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It Can Be Lonely Working Remotely

It Can Be Lonely Working Remotely

frog-897420_1920My decision to move to rural France back in 2011 was not one that I took lightly. It involved a huge amount of courage, but was made infinitely easier by the support I received from friends and family. I’m now enjoying a much better work/life balance than I ever have before and a lot of stress has been removed from my life.

But (there’s always a “but”, right?), while working remotely from home obviously has many advantages and perks, there’s also a side to it that many people don’t see or perhaps don’t consider. And that’s that it can sometimes get rather lonely. Couple this with the uncertainty that often comes with running your own micro-business and you can find yourself in desperate need of someone to talk to/vent at/bounce ideas off of.

The bottom line is that it’s bloody hard work to cope with all the pressures of being self-employed. I’ve got to manage my time effectively; handle peaks and troughs in work (and, therefore, cashflow); and deal with a degree of isolation. This is in addition to knowing that I have foregone the basic employment rights that regular employees enjoy, such as sick pay, holiday pay and access to a workplace pension scheme.

So, with all this in mind, here are my top three tips for overcoming the loneliness and uncertainty that working remotely can bring:

Make the most of video calls

Don’t just hide behind your inbox and fire off emails all day long. Skype, Facebook’s own built-in chat and Blab all offer a way for you to see your colleagues and clients, as well as talking to them.

It might not seem that big a deal, but it makes such a difference when you can see the facial expressions of the person you’re talking with. It’s often the closest you’ll get to experiencing that being in an office feeling.

Take regular breaks

Regular breaks are needed throughout the working day to give your mind and body a rest. In modern office environments, conscientious employers insist their employees take regular breaks, but when you work from home there is tendency to neglect them.

Even if you just get away from your computer for a cup of tea or coffee in the mornings and afternoons, and treat yourself to a proper lunch break, it will make you feel a lot more relaxed.

Customise your environment

The beauty of working remotely/from home is that you have total control over your working environment. If you’ve got photos of things that make you smile, make sure they are nearby while you’re working. The same goes for other creature comforts that make you feel contented.

My two dogs never fail to put a smile on my face throughout the day. Although we don’t all always agree when I’m bouncing ideas off them. Funny that…

Helping Small Businesses Make a Big Impact

Helping Small Businesses Make a Big Impact

I was delighted to know & write about #MicroBizMattersDay last year, as a micro business (0-9 employees) owner myself I always jump at opportunities to help out other micro businesses. Now I can’t be more enthused to throw my support behind Tina and Tony’s #MicroBizMattersDay which will be back for 2016.

On January 8th, 2016 Tina Boden and Tony Robinson OBE, who founded Enterprise Rockers back in 2012, are asking everyone who supports micro businesses to give 8 minutes to promote them on your social networks in any way that you can.

#MicroBizMattersDay is an international initiative, a global campaign to help unleash the power of start-ups. On this day, we will take actions to show the world the massive contribution independent business owners and the self-employed make to the global economy, job creation and community. This combined power of micro-enterprise owners has been tagged the #PowerOfPlenty.

#MicroBizMattersDay of actions is mainly for these micro-enterprise owners, the #PowerOfPlenty. But on #MicroBizMattersDay everyone can get involved and do something, anything they like, during 8 minutes on January 8th, 2016, to support one or more micro biz owners.

Tony Robinson, who received his OBE for services to small firms in 2001, says: “These tiny drops in the ocean will create a tsunami of micro business improvement through the Power of Plenty – the power unleashed when many micro business owners take actions to help each other in a concerted way.” and so this January 8th will be all about taking 8 minutes of concrete actions to show the world this #PowerOfPlenty!

It’s already known that many hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions of micro business owners around the world, will give 8 minutes on January 8th. Last year’s first event was supported by Sage UK and Google for Work, and for 2016 a number of other large global organisations will promote and support the day for their self-employed and micro business owner customers.

The 2016 Micro Biz Matters Day takes place everywhere in the world in any way one chooses – online and offline – on the ground, in the air and on the sea. To begin supporting now, use the #MicroBizMattersDay hashtag to raise awareness of the upcoming event. Here’s a handy link with a suggested 8 minutes of actions based around the ideas #Customers, #Cashflow and #Chat.

