• How to engage with others on Instagram 

    How to engage with others on Instagram

    As a small business owner, you know you should engage with others on Instagram, but how do you do it in an authentic way that actually provides results for your business? Maybe you already spend lots of time on social media but aren’t getting much back from it? It can feel incredibly frustrating and you’re no doubt wondering if it’s worth all the time you’re investing. 

    You may be tempted just to blame the algorithm, which seems to change its mind more often than people change their underwear, but it’s actually less about IG moving the goalposts and more about how you use the app to your advantage. It’s about taking intentional action to engage with others consistently. 

    To help you do this, I’m sharing my six top tips to use your time wisely and get results.

    Tip 1 – Identify your target audience

    It can be challenging to find your ideal client on social media; we’ve all been there. Creating a list of people from your target audience makes it easier to know who you should be communicating with. Build your list up over a period of time and start with as many or as little as you like. 

    You might be wondering what information to put on it. It only needs simple details such as their name, business name and social media handles.

    Once you’ve built your list, go ahead and follow those connections. This is an important step, so don’t miss it. If you don’t follow them, you won’t see what they’re posting. If you’re really keen, you can even turn on notifications so you know when they’ve posted. Turn these notifications on and off as you need to.

    Tip 2 – Start to engage

    Now it’s time to engage. To begin engaging with your ideal clients, start by commenting and liking their posts. A few different ways to do this include: 

    • Sharing your opinion on something they’ve posted
    • Letting them know if something resonates with you
    • Talking to them about something industry-related

    Not only does this help your ideal client see you’ve got something worth saying or that you’re knowledgeable about your area of expertise, it also enables other people to see that too. Often new followers will come to your account via comments you’ve made on other people’s posts – you’ve peeked their interest and curiosity and they want to hear more from you.

    However, don’t forget about engagement on your own posts too. If you’ve posted and people are commenting, you need to respond to what they’ve said. ‘Don’t post and ghost’ is a great rule to live by on Instagram. 

    After all, social media is just that… social. And the more social you are, the better your engagement will be. If you don’t respond to comments, people won’t bother commenting – it’s as simple as that. 

    Some of the biggest accounts on Instagram hire people just to engage with their community in the comments, responding and interacting with people – it’s that important.

    Tip 3 – Hashtags

    Let’s tackle the burning question. Should you use 10 hashtags or all 30? In late 2021, Instagram changed its bloomers yet again and announced that using 3-5 hashtags would be the optimum number. This was probably because some Instagram users were spamming the 30 hashtag rule and ruining the party for the rest of us. The app is also using a more SEO-based approach, therefore recommending fewer, more relevant hashtags makes sense to them.

    But according to research done by Later, posts with all 30 hashtags are still performing the best. Here at Jennifer Cooper Timesaver, we’re following Later’s philosophy of ‘go big or go home’ and mostly use all 30. In our opinion (and the research backs this up), the more hashtags you use, the more it increases your chances of your ideal client finding you and thus improving your engagement rates.

    Having said that, it’s important to do the research and use the right hashtags for your business – you want to attract your ideal client to your business, not just randoms who are hanging out and spamming your comments with chances to win the latest iPhone. 

    You can even follow relevant hashtags so that posts using that hashtag come up in your feed. When you click into that hashtag, you have the option to view the best performing posts or the most recent. For better results, choose the most recent posts to engage with and start getting to know people by following the steps in the first tip above.

    Tip 4 – Stories 

    Using stories is the ideal way to give your audience a chance to glimpse behind the scenes of your business. As much as beautifully crafted grid posts or videos definitely have their value, stories are the place where people can get to know a bit more about you. Sharing typical parts of your day, e.g. the coffee you enjoy or the walk you’ve done at lunchtime, can prompt greater engagement as your audience interacts with you. 

    Use all the features that Instagram has to offer too. You could create polls on topics that could spark conversation with your audience or use the question feature to find out what your audience is thinking.

    You might like to consider using that question feature to further engage your audience by taking a question someone has asked and using it as a topic for an IG live. Or if speaking live makes you want to change your underwear, expand on a question within the stories feature itself. 

