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A little goes a long way, just how lucky are you?

Looking at business or even personal financials is not always a good way to brighten a cloudy day, and I always struggle to see the end of what is a long and dark tunnel through most of the post Christmas period. However after being absent from the blogging world for a few weeks I am sensing a new turn of optimism, not that Oak Filing just got an order for 100,000 folders or that I just won the lottery, but just that being thankful isn’t actually that difficult.

It was only when browsing through various blogs that I saw a selection of titles; Haiti 2 years on, Japans recovery, Africa’s Burden.  My student loans, Oak Filings difficulties and even those out of work and struggling to pay mortgages cannot compare their problems to what people in the world have experienced and overcome. Everyday people defy the odds set against them, not just financially, but physically and mentally.

Tropical Cyclone in India 

-33 died due to tropical storm THANE in Cuddalore.
-More than 5000 houses of fishermen damaged by storm
-Death toll mounts to 40

Flooding in Surigao del Sur, Philippines

-15,000 evacuated from towns. The earlier storm killed 1,249 in the Philippines.

Chilly Cold continues in Northern India

-Death toll at 128
-Three more infants are reported to be dead by Chilly cold in a hospital in Malda, West Bengal



Flooding in Malaysia -Total 2,700 evacuated. 

-The level of rivers Sungai Muar in Bukit Kepong and Buloh Kasap, Segamat are above DANGER POINT

This selection of events that may not have stood out in the news, maybe because they are not of a magnitude that reaches us and compels us to help, because they happened so far away from us and its not forced onto our doorstep, maybe because we have never experienced anything like this and struggle to relate to their problems or that we have no control over natural disasters and there is nothing we can do. Or maybe just maybe because they all happened between the 24th and the 28th of December, and we probably had more ‘important’ things to focus on. In comparison,  how was your Christmas?

I am no saint and usually like most people do nothing and so feeling a new sense of gratitude I am going to donate £5.00 to The British Red Cross, in the hope that the money I give, though it may not make a huge difference may inspire others to donate what they can.  Even if you think you have no money, no help and no luck, you have far more than you think.

Head over heart? Family or work?

I have been struggling to write my blog lately. There probably has been time I have just had no inspiration, nothing I have read, discussed, seen or even thought about seemed worthy of a blog post, there would have been no heart in it. So I waited for a light bulb, an Einstein moment!

Unfortunately that never happened. But as I re-read some of my posts I found a new relevance to ‘When is work personal? Redundancy maybe?’ I am not being made redundant, luckily. However I have been offered an interview for another job (a dream job). It has better money and is in a location more suitable for me and my partner.  Great! I hear you all cry; only my problem is that I work for my dad.

The role is a sales role in a multinational company, with great prospects a secure future. My head is begging me to get the job, asking me to prepare well, sell myself and make them an offer they cannot refuse. My heart is saying stay with my Dad as he may need my help.

The expressions on the faces of both my mum and dad said it all, (it irritated my slightly if I am honest), so unimpressed and disappointed in me as if I had walked through the door and announced ‘I’m pregnant!’ at the age of 13. No ‘well done’, not one has even asked me about the job. Had it been a teaching job they would have been over the moon, but because I am suggesting doing sales, in an office where I can have training and progress higher, that’s somewhat ridiculous apparently! I haven’t been obsessively searching for a new job, but I haven’t made a secret of it either.  My partner is travelling 3 hours a day to and from work and we need to move. My partner only finished university in July and has managed to get a great job; my mum and dad always knew that his job would be a priority.

At the minute I feel like there is little I can do for Oak Filing, I have tried my best in all that I know, all I can research and discover about sales and marketing. But with no experience or training I don’t know what else I can do. The market is dead, even our competitors are ringing us to see if we are as quiet as they are.

Now, I probably am under qualified for the job, and my confidence in sales leaves much to be desired, so there is no guarantee that I would even come close to actually getting the job. As you can probably tell by my post, I would love the job, but I am torn between my relationship with my family and my career.

