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A bird's eye view of The Cobra Club
It was just four or five weeks ago and yet it feels a bit like a lifetime ago, time ticks by and yet it is as if the clock has stopped.
The final weekend I spent together with my partner, as the lockdown was looming, we both dissected the changes we faced, the effects these changes would have and how as a businessman and entrepreneur Andrew could create something positive to meet the needs of business owners in the challenging times that had so quickly descended upon us. Andrew saw that he needed to create a port, a place of safety to shelter from the storm for business owners who would be caught out amid bleak, fierce weather.
A word became part of all our conversations, isolation, isolate to stay well, to keep other people well. There in was the priority, but the impact of this would be an end to networking, connecting, meetings, and so Andrew knew he needed to create a way for people to meet and to do business. Spurring into action, with his hard work, tenacity, and creativity the virtual business hub was birthed quickly and efficiently and named The Cobra Club.
I have had the pleasure of being part of this new business hub from its very conception, to me, it hangs in some invisible world, in the ether, but strangely in my mind it is as real as the bricks and mortar of any business centre.
We have a reception which I man as often as possible to support Andrew, I have only worked for the NHS, charities and education and been a busy practitioner so this receptionist role, of a virtual business hub, has been a very different experience for me. I love it!
When I am on duty, I have a reason to do my hair, paint my nails and I get to interact with our eclectic, wonderful members. I imagine my reception as an inviting place, warm and friendly, welcoming any who visits us at The Cobra Club and so that is what I hope to present.
Members have quickly joined and I have watched from their first tentative visits, getting to grips with the technical side and then with the conceptual side of a business hub that contains a reception, a members lounge, rooms for 1:2:1 meetings and rooms for small groups. It has been a joy to meet new people personally, people I would never have met and those whom I have heard Andrew talk about from his business life.
I have watched as people have connected, chatted, deepened those connections and who now are offering advice, support, referrals, and friendship to each other. Watching such positive moments has lifted my spirits in these times where the news bombards us with doom.
Everyone is different at The Cobra Club, male, female, mixed age and such a variety of businesses. One thing is consistent we are in the same storm together we are just all in different boats, some of us are sitting on luxury liners, some of us are in a rowboat, we experience the same storm but from various different perspectives.
The Cobra Club is a port that takes any boat and offers help and support and welcomes the expertise of anyone who chooses to join. I imagine my business, The Way to Well-being is a brightly painted barge with lots of flowers and a couple of bikes balanced on the side. I am docked safely in The Cobra club “port” sheltered from the storm. Every bit of valuable advice I hear from another member becomes another brightly coloured flower adorning my barge! I know when the storm calms my boat will be sailing back out fully equipped and looking good thanks to the time I spend in The Cobra Club.
You can take a look at my business to find out more at https://www.thewaytowellbeing.org/
Yesterday was a great example of what The Cobra club offers, as I sat in the reception with Andrew tucked up in a room working and having meetings, I had another club member the brilliant Neil from Aston Leigh bringing clients in for meetings, I was able to welcome his clients and “pop” them in Neil’s meeting room.
I also had a collection of members chatting whilst they dipped in and out of their own online work, they would offer each other business tips and ideas, but also chat about interests and hobbies, we talked about holiday ideas and parenting tips there is genuine care for each other, a desire to see each other succeed in business and flourish personally.
Where else could you be talking about finance whilst a delightful toddler sits on her Dad’s knee and we all watch longingly as someone munches on a cream cake and then everyone shares ideas of how to get cakes delivered. Where can you learn about SSL certificates and savings and investments whilst also picking on tips to get a good rise out of your dough!
The absolute beauty of The Cobra club to me is the sublime balance of professional business and supportive friendship, I think this could only have come about as we connected in these strange times in a safe space whilst the storm rages around us.
I believe this unique network; with the strong and secure foundations we have built now will continue long after the virus has been vanquished. So I write this reflection with heartfelt thanks to Andrew for exploring the concept and building The Cobra Club, as only he could with his creative and technical flair and with thanks to each and every member as it is you who make the place so brilliant. The building, the rooms are only figments of my imagination but the people, the relationships, the knowledge, those connections are so very real and so unbelievably valuable.
Why not sail your own boat into our port, follow the light to the safety of The Cobra Club, all are welcome here.
Be a hope peddler
When you've overcome challenges, when you've picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, when you've stood against afflictions and overcome them then you understand in your very essence that there is always hope.
You then my friend can go out there peddling your very own kind of magic. You can be a 'hope dealer'.