    Some of the best accounts do a weekly ‘ask me anything’ on their stories, using the question sticker, and show up consistently to answer those questions for their audience. 

    The ‘close friends’ feature is a great tool because it enables you to ask for feedback or to gain market research with a smaller audience that you trust. It makes people feel special if you add them to your close friends list – why not offer it to your audience and let them know they’ll get even more great content that’s not available to all followers?

    Tip 5 – Conversation in the DMs

    Want to know the secret to engaging effectively with people on social media? You’ve guessed it, send them a DM. Start a conversation. Often this helps to build a closer relationship as you can start to get to know them on a personal level first before mentioning anything business-related. 

    You may find this a little intimidating at first – and that’s perfectly normal. It’s a little like going up to someone new at a networking event and chatting to them for the first time – all the while hoping you haven’t got bits of custard cream between your teeth. But starting small and simple is the best way forward. 

    So, once again, see if there’s anything in their bio, stories, posts or highlights that you resonate with. Get to know them. Remember that having a conversation is a two-way street and relationships take work. 

    Keep the word ‘relationship’ at the forefront of your mind – imagine how you’d want someone to interact with you for the first time on social media and go from there. Take a genuine interest – people tend to get annoyed if you try to get to know them just to pitch your services or products to them after two messages. I’m sure you’ve met those people in your own DMs.

    You’ll know when the time is right for selling or pitching. You may find your ideal clients even approach you first if they’re interested and have engaged with your profile. 

    Tip 6 – Reward yourself

    Running a business is hard work. Social media is a fantastic way to market your business for free. We acknowledge that it takes hard work and dedication to see results. Rewarding yourself for the hard work you’re doing can be easily overlooked.

    To help you reach your bigger goals, set yourself smaller daily/weekly goals. When you reach them, treat yourself. It’s important to celebrate your wins no matter how big or small they are.

    You may feel as though you have to spend hours on these engagement tips every day. But you don’t. Try spending just 30-minutes a day interacting and engaging with others on their posts and on yours. If you do consistently, you’ll soon see results. Some experts suggest the ‘5-5-5’ approach. Use your social media time to:

    • Follow 5 new people from your target audience
    • Comment on 5 posts from your ideal clients
    • Send 5 new DMs to people you’re building relationships with

    The real key to success is consistency and patience. Show up regularly and engage with those around you. You’ll soon find your own corner of Instagram that really feels like your community. Not only full of your ideal clients but full of other small business owners too. 

    And while these tips are for Instagram, you can implement them across other platforms too. By following our simple steps of creating a list, engaging with others using the different features and rewarding yourself, you can continue to engage effectively with your target audience – and grow your business.

    If you would like more support with building your Instagram audience, please get in touch here.


  • Timesaving Christmas Shopping Part 2

    Time to make you sparkle!

    Hello and welcome to the second blog this Christmas designed to help you save time when Christmas Shopping, and champion and support some of my favourite local, small businesses. If you missed the first part you can catch up here.

    It is true what they say when you buy from a small business someone does a happy dance. You will find below a selection of amazing craftspeople and passionate entrepreneurs who want to empower and celebrate women. So with no further ado, and in no particular order here we go!

    Self Care Survival Kit Shop

    The Self Care Survival Kit shop has been curated by self care coach Rachel Letham to offer everything you need to add small, regular moments of self care into your life.

    Build your own self care survival kit to get your through the winter as you choose from journals and planners to eye masks, candles and bath scrubs or select the perfect gift to treat a loved one to some down time this Christmas.




    The Diamond Setter

    Give the gift of sparkles and something that lasts for a lifetime, The Diamond Setter create timeless jewellery with dedicated craftsmanship. They have a range of stunning pieces including studs in your choice of gemstone, handcrafted at their studio at Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells. Choose from a range of stunning pink, blue, green, or teal sapphires, garnets, rubies, amethysts and many others. Name your gemstone and Lorraine & Gavin will set them for you in 9ct yellow or white gold, double gallery studs.