I feel like this could be a break, a chance to get away from teaching a little bit and progress, launch a career in sales and marketing!  Each time I smile and get energised about the opportunity I am faced with the realisation that although leaving Oak Filing would not damage the business it may damage my relationship with my dad. But if it was you, if it was your dad, if it was your future, what would you do?

Head over heart, dreams over reality, family before work?

Home is the place where boys and girls first learn how to limit their wishes, abide by rules, and consider the rights and needs of others. – Sidonie Gruenberg

Houston we have a problem…The Servers down!

What happens when the server stops working for one of those unexplainable alien reasons that computers do sometimes? How does normal life at work resume when everyone is at a loose end?

I’m no computer whizz, I don’t even pretend to be. When dealing with technical genius’ I tell them straight, ‘That’s great; but can I have that in a language translatable to me’. I’m good with computers; my CV would say great with them, 100% computer literate with excessive use of Smart Board, excel, word, publisher and the rest. Whilst they work I’m great, when they don’t, if turning it off and on doesn’t work I’m screwed.

Well we experienced this trauma today at Oak Filing Ltd and as a small company I can only fear the effects of this on larger companies which operate by computer even more so. We are a manufacturer and are lucky that our machinery is not affected; it is just the offices databases, printers, and emails that are inaccessible. However what if an insurance company where to have a problem of this scale, where things just stop..!

I don’t think I would be as understanding if I had just been bumped into on my way to work and all my insurance company could say is, ‘Sorry but I am unable to access your details as our server is down at the moment, can you try calling back later?’. Not that I am already late for work and agitated by the Sunday driver that bumped into me at 8am on Monday morning.

After experiencing slow running internet last week thanks to BT I found my productivity stunted by a lack of Google in my life. My home from home, my first port of call. Each question I am asked, whether I know the answer or not, Google is summed to back me up and reassure me that I am right. It was only a few months ago that I was able to carry out an entire redundancy procedure without any professional legal advice. Without any books or background knowledge in this area, thanks to Google and its portholes into various websites which guided me through the process.

It is times like this that I realise how reliant I am on modern technology, I compare myself to my 62 year old mother, she knows how to use the internet and uses it to book holidays and even for her Christmas shopping. Yet her day would run just as smoothly without it. She is not dependent on it. She wouldn’t miss it if it weren’t here. I can’t remember the last time I used the Yellow Pages to find an phone number, or rang up the travel agents to book a package holiday.

Is technology as must have, something that we are obliged to use? Or will it always be a luxury, something not to be relied on by your average Joe? Imagine our server was down for week, no face book, twitter, Google, or even databases, would I be able to do what I do now easily?

Most of all, would you?

(Least it gave me half an hour to write my blog 🙂

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”~Albert Einstein

Weathering the Storm…

I am finding it hard to remember the last time flicked over to the news and saw something positive.  I find it hard to listen or watch it anymore purely because there is always something to shock me… not in any manner of positivity, but at the disbelief at how inhumane some beings on this earth can be. Visual images of suffering people that I don’t know, nor have any thing in common with, yet part of me being human makes me care.

I don’t know whether it is the time of year, or a personal family issue at the moment which is making me reflect that sometimes we should all just take a step back from the revulsion that is and think about what we have, and what there is to be proud of. I am sure that 90% of us have something that we treasure and count as our primary reason for self-importance, it just sometimes get lost beneath an enmity of what is.

Reading or hearing about Cameron’s latest prediction of when the economic storm will pass has never been a highlight to my day. However this morning as I listened to a snippet of the news on the radio I realised that the ‘Credit Crunch’ started over four years ago. It was only then that I was besieged with a sense of pride that so far Oak Filing has weathered the rain, hailstone and lightening that it has summoned upon us.

That brief moment made me think of all the companies that fell at each heightened hurdle and struggled to maintain their enterprise. I feel a sense of pride in a company and a brand that has been maintained and also in  my father for his clear knowledge of business and for keeping it going.

