The one thing lockdown has given us is extra time but are you making the most of it?
Why is it important to upskill!
We are heading into uncertain times especially when we come out of lockdown. It is likely the world will be different when we are allowed back to normality and the jobs we did before Covid-19 may not be the same or in the worst case exist at all. That is why it is so important to take this time and learn what we can to broaden our skill range and ensure we have the best chances coming out of this pandemic .
How to upskill while on lockdown!
When I say we should all be upskilling I am not saying you should go out and sign up to year long courses that are going to cost the earth. There are more ways to learn and develop our skill set without breaking the bank and if you are willing to spend a little bit of time investing in yourself you will be a lot better off.
1. Reading is an effective way to acquire knowledge and there are books for every subject imaginable with a wealth of information just waiting to be picked up and read. Books are generally inexpensive and with the birth of kindle you can order and start reading instantly.
Even if you don’t know what to learn about subjects like digital marketing or even motivation are topics that can benefit everyone in this age. After I was recommended it I recently read ‘The Subtle art of not giving a F**K’ and this was a brilliant book for motivation and learning to analyse what is important in your life.
2. Short courses are another great way to boost your skills during lockdown. I have found that Reed.co.uk has a database full of online short courses in a vast array of subjects some at amazingly low prices.
These are perfect for boosting your skill set. I have carried out courses in digital marketing, basic portuguse and I am currently doing a photography diploma. If you are just looking to do these to gain knowledge then you can find courses for peanuts but a lot of the cheap ones charge quite high fees to obtain a certificate after you have finished the course. So please make sure you check what the certificate price is and if you want to have the proof of doing the course then make sure you factor in this cost before signing up.
3. Social Media and the Internet is bursting full of knowledge all at the tip of our fingertips just waiting to be explored. You can find information on any subject you want on the internet. Experts will often give away a lot of free advice and tips on blogs and social media that can provide you with those all important learning opportunities. I read blogs and join social media groups specific to my interests all the time to grow my knowledge. I have learnt more about photography from social media groups than anywhere else.
Through a social media group I found a Facebook marketing course for £12 through Mums in Business Association that has provided me with so much information it was well worth the money spent.
4. Podcasts and online videos can be full of information and provide great learning opportunities. The benefit of these is that you can listen and learn whilst carrying out your household chores.
5. Trial and error is a great way to learn especially with the extra time we have been given with lockdown. This is probably one of the most important ways we can upskill and keep continually learning. We shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes but be prepared to learn from them.
I wanted to upskill my photography skills so I sat in the garden all day practicing taking pictures of bees using trial and error. I must have had 100’s of rubbish pictures but I finally learnt what settings I needed and ended up with pictures to be proud of.
Since I took a pledge to keep constantly investing in myself and upskilling my knowledge my life has changed dramatically and my confidence has boomed. In the space of 3 years I have built 2 websites from scratch without any prior knowledge, created a vibrant parenting blog and become an award winning children’s author.
Before I started upskilling myself I was just the girl with dyslexia that wasn’t that great at spelling and grammar. When I recently built a new website I went back and reread all of my previous blogs and I will be the first to say they were awful. My writing has evolved tenfold since then and all because I am constantly upskilling and never giving up.
So why not spend at least one evening a week investing in yourself and growing and upskilling your knowledge.
Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.
Life moves at a million miles an hour and more often than not we are always rushing around and looking to the future planning our next moves and making lists and goals of tasks we want to complete. We are usually so wrapped up striving to achieve that we often forget to remind ourselves of what we have accomplished so far.
I recently got so caught up worrying about the future and the goals that I am still yet to achieve I started to feel really stressed and was putting myself under unnecessary pressure.
That was when I realised enough was enough I had to stop and take a few minutes to focus on all the amazing things that I have achieved so far in both my personal life and business.
I got my notebook and sat down and wrote a couple of things that I should be proud of myself for achieving. I am always so hard on myself and I am my biggest critic so this reflective exercise was so beneficial to me. It helped me to realise just how far I had come and to not be so hard on myself.
From reflective thinking it helped me realise what I had done well and what hadn’t gone so well before and from this I was then able to come up with a few realistic goals that I want to achieve in 2020.
Reflection is an important process that I myself have overlooked too often and I am sure many others to do. Reflection allows us to gain a better perspective of ourselves and can also help us to move forward. It can be a hard process to look back at ourselves and who we once were but a short reminder of this will help put our future in perspective.
Now I am not a natural speaker and find it easier to hide behind a screen typing than being in front of one or even speaking in person. However when I was asked to be on the show it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I accepted the offer straight away.
I have to admit from when I accepted the offer until last night when I stepped into that studio I have been so on edge and nerves were seeping in. On the way to the studio my heart was pumping so fast with anxiety and nerves it felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I had to give myself a stern pep talk in the car to try and relax a bit and stop worrying before going inside.