    The studs come in a luxury and eco-friendly jewellery box, a polish cloth, and a vegan suede travel pouch.

    Collect at The Diamond Setter studio or opt to receive via Royal Mail special delivery.




    My Colour Stylist

    Anni is an utter genius when it comes to colour. No one better understands how it works, and how to find the very best colours for you which will make you look and feel great. Anni offers Virtual and In Person Colour Analyst sessions. If you are a jewellery fan do you know which metal really works for you? You need Anni in your life.

    You can invest in a session, or buy one of Anni’s beautiful vouchers to go towards one. Plus once you know the best colours for you, Anni sells a unique range of fabric swatches, so you can buy samples of your personal colours, and take them in a wallet with you when you go shopping (wallet also supplied by Anni) – all meaning that you can shop in total confidence.




    Glass Alisa

    Alisa makes the most beautiful glass gifts including waves, tealight holders, and hanging vases at her studio in the Kent countryside. If you are feeling inspired Alisa runs a range of glass craft workshops, where you can try your hand at making your own glass pieces. Alternatively, Alisa also sells glass mosaic home craft kits, with everything you need to make your own glass masterpiece at home, which are suitable for ages 6 and up.

    Alisa is running a series of workshops in the New Year, something to look forward to after Christmas. A discount is applied to any one booking 3 separate, 3-hour Taster Sessions. These sessions enable you to evolve a project and try different techniques. Midweek workshops can be arranged for groups of 4 or more.




    Heavenly Herbals

    Evelyn of Heavenly Herbals makes my favourite soaps. End of. Once you have used them you can never go back to anything else! Choose from a range of natural olive oil soaps, mineral-rich bath soaks, and beautiful face and body creams. All handmade in rural Sussex, England




    Becky Pearce Jewellery

    Becky makes a beautiful range of birthstone-inspired, eco-friendly jewellery. Choose from birthstone stacking rings, minimalist style pendants, bangles and studs, and mindful spinner rings.




    Jade Tinkler Photography

    Why not go for something really different this year and book a photoshoot with Jade Tinkler? Jade specialises in luxury women’s photographs, and natural and honest portraits, that show off how gorgeous you really are.




    And finally

    And that’s it for this week. Check back in next time, when my next blog will cover Timesaving Christmas Gifts for the home!

    Thank you once again for supporting small businesses and making lots of lovely people do a happy dance.


  • Timesaving Christmas Shopping Part 1

    My Favourite Gift Emporiums

    Hello and welcome to the first of a series of blogs this Christmas designed to help you save time when Christmas Shopping, and champion and support some of my favourite local, small businesses.

    It is true what they say when you buy from a small business someone does a happy dance. Everyone I recommend here is someone who pours their heart and soul into their business and has curated a wonderful selection of gifts and goodies for you to peruse. So with no further ado, and in no particular order here we go!

    Ooh How Lovely

    If you haven’t discovered Ooh How Lovely in Hawkhurst yet you are in for a treat. For Christmas 2021, Ooh How Lovely has a variety of gift ideas for all family and friends. This includes pretty jewellery and warm scarves & socks constructions kits of tractors, airplanes and cars, festive decorations, preserves, toffee, and fudge plus lots of other locally made gifts and a vast selection of cards and gift wrap.

    Ooh How Lovely are open 10 am-5 pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with a late-night shopping event in Hawkhurst Village on Thursday 2nd December, 5 pm – 8 pm. Pop in or call the shop on 015808 483030 or 07400 522081. Lisa and the team look forward to seeing you and welcoming you to their colourful shop.




    Box Paper Scissors

    Another Hawkhurst favourite, Emily of Box Paper Scissors has all your gift wrapping and stationery needs covered. Sustainably made and beautifully wrapped, Box Paper Scissors has the simple aim of making gifts almost too beautiful to open.




    Three Bees Gifts

    Three Bees is a new, environmentally conscious online gift brand based in Tunbridge Wells.

    Their range of gifts, cards, and wrap are all ethical, sustainable, and planet friendly. And also very gorgeous!