I am not for one minute suggesting that we will unquestionably cope through the snow and floods that it is sure to bring. But I think a sense of satisfaction in our preservation attempts should be recognised as should every other company that still stands throughout the UK today. We may be on short time and we may have little to no profit but we are still here, and we are still trying to make money and I personally think a lot can be said for determination.


I just hope it holds out until the calm.

Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?~Rose Kennedy


Advice Urgently Required, please Apply within.

It is Friday again, and finally a little bit of good news I am sure you will all be happy to hear. It was only when reading over my posts in a good mood I saw just how negative I am! I must apologise, I will try and be more upbeat in future.

This week we finally had feedback from Rymans :-). No just calm down for a moment, it is not a reason to pop open champagne but it is a reason so smile. They had a meeting about new products etc and we know for definite that our file was discussed. We are still waiting for the feedback which if trends continue to follow will be in roughly 2 months. Either way some critical feedback from a pannel of experts is not something to turn ones nose up at.

Also we may have a NHS trust in London looking to take on our product as an alternative to what they currently have so that will be around 60,000 folders which is very exciting. And just to add a cherry to the top of a knickerbocker glory a solicitors in London who I met a the office show is also very interested in the concept folder we provided and is looking to make a substantial order! All in all a good Friday, I think you will agree it is defiantly a reason to have a few cheeky drinks tonight!

What is coming to light though is that all these ‘leads’ where discovered at least 2-3 months ago. So does all business take this time to develop? These are larger orders potentially and I understand that these decisions are not made lightly however a few cash flow sales would be perfect right around now. To all the business people out there, how can I chase quick, cash flow sales?

Your advice will be greatly appreciated however large or small! This quote is just how I feel at the moment :-S…

A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.~Bill Cosby


Cut costs… yes please! :-)

We are all experiencing the credit crunch at its finest at the moment, and the harsh reality of what happened is just beginning to really play on our minds and empty our accounts. These ideas will not save you thousands of even hundreds, but every little helps.

Staff management-Do you really need everyone. As horrible as it is to say if it can save a business it is worth thinking about. Time is not free hence why we pay for it so dearly on a monthly basis. Do your own accounts and HR, get rid of over staffed roles, no more assistants assistant.  Make the staff that stay work, you pay them so they should be doing it already but you will be surprised what goes on when your back is turned, close that gap. Whilst the sales may be quiet put a little extra effort into tightening up on employees.

Expenses- Claim the right expenses, make sure you are claiming what you have a right to. If it is for the business you cannot really go wrong. But make sure you stick the the rules, no one wants trouble with HM Revenue and Customs at a time like this in particular.

Cash flow– Keep it going, chase cheques and small business just to tide you over until the storm ends. 30 day invoices on small orders can keep cash coming through the door even if it is not big profit.

Late fees and pointless payments- Avoid at all costs paying what you may not have needed to. Tax deadlines and late fees are a killer, keep up to date. Pay the right people on time, late payment to the wrong person can result in a much larger cost. For example, being put on stop by your carrier will ultimately cost you money in sourcing a replacement that may cost you more or even worse you may have to use Royal Mail, never mind the man hours in all of this.

Business Plan and Targets-Re Plan, if your current plan is not working, re visit it, ask advice from the people around you, small changes could be the difference between profit and loss.

Green Living-Bills, cut them, gas, electricity, even rent, where possible get them cut to the lowest possible amount. Go green, just really green! Be cheeky and ask your landlord for a reduction, if you have been there a while and have always paid on time, explain your situation, we all want to make money but even the toughest business men are capable of compassion.

Marketing on a budget– Make the most of free sources at your finger tips, twitter, blogs, facebook, LinkedIn, free networking events, and existing customer databases.  Call up all your customers from the last 5 even 10 years, see how they are, catch up, remind them of your existence. Marketing does not need new flashy brochures and a website update, simply modernise what you have with a few low cost tweaks.