By spreading your message of hope, by empathizing, by treating others kindly, by teaching, encouraging, supporting and helping people to tap into their inner resources you enable growth and positive change. Your life is having a positive impact of others and you are a blessing and a joy to society.
At the other end of the scale we have the life suckers, those people who allow bitterness to overwhelm them. They have not overcome past afflictions, they feel like it is their right to suck the joy out of others because they are joyless. They often are in disguise, they lure you in then boom, you leave a conversation and you feel deflated, you feel low. That my friend was an audience with a life sucker.
I have learnt that we cannot argue, reason or try to change one of these unfortunate people. They must come to a place themselves of self recognition and seek support to change. What we must do when we can identify a life sucker is keep our boundaries strong and use the power of avoidance.
Don't give someone else the power to knock your confidence and steal your joy. Keep your hope strong, then you get on out there dealing your hope to anyone you can!
Hunkering down for winter
As the nights draw in and the cold breath of winter sends a shiver down our necks we glimpse winter solstice on the horizon, very soon it will be the shortest day of the year.
I have been feeling tired and a little unmotivated. I have not been able to push myself to get into my swimming clobber and hit the pool after a busy day at work.
Over the summer I enjoyed heading into the balmy evening to go for a swim and a shower at the pool. Right now I can think of nothing desirable about heading out into a chilly dark evening to swim and drive home wet and cold.
What do I want to do? Well, I want a lovely warm bath, to get into my comfy pyjamas, to light scented candles and inhale the warm pine smell, to watch the dancing flame glowing in the dark snuggled under a cosy blanket. My desire is telling me to hunker down with my family, like a mother bear hibernating through the harsh winter.
There is a scientific reason for this natural state, Winter Fatigue
What is winter tiredness? ... As the days become shorter, your sleep and waking cycles become disrupted, leading to fatigue. Less sunlight means that your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy.
So you see it's normal for us to slow down over winter. Our ancestors knew winter was a time of rest, of going into our homes and recovering our minds and bodies of all that has happened over the last year as it draws to a close. A needed time of reflection and healing.
Our modern world does not easily allow this natural cycle to happen anymore. It's all about bright lights, dazzle, overspending, and overworking to keep up with consumerism. Rushing around here there and everywhere. Parties and pressures are at the max. We fight against the natural tug to go inwards and the results are that winter feels hard.
Without the time of resting and withdrawing we put ourselves under strain, whereas winter could be a kind embracing time of the year it becomes a strain, we get exhausted, we feel down and we get ill. Instead of starting the new year with renewed energy, we start it drained and weak.
So if you feel like embracing the dark, cold winter by resting in the glow of candlelight, snuggling into your comfy pyjamas at 4 pm, then you go for it. Use the winter to reflect, to rest your tired limbs and worn-out mind, restore yourself ready for the new year around the corner.
The wondrous world of the " Wantrapreneur"
We all know people who are "working on" a novel, a small business idea, one project or another. The people who spend too much time picturing what something is going to be like and too little time actually making it happen. As your ideas develop and develop and become pretty awesome in your mind it becomes more overwhelming, more daunting to try and bring them about in reality.
Creating a to-do list, thinking about this list, feels dangerously productive yet is entirely ineffective. You are luring yourself into a fake feeling of being constructive. Taking five days thinking, mulling over the writing of a proposal that once action is taken only takes a day to write, is completely off-kilter. A good rule to make is to not take longer thinking about something than it actually takes to do. It's all about creating a balance of thought and action.
Of course, thinking and planning are crucial but being aware and taking action so as not to get stuck for too long in that stage is of paramount importance.
Progress can only manifest through action and if you find you have great ideas but get stuck in the thinking stage then a business mentor who can help you with action plans, hold you accountable, help you stay focussed, and offer motivation and support would be a positive way forward.
Don't find yourself over-planning and under acting. If you recognise yourself as an overthinker then why not make your first action contacting Swindon Consultants and we can help you redress the balance and get you on the road to success!
Check out our Coaching and mentoring page to find out more details.
Account Management and Customer Retention - Are you for real?
Here at Swindon Consultants, we value the prospect of acquiring new customers, it’s great to meet new business owners. The initial meetings, where together we explore the growth and support Swindon Consultants can offer, are full of new excitement.
Do you take Customer Retention for granted?
However, we are very aware and careful that we don’t fall into the pitfall of assuming the excellent service we offer will mean customer retention will naturally follow. I’m sure you all know the phrase ‘to assume makes an ass out of u and me! So, we know not to take customer retention for granted.
