Making Use of the Festive Break

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Thursday, 22 December 2011 01:41

This is the time of year when you are likely to receive two phases of emails, tweets and blog postings. Phase one (roundabout now) provides a handy list of the business tasks you can do whilst relatively undisturbed or less hectic with meetings. Phase two happens throughout January, and it includes 101 benefits and uses of setting goals and targets for the forthcoming year.

I would like to suggest an alternative to lining up these recommendations, lists and tasks – PAUSE AND LOOK AROUND YOU.

But I love my business

Most of us who run a business do. We have all heard some people in business saying “it’s not really a job, I would do it anyway”, and that may apply to you.

My invitation is to be really honest with yourself and become very aware of the things that you would love to do if your business disappeared for a month without any harm. If you need a help starting your awareness, try exploring the headings of leisure, sport, health, family, friends, your community.

What do I do?

Carry a notebook and pen (electronic stuff tends to have close work links so can be distracting), and as you spend more time thinking about non-business life, jot down the new things that you start to notice. Maybe “call old frinds2, “take a walk”, “read a book”, “try a new recipe”. You will gradually rediscover the activities you used to enjoy when you spent less time on the business.

Even better, instead of writing notes just get up and enjoy the reading, chatting, running or tasting.

What if I have a good business idea?

Well, make a note of it but resist the temptation to dash to the computer and act further. The idea will not get lost – just dealt with after your break.

What will the result be?

Strangely enough, this may take you back to the times of a junior employee – when a day off was a day off, a holiday was just that.

You may not start 2012 with goals or marketing plans, but you may just rediscover the reasons you do what you do. That is worth quite a lot.

Whatever your faith or traditions, enjoy the festive break!

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why do you want to start up on your own?

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:29 Written by Ed Beckmann Wednesday, 30 March 2011 11:19

The economic state at the moment has prompted a number of people to call me to discuss starting to work for themselves or run a business. Before going straight into the mechanics of regulations, tax, writing business plans etc, I always spend a while discussing the more personal reasons behind the call.

We have different circumstances, ambitions and long- term desires, so it makes sense to consider exactly what you want. I have distilled it down to a list of points to consider and can take action on now.

List your personal ambitions

List the things that you want to do or achieve. You may find it useful to start with headings of finance, friends & family, community & society, reputation or fame, things to excel at and things to do or see.

We do this check to make sure that any business we plan will take us towards, not away from these desires.

Write a job description

If  this seems bizarre, just think of the people you know who run a business and who have said they have no free time, no wages, no holiday etc. It is quite unrealistic for your business to give you regular hours, salary and holiday in the short term, but you should make yourself aware of what you reasonably expect, so that you can work out whether the plans you have can provide what you want.

Also, if you plan everything with no expectation of a minimal return, you can very easily get stuck with customers who get used to low prices and who could not give you a decent living when you want one.


Just note down your annual wages, holidays, working hours and days and the kind of tasks you will be doing. If you would not apply for the resulting job, change your plans!

Work life balance

If you are the boss then there should not be a line between work = bad and life = good. Of course you will have to do things that you enjoy less than others, but aim for the things you do for income to be interesting and enjoyable as well. So life includes an element of work, but it is not one or the other.


Check that the way you do business will be a fulfilling way to spend your time. Be creative – there aremany ways ot get the same end result.

Setting goals

To start with budgeting and making plans can seem like trying to predict the future, especially regarding sales and income. The secret is to do it in steps.


  1. calculate what you want or need to earn for the next six months
  2. work it out in terms of what you do, e.g. number of products sold, sessions done, days delivered etc.
  3. from that work out how many customers it would mean
  4. from that, estimate how much networking / advertising / calling you need to do to achieve it

Naturally your guess of how many calls result in a given amount of business is a guess. However, as you start this estimate becomes more accurate and you can then see how much it would bring you at that rate over six months. Like any long journey, we often have an arrival time in mind and sometimes alter our speed or effort on the way. We cannot control everything, but we can adjust as we go.

the business mission and vision

Sometimes larger organisations can make this a very dry exercise, but here is an interesting and practical way to make it useful for you.


  • decide what difference you want you and the business to make in the world. You can operate at any level – satisfying customers in your village, county or region are totally acceptable, as is a sole aim to make a specific amount of money. That is your mission
  • decide what you, on your way to the mission, will look like, It may be a bustling market stall, a huge welcome at a conference, you signing books for a queue of people, a fleet of your own vehicles around the country. That is your vision

Can you see how these give you something to plan towards?


Hopefully this has given you an insight and some of the tools to plan to work for yourself or run a business which will be both compelling and satisfying. These steps will take far less time to do than other aspects of starting up, and they will be very valuable to update in the years ahead.

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