March 8th 2021 is International Women’s Day, and this year the hashtag is #ChooseToChallenge – help forge a gender equal world.
Reflecting on the world challenge, it often feels like a word I use a lot actually. I tend to face a lot of ‘things’ as challenges. A good example of this would be the angle I take when I want to inform my target audience a piece of informatin, for example, why Facebook groups are so great for building communities. I’d word it as a challenge to inform my audience. Outside of work, I’m often heard spouting the words “and that’s the challenge!” when people may complain about lack of things being done or lack of postivity. So, it feels very fitting for 2021 that challenge is the focus for International Women’s Day.
Over on the IWD website there is a great section of resources which can help you celebrate, and challenge. Are you going to get involved? I’m super excited for the day, and can’t wait to get stuck into social media and celebrate!
How often do you offer discounts on your services or products? Do you know why?
So back in 2018 we ran a few discounts, most notably we offered all new businesses 50% off website designs – and to be honest, I don’t think we had a single enquiry based OFF that. In fact, I shot myself in the foot more than once telling enquiries we did this, afraid I’d lose them.
When I won the Forward Ladies Regional Awards, part of the next stage was a live judging day. This was held in Manchester and we were basically interviewed by 3 judges about the nomination and what we do. Part of my application had been to say how we offer these great discounts…
So, cue the interview which I felt went very well – in fact, I learned loads but that’s a blog for another day. One of the questions that will always stick with me though is why do we discount our services? We had a really good chat about it (forget Apprentice style grilling, this was very much more like a group of us understanding what my business did, while I also learned too). So my reply was of course we have to compete with our competition, other companies do this as well and new businesses will appreciate the gesture. This all seemed very legit to me, and still does in some respects.
One of the judges just came out and said it – “but you’re under-valuing everything you do”. When it comes down to it, by offering 50% it showed people that we didn’t believe in our 100% prices, we were happy to do that work at half the cost, so is that a business you want to give your money to? Right it’s different if you sell items perhaps that are now going out of fashion, but in terms of service to service type businesses, it’s a very valid point.
On my long train journey home I remember mulling this over, and contacting Emlyn. We agreed that yes, we were giving the wrong message, and there are other ways to help these businesses. We remove that discount, and can honestly say we’ve never looked back.
In fact, in the 2 years since, I’ve only ever had someone ask me for a reduction in cost once – and I said no, sorry – and they came to us anyway.
So, if you area B2B business and you’re offering a huge discount – have a rethink. Not only are you completely undercutting the market, but you are playing a part in devaluing that service too. I think discounts or freebies can be offered in certain circumstances, but shouldn’t be as a general “always available” deal. Would love to know your comments below if you have any thoughts!
Back in 2019 (way back when right?!) I was on the f:entrepreneur #ialso Top 100 list. What is it? Well, something that actually keeps chiming and chiming with me in 2020 for sure.
The purpose of the #ialso campaign by the f:entrepreneur team was to highlight that generally, women in business don’t “just” do that one business. In general, there is a huge trend for women to be juggling a lot more.
So I thought, as people know me for Gwe Cambrian Web (website design and social media obsessive), why not let you know what else I’m involved in? What got me onto that list?
This is probably the biggest thing on my #ialso list. I’m the finance director for Menter Aberystwyth, which is a partnership organisation here in Aberystwyth. I volunteer my time, and help organise a range of events. Finance director is a bit of a swanky title, because I do a lot more than that! We organise 4 events in the year, and I lead on one of those. I get to be part of the Christmas Lights switch on, the Aber First Awards, Summer Fete and in 2020, the Talking Business Conference. So, lots of event organising, lots of community engagement, marketing (of course) and also asking for funding.
Co-founder of the Aberystwyth Business Hub
This is actually where our office is based, but we also rent out office spaces, hot desks, meeting rooms and virtual offices. Moving to this building was our chance for a lovely shop window, and actually daylight (we had a basement office before). I REALLY wanted to move here when the building came up, and we basically worked backwards from agreeing we wanted it, to what would we do with the whole building!
Business on the side…
I do also have another business which is completely outside of websites and digital marketing, called Discover Your Wales. I set this up back in 2015,and typically, Gwe Cambrian Web just launched itself a few levels higher than I expected! Discover Your Wales is a holiday cottage agency, and a sector I am still very passionate about. I’d love to get more time to really dedicate to this, but to be honest, it seems quite happy running itself!
Business Mentor with Business Wales
I actually applied for this after reaching the #ialso list, because I just get so excited and passionate about people and their businesses that I felt I’d be a great fit and hopefully of some use! I currently have 3 mentees and really enjoy chatting to them about their goals and objectives, learning about their passions and hopefully helping to steer them in the right direction!
