Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Very Exciting News!

With thanks to Leaky for the headsup, here is the official teaser trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Young Tom Riddle looks mighty creepy, well done the casting director!

Roll on November 2008!

Monday, July 21, 2008

He's quoting Henry V

I hope you're all listening to Rick this morning and every morning for the next month:

Rick O'Shea's afternoon show has moved home while G.Ryan is on hols - yay I get to listen for once! Been missing the banter since he moved to the afternoon show from the drivetime slot, LOL. Go here, and click "Listen Live"


Thursday, July 17, 2008

But I've No Time To Learn How!

Time Management - not a thrilling or exciting topic, but something that helps SO much when running your own business. It is vital, in fact. One of those big qualities in a great entrepreneur is CONTROL, and the first thing you have to control is your own time. You know all those old cheesy "Time = Money" quips? They weren't made up for fun!

Some more top tips for an easier life, running your own (hectic!) business:

1. Get a good diary - preferably a week to 2-pages. This one really works, even for me! You slot everything into the little lines on each page, and when there is too much on the page, odds are you need to shuffle things around and start to manage your task list a bit better. You have no idea how useful that little nugget is.

2. Task Lists - this one follows directly on from the last point, and leads us to the next one perfectly. There are lots of opinions out there on how to make your task list easier. One example I heard is: write down all the stuff you have to do this week and number them backwards, starting with the one you hate - that way, the only way is up! This tip reminded me of my mum getting me to eat my cabbage first, then I could enjoy the spuds and gravy when I was small. (But curses, I was always full by the time I'd eaten all the yukky stuff! Funny, I quite like cabbage now...) Personally, when it comes to task lists I prefer the priority approach. That way I get less ulcers ;) get the "holy crap this is important" stuff out of the way first!

3. Prioritise - this is what I work with best. Figure out which items on your to-do list are the most vital, and do them first. Leave the weeny things til Friday afternoon when everything else is done and you are cruising to the weekend. The stuff in between just needs to be sorted in order of importance and urgency. There is a handy graph that gets dragged out at every Time Management seminar, and I'm putting it here, with a hat-tip & thanks to Time Management Dot Com:

Essentially, everything on your list can be popped on to this graph, and you undertake each task in order, 1 - 4. If something is both urgent & important, it goes into quadrant #1 and you do it first. If it is urgent but not important, it goes into the next block. Things that are important but not urgent come next, and finally - if it is neither urgent nor important, it'll get done when it gets done! The grid is a handy illustration but you don't get it out every day. You just get used to realising what's important/urgent to you.

4. You have to become quite firm with people - more than firm - and just make sure you remember why you're going to all this effort in the first place. You are trying to run a successful business, and by that I mean you HAVE to put your own needs fairly close to the top of the list. For example if you are a sole trader, make sure you keep one afternoon per week completely free for doing your bookkeeping, VAT returns, invoicing, payments, etc. This is vital to keeping your business financially healthy, but you would be SO surprised at how many people end up doing this at midnight on a Sunday! It's important - do it when you're fresh. That way, you won't make mistakes! Or you'll make less of them, at least.

5. Last tip - plan to be interrupted. Seriously! Leave about 15-20% of your day open, every day. This is like a cushion, so that when some mad customer rings with a crazy "urgent" query, you have the time to deal with it, without sacrificing the control of your day...and business.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Something (Practical) for the Weekend

If you know anyone who is planning on starting a business at some stage, but still in full time employment, writing bits of their business plan here and there, and pondering how best to set up, give them a couple of practical tips.

Odds are, they will not think of the little housekeeping things that take an extraordinary amount of time to design up, when they are starting off. All efforts will go into figuring out the service offering, going out and selling it! Admirable! Sure why not, isn't that what we're all here for...

Then we come to the making money part. What do you need? A few things actually, so it might be an idea to get them sorted before you start. If you have a customer or two, you will want to spend most of your time either taking care of them, or finding more of them. Not wasting time doing these things...

1) Get your tax registration sorted - a TR1 form for Sole Traders and Partnerships, a TR2 for Limited Co's - anything more taxing (pardon the pun) and you should call in the accountants/bookkeepers. Seriously. They're better at it, it will save you money in the long run to use professionals to do these things; it'll cost you your own man hours if you're no good at it. Harsh but true! Tax registration forms available from the Revenue Commissioners. There are sections on these forms for VAT by the way, but until you begin trading, don't register! Well you can, but it's a pain in the arse dealing with the paperwork before you have to, right?

2) Obviously in tandem with the TR forms - you need to register your business name(s). If you are planning on having more than one arm to your business (example - you walk dogs, but you also mind children - different business names required! You might also do people's books for them if you're good at numbers - a third business name - all trading under Joe/Janet Bloggs, Sole Trader...) RBN Forms are so called because they stand for...Registration of Business Name. They are all found at the Companies Registration Office, which also has lots of important information that you need to read!