If we take a look at why customers leave; a Rockefeller corporation study found that 68% of customers leave because they don’t feel cared about.
Are you keeping your customers happy?
Then follows the question why should you care about existing customers? Are we focusing our efforts all on getting new customers?
Yes, every business needs new customers, and yet, the easiest and most predictable source of new revenue is right under your nose: it comes from the existing customers who already know your company and have already bought from you.
You should care about your existing customers because they have the potential to be your biggest source of revenue. You will see a better conversion rate with less marketing.
According to Bain and Company, attracting new customers will cost your company 6-7 times more than keeping an existing customer; while a mere 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%!
Here’s where we step in, Swindon Consultants can help you effectively demonstrate customer care, we can offer a solution by working with you to ensure your business is using CRM software.
How can CRM help you improve customer retention?
When it comes to CRM, the secret lies in that one word – relationship.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
CRM is about knowing your customers – who they are, how they’ve been marketed to, and how they responded. All being well, you keep selling to them, and that’s when you really start to reap the rewards of a positive relationship.
And while CRM software does not manage customer retention by itself, it will provide you with the tools to help you manage the activities around customer engagement to improve the customer experience.
We have seen great success using CRM software ourselves and we have seen the positive effect it has had on businesses we have been working with.
In our follow-on blog, we will look at the techniques you can implement using CRM software to retain customers and increase revenue so keep your eye out for this next informative post.
If you would like to have a chat with us about CRM software and how we can make it work for your business, then please do get in touch. We really look forward to hearing from you, it will be great if you are a new customer to Swindon Consultants, but if you are an existing customer you really matter to us too and it would be awesome to continue our work together to maximise your income!
That’s all for now folks.
The value in Loss
Her hair was glossy a smooth chocolate bob falling to her shoulders. I'd gently assisted her Mum by washing her with warm soapy water, carefully drying her smooth pale skin.
We then dressed her in a party dress that had been purchased for her to wear at Christmas. I fastened the "sister" necklace that should have been a Christmas present around her neck. We put on little frilly ankle socks and then I placed my hand on her Mum's shoulder as she gazed at her little girl. It was a week before Christmas.
The look on her face didn't reflect delight at her beautiful little girl lovingly dressed in her party outfit.
The little girl would not be laughing with joy as she spun around in her best dress on Christmas day, she would not squeal with delight as she opened the necklace from her sister.
She led still and lifeless, dressed for the last time by her Mummy.
I had been in this moment before, with other children and other parents. The look, the sensation exuded from this mother's every pore was raw, unbearable pain.
I was back again, a passenger on the grief train. I would get on the train when a child's diagnosis became terminal, I rode it through the stages of end-of-life care, and as those families come into my mind years later realise my ticket was unlimited.
The image and feelings that replay when I think of these times are clear and strong, taking a child to the hospital mortuary was very traumatic for me, I hated the place, I felt bereft leaving a child I had nursed in such a cold place, I felt empty and without purpose as I walked back to the ward alone.
These experiences however afforded me a different perspective on life. Through loss, I gained an understanding of value. I am privileged to be able to treasure the ordinary.
All of these experiences made me who I am...and who am I? I am a woman who cares passionately and compassionately for others. I desire the purpose of my life to be about helping others overcome and achieve success and happiness.
I want to truly treasure every moment of my precious life, to love and be loved, time is a gift I won't take for granted.
What it all boils down to
I can define my work really really simply, however the methods have taken over 20 years of study and experience.
I have a folder full of certificates, I attended 2 universities, and I have taken all the study and experience and morphed it into my own unique way of working.
I use skills in cognitive behavioral therapy, creative listening, attachment-based mentoring, emotion coaching, mental health nursing, paediatric nursing, therapeutic practice, I use art resources, sand, Lego, glitter, feathers, clay, pipe cleaners, cars, paint, non-verbal emotion cards...it is all going on!
So with these skills and resources, I am helping children explore their feelings, their life experiences, I teach them tools to help manage strong emotions like anxiety and anger.
I advocate for them, helping to share their voice with the adults in their lives.
Overall though there is one fundamental thing the underpins and arches above all of this.
I am trying whole-heartedly, with all my spirit to show these kids that I completely and utterly give a shit. I desire them to know they are worthy of love, compassion, and understanding and that is the basis I work from. So that is what it boils down to, I quite simply just really, really give an unconditional shit about the kids I am blessed to work with.
Oh and the rewards are massive when you see a child shake off the shame, stand up to the fear, take some control over their reactions, develop a sense of self and start to hope for a better future, it is very fulfilling. Let's break chains that bind not add more chains.