Find out more about #MicroBizMattersDay, and join the global campaign to support start-ups and micro business by visiting the website or following the Twitter hashtag.

Yet Another France Update: Goal Achieved!

Yet Another France Update: Goal Achieved!

I don’t tend to have many goals in my life, but one which has been on my list for many years now is to purchase a house. For the last 20 years or so I have lived in rented property in the UK and more recently France.

Well… as of today, Tuesday 4th August 2015, I am now the very proud owner of my own home… and this is what it looks like!

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When I moved to France in 2011, I honestly thought it would be a long while before I managed to buy my own property, but with business going very well, the cheap house prices and the huge help from Hero at Immobilier Maison Rurales, it’s only taken me just shy of 4 years! It’s been hard work, my own bank turned me down twice for a mortgage as they see self employed people as high risk… and trying to build my business up from nothing has been an up hill struggle occasionally.

But now that my one and only big goal has been achieved, what next?

Well I’ve not really thought about it to be honest, I’ve had other things on my mind, like getting the Internet up and running in my new house so I can continue to work… and building a fence to keep the dog from escaping. But I think once I am nicely settled, I’ll be coming up with some new life goals and see what I can achieve in the next 4 years.

I do have some business news (hopefully) in October, about my impending name change and some new packages I will let loose on the world… so keep dropping by, and if you’d like more regular updates, then do sign up to my newsletter.

And while we’re talking about goals, what are your big life goals and have you achieved them yet?

The Vicious Circle of Self Employment

Being self-employed can be very empowering, no strict working hours, you can sit at your desk in your PJ’s if you like, you don’t have to answer to a ‘boss’ and many other benefits.

All these things are good, but what if you end up working more hours than when you were an employee? You can’t just walk away from work and forget about it until 9am the next morning.

I have been working for myself for nearly 18 months, when I sat down and looked at my bottom line a few weeks ago while writing down my 2013 goals, I realised that I am working more hours but earning quite a bit less than in my last job! I’ve managed, I had savings and living in France isn’t as expensive as England, but it’s got to the point where I need to think about how I am going to earn a reasonable income but not work so many hours.

Regular Clients

As my business has progressed I have been doing more and more one-off jobs, mainly eBook formatting. This makes me a reasonable amount of money, if I added up all the hours I spend on formatting and divide it by the income it produces I’d be getting my hourly rate or more, which is great. But having one-off jobs is ok, if you have regular clients to keep the money flowing in when you don’t have any one-off jobs. You end up in a vicious circle of one-off job, looking for work, another one-off job, looking for more work… In fact many self-employed people are looking for work for as many hours as they’re working, and it soon adds up!

Being a virtual assistant I do have a few regular clients, but certainly not as many as I’d like. Ideally I would be happy with 2 or 3 regular clients who pay me a regular retainer package each month, at least then I would know my bills were covered. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be able to live within my means and not have to worry where the next job is coming from. 

Passive Income

So, in search of others ways I can work less hours and earn enough money to live on I decided I would go down the route of passive income. It’s something I have been thinking about for some time, and 2013 is going to be the year I put all my ideas in to practice.

Just last Friday I spent the whole day working on my first product which I am selling on my eBook formatting website. It’s a Microsoft Word template and it’s set-up so people can use it to type their manuscripts and use the various styles I have created to hopefully create an eBook which is suitable for uploading to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I have kept the price low, and there are some extra incentives which go with the template itself, which I hope will appeal to the authors/writers that would like to have a go at formatting their own eBook.

Some of the other products I hope to be launching this year are:

  • an eCourse for authors (on eBook formatting website)
  • an eBook of blog posts
  • an eBook (and possibly a paperback) – topic yet to be finalised
  • possibly a paid eBook review service

So I have been pretty busy thinking of ways I can earn some money while I sleep, which means I won’t have to work all hours just to pay the rent.

I love being self-employed and I love the feeling when another client pays an invoice, I know that the money is all mine and I’ve earn’t it. What I don’t like are the times when there is no work and my hours are spent looking for work, it’s a very precarious situation to be in when you’re self-employed, but I wouldn’t change it now.