    Everything has been handpicked from like-minded small businesses who are genuinely trying to protect our amazing planet and not cut corners for the sake of profit.

    All your purchases will be beautifully gift wrapped in recycled and compostable packing, making them the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one.

    Happy Shopping!




    Lauren’s Lovely Little Library

    As a Teacher and Usborne Partner based in Maidstone, Lauren can help find the perfect books for the young people in your lives; from newborn babies to young adults. Usborne books are high quality, beautiful books and are a gift that just keep on giving! 





    Rugsy Lugsy

    Rugsy Lugsy can be found at the Pantiles Market in Tunbridge Wells most weekends between now and Christmas. Charlotte and Neil make everything themselves from reclaimed or sustainably sourced wood. The Christmas range includes Steve McFreeze and Penelope Penguin (pictured) and wooden bunting for the home. Personalised wooden hanging decorations are available, and Neil makes customisable decorative houses which are available to order.





    Gabrielle Izen Design

    Gabrielle is a brilliant Kent-based illustrator and modern calligrapher, who sells a wide range of her own cards, prints, and gifts inspired by nature. All print and production is done in Kent, and everything is FSC certified.



    And finally

    And that’s it for this week. Check back in next week, when my next blog will cover Timesaving Christmas Gifts to make you sparkle!

    Thank you for supporting small business and making people do a happy dance.


  • My Top 16 Gift Ideas for Mothering Sunday

    Card from Box Paper Scissors

    Mothering Sunday is on 14 March – but what to buy? How can you treat your mum, mum friends or yourself? Because we have all been heroes this lockdown and deserve a little bit of joy and appreciation.

    Help is at hand as I have compiled a list of some of my favourite things from local businesses and crafters in Kent & Sussex. There are all lovely people who are incredibly talented at what they do.

    With no further ado here are my top suggestions:

    Treat Time

    If you know me, you know that I love stationery. So I had to start off with this! Thankfully one of my favourite people, Rachel Letham, has just started selling a range of gorgeous notebooks and other self care items in her online store.

    Rachel has a beautiful range of notebooks, eye masks available. Rachel is a self care champion and has written a brilliant ebook, Self Care For The Seasons. If someone is suffering from burnout, this is the book they need in their life!

    Visit the store here

    More stationery inspiration can be found at Box Paper Scissors. Emily has a gorgeous collection of handpicked vintage inspired items including;

    • Mothers Day Concertina Card (pictured at top of blog)
    • The Garden Plots Postcards with matching envelopes
    • Ribbon Storage Jar, this beautiful dispenser is the perfect gift for crafters to keep all their ribbons tidy and accessible.
    • Recycled botanical notebooks, lined on one side and blank on the other making them perfect to keep a journal or write garden notes on one side and sketch or stick pictures or plant cuttings on the other side.
    • Flora label & sticker book – perfect for decorating presents, envelopes, jam jars, journals..all sorts of craft projects 

    You can find lots more at Emily’s shop here

    Rachel of Mrs B Bags makes the most exquisite tote bags. This is the Tulipa Ochre design, made from luxurious velvet, with an inside zipped pocket. Leather handles make it easy for filling and carrying all your necessary shopping or day to day necessities. Rachel gives 50% of all profits to a cause close to her heart, the Motor Neurone Disease Assocation.

    You can find lots more bags here

    Emma of Soulstar Sanctuary in Langton Green is a Tera Mai reiki practioner who has created a wonderful range of mood sprays and rollerballs for energy (My mood spray got my through homeschooling!) These rollerballs of essential oils also contain crystals, and the combination enhances the healing properties in both.

    You can find more on Emma’s Etsy shop here

    Sarah at Crafty By Nature is based in Tonbridge, and sells these lovely kits which combine the amazing power of nature with some crafty creativity.

    The make-your-own bathbomb and lipbalm kits are two presents in one!
    Firstly they are a fun craft activity for your Mum to do, and then she
    also gets to enjoy either the lovely bathbombs or nourishing lipbalms.
    They are made with natural vegan ingredients and the packaging is

    You can order your kits here

    Looking for some quality pampering? You need Lisa of And Relax Treatment room in Rusthall. Lisa is a beauty & massage therapist who offers facials, massages, pedicures and manicures. All guaranteed to make mum feel a million dollars.