Role Model for Big Ideas Wales
I was chuffed to be asked to be a role model for Big Ideas Wales in 2019. It’s all about inspiring young people that the “traditional” career paths aren’t the only options out there – as we know! I get to visit schools and colleges and inspire (hopefully) the next generation of amazing business people!
Other bits and bobs
You know with networking and spending time doing all of the things above, you inevitably end up just helping out all the time, and I love that. I love it when someone comes to me on social or in my inbox because they’ve been recommended to me for some advice or signposting. If I can help, or throw in some advice, then it’s worth it. You have to give in this life.
And it’s not all work, I’m also part of 2 choirs and a recital group, although in the run up to the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in 2021, it’s 5 choirs…! For me, the singing and recital is a good way to make sure I don’t work 24/7. It’s also a brilliant way of expanding your network outside of your sector, and meeting new friends which can be hard, when you run your own company!
Back on March 19th I wrote a blog about working from home and self-isolting. This was a few days before the UK Government announced a lockdown at 5pm effective immediately, and I’m glad we’d already decided to move the office and stay home as much as we could. I didn’t feel as panicked as I’d imagined I would be, having already made the decision.
I listed a load of things I wanted to do during lockdown, not knowing how long it’d go on for at all though. A few I’ve managed – we’ve launched a webinar series, I’m on book 3 of lockdown, my scarf is coming along nicely… I also signed up to A LOT of webinars, thanks to many conferences moving online. I’m really trying to use my time to make sure I brush up on my skills, and where I can, gain those all important qualifications.
But, what struck me from the conferences was how open many people are trying to be. That’s not just in terms of helping others, but in terms of their own thoughts. Perhaps for the first time since started a business back in 2013, it’s easy to find people who are having the same thoughts and feelings as you. Is it because the weight of the situation (coronavirus) is so huge, people are being forced to be open? Or, am I just following the right people now?
It’s been refreshing for me, within many Facebook groups, to be open and share my worries, thoughts, feelings. We’re all on a huge emotional rollercoaster, and everyone knows it. I’m usually quite a cagey person in local groups, because so many people in there are clients. Of course, everyone wants to see that we’re human at the end of the day, but I’m not sure I’d be able to comfortably do that in a space with so many clients. Having said that, I am being more personal and honest on my professional Twitter and Instagram. People buy from people afterall.
Long may it continue!
Well – hasn’t the world gone mad. A week ago, it felt like life was fairly normal, and by now, I’m looking around a quiet office wondering what bits to take home!
We decided, as everyone else in the building opted to work from home, that we’d continue to come to the office and work from here every day. While we’re self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic, we can still work. Of course, everything we do is online so it’s easy for us to either relocate all of our equipment or lock the front door and carry on working.
What has struck me though, spending my life online, is two things. The complete panic and stress of the public, and the amazing banding together as a community. Unfortunately, both are prevelant in equal measure, which isn’t helping the stress levels.
It’s a very uncertain time for many small businesses, especially those who employ staff. With that comes this higher level of responsibility, and I can only hope that the Government puts some decent help packages together. But, I’m not here to chat about that. I’m here to chat about what I’ve decided to do during this time!
My average week and I usually work around 9-10 hours a day, Monday to Saturday. I’m usually at choir practise Monday, Tues and Wednesday nights which means I leave at around 6.30pm and back home around 10pm. On a Sunday afternoon I have another practise, and on a Thursday, I had been going to a “Sgwrs a Cwrw” night to help Welsh learners.
All of a sudden, I’ve gained about an extra 15 hours to my week. Which is great, and I’m keen to make good use of it.
- Yesterday I purchased 4 new books to read, 3 fiction and 1 business
- I started learning to knit at the end of 2019, and I started my own scarf in January. I aim to finish this!
- Our new website is still in its BETA stage, so I aim to finish that content and send it over to my lovely friend to proof read (while giving him some business)
- I’ve signed up to LOADS of webinars across the country, and the population seemingly turns digital. Many of the conferences and events I’d signed up to over the course of the next 6 months have been cancelled, but there’s no way I’m going to stop learning
- We went and got loads of DIY things, and paint for our bedroom. We moved into our house in June 2018, and because of work and life, we’ve not done loads of the jobs we wanted
- I am keeping a tabs on many of my friends online, sending messages a lot more than I would to make sure they are okay
- I’m also posting in local groups and on my own timelines to ask people to talk to me, or their friends, if they need to. It’s important we all work together to make sure we can get through this
How are you dealing with this new weird, temporary world we live in?