3) Now that all the reasonably important stately stuff is out of the way, the next part is far more interesting. Figuring out your brand and your logo. If you are just trading under your own name that's fine, you should still find an interesting way of having your name in print. This will be vital for the next few items on this list! Mess around with your name in different fonts - it's that simple. Pick a colour that ties in with your service provision or product, and your identity - the one you want to project. This is really important! You will eventually become a champion of your own brand. Start watching how other people do it. I bet you can't look in any single direction in Coca-Cola's offices without seeing that trademarked brand everywhere...

4) Now that you have your logo or brand all designed up, you should start putting it on document templates. The first of these should be your headed paper. Even if it is just in the header or footer of a standard Word document, with your registered business address beside it in a nice shade of purple/grey/whatever brand colour you have chosen. Pick a nice, clear, legible font that you like and adopt that as your template font for everything. It's all part of developing your business identity.

5) Next on the list of vitals - your invoices! Get that brand/logo out again and put it on an Exel spreadsheet, or any type of spreadsheet. Use that font you liked so much, in the colour that's clear and readable. Don't forget your tax & CRO registration numbers, registered business address, trading names, etc... If you like, look at invoices from other people in your industry and see what are the all-important things they have included. Don't forget the invoice numbers - you have to start a ledger that is going to match up with your system for cash flow management. Lastly on this point - make sure your spreadsheet is printable - easy to forget!

6) Another important template to have at the ready is a quotation template. I know it is tricky, but at least have the bare bones ready. Google some templates if you like, there are loads out there. The important sections to have in a template - once you have plastered your mini-logo onto every header/footer of course - are: Introduction (a bit on your business), outline of the proposal (what you are being asked to quote for), list of items being quoted, their unit costs, any notes you have to include on special or bespoke items on your list, the tax (VAT) associated with various items on your list,(if there is any), your payment terms (50/50 or 25/50/25 or 40/30/20/10 or whatever you want it to be, within reason!), and finally the conditions of your quotation (how long is it valid for, etc.). The other important thing of course is your name & contact details at the end of the document, so they know who to ring & haggle with!

7) Since you have got the invoice done, get a receipt ready too. I think it is great to not only get a receipt but also a small note of thanks for the payment. It makes people smile, it really does. Making business a little more personable is always a total winner.

8) Other more miscellaneous items you can prepare in advance are things like internal memos, compliment slips, that sort of thing. They are not crucial but they are important at times!

9) Your business cards! Please get a proper print company to do these up. You can get them done inexpensively without being cheap, if you know what I mean. You want people to think of quality when they think of your business - so do not hand them a post-it with your number on it...please...

10) I've saved the best for last, because it is usually the thing that people think about last! But it is so important... Documenting. Filing. Set up a system - a system of folders on your server or hard drive or Internet storage space - so that you are ready, with a file structure in place, when you start up your business and start going through the motions. Having a structured filing system right from the start is going to be SO much easier in the long run. Please believe me when I say this, I really do know what I'm talking about... The same goes for the paper files. Follow the same structures if at all possible.

I hope you find this list of top ten preparation tips useful. I hate headaches, so any way to avoid them is good! If you think I've forgotten anything, let me know...

I will of course be blogging on the lovely CRM possibilities soon too...remind me...

Catching Up

It's not as easy as I thought. But all you bloggers seem to be off to poxy-gen (jealous me) this weekend so I'll catch up on all the gossip while you're not posting more, hur-hur.

Catching up on work is also challenging. Why did everyone leave the crap to me when I was away? Nice pile of crap awaited me. I left everything pristine, orderly and clear for 3 weeks. Someone even broke my printer and didn't tell IT. Why...

Deep breaths!

It's just post-holiday glums. I've returned to a country where all the prices have gone WHOOSH over three weeks, everyone is depressed & lethargic because of the rain, and those who are not burying their head in the sand [thank you Jazz for providing the link] are yelling about how pants everything is in Ireland. Honestly! I know there are problems at the airport but I'd be willing to sit there for 5 hours just to go back to the sunshine happy people...

So go on bloggers, enjoy Oxegen, have a brilliant time and come back enthused... Let's get some happy vibes out there!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Guess Who's Back?

I'm back!

Thank you for all the good wishes, I had a splendiferous holiday thank-ee all. Can't believe I actually steered clear of all Internet-contact for three-ish weeks. I did!!! (extra !!! for a certain arm-chancer, haha).

I'm totally out of the current-affair loop, so will be checking all your archives and catching up over the next few days, before I get back to "work" - yuk. Have no idea what's been going on in the world, apart from hostage releases and the epic Wimbledon final - courtesy of fuzzy & patchy CNN.

Apparently there has been a bit of rain. I encountered some thunder storms on my travels - four or five in fact - but it's funny how much less rain hurts when you are on hols. Lightening is pretty, rather than depressing. Possibly because the storms manage to make a lot of noise in a short amount of time, and serve to clear the air for some brighter spells, thank goodness. I have some extra freckles this week.