In the waiting room I was sat listening to Charlie live on the radio interview someone else feeling the butterflies in my tummy start swirling. I was texting Dino saying how nervous I was and he was trying to reassure me I would be fine.
Once I walked into the studio and met with Charlie I felt so much better he was so nice and friendly. As soon as we began talking I relaxed completely and started to feel a bit more confident. It is amazing how quickly fear and anxiety can disappear when you take on those fears.
Charlie was very easy to talk to and genuinely interested in finding out more about me, my blog and children’s books, being interview on BBC radio turned out to be an enjoyable experience.
In the end the interview went really well, I was able to answer all the questions without hesitating or mumbling and got to promote both my blog and my children’s books to the radio audience.
I was on such a high afterwards and buzzing from the experience. I am so glad that I accepted the invitation and pushed through the anxiety to show up and talk on the radio. The accomplishment of being interviewed over the radio will stay with me for a long time, it is an amazing achievement that I am so thank full for the opportunity.
“Everything you have ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear”. George Addair
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging lately and have had a bit of a break from my blog and social media pages. I have to admit I had so much going on in my life I was really struggling to do it all and I ended up sending less and less time with my family so something had to give and unfortunately that was blogging.
So what has been happening?
Well we decided to put our house up for sale and was going through the marketing process, carrying out stressful Military style deep cleans every time we had a viewing when I was then hit with the news I was being made redundancy at work.
Now it wasn’t an entire shock as I knew my office was closing in March 2020 which would have gave me plenty of time to move and then sort a new job out. However the powers above decided that they would close the office early. One day we were called into a meeting and told that our last day would be 31st October 2019.
Following that meeting my evenings have been filled with job searching and application forms, I can even tell you how many I have done, it has been endless. It has literally taken over my life and left me with not much time for anything else.
So unfortunately blogging has had to take a back seat for a while.
The Good News!
I have now secured a job so no more applications (woohoo) and I am looking forward to getting back to my blog and all my wonderful readers and followers.
I will be working a full time day job from November and when we find a new house we will have the stress of moving so I will be running the blog in between my hectic everyday life so do please bear with me if I am a little slow.
To kick start off getting back into blogging, I have been asked by BBC Somerset to discuss my blog on the radio show Connected with Charlie Taylor . You can catch me live on Thursday 10th October at 8pm talking all things blogging and social media.
I have always thought of Networking events to be very corporate and a place where only people with big business go. I used to work in an Estate agent so the Networking events I saw were always run by solicitors or accountants and were very corporate and everyone who went was very confident and dressed very smart. I never thought for a minute that I would fit in with my book and blog writing business at a networking event so I shied away from going to any.
It wasn’t until I found this amazing group over Facebook called Mums in Business Association and found so many like mind mums running their own business. It was set up by two sisters Leona Burton and Estelle Keeber to create a safe networking environment for mums running their own business (it is also open to ladies that do not have any children or grandmothers). The group is so supportive, everyone helps build each other up and inspire one another to succeed. Mum’s in Business Association or MIBA for short also offer child friendly networking events in over 50 locations worldwide.
I am a shy, anxious person and not very good at talking in a room of people so the thought of going to a networking event even if it is with like minded friendly mums filled me with fear. I was part of the group for well over a year reading all the post, looking at the photos from events wishing I could get over my fear and attend one.
It wasn’t until after I had my first book published that I decided that I needed to start meeting people face to face to do some networking as well as build my confidence of talking in public. I finally bit the bullet and booked my first event at my local Somerset MIBA networking event.
On the day of the event I was so nervous, a few people that were attending I had spoken to them before over the Facebook page but to meet them and others I didn’t know in person was quite daunting to me. I was worried that the event would be full of very confident ladies all trying to be heard about their business and I will end up getting lost in the room.
I couldn’t have been more wrong all my worries and fears were completely for nothing. Everyone at the events were so friendly and welcoming and no one was competing for space. Some of the ladies even run similar business and instead of treading over each other they helped one another and thought up ways to work together. There was also a few others that like me were also nervous but we were welcomed and listened to.
The event felt more like meeting friends for a chat than a business network event. However on a business level the event was a huge success I made some amazing new contacts, promoted my business and even made sales on my book and most of the other ladies attending did too. It is amazing to see how everyone supports and up lifts one another. You can also bring your children with you so no need to find childcare to attend an event.
I have attended 3 events now and will be attending more. As well as Networking all events have a guest speaker giving out advice on different areas of business and each attendee gets a goodie bag packed full of amazing gifts and samples from ladies in the main networking group.
We should all make more of an effort to start shopping from small business and local businesses where possible for Christmas and throughout the year. If we just take the time to look we will find there are so many wonderful small businesses offering quality products and excellent customer service.