    You can book a treatment from 12 April here

    If you are looking for something truly unforgettable for you mum, you need a Mother’s Memories book from Our Priceless Treasures. Designed by Julie Pinnell, these easy to complete books have been designed to help you to write down all sorts of things about your life, to share with your children, their children and their children’s children – a really personal family history

    “I can honestly say it was one of the best gifts ever.  I sat enthralled as I read and read.  I couldn’t put it down.  I can’t believe that in my mother’s memories there were things I’d never known.  It was like the questions had opened the floodgates for more memories to flow out.  My brother and sister are green with envy that I hold such an amazing bit of family history, all written down in my Mum’s distinctive handwriting.  I hope many other people discover the special magic that your Memories books hold – mine is my most prized possession.” Kim

    Julie also has a beautiful range of other gifts, designed to be emotional and heartwarming keepsakes. You can find them here

    Or how about something creative? What about an Arty Farty Community membership….. £120 for the whole year!! 

    Nell runs fantastic online weekly workshops, challenges, make it days, tips and techniques. Most importantly this is time for Mum to have to herself!!

    To order email Nell at nell@artyfartyretreat.co.uk 

    For The Home

    Rugsylugsy are based in Tunbridge Wells, and create whimsical wooden creations for you home. Everything is made from reclaimed and salvaged wood, and is handpainted in eco friendly paint.

    Favourites include the Rugsylugsy heart, bunting, houses and new summerhouse hanging decorations.

    You can find lots more wooden delightfulness here

    GlassAlisa is based near Maidstone, and creates handmade fused glass home decor. Alisa has a large variety of decorative items to suit all budgets as well as gift vouchers for her workshops. As soon as restrictions allow Alisa will be running her glass making workshops again, a fantastic opportunity to learn a new skill in a relaxing rural setting.

    Find out more here

    Sarah Rickard makes the most exquisite ceramics, all handpainted and handmade in her studio in East Sussex. Inspired by folklore, mythology, the English countryside and the Arts & Craft movement, Sarah has a range of exquisite decorative pieces from these angels, to hares to garden birds.

    You can find more inspiration on her website here

    Lisa runs Ooh How Lovely, a magical shop in Hawkhurst. It is a colourful treasure trove of handpicked items. Latest arrivals include throws and material from India, hand painted Charleston inspired lampshades, and Madaraff bags from a family business in Madagascar.

    You can find out more on Lisa’s website here

    Why not treat someone this Mothers Day with a unique card, print or frame from Heidi Crundwell Photography? Heidi is an award winning wildlife photographer based on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. Invite the beauty of the natural world into their home with one of Heidi’s prints celebrating some of the most iconic species on our planet. The strength of a lioness, the beauty of a leopard and the wisdom of an elephant, celebrate your special person with a truly wild image. 

    Visit Heidi’s website here

    Louise Dean is wonderful artist and gorgeous soul who lives in Langton Green. Louise creates a wide range of beautiful art influenced by her childhood in the Carribean. From watercolour peonies to silver & gold leaf oriental blossoms, there is sure to be something special to catch your eye.

    See more here

    To Eat

    How about this red focaccia from Homecooking Italy in Langton Green? Patrizia makes the most amazing authentic Italian kitchen food. This focaccia is a salty alternative to cake, which you can share with your family. Plus if you order a focaccia you get a small size tiramisu for free!

    To order please DM Patrizia through her instagram.

    And finally Karen of Baketastic in Speldhurst, is a bit of a baking legend in the local area. Her salted caramel brownies are legendary, and Karen makes a mean lemon drizzle cake.

    Karen can make a homemade cake for your mum – any flavour, any size, and any wording. Just contact Karen to discuss your order, with free local delivery (Tunbridge Wells area) 

    Email Karen!

