined positive outcomes and described how these positive thoughts actually effected the final outcome, that I found myself concentrating on every word he said. 

Mark used to hate public speaking, he kept imagining all the things that could go wrong but when he challenged himself to imagine all the things that could go right, it started to go right in reality! 

It was then I realised that I was really scared of employing anyone, I was worried about them letting me down, or me letting them down, or not being able to pay them, or them having an accident, so this is why I couldn't employ anyone! I challenged myself to think about the positives of employing someone like, a new job would be created, we could grow our business, generate more income and be able to contribute even more to our community and we'd be once again able to change an empty, unused space into a vibing, thriving, inspirational hub!

Oh! What a turnaround in my thinking. I went home that night and told my partner Gunter, that I wanted to open another coffee shop. He said, 'I've been saying that for ages.' I told him that I'd been really concerned about the responsibility of employing someone but now I had overcome the negative thoughts that had held me back. Gunter was delighted.

3/ Get in contact with your local business support agency.


That night I couldn't sleep, imaginations of a wonderful, vibing little place enriching the platform of another railway station, creating a new job and enabling us to increase our profit, to provide for our family, were very exciting things to be thinking about. So, I looked up stuff on my phone about growing your business and getting funding to do it. That's when I came across The Investing for Success Programme at Enterprise Enfield. I quickly sent off an email. Next day, I received an email with some forms to fill in. I filled them in, sent them off and a meeting was arranged for me to meet with Business Advisor, Liz Gjoni, who will always in my mind, from now on, be known as the financial fairy-godmother!

At one of the meetings I asked Liz Gjoni how many people that came to her for help with funding were successful in getting it, she replied, '1 in 3 people, get it.' I said that I didn't feel that was very high, Liz looked me right in the eyes and told me that included the people that didn't follow through the steps they were told to take, such as presenting the correct documents and helping with the figures. I knew then that if I could just concentrate on fulfilling the steps, I'd be in with a pretty good chance of being one of the successful ones.

Liz Gjoni was just as focused as I and supported me throughout the whole process, not only that but she created my everyday working figures into a proper 5 year forecast and presented projections 10% above and 10% below the expected forecast. Just brilliant. She was encouraging and confident and the perfect person to guide and support me through this process.

5/ Follow the advice you are given, still keeping true to yourself.


Everything Liz told me to put into action, I did. I knew that her business experience was extremely valuable but I just could not bring myself to wear a business suit! For me, it is really important for me to wear clothes that I feel comfortable in and let my personality and integrity do the talking. Luckily for me, the meeting was going to be taking place in My Coffee Stop and I felt it would be just about ok to wear my most favourite woolly coat/jacket type thing. Although, I must say that if we wouldn't have got to a 'Yes', I would have blamed that woolly thing!

6/ Use social media as part of your marketing strategy. Particularly Twitter and Facebook. 


Our business has raised it's profile in the local Enfield area and across the UK because of our social media activity. There are people that walk into the shop and say, 'I saw you on Twitter, I just had to come and visit in real life.'

Knowing how to use social media effectively is cheap, especially if you are focused and use your time wisely.

If you don't know how to do this come to The Ideas Station, on every 2nd Thursday with a session available in the morning, or in the evening.

If you're just beginning to get into social media, then go to the morning sessions and if you need more ideas and challenges, go to the evening sessions. 

7/ Keep supporting and sharing the advice you have learnt with other businesses around you!

We need to keep supporting each other as a community. yes, I will share my suppliers with you, yes, I will share my tips on how to get into the paper with you, I love to share our success and feed it into the community around us. Yes, I'm even telling you how you can grow your business in the recession!

Most of us need to change our attitude and change our twisted-up thinking! Did you know when your business is profitable and sustainable you are contributing in a really positive way to our hyper-local economy!

I love that.

8/ Stick to your ethics!

We've changed our trading style to a limited company, we're still in the process of that change. I got a shock when I phoned up my bank to change the name to My Coffee Stop Ltd and they said I would have to change the whole account and pay more fees and so on. This has given me the needed push to actually choose an ethical bank to do my business with instead, which is actually in keeping with our whole attitude to business anyway. 

Not only that but the first organisation we were introduced to, to arrange funding with was The North London Credit Union, when I read about their ethics on their website, I knew that I wanted them to be the ones to say 'Yes'.