I have found small/medium business in my local town, at fairs, on social media and also Etsy is a great place to find amazing products from small business owners.
Almost all of the Christmas presents I have bought this year have been from small business and not a single present has been bought from a supermarket.
The benefits of shopping small –
Unique – If you buy from a smaller business your gift will be unique especially when you buy a handmade item. If you buy from large retailers they always seem to have the same old gift sets year after year and they sell them by the thousands, so there is a high chance that the person you are giving the gift to may have already been given it by someone else. With the growth of the internet you can access so many small businesses making unique handmade items and a lot of the time you can have them customised or personalised.
Shows thought and effort – buying your Christmas presents from a small business shows that you have put thought and effort into the gifts that you are giving and not just made a quick dash to the supermarket to pick up the 3 for 2 gift set available.
Appreciation – Not only will the person buying the gift appreciate it but the person you are buying from will also appreciate every item they sell. You will be making 2 people happy with one gift and there will definitely be some happy dancing going on. Small businesses appreciate every product they sell.
Economy – Small business are key to economic growth with over 99% of all business in Britain being classed as small or medium*. When buying from a small business they are more likely to contribute back to the UK economy, this is because they will be spending the money they make in their local town on local business and most small business support each other so will buy from other small businesses like themselves. Also you can trace where the products have come from and who has made them.
Customer service – The customer service that you receive from small business is always far higher than you would receive from big stores. I have always found they take the time to listen to your needs and are always on hand to answer questions and can tell you everything you need to know about their products.
There are so many benefits to shopping from small business and local ones when possible. I have bought a lot of presents from small businesses this Christmas and although I can not share with you the presents I have bought, below is a list of small businesses that I have used this past year, with a few pictures of items that are not this year’s Christmas presents.
Art by Three – This is owned by triplets who are very talented artists and as well as their paintings they sell make-up bags and tote bags with their stunning artwork on.
Pip’s Emporium – sells beautiful and unique handmade bags with eye catching fabrics.
Emotive Glass – sells the most amazing glass engravings and can do custom designs. Steven is also my brother so I am biased but take a look at his work and I am sure you will agree with me it is stunning.
As parents, so many of us struggle to find a work/life balance that works for us. With the cost of childcare and the stresses and strains of holding down a job whilst running around after our children it is no wonder that so many of us are looking for alternatives to the 9 to 5.
When I first started to hear the term ‘network marketing’ I will be honest with you I thought it was a bit of a scam and I am sure a lot of people still do have these thoughts. However, after delving in a bit deeper into the world of network marketing I can see how wrong I was.
It wasn’t until I joined a lovely group on Facebook called ‘Mums in Business Association’ where I met a large number of network marketers and I began to understand the process and the benefits of running a business this way.
Since then I have found out that the start up cost for network marketing businesses are usually low, different companies vary but they are always in the £100s not £1000s, this means that starting one of these businesses will have minimal risk to you. They also offer flexible working as you can set your own hours (depending on your goals) and work around your children or other commitments. Network marketing businesses usually offer high levels of support and training to guide you to grow and succeed with your business goals.
I am sure that if you look into network marketing you are bound to find someone claiming that you can be earning £1000’s of pounds a month and how “easy” it is. While these claims of people’s earnings are in no doubt true, what they don’t always highlight is that you need to work hard and put in the time and the effort required (like you would if you were self-employed in any other business) to reap the rewards. I know it is claims like these that have put me off in the past, as I am sure it has many other people. We all tend to follow the saying that “if it sounds too good to be true it usually is”.
However, instead of looking at network marketing as a “get rich quick” scheme look at it as an easier and cost effective way into starting your own business where if you work hard you can be very successful and earn limitless income.
For any parents that have decided not to return back to work after having their children and are looking for a business they can run from a smartphone/laptop then a network marketing business may be something to seriously consider. If you are working but looking for more flexibility this is a business that you can start (alongside your current one) and build up until you are at a comfortable point where you can switch over.
Where network marketing stumps a lot of people is that as well as making commission from your product sales you can also make money by building your own team and receiving a small amount of commission based on their product sales. This doesn’t mean that you are taking commission away from your team members (as they will still get their sales commission) you just get a little extra for coaching and supporting them with their business (especially at the start). Many of the network marketing companies also offer additional benefits when you reach certain levels including cash bonuses.
Network marketing is suitable for anyone regardless of their qualifications, education level, age and gender.
However, what you do need in abundance is the drive to be your own boss, to be able to push yourself to achieve, the ability to speak, to network with others and the confidence to be able to promote the products. However, from the network companies I have reviewed they do offer support and guidance to help you work on and achieve what you need to do to fly in your business and they will support you to build your confidence.