Last of all, remember what is important, don’t let money bring you down.

“The most important things in life aren’t things.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

A new route? Lets try B…

On Friday I was fortunate enough to meet Ruth Badger, for those of you who don’t know her she is a business woman and professional speaker who did rather well in the UK Apprentice. We met her for a small business motoring session, which was great but it has changed our plans completely. Makes me think that the route I have been following for the past 7 months is perhaps not the right one in any shape or form.

We have gained loads of ideas, and lots of directions to take to generate business (as we currently have a a profit margin as fine as a grain of sand) however I feel slightly overwhelmed. Have you ever been to a concert or to watch a comedian, and had that moment when you walk out of the room and cannot pin point what exactly was said? You know that the jokes where funny but why is a complete mystery. Well it was a bit like that, I know that she had lots of great ideas but I am struggling to remember them as if my head was bombarded with so much it just gave up trying to remember it all, luckily she puts all that was said in a report that we should be receiving today.

So should I just forget all that we have been doing? Should I just put it on a back burner for a while? Does this mean that all my work so far has been a complete waste of time, or is it that all that we have done has led us to this point and that it why we need a new direction?

My head feels like a scrabble board just as you are about to put it away, where none of the words make sense any more and there are certainly no points to be gained.

Ill post Ruths points once we get them through, they  may be able to help even just one person out there.

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.  ~Mary Engelbreit

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail…?

So as  the Office Trade event neared any prior concerns about ex staff needed to be put to one side. This was not easy but too much time and money had been invested in an effort to make this a success already. Approaching the event I found that I had in fact been very organised and we had no issues that required immediate attention or that were going to cause serious problems, we even had time for last minute additions like personalised pens which the director had previously been against!

My check-lists were pretty thorough, I think this was one of the first times I saw my excessive and slightly obsessive organisation and planning as a teacher benefiting my latest career venture.  I think it was here that I begin to think that my teaching degree had not been a complete waste as my ability to plan for all outcomes made the whole process run much more smoothly.

Throughout Uni I would always say, ‘You can never be over  prepared’, which is true but I think you need to add, ‘as long as you can adapt it when things don’t go to plan’. I found in teaching that it can be very disheartening when a lesson doesn’t  go to the way you wanted it to, but you can never predict a child’s response entirely. I think the skill lies in how you adapt that on the spot and under pressure, that’s when you feel like a teacher. And these where skills I could take with me, plan it to a t, but also have that contingency plan that covers every other base.  The hard part is having the charisma and ability to carry it off, adults are much more forthcoming than children in picking up on your weaknesses and using them against you. I think that is one of the negative things to come from growing up.

I guess my point is, can you really have every base covered, an answer for anything and everything asked? And if not how do you get away with it and still make the sale?

Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident. ~Dale Carnegie

The Show Must Go On!

Anyway back to where I was initially, our build up to the Office Event which was rudely interrupted by the brutal procedure that is… redundancy! Looking back I feel have learned some vital insights not only into my career and what I am actually capable of but also into life and how someone’s life can be completely altered by the decision of one person. I guess that is where the phrase ‘Power Mad’ comes from, I had experienced a taste of this kind of power and I knew for certain I was not mad on it. I got thinking after this, does my inability to detach myself from this situation mean that I am destined to fail in business? Am I designed to be a teacher and this was the sign I needed to get me back on track? Or are even the strongest of business people tough on the outside whilst melting like ice cream on the inside?

Loosing employees was not a positive thing, sure it helped our cash flow but it didn’t really make so much of a difference that we could say, wow I am so glad we did that. We only lost 3 employees, one being a family member, who I doubt will speak to me again. The thought of doing this on a large scale, 100+, 1000+ is frightening to say the least, makes me wonder how someone can detach themselves from this procedure so much that they make it look like they don’t care.

“As we all know, this is a brutal business and, at times, good people suffer a cruel fate. This is one of them.”~ Matt Millen