    Hopefully you have found plenty of inspiration here for gifts – for you mum, for friends and for yourself! Do let me know if you have any other local suggestions for Mothering Sunday gifts



  • Timesaving Tech Tips from Laura Nelson of My Virtual Manager

    I am dedicated to saving time for my clients, and one of the key ways I deliver this is through implementing systems and using the best technology. I love discovering new shortcuts, and learning from other small business owners. On this blog I will be asking fellow entrepreneurs to share their tips and tricks so we can all learn and save time!

    Welcome to my first guest, Laura Nelson of My Virtual Manager. I met the wonderful Laura on InstagramMy Virtual Manager specialises in Business and Project Management. What Laura doesn’t know about systems isn’t worth knowing. Read on to find out more about Laura, and some of the tech she uses to run her business.

    Over to you Laura…

    Hello 👋🏾 I’m Laura Nelson from My Virtual Manager. I help businesses adapt and flourish by getting the right systems and software in place, resulting in them having more time to focus on generating income. 

    When and why did you start your own business?

    I’ve had multiple businesses. About 19 years ago my (then) husband and I ran a web development company. We worked on web and mobile applications (two geeks with a dream!). That company was dissolved when the marriage was and so I picked up and moved across the world with my (then 1 year old) daughter. I’ve been working in digital project management ever since.

    Three years ago I had another little girl and took an extra long maternity leave with her. During that time a few companies approached me to do some virtual work with them, and that’s how my business was born. I just made it official last year.

    What were the first steps you took to put yourself out there?

    The biggest step for me was my Instagram page. It actually requires you to be open and vulnerable (you know, to build the right tribe). I’ve met some lovely and encouraging people (like yourself Jennifer) and it has helped me to come out of my shell a little more.

    What game-changing piece of technology or kit have you invested in for your business?

    My biggest investment was my Mac. It comes with everything that you need and gives you such flexibilty to create what you need for your business. I am actually a creative at heart and I can feel the creative pull getting stronger and stronger.

    What apps do you use to help your business grow and streamline your systems?

    Creative: I use the Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s pretty cost effective when you think about the tools that you get with the subscription, and it’s great for your complete digital presence.

    Socials: I use BufferTailwind and Later are great, but Buffer allows you to schedule all of your posts in one app, which saves me (lots) of time not jumping back and forth. Plus it’ll let you re-schedule your most popular posts and saves the captions and hashtags – another timesaver!

    SEO: I’ve just found tihs new tool seranking.com – it seems to be a complete suite, and even has scheduling capabilites! Crazy for a low monthly price! I’ve not tested all of the features yet – I’m trialling it for a client but will keep you updated on the progress

    How do you keep track of your tasks and to dos? Are you a notebook or a digital person?

    I’m a digital person all the way. If I didn’t have kids in the house I wouldn’t even have paper here! I use Trello to keep a visual track of everything I’m working on. I feel super satisfied pulling a card into the ‘done’ list. 🥳

    What has been the most helpful business/self-help book that you have read?

    The book ‘Get Clients Now‘ by CJ Hayden changed the way I approached marketing. I first read it 13 years ago, and I just talked with a VA who’s read it recently. When a book is that good – it just keeps on going. 

    What is the one piece of advice that you would give other small business owners?

    Go for it. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll teach you, learn your lessons, make changes and implement new strategies, just keep-on-going.

    What is the best thing about running your own business?

    Impromptu trips to the seaside with my girls! Middle of a Friday afternoon, grab shoes, water and we’re off. 

    What is the most challenging thing about running your own business?

    When you work hard ona project. Complete it in record runaround. The Client is super happy. But they wait 60 days to pay your invoice – like really?

    Where do you hope your business will be this time next year?

    I would like to work with a charity that helps women who have had a hard time in life. Women who may have struggled with Post Partum Depression (a cause that is close to my heart) and is trying to get herself back into business. Or women who have suffered from trauma and may be apprehensive about getting back to business or work.

    Thank you so much Laura for your time. I’m straight off to investigate Adobe Creative Cloud and Seranking. 

    If you are looking for more help with business and system managment, Laura is the lady to contact.