There are numerous network marketing companies around. Avon was one of the first to run this type of business model when it was founded back in 1886 but many companies have now followed suit, to name a few you have Arbonne, Scentsy, Scholastic books and Younique. I would advise looking into the company’s products and business model, trying a small number of products first and also locating honest reviews of the company before deciding which one is a fit for you.
If you want to know more about Network Marketing and how it has helped change people’s lives take a look at the stories below. If you would like any further information on any of these businesses please contact them on their details supplied.
Hi, I’m Lucy Ponton. I live with my husband Chris and my 19-month-old son William. I have family locally including parents, grandparent and siblings.
I’m a Registered Occupational Therapist by profession and I have a passion for promoting health and wellbeing. My values match with Arbonne as they promote health and wellness both inside and outside of the body.
I have long term health conditions of eczema and IBS and Arbonne’s products have significantly reduced my symptoms. It has allowed me to stop using my prescribed medications which has been very thought-provoking.
I’m an Independent Arbonne Consultant. The products were recommended by a close friend and I trialed the RE9 (anti-ageing) range along with makeup samples. The improved condition of my skin has allowed me to be able to wear CC cream/foundation and also to wash with a shower gel, which smells lovely! I realised that there was a business opportunity behind the products which could allow me to change my life.
I am able to see that my goal of earning a limitless salary whilst working the hours that I want can allow me to be present in my family’s life. I will not need to use childcare and I will be able to watch them grow and develop and be there for them especially during school holidays, sports days, assemblies, sickness etc.
On average work 1-2 hours a day, this is spread out through the day often in pockets of time that I have in between my job and looking after my son.
What advice and support you have received from your network marketing company?
An online platform where I can review and download information about every aspect of the company. Examples are “Meet the product” information sheets, videos, presentations. My colleagues within Arbonne (my upline) have and still coach me to build my confidence and knowledge base.
Usborne Books Consultant
I’m Steph, 25, from Somerset. I’m a full time Deputy Nursery Supervisor and as yet have no children of my own.
I am an Independent Usborne Books at Home Organiser and have been for nearly 2 years. I joined after seeing a post on Facebook and thought it seemed like a good idea to try and get myself a bit of extra money. There are no targets with Usborne just incentives and commission.
The hours I work vary week on week but the more I put in the more I get out.
As an organiser a lot of my work is primarily through Facebook and Instagram I have built up a steady customer base through networking on Facebook and through my friends and family. I also go to local events such as school fetes where people can buy from my stock rather than having to wait for an order. Through attending events and parties at peoples homes I have met many new people.
Usborne Books at Home sends out regular emails with help and advice on many different topics and new ideas for pushing my business forward, my end goal is to build my own team and thus earn more money. When you first sign up to be an organiser you are given a mentor-someone who is already an organiser. My mentor is great she has lots of helpful advice and I know I can just drop her a message and she will soon get back to me.
If you would like to know more, or to place an order, or even join my team please do email me or send me a message on Facebook.
Hi I’m Natasha, wife to Andrew and mum to 4 beautiful children, Dougalisha 13, Alice 12, Arthur 10 and Seth 8.
Up until having my eldest daughter I was a manager at a local betting shop, but I decided to leave due to childcare costs taking over half of my wages and because the long hours meant I wouldn’t see my daughter grow up. I left to start my own business on eBay selling craft items and making my own craft items which I did for several years.
Then 3 years ago I caught one of my boys lighting a candle and blowing it out, then ‘re lighting it, It terrified me that he was attracted to the fire. My boys were also very bouncy and still are, the pure thought of a house fire scared me, so that was the start of my network marketing journey. We’ve since found out that Arthur has adhd which explains a lot.
I started searching for a safe alternative to candles and found this company no one local to me had heard of it. So I joined Scentsy a home fragrance company at the end of November 2015, not the best time of year to start a business but my hubby gave me the money for the join kit and said to give the business a year, if it didn’t go anywhere I hadn’t lost anything as I still had the kit.
That was coming up for 3 years ago now, my business has gone from strength to strength, within my first year I hit director as I built a team and I love that I can spend all my time with my children when they are on school holidays. I love the fact that if one of them is sick I don’t have to ask for time off work, I can work around my family if something happens and I’m not tied to finding childcare or working set hours. I try to work an hour a day on social media posts and answering messages, then i also do home parties which I do in an evening when my husband can spend time with the kids. Plus the extra money has helped pay for holidays, birthdays and any treats for the family.
I get to attend conferences twice a year if i wish and I’ve managed to earn 2 incentive trips – rome and more recently a 7 day cruise on the symphony of the seas the largest cruise ship in the world. We have a training centre in our back office which is available for you to access whenever you like plus lots of support from other consultants and home office team, there’s always someone on hand to help. I can honestly say that scentsy is so much more than warmers and wax, I’ve met so many new friends from all over the world and grown in confidence and positivity which us now being instilled in my children.
Why not take a look at my other post with inspirational people –