Although it might seem counter-intuitive to stick to ethics and morals in the recession, I see that the successful businesses are the little ones that are filled with soul and care, the ones where the customers get more than they physically paid for, they leave with a smile on their face and a good feeling in their heart.


9/ Appreciate the Power of Love and Money in combination.


Money is a powerful energy, if you use the energy fairly and with integrity, your business's energy will stay vibrant. Give to your community, live your passion and share your wealth on every level, financial and emotional, a truly good business needs to be run with your heart and your head!


10/ Say Thank You.


I hope in a small way, through the writing of this blog and sharing these steps, that I'm giving something back to the community around me. I want you to be successful, as much as you do.

This is my way of thanking the supportive community around us. I hope that you take these steps if you feel they are right for you and focus on what you have to do to follow through to completion.

Thanks for voting for us in the EN Magazine Awards, as the Best Local Coffee Shop and may our success be your success and vice versa.

****************************************************************
I'd love to hear what you feel, how inspired are you?

What are the next steps that you will take to grow your business and support your local community?

Please let me know through commenting here, on this blog. xxx

Wishing you focus, energy and a strong heart,

Karen, xxx

*Update: 26/10/2012
Another opportunity has arisen and we are using the loan to help us capitalise on the unit we already have by working with First Capital Connect, to make extend into the Waiting Room and make the space into a shared community space, cosy, comfortable, warm and inviting and grow our business that way!

You should see building works start in the next few months.

3 June 2012

One PR Secret for small businesses!

Photo by twitter.com/photogams Anne-Marie Sanderson. Taken from Enfield Advertiser.
Be warned this is a long blog.....but it's good. I tell you my one PR Secret and a local News Editor gives you several tips! Perhaps make yourself a cup of tea, then settle down and read it to the end. If you really want press coverage, then follow this advice. It does really work.

AROUND 100 ARTICLES IN THE PRESS AND ONLINE!


My Coffee Stop has been in business now for just over 3 years, we have attained an unbelievably high amount of publicity for a tiny shop, located at the end of a train station platform and are now in the process of changing into a Ltd company, so that we can grow even more and open our next little coffee shop.

I believe that one of the reasons that we have been able to enjoy growth and success is because of excellent PR coverage, especially in our local papers, particularly in The Enfield Advertiser and Gazette.

Several business owners have asked me, 'How do you get into the papers so many times?' They are intrigued, amazed, they want to know the secret, the special thing we must be doing to get in there, the special technique.

This is what I tell them....

THE ONE PR SECRET FOR SMALL BUSINESSES..........


The journalists working on newspapers, need stories, they need interesting things to write about. They are also really, really busy, they are not psychic AND the local papers need your support too!

And that is it really! I think sometimes, us small business owners can feel a bit desperate and wonder why that other shop or business got into the papers and we didn't!

I know that short summary above isn't really going to help you through the mysteries of getting PR for your business, so let's look at how this translates in detail, with Kim Inam, News Editor at North London News, covering Enfield and Barnet, these are her excellent tips, for getting coverage.

GETTING YOUR STORY INTO THE PAPERS.....

The Story

Make sure that what you're telling us about is something unique, something interesting, not necessarily what you've seen us write about before. You might think that getting dignitaries, MPs or Mayors to attend your event will make us what to write about it but we're actually more interested in is the story being outstanding, in its own right.


Deadlines

For any publication that you're dealing with, make sure that you find out the deadline and DON'T pitch or even email on those day/s. The best day is actually the day after.

For The Enfield Advertiser, for instance, the deadline days are Tuesday and Wednesday, so it's best to send emails on Thursdays and Fridays and then follow up with a call, half a day later, in order to give staff the chance to have read your email.

Email

Don't send images/photos with the email you send of your story, in the first instance as it is difficult for our computers to process large attachments. Just one line of text at the end of your email saying that photos are available, is enough.

Call

When you call us, to follow up the initial email, make sure that you get the person's name that you speak to and ask if you can resend them your email. After having spoken to you, they will be able to tell you if the story is potentially interesting or not.

Our Response

We might be interested in your story but might need you to help a bit more, we might not have staff available to cover the exact day of the event, so we might need to arrange a photo shoot on a different day and arrange a phone interview with you. the more flexible you can be about this, the more likely you'll get the coverage.

If we say a 'No' to your story this time, don't take it personally, take the opportunity to ask what could make it more attractive for the next time.