    Until next time,


  • Timesaving Tips from Marketing Expert Shona Chambers

    I am dedicated to saving time for my clients. I love discovering new ideas, and learning from other small business owners. On this blog I ask fellow entrepreneurs to share their tips and tricks so we can all learn and save time!

    This week I am thrilled to welcome Shona Chambers of Shona Chambers Marketing. Shona is an Instagram buddy, and we have bonded over our love of reading business books. If Shona recomends a book it is worth reading! I will hand over to Shona…

    Please introduce yourself and your business.

    Hello, I am Shona. I have worked in marketing for the last 20 years, firstly within a corporate environment,for media and finance companies. Later as a self employed marketing consultant helping small businesses. I also run a networking group called Self Employed Club, designed to provide training and support for fellow small business owners, which has an online presence on Instagram and Facebook. 

    When and why did you start your own business? What was going on for you at the time?

    I’ve been running my marketing business since 2018. I’d been asked for guidance by a number of small business owners before that and just decided to take the plunge. At the time I was focusing on events marketing, but over time have done more and more different projects. It feels like a long time ago now, probably because of the changes that this year has brought. Life is very different in 2020 isn’t it. 

    What were the first steps you took to put yourself out there?

    I very much went down the route of asking people I knew for referrals, I find people are just so kind when you tell them what you need. Every one wants to help a new business.  I also headed out to lots of great networking events. There were lots of good ones around my area, although a lot have had to stop for now, and others have moved online. 

    What game-changing piece of technology or kit have you invested in for your business?

    Well not so much an investment but Zoom has been a lifesaver this year, as I’m sure for many. I used to do all my meetings in person, and also deliver workshops that way, but of course now everything is virtual again. Thank goodness for Zoom.

    What apps do you use to help your business grow and streamline your systems? I use Canva a lot for creating posts and visuals, it’s so handy. And of course all of the social media tools too.  How do you keep track of your tasks and to dos? Are you a notebook or digital person?

    I’d say a bit of both! I do love a notebook, and sitting with it at the start of the day with a cup of tea before anyone else in the house gets up.  If you are a notebook person – where is your favourite place to buy stationery? I’m showing my age now, but one Christmas my husband treated me to a Mulberry filofax, it was beautiful. I used it for years. The stationary was all ordered from Mulberry too, I felt very fancy! What has been the most helpful business/self-help book that you would recommend reading?

    The best book I’ve read this year in terms of business is The 5am Club by Robin Sharma. I’d go as far as saying it is life changing. If you (like me) don’t love mornings then you may be thinking there is no way you would ever embrace 5am rising. But I have found the advice it gives you about how to structure your morning and indeed your day for best succes, invaluable. It does have quite an interesting narrative structure as it is all told via a story, but you do get over that quite quickly.

    What’s the one piece of advice you would give other small business owners?

    Think about who needs you. Not just wants you. Most of us have natural customers and thinking about the obvious supply and demand relationship saves you a lot of time. 

    What’s the best thing about running your own business?

    Being 100% in control of building something from scratch. I wish that schools spent more time focusing on entrepreneurship as a valid career path. We are all naturally creative and we can all come up with amazing ways to make a living that don’t have to involve a 3 year degree.  What is the most challenging thing about running your own business? I think this year more than ever it’s finding ways to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.  Where do you hope your business will be this time next year?

    I’d like to have turned the e-book I just released ‘100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners‘ into an online course that people could complete in their own time. It would have 8 modules taken from the structure of the book. I’d also like to release an audio version of the book to expand its use to small business owners. I know so many people love to listen to an audio book on walks or commuting. And of course I’d love to still be doing interesting work for interesting people.

    Thank you very much for interviewing me Jenny! 

    Thank you so much Shona. I totally agree with you, it would be wonderful if our schools could teach more about entrepreneur skills and opportunities. 

    Shona’s book is brilliant; it is packed full of super, practical marketing ideas that you can go out and implement now. Highly recommended! You can get a sample of them here.

    Keep in touch with Shona on Social Media….InstagramFacebookLinkedIn & Twitter

    Until next time, have a great week