Like you, we have quite a few areas of interest, so we post everything under one or more of these main labels: Personal Development, Business Development (startup and marketing), Intelligence (emotional, spiritual, etc.), News, Fun, Newsletter (chat about things we've emailed). Enjoy, and keep in touch!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Prince's Trust expands services for young people

For some while I've been aware that The Prince's Trust offer training and mentoring for young people (age 18-30) who want to start their own business. Today I met with some of the team at their well-staffed offices for their South West Region, in Bristol, as I have been considering offering to do some mentoring for them.

I'm glad it's taken me a while to get round to this, because last year they redeveloped their services to give better support to those who are seeking to set up a business, and to expand their services to help others to develop the skills needed for employment or further education.

So the line up now is impressive. The Enterprise Programme for those aged 18 to 30 provides an initial four day course on how to start a business and then supports the participants over up to twelve months as they seek to develop a business plan and consider whether to start a business. Some financial support may be given. Mentors are available for ongoing support for 6 months to 2 years whether the young people choose to start a business or not.

Alongside this there are other programmes to develop skills and confidence in young people aged 14 to 25. Some of these are based around adventure training, some are based in schools, and some teach vocational skills.

Very impressive. People interested in supporting The Prince's Trust can volunteer, give money, or even join their South West Leadership Group.

Monday, 23 August 2010

NEST UK pension reforms

Attending business breakfasts is useful.

I hear that from April 2012 the government is introducing a compulsory pension scheme for employees called NEST. Employees will be automatically enrolled unless they opt out. Employees will have to contribute 4% of salary, and employers 3%.

Full details here: nestpensions.org.uk.

I've felt for some while that the situation to do with employee pensions has been confused. So I think it's good news that the new government is going ahead with plans from the last administration, although I can see the agenda of the govenment wanting to reduce dependency on state pensions!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Supporting unemployed people

As the latest unemployment figures are released, I notice the headlines in today's Daily Mail.

Number of long-term unemployed young people soars by 42% in a year

Over 50 and on the scrapheap: As recession bites, a record rise in older workers condemned to long-term unemployment

And recently we had news that 70 graduates are seeking every gradute job, and that 10% of last year's university graduates in the UK are still out of work.

Statistics also tell us that the times when people are most likely to set up their own business are at the start of their career, or around age 50 when either they have reached a peak in their employed career or they feel more freedom as domestic commitments reduce. It is likely that more people will be considering starting their own business as a way of escaping from unemployment.

As coaching practitioners we need to be doing all we can to support people who are out of work to make good career choices and to consider setting up a business themselves in an informed way, so at Finding True North we welcome conversations with people who are looking for work or considering a career change, to help them to:
  • work out their skills, strengths, and career options
  • considering or plan setting up a business
  • improve relationship and communication skills
  • persevere with the process by providing ongoing coaching
In addition, we continue to provide coaching to directors and owners of businesses and charities to help them to develop themselves, their staff, and their organisation. Amongst other things this helps businesses to thrive and increase rather than decrease the number of staff they employ!

Contact us for more information.

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Want to sell your business?

I was impressed by a the quarterly magazine I received from Monahans accountants.

There was an article in it about valuing businesses, but better still it referred to more information on their web site. Take a look at the valuation calculator on their home page, and the "grooming your business for sale" helpsheet.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Einstein is at it again!

I'm amazed by the array of different quotes I read from Albert Einstein. Anyone would think he spent his whole time creating them! Here's a good one.

The only sure way to avoid mistakes is to have no new ideas.

Maybe this is where the NLP dictum came from: there's no such thing as failure, only learning.

(I saw this in The Week, quoting The Canberra Times.)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Getting to know AIDA

Ever since I met Aida, people have been delighted when I've introduced her to them.

I think it's because everyone likes the idea of being more interesting, of gaining more interest or influence, when they create publicity material or write persuasive emails.

AIDA may sound like a memorable girl's name, however it's a formula for those who seek to be persuasive. It's been wisely used for many years, and you can use AIDA for written publicity, emails, or even sales conversations.

People don't always listen. You need to gain their attention. Use a heading or opening sentence that will make people stops in their tracks.

Follow this with a few lines that will interest them, because you need to draw them in to what you want to say so that they want will want to read on. This may be some key facts, or an important question.

You want someone to do something, so you need to build this desire in the text that follows. Whether you are writing sales literature, or want a friend to come on holiday with you, you need to show the benefits. "What's in it for me?"

Finally, "ask for the order." What do you want the person to do? Marketing experts, and web page designers, all agree that we should keep in simple: ask for just one action because people like to be told what to do, but don't like too many choices.

Have you read this far? You're more than interested, and you can see some area where you'd like to improve the effectiveness of what you say or write. Give it a go! How will you apply AIDA first?

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I'd like you to experience the benefits of AIDA, so I hope you enjoy putting these things into practice. Let me know how you get on, and comments on my articles are always welcome.

People tend to thing of AIDA as being of use for written publicity, but you can apply it to sales conversations too, starting with those initial few seconds you have to create a first impression and attract attention.

If you struggle to remember the acronym, you could think of Verdi's opera Aida, or that the word means "visitor" or "returning" in Arabic - whatever helps, really!

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Leonie Harrison

I won the speaker's prize at our breakfast meeting on Friday (BNI in Melksham). It was a CD of Leonie Harrison, an impressive female vocalist.

Click on "listen" to hear her: http://www.leonieharrison.co.uk/menu.shtml

Friday, 6 August 2010

Pleased with Train to Gain

Quite a few of my clients have benefitted from a grant of up to £1000 from Train to Gain (their Leadership and Management Advisory Service) to help develop their leadership skills. It's great!

So I was pleased this week when they asked me to visit a partner in an accountancy practice in Swindon with a view to providing coaching. However we scope the coaching, the grant will help them develop as a practice.

More on Train to Gain grants here. Don't hang about: the scheme has less than a year to run now.

Why wait to register for VAT?

Business Mistake 1?

When I started this business in 2007, I thought I'd hold off VAT registration until it became clear whether most of my clients were businesses, charities, or individuals - i.e. whether they could reclaim VAT. There is some sense in that. Now, most of my clients are businesses who are registered for VAT, although it's still important to have a pricing strategy that is appropriate for all my clients.

I've just looked at the amount of VAT I've paid ("input tax") since I started my business, and it's frightening. I can feel online VAT registration coming up.

If you want to learn from my mistakes, get in touch!