It may be that your story is great but the timing is just all wrong, there could be an election on, a national event, or a major incident which means that we have to concentrate all our staff resources on that and drop your story.

Online

Use what you can for free, follow the publication that you want coverage from, 'Like' their Facebook page and see if you can post your story directly onto their page.

See if you can add your event to the What's On listings on their website. You can add any events you are organising to the Enfield Advertiser website, here.

Follow the publications you want press from on Twitter, tweet them a link to your story, maybe you've got it on your website, or on your blog and at the very least they might retweet it for you! We are certainly very hot on supporting local businesses and causes and supporting them in that way.

Advertising

People can see PR as a free way to get coverage in the local papers but it can take up a lot of your time. Sometimes it can be easier for you to arrange to advertise in the papers, which takes up less time and you are also guaranteed that space, no matter what urgent breaking news comes in on deadline day.

THANK YOU!


A massive thank you to Kim Inam, for the brilliant tips above, they are a fantastic guide to getting coverage in your local papers.


MUTUAL SUPPORT....

One thing I think that it's important to remember is that local newspapers don't just report the stories about our community, they are a part of our community too and deserve the support from us, that we hope to get from them. We need to change our mindset and instead of seeing the local papers as the Simon Cowell of our local area, with acerbic wit and put me downs and harsh judgements, to realise that they play a strong role in supporting local businesses and causes and we should see ourselves as supporting them in return and thus making our community better, they do want your stories and they want your support too.

Have you 'liked' your local newspapers' Facebook page? Do you follow their Twitter account? Do you interact with them and retweet their stuff? It's all part and parcel of us all helping to support each other. You want the local papers to help you with your success, well, you must decide to help support their success too! The staff that work on the papers are part of our local community too. I think it's easy to forget that. The local papers are an important part of our infrastructure, the advice and news they give is important to our community. so, try to remember how you can help the local papers and realise that you have the power to help them, as well as them having the power to help you. Of course, the more they help you and you help them, the more you help to propel each other's success.

I also believe that instead of just feeding them stories about your business, it's important to share positive stories about other businesses with the local paper too. You might know of a fantastic business they haven't written about yet, tell them about it. Most of the time that I've told them about special local businesses I've discovered in the area, they are only too happy to write about them. It's a joy to see other people get newspaper coverage too, such as Baskervilles, Fairies of London, Bim's Kitchen, Four Hills Music, I Can Do It and We Network, those are just some of the businesses that I've told The Enfield Advertiser and Gazette about. Aren't those people getting the coverage taking up your space? No, they are making the newspaper a more colourful and interesting read and increasing it's value in the community.

The local newspaper that has given us the most publicity, is The Enfield Advertiser and Gazette and Kim Inam is the News Editor, of that paper. I asked her to give me a quote, she gave me loads of tips, that's how helpful and approachable she is. So, don't be scared of the local papers!

Follow them on Twitter.

Like them on Facebook.

And send your stories to:- news.enfield@nlhnews.co.uk

When you get news coverage after reading this blog, please post the link to it in the comments below.

If you have any other ideas or advice, please make sure you leave a comment. I wish you lots of Luck and Success with everything you do and hope this article helps you to get where you want to go! 

6 March 2012

Fairtrade Buzz Cake!


It's the second Tuesday of Fairtrade Fortnight and I'm having real fun challenging myself with seeing how many Fairtrade ingredients I can cram into one cake and still make it delicious and nutritious.


First I started with a Intensely Spicy Chocolate cake, that had 10 Fairtrade ingredients in it. Before I'd even finished mixing it, a customer decided she wanted to buy the whole cake, for a 50th Birthday.

It was a bit of a risk because I'd never made a cake with all those ingredients in together and it would be interesting if they tasted good together. I needn't have worried, a swift text told me, "We all love your cake! Very fabulous. All the tastes work together. Wonderful! Thank you. x".

My next challenge was to make a cake with 15 Fairtrade ingredients, this turned out to be a beautiful breakfast cake, we called it, Choc and Nut Buzz. It sold really quickly and even got an order on Twitter to put two pieces on the side!

My confidence grew, so my next step to take a step, for Fairtrade, was to make a cake with 20 Fairtrade ingredients in!

This cake is not for sale in our shop but is going to be donated to, The People's Supermarket, they are organising a bake-off, where the challenge is to create a tasty cake with as many Fairtrade ingredients in, as you can. Read more about that, here.

That cake has just come out of the oven and we're just waiting for it to cool down, for a dusting of Fairtrade icing sugar!

Why did I want to tell you all about this? Well it sometimes amazes me that when you decide that you're going to use your business to campaign for what you believe in, it's really enjoyable and second of all, I find that passion also translates into business success.

The positive energy that has been created by challenging myself and joining forces with many different people on Twitter, such as @TPSLondon, @AnnuMayor and @FairtradeSleuth is contagious. I hope you too, are infected with our enthusiasm.

What Fairtrade Ingredients did I use?


@FairtradeSleuth particularly wanted to know what ingredients I used in the Fairtrade Buzz cake!

Fairtrade Ingredients Used:
1/ Black Pepper Corn
2/Vanilla Pod
3/Mixed Spice
4/Ground Cinnamon
5/Honey
6/Molasses
7/Raisins
8/Orange Juice
9/Cloves
10/Icing Sugar
11/ Green Tea and Lemon
12/ Raw Cane Caster Sugar
13/Dark Brown Sugar
14/Divine Cocoa
15/Lemon
16/Orange
17/Banana
18/White Spicy Tea
19/Apricot Kernels
20/ Divine Chocolate


All I have to say now is, go bake a cake and see how many Fairtrade ingredients you can cram in.
Enjoy Fairtrade Fortnight 2012!

26 February 2012

Fairtrade Fortnight 2012


Let's Take a Step Together!

I'm gearing up for tomorrow! I have my t-shirt, I have the brochures, I have the stickers, I have the products, I've got the ingredients for cake, yeah, I have my cake and I'm going to eat it and I'm going to make sure that you get some too! And it's all Fairtrade!

Monday the 27th of February, is the start of Fairtrade Fortnight and it runs up to Sunday the 11th of March.

The aim of Fairtrade Fortnight this year is to get 1.5 million steps for Fairtrade registered as actions. so, this Fairtrade Fortnight is to inspire you if you've taken a step before, or if you've never taken a step before! There are so many different steps that we as individuals or businesses can take, they might be small steps but each of them added together can make one big step, to help farmers and they communities in developing countries to receive fairer payments, fairer wages and fairer conditions.

Our Fairtrade Story
When we opened our coffee shop 3 years ago and we made a pledge to ourselves to use only Fairtrade coffee, not to offer a choice but to commit 100% to Fairtrade coffee, despite the tough economic times, we knew that it was the only way that we could feel good running our business. As individuals, our business is an extension of ourselves and what I wouldn't feel comfortable doing in my personal life, I will not do in my business life either. So, yes, we chose Fairtrade coffee, we went on to choose after just a couple of months Fairtrade tea and chocolate and we just kept expanding the amount of Fairtrade that we did, until after just 6 months we bought our own oven specifically so that we could commit to using Fairtrade ingredients in our cakes.

How did this passion for Fairtrade begin? Well, I read about it in a pamphlet from the Fairtrade Foundation, just a month before we opened our coffee shop. I had not heard of Fairtrade before that time. That's what inspired me to create a guide to the independent shops in Enfield that sell or serve Fairtrade, you can pick one up in our shop, or you'll find me out and about during Fairtrade Fortnight, encouraging other individuals and businesses to 'Take a Step' for Fairtrade and I'll have a stack of them with me then, to give out.

You can download our guide to Fairtrade in Enfield, from here!

Fairtrade shouldn't be a unique selling point!
The decision that my partner Gunter Hollenstein and I took, to stock Fairtrade was hardly a decision but more of a heartfelt step that we knew we had to take. Is there really a choice? If you know that one way of trading means that checks have been made, premiums paid and a minimum price band introduced and another means that workers are unable to unionise, that there is no guaranteed price and communities are not given additional help, then why would you, or even could you choose any other way? The Fairtrade labelling system guarantees that the farmers of that product in the developing countries have been given a Fair deal, as specified by internationally agreed trading standards.

I don't want My Coffee Stop stocking a good range of Fairtrade products to be our unique selling point! This is a unique selling point that, I'm wishing wasn't!

I actively encourage and delight in telling other coffee shop owners the excellent Fairtrade suppliers that we've found, so that they can support Fairtrade too and that's why suppliers are listed for everyone to see and use in the Fairtrade Guide that we have produced.

Fairtrade Fortnight Launch!
Just over 6 months after the riots in Enfield, I'll be taking to the very same streets to launch Fairtrade Fortnight in Enfield. I'll be wearing my Fairtrade tee-shirt, armed with stickers, the Enfield Fairtrade Directory and cards on which to register step/s and I'll be encouraging individuals and businesses to 'Take a Step', with me for Fairtrade!'

I'll be starting out at the Civic Centre in Enfield and will work my way up through the high street and back up to  My Coffee Stop at Enfield Chase Station. I'll pick out people and businesses randomly to approach and encourage to 'Take a Step' for Fairtrade, in the hope of helping the Fairtrade Foundation accomplish a grand total of 1.5 million registered steps!

The launch will take place at 10am on the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight, Monday February 27th, outside the Civic Centre, by the chunky Enfield sign.

Keep an eye out for me throughout Fairtrade Fortnight, as you never know when I might appear and ask you to 'Take a Step' with me!

Please Take a Step
I hope this post inspires you to join in and 'Take a Step', when you've taken that step, whatever it is, please register it here!

Please help me to encourage people to 'Take a Step' by sharing this article, wherever you can!
Facebook, Twitter, +1 it if you so desire. Hey! Maybe that can be your step, if you like.

Share this article then register that you shared an article about Fairtrade Fortnight.

As they say, 'Every Step Helps'.

Thanks for any steps that you do take to support Fairtrade Fortnight!

Enjoy!

Karen. xx

16 February 2012

How to do Facebook for small businesses!



I was absolutely amazed, when James Whitaker, owner of a hairdressers in Enfield, Beauty and Hair Awards Finalist, 2012, turned up to The Ideas Station meeting that we hold every month and gave us all a constant stream of ideas about how to use Facebook to benefit our businesses. 

That's why I'm handing over this blog entry for him to do!

The following advice and tips are really valuable because they are what a small business owner has learnt and discovered and they work.

'HELLO......

You're probably wondering what a hairdresser knows about social media!

Well, I'm going to tell you.


At James Whitaker Hair I have built a reputation on not just amazing haircuts and great service but on a level of customer service that you don't tend to get in high end, high street salons. I like to get to know my clients and interact with them. After all I am styling them and making them feel their best in everyday life. my clients trust me with their appearance and if need be, I can give them advice very quickly via social media. This is such an important interaction and service that I offer. Who else does this? No one in Enfield. This gives me a 'niche', in a very large market.

Here are my tips on how Facebook can help you connect with your customers and 1000's of potential ones.

Profile page , group page or business page?
If you want to use Facebook for your business, then a business page is a must. The clue is in the title. Facebook now offer you insights data which help you to know where your 'Likes' are from, as well as the age and sex of the people 'Liking' your page.

There are so many free apps and tools available to add to your page to help it move and look exciting. You don't have to have a great computer knowledge to implement these.

How do I get more 'Likes' on my page?
After you have invited all your friends to 'Like' your business page, have a look at offering a 'special' to get even more 'Likes'. 

You want people on there to suggest your page to friends. I found that a great way is to offer a prize, when you hit a magic number. For example, ' When we hit 200 fans I'm going to offer a £100 voucher to someone at random. The quicker we hit 200 the quicker you can win'. This works a treat.

Does it matter if I haven't got 1000's of fans?
It does look good, if you have a high number of 'Likes' but THE REACH of the page and HOW MANY ARE TALKING about it, are now displayed and these are really important figures. 

A great way of increasing these figures, is by increasing interaction. You can do this by asking a question that will start a conversation, such as '' Ladies what do you think of Mr Beckhams new hairstyle ?'' and post a picture of the new haircut too. You'll be amazed at the comments you get!


How do I get potential clients to see me?
Tagging is the simple way to do this. 

Write a note or post a picture and then tag your target market on them. For example, if you have a service for students, you could join University pages and tag those pages on your posts. That way it goes out on their page and then everyone else that's 'Liked' that page!!! WOW!! A post could go out to 20,000 local people and not cost a penny!!

******************************************

Check my Facebook page out, here and you'll see how I've connected Twitter to my account and have also incorporated my blog into my page.


I gather I'll be seeing you at The Ideas Station on the 2nd Thursday of every month. Great coffee there too. All the best